The culling process we undertake during the awards process is always painful. As great as it is to dive into the stacks and discover some books for the first time, and rediscover and revisit some past favorites from the year, there are always ones left behind, books that get laid back down softly on our desks with care instead of thrown back in a box on the floor. There is a list of books just as long as the list of books that made it here that caused us real distress to leave off—that we want to stand behind and will in other ways.
The books you'll find below, however, there is absolutely no distress in actually choosing. They are, we believe, the best of the year 2014.