I realized as I looked back over this year's reading that I hadn't read a single book that actually came out in 2014. I'm so far behind that I haven't yet got to Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which I had intended to read as soon as it came out. Ditto for the incomparable Marilynne Robinson's Lila.
Here is just how dawdling I am: I finally read A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, which I've had on my shelf since it was published in 2009. What a beautiful, haunting story it was, set during the gloaming of Victorian England through the end of WWI. Epic in scope, it traces a history of the arts in those years -- painters and potters, writers and dramatists -- through a sprawling Bohemian family and their circle of friends. Some of the characters reminded me of the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, which brought another long-neglected book out of the dust -- Jean Moorcroft Wilson's momentous biography of Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet (volume one is a hefty 600+ pages). I believe Wilson could tell you what Sassoon had for lunch on any given day -- it's that thorough. I bought it hot off the press in ...1999! Ye Gods, I actually gave Wilson enough time to complete and publish the second volume, which came out last May. I hope it won't take me another decade and a half to get to it.
In no particular order, here are some of the other books I read this year and enjoyed:
Lewis Lockwood's life of Beethoven, which taught me a thing or two amongst all the stuff about his music that went right over my head...
Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark, a lovely novel which chronicles the growth of an artist through the life of its heroine, Thea Kronborg.
Indiana by George Sand -- someone I'd like to read more from... (recommendations?)
Incarnadine, beautiful poems by Mary Szybist.
My Own Country by Abraham Verghese about treating AIDS patients in the 80s in the small cities and towns of Appalachia.