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Felice Picano Picks His Favorite Books of 2014


The author chooses Sarah Waters, David Mitchell, Ha Jin, and more to add to your reading list

In Felice Picano's delightful new memoir, Nights at Rizzoli (now available), he conjures a New York that was fabulous, bohemian, and gay. We asked the man of letters to share his 10 favorite titles from 2014, and it's as eclectic as Picano himself. Here they are, in random order.

After Lunch with Frank O'Hara by Craig Cotter


His fourth book of poems, Cotter was inspired by Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, which was also reissued this year by City Lights for its 50th anniversary. This collection of 51 poems -- each as out, unapologetic, and inventive as those of the late poet's -- also features an introduction by Picano, who knew O'Hara when both writers lived in Greenwich Village, and an afterword by Cotter about his quest to learn more about O'Hara's life and art. (Available on Amazon)

A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin


From the acclaimed Chinese-American writer, this is a sort of "spy novel" -- a tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of China and the United States -- that also offers a stunning portrait of a multinational family and an unflinching inquiry into the meaning of citizenship, patriotism, and home. (Random House)

Being Mortal: What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande


The bestselling author tackles tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. (Available on Amazon)

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell


From the author of The Cloud Atlas, this is yet another mind-bending tale that spans geography and time. (Available at Barnes & Noble)

For My Brothers by Mark Abramson


Mark Abramson was a bartender in San Francisco during the worst years of the AIDS crisis (from 1984 to 1996) when new life-saving drugs came on the market. His book is filled with true stories of encounters with Connie Francis, Johnnie Ray, and Christine Jorgensen, plus friendships with Al Parker, John Preston, and Sylvester, along with dozens of lesser-known characters who deserve to be remembered. (Kindle version available)

Historias by Carlos T. Mock


Carlos T. Mock, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and migrated north in his twenties, has been active in the LGBT community for many years primarily in Chicago. In his latest collection, he offers a set of short stories ranging from childhood jokes to life and death situations. (Available on Amazon)

The Quarry by Iain Banks


His last novel before his death, it is considered among his best works. (Available on Amazon)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


As Aaron Hicklin writes, "In The Paying Guests, Ruskin Park -- named for the Victorian art critic and reformer, John Ruskin, who lived nearby -- is the locus for the blossoming friendship between Frances and Lilian, one nursing the wounds of a devastating lesbian love affair, the other dealing with a souring marriage. Their picnic establishes the romantic frisson that will fuel the novel toward its powerful denouement." (Available on Amazon)

Texts for Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg


Mallory Ortberg is the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, and in her book, she presents a "whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters," according to the book text. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is "a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the 21st century." (Available on Amazon)

What If: Serious Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe


From the creator of the popular webcomic xkcd, Munroe provides hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. (Available on Amazon)

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