Well, my list is finally here! After making a list and then making another one, I decided these were the top 15 books that I’ve read this year. And they are all over the board:
- 2 nonfiction: one being essays, the other a graphic novel (I only read 6 NF this year)
- 1 reads more like vignettes
- 3 Historical Fiction
- 1 Short Story
- 1 Science Fiction/Post Apocalypse
- 1 feel good/”happy ending” type
- 4/5 dealing with the darker side of literature
- 4 opening my eyes with cultural elements
- 12 being women authors!
- 2 from the same author
- But ALL were books that gave me that feeling immediately after. A feeling that I would always remember this book. Maybe even revisit and definitely recommend for various reasons.
I’ve read 101 books this year and have reviewed 76 on the blog! So here is the list, linking it to my review and why I picked it.
These books were all released in 2014, otherwise my favorites list would go on and on…I was a great reading year!
Under The Wide And Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. One of the first books I read in 2014 that had me completely captivated. I’ve had a fondness for Robert Louis Stevenson since childhood, so I was curious. Fortunately he met Fanny van de Grift Osbourne, who I thought stole the entire story.
Dept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill. Here was my Goodreads blurb: “Excellently written. Profound prose and insight. Witty and moving. It’s one of those books for me that packs a punch in less than 180 pages. After closing the book, I instantly looked at my life differently and the people in it. Attention…do you give enough of it? Or are you swimming in your thoughts?” Never had I read a book about marriage and parenthood that was brutally honest with wit and candor.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. A book about books and the love of literature. Takes place in a quirky town with even quirkier characters. Yes, it had a feel good ending, but it worked for me.
The Painter by Peter Heller. Completely different in scope. No happiness here. Dark, artsy, suspenseful, poetic.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I can’t gush enough about this book. Definitely in my top 5 this year. It was one of those books that after I read it, I told everyone to read it. And if they didn’t agree with me, I really didn’t want to hear about it! 🙂 Historical Fiction but so much more about people you are connected to without knowing why or how. Science elements, beautiful storytelling and the very short, yet thorough chapters really worked to propel the reader into the wee hours.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I didn’t want to love this story. How can you love a story about kidnapping, torture, rape and abuse? Gay’s writing, that’s how.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. This story touched a nerve regarding immigrants and the struggle they go through not to just come to the US but all the prejudices they deal with every single day.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Another dark one that deals with the disappearance of a child. But the divulging of family secrets and look into a multiracial family takes this story to another level. One I won’t forget.
Life Drawing by Robin Black. And yet another dark one. No happy endings, a crumbling marriage, a strange friendship that becomes dangerous…and still this was my Goodreads response: “I must be a literary masochist because my favorite books ruin me. I closed my ereader and just stared into space. I wanted to pick a fight with my husband. I wanted to curl up in his arms. I wanted to expel all the feelings that this book provoked. I wanted to reread it and I did. I went back to that first tragic line and started all over again.”
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. The only author that made the list twice. I can only hope she has more in store for 2015. One of the few essays/memoirs that I could relate to on so many levels. A must read!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This book is not your typical YA post-apocalpse/dystopian novel. It’s so much better and there is good reason why it has popped up on almost all favorites lists this year. I was transfixed with the realistic flu epidemic and how this story spans decades, going back in forth in time to follow the survivors and integrate the ones who didn’t make it.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast. Roz Chast describes her parents’ final years with laugh-out-loud humor and actually made me go into the ugly cry. The only book that did that to me this year. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s not only for readers with aging and ailing parents. If it doesn’t open up your empathy vault a little bit more for seniors, the people who care for them or just people in general, you are a rock.
Euphoria by Lily King. Also in my top 5 this year. I have always had a fascination with science and Margaret Mead. A woman who was intelligent in the field but brought an empathy and compassion that many scientists seem to have left at the front door. This could have been another “science book” but King’s writing adds layers of intimacy and story-telling that is riveting from the first sentence. After, I reserved everything by Mead at the library because I just wanted to spend more time with her.
Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. Dark. VERY dark. There is NOTHING light and happy in this story and yet here it is on my faves list. Why? It’s the writing, friends. To be able to write in such a way about topics and situations that should make you run screaming from the room is a feat unto itself. I call is the “Master Class” of writing.
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. I knew after reading a Handmaid’s Tale (another favorite this year but written in 1985), I would forever be a fan. So, now I love Atwood and I love short stories. It was a match made in literature heaven.
And now two honorable mentions. I just finished these two but have yet to write reviews. Holidays and all. So they will go on the blog next week possibly. But I LOVED them so much that they should be made known. Covers will link them to reviews by Shannon at River City Reading and Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, who nudged me to read them. 🙂
Florence Gordon is a woman I want to know, spend time with and just listen to in the flesh. I didn’t want the story to ever end.
The Miniaturist hooked me and I could not put it down. I listened to some of it via audio and that even enhanced the story even more. Secrets, lies, magical realism, heartbreak and the human spirit all set in 1860s Amsterdam. It’s a wowzer!
Thanks for all the support this year and I look forward to another bookish 2015. Have a great night everyone, be safe and see you nest year!