“So many worthy books, so little space.” I type those words so often. I send them to publicists who fill my inbox with plugs for one title after another on publishers’ lists. I send them to reviewers eager to offer their thoughts on this or that author’s latest effort. I send them to authors themselves—you might be surprised how many—who come right out and ask: Can they hope for any attention in the pages of the Atlantic? The phrase is sometimes a white lie, yet always the truth, too: On the non-digital side of things, we generally have room for only 30 or so book pieces a year in the Culture File. That means an awful lot of notable books go unnoticed by us.
In the holiday spirit, now is a moment to mention an array of 2014 books across the non-fiction and fiction spectrum I wish we hadn’t missed—and to ask their authors to pay it forward, and single out a few books themselves. What recent work has caught their expert eye? What book, however old, helped them write the one they’ve been busy promoting?