I've been given permission from EW to post his list here as they will not be including it in their on-line version. Stephen King The best Books I read this year Okay, friends, you know the drill: For this list, I didn’t restrict myself to the best books published this year. Instead, I named the best books I read this year, which gives me a little more latitude than most year-end list-makers. As it happens, the majority of those below were published this year, and all are recent. The ones you haven’t read already would make a great way to start 2014. 10 The Good Nurse Charles Graeber You think Annie Wilkes was bad? Check out this chilling nonfiction account of Charlie Cullen, a friendly nurse who may have killed several -hundred patients before he was caught. Now, there’s a real cockadoodie brat. 9 The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes No, not the twins from the Kubrick movie, but the targets of a serial killer who finds a time portal in Chicago during the Depression and jackrabbits his way through recent American history, killing women and taking trophies. Until, that is, he encounters a tuff girl who’s not so easy to do away with. It’s the black-hole version of The Time Traveler’s Wife. 8 The Wicked Girls Alex Marwood Obviously, 2013 was the year of girls gone wild. Bel and Jade are the 11-year-old wicked girls, so dubbed by the British press when they’re convicted of murdering a 4-year-old left in their care. Finally paroled, they’re told they must never see each other again. Years later, with new lives, they come together in a run-down seaside amusement park where a killer is running wild. The suspense keeps the pages flying, but what sets this one apart is the palpable sense of onrushing doom. 7 The Casual Vacancy J.K. Rowling Not since Peyton Place has a writer so enthusiastically stripped the lace covers from small-town life to show the maggots of greed, lust, snobbery, and ambition squirming beneath—only Grace Metalious didn’t have Jo Rowling’s wicked sense of humor. The village of Pagford may be British, but the human foibles there are universal. Like the best social comedies, The Casual Vacancy features wit on top and outrage simmering below. 6 City of Women David R. Gillham The city is Berlin, 1943, and the woman we care about is Sigrid, whose husband is fighting on the eastern front. Sigrid is seduced by two very different men (the sex in this book is hot-hot-hot), but the real seduction involves her reluctant participation in a scheme to ferry Jews to safety. You haven’t experienced such gray skies since season 1 of The Killing, but the feel is all Casablanca. I can’t wait for Gillham’s next novel—play it again, Sam. 5 The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet David Mitchell In this historical novel, an unassuming Dutch bookkeeper named Jacob de Zoet falls in love with a beautiful midwife in 18th-century Japan. When Miss Aiba-gawa is spirited away to a mountain monastery, Jacob finds the heroism in his soul. Here is a bygone secret world full of charm and horror. Mitchell is best known for Cloud Atlas, which was a literary stunt in this correspondent’s opinion. The Thousand Autumns is far better. 4 The Goldfinch Donna Tartt Theo Decker’s mother is killed in a bombing that rocks the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Theo, unharmed, escapes with a valuable painting called The Goldfinch. He carries this symbol of grief and loss from early adolescence into an adulthood fraught with danger and beset by addiction. The long middle sequence, set in a housing development on the seedy, sand-blown outskirts of Las Vegas, is a standout. Tartt proves that the Dickensian novel—expansive and bursting with incident—is alive and well. 3 Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel Together they form one long novel (with a third to follow) about the life of Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s political and financial adviser. Mantel takes a -figure history has cast as a calculating villain and throws a warm glow over his family, his motives, and his implacable resolve. The language is rich, and the scenes leading to Anne Boleyn’s execution are unforgettable. 2 The Interestings Meg Wolitzer A group of adolescents—little more than children, really—meet at a camp where kids explore their creativity. Ethan, Jules, Cathy, Goodman, Ash: All believe they are meant for great things. This assumption of huge talent where there may be little or none lies at the heart of Wolitzer’s novel, which sweeps across a span of decades. There’s sentiment here, full and wholehearted, but little sentimentality. Like The Corrections,The Interestings addresses one of fiction’s great themes: how we make peace with our own shortcomings and make the best of ordinary lives. 1 The Orphan Master’s Son Adam Johnson In a stunning feat of imagination, Johnson puts us inside Jun Do (yep, John Doe), a North Korean orphan who stumbles from poverty to a job as body double for a Hero of the Eternal Revolution. The closed world of North Korea revealed here—where businessmen are conscripted to work in the rice fields and the ruthless Kim Jong-il is still the Dear Leader—goes beyond anything Orwell ever imagined. The Orphan Master’s Son veers from cold terror to surrealistic humor with ease, and succeeds as both a thriller and a social satire. Put it on your shelf next to Catch-22.