2014 Wrap Up

Here we are guys. The last day of 2014. This year has flown by for me. I can’t believe that Christmas is over already, that we’re staring 2015 in the face. 2014 will probably go down as a not great year in terms of the world, but personally, it was pretty alright.  I feel like this was the year that this little blog of mine finally figured some things out – I’ve connected with more of you book lovers this year than before and it’s just been the best.

And you know, I got married, some great friends got married. Finally went to Portland.

We’re here for the books though right? I got greedy this year – after reading 115 books in 2013, I wanted to read 116 this year. As of writing, I’m working on 112 but I don’t know if I will make it. That said, I read an incredible amount of fantastic books this year. It was not a non-fiction heavy year for me. A lot of the non-fiction I did read this year was written by funny women (Lena Dunham, Elaine Lui, Amy Poehler, Caitlin Moran) so it didn’t feel like non-fiction. I have quite a few non-fiction reads on my shelves right now so I’m hoping that 2015 will see me reading them.

I also did not read a lot of classics, despite saying that 2014 would be the year that I would. The Count of Monte Cristo is sitting on my bedside table, about half finished. I think I may have abandoned it. I can’t say for sure but I’m definitely not invested in it like I thought I would be. I slogged through Shirley and it left me cold. I did re-read Emma, and LOVED North and South, but mostly this year I read newer fiction.

I flexed my YA fiction muscles this year. I devoured the Divergent books, not even a little bit ashamed. Then I read The Fault in Our Stars, Fangirl, and Eleanor & Park. I saw Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars too. I was extremely resistant to this style of fiction but when I finally gave in, I fully surrendered.

And now, here’s a list of my favourite books I read this year (not necessarily published this year):

1. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski. This tale of a little boy born in the midst of his mother’s grief is beautiful and heart breaking and wonderful. Leganski spent three years carefully crafting this most perfect novel and it shows in every page.

2. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. Ever since Gone Girl we’ve all been looking for a novel that evokes that same kind of heart pounding feeling. Many books claim it, this one has it. The story of a mother trying to piece together the last days of her dead daughter’s life is like a cross between Gone Girl and Gossip Girl and it is fantastic.

3. How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. For good or for bad, 2014 was the year of feminists. For many reasons, feminism and what it actually means came back into the spotlight this year and Moran’s book helped me to figure out where I stand in the whole thing. (For the record, I am a complete and total feminist and my husband is too.)

4. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The Cuckoo’s Calling made it onto my top list of books before, The Silkworm is better. Despite the fact that JK Rowling had been unmasked as the book’s true author, something I feared might have stymied her in some way, the next chapter in Cormoran Strike’s professional career was stronger. The characters were more fully developed and the mystery at the middle of this one is terrific. I’m looking forward to the next one even more.

5. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I think if you read this book this year, you have it on your Best of 2014 list. This book is perfect. It took Rita Leganski three years to write The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow – Doerr took 10 to craft this one. If you didn’t get to it in 2014, just make sure you read it in 2015.

6. The Humans by Matt Haig. I was originally put off by the premise of this book: a math teacher’s body is taken over by aliens. Math and aliens? Not usually what I look for in my reading material. But The Humans isn’t about aliens or math. It’s about how to be human; all the foibles, eccentricities and lies that make up the human race. And it’s about love and how that’s ultimately what makes us human. People that loved The Rosie Project or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time will love this one. Also? Matt Haig is wonderful on twitter. 

7. The Sandman by Lars Keplar. I love crime fiction and the Scandinavians are writing some of the best currently. The Sandman is a whole other level of depravity and heart stoppage. I could not read this book in the dark. I didn’t want to read it when I was alone. Definitely not alone and in the dark. A master class in dark and twisted crime fiction.

8. First Impressions by Charlie Lovett. I realized this year that while I don’t like books that seek to “complete” the story of beloved classics like Pride & Prejudice, I quite like those books that put a new spin on some aspect of that story. First Impressions was just that. This book is a mystery surrounding the origins of Jane Austen’s most famous work. We meet and spend time with the author herself and jump back to the present day as a Jane Austen lover tries to unravel it all. With a healthy (but not sickening) dose of romance.

9. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman. This book came out of nowhere to lay firm claim to my heart. If you are a sucker for crusty old men learning how to live and love again, this book is for you. It is full of wonderful characters and storylines that are definitely rooted in reality but still manage to be completely heartwarming.

10. Punishment by Linden MacIntyre. I think this cements it: CanLit has made it onto my list of favourite books this year so clearly I don’t hate it anymore. Punishment is the story of a small town rocked by a crime that makes all their baser instincts come to life. It’s a story of values and what happens when those values are challenged. It is fantastic.

And a list wouldn’t be a list without some honourable mentions:

  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson for being totally dysfunctional in the best possible way.
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler for not being a rushed, thrown together memoir of material we were already familiar with. It made me feel like Amy and I could be friends – I think she makes everyone feel like that which is part of her charm.
  • Nora Webster by Colm Toibin for being a flawless portrait of life as a widow in a certain time and place.
  • Friendship: A Novel by Emily Gould for capturing a certain kind of friendship that is very current and relatable.
  • The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe for being about women of a certain age and the complications that arise from growing up and away from your childhood best friend.

That was a long post! If you are still reading, well done!

In all seriousness, thank you all for a great blogging year. I’ve loved talking about, crying over, and railing at books with you all. I hope that 2015 will be even better.

Happy New Year book lovers!

18 thoughts on “2014 Wrap Up

  1. Loved #s 2, 4, and am sort of obsessed with 5. Planning to give Caitlin Moran a try soon since I’ve become a lot more interested in feminism now that I’m raising two little girls. thanks for all the great work on this blog – I don’t read a lot of blogs and have really enjoyed this one since discovering it around a year ago!

    • Wow, thank you so much! When I started I tried really hard to tell myself that I was doing this blogging thing for myself but it’s so much more fun when I know that people are actually enjoying what I write.

      Caitlin Moran is the best. She makes feminism seem so simple! Sounds like your girls have a great role model for a mama.

  2. An interesting list… I read Moran’s book last year (or was it the year before) and realised I was far too old for it (I’m even older than Moran) — she didn’t tell me anything new — but I was glad she had written it for the “younger generation”. Would you believe I work with some women who believe the path to success (and happiness) is simply to get married. I mean, what century are we living in? 😉

    • I completely believe that! There are women my age (just about to hit 30) that still think that’s the path to success!

      I totally understand what you mean about her work – I do think it’s geared towards women of a certain age. My generation needs voices like hers to remind us not to take the progress we’ve made for granted but also that there is still work to do.

  3. I love this post! This year, you have fast become one of my favourite people to read from and I love hearing your thoughts on books and on life. I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things you read in 2015! The Family Fang, A Man Called Ove and All the Light We Cannot see are high priorities for me in the coming year. What an awesome year for you :).

  4. Count of monte cresto i must say is one of my favorite all-time classics!!!! Currently re-reading Jane Eyre…..hehe.. I must make it a goal to read everything on your “fav list”! And i am…..if i may….too, a feminist… (are you REALLY surprised though?)

  5. Happy new year! Your blog looks so beautiful. I have to say the Divergent series was a highlight for me too, although I didn’t love Insurgent. I read How To Be A Woman and How To Build A Girl back-to-back and really enjoyed Caitlin Moran’s approach to feminism.

    • Thanks – I’m glad you like it! I think it’s still missing something but it’s a start.
      I really did enjoy the Divergent books. I loved the ending she went with – brave woman to just go for it. I think Moran’s approach to feminism is really palatable for a lot of people. A new generation of women looking for their definition will find the answer in her work.

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