Critical Linking: November 2, 2014

Each November, our reviews editors look back at the nearly 9,000 titles we reviewed over the course of the year and pick favorites in several categories: fiction, poetry, mystery/thriller, SF/fantasy/horror, romance/erotica, comics, picture books, middle grade, and young adult. From those longlists, the editors choose an overall top 10, including five each of the year’s best fiction and nonfiction titles.

Publishers Weekly has their best books of 2014 lists up and ready to go.

Publishers weekly had their best books of 2014 lists up and ready to go, but now they’re behind a subscribers only link. But you can check out the top 10 overall titles from this link.


Between 1893 and 1919—a three-decade run that librarians refer to as the Golden Age of the American public library system—Carnegie paid to build 1,689 libraries in the U.S. These seeded the DNA for nearly every American library built before the end of World War II. That may explain in part why there is no central accounting for Carnegie’s libraries, which were built without any oversight from a formal program or foundation: Even libraries that aren’t historical Carnegie libraries share their aesthetic philosophy.

A lengthy but fascinating read on the history of the Carnegie libraries and the 6 architectural designs used to build them.


[R]esearchers in Spain and Germany have found that expanding your vocabulary activates the ventral striatum, a reward-processing part of the brain involved in pleasurable activities such as sex, gambling, doing drugs or eating good food. 

In other words, boosting your vocabulary can be just as good has having sex or getting high.

We probably already knew this, but science now backs us up.


In December 2013, civil war broke out once again in South Sudan. Thousands have been killed and nearly two million displaced. This makes Leaves even more relevant, the bookshop’s manager, Yohanis Riek, believes.

Speaking to a local radio station, he says that “now more than ever we need books. Self development is key to resolving the South Sudan crisis.” The fighting, largely carried out by young, illiterate soldiers, has also pushed South Sudanese citizens from every walk of life to consider what sort of state they wish to live in.

A look at the booksellers who work in South Sudan and why they find value in what they do.


Though the last “Harry Potter” book was published more than seven years ago, Rowling has spilled many secrets related to the series over the years through Q-and-A’s, Twitter, her website and Pottermore. Let’s take a look at the tidbits she’s tossed to her fans over the past few years.

A fun timeline to the short works, secrets, and tidbits that J. K. Rowling has spilled about the Harry Potter universe.

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