Monday, January 19, 2015

Best of 2014: Books

I'm holding off on doing my "best movies of 2014" until next week, when I'll have finished my movie challenge and will be reorganizing most of the movies of 2014. So this is my last regular Best of 2014 post, aside from the movie one, which will be written next Monday or Wednesday.

This last year, I set a book challenge goal on Goodreads of 100 books. Thanks to my Kindle and my insomnia, I met that goal and read ten extra. These were my favorite ones I read last year:

Books I Wholeheartedly Recommend

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This was a reread, and I found it just as delightful and engaging as I had the last time I reread it, years ago. I got seriously sucked into this story.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. I got this for Christmas in 2013, and it was everything I could have hoped. It contained all my favorite stories from the Hyperbole and a Half blog, plus plenty of others. I laughed out loud a lot.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. This is the author that wrote Gone Girl, although I haven't read that one yet. But based on this one, I very much want to. This book is beautifully written, with a very relatable main character and a good mystery to solve. She even resolves it in a way that with any other author would have seemed far-fetched, but somehow she makes it work.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I read A Prayer for Owen Meany a year or two ago and loved it. While this one isn't quite that great, it's still a fascinating story. I got really wrapped up in the lives of these characters.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. I discovered this year that I really like Anne Tyler's writing. I read three or four of hers and this one was my favorite. Her characters are really easy to connect to. And I particularly liked this book's method of cycling between the characters, telling all their stories a piece at a time.

Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrow. So apparently this is the second in a series, and I didn't realize that when I picked it up, but it's a super fun YA time travel story, so I may have to look up some of the others.

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall and Escape by Carolyn Jessop. Apparently this year I was really into memoirs of women escaping the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. The second book in particular looks at how this specific polygamous sect got more and more cultlike, with leaders claiming to hear directly from God about creating new rules that, oddly enough, benefited them the most. These are fascinating reads and very exciting when the women finally make it to freedom.

Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie. I think this was one of the few Christies I never read -- I certainly didn't remember it at all. In many ways it's a typical Christie mystery, but it's set in ancient Egypt, and seeing one of her stories unfold in this very unusual setting is great fun.

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft. Although there are quite a few startling moments of blatant racism that leave a bad taste in my mouth, there are also so many excellent gothic horror stories, my favorites being "The Curse of Yig" and "The Colour Out of Space." This was well worth the long read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey. Since my favorite thing about Tina Fey has always been her writing, it's probably not a surprise that I really enjoyed her autobiography. I read most of it in the day when our power was shut off during 2014's snowpocalypse, so my memories of this book largely involve snuggling under a blanket with Jacob and my Kindle.

Books I Read and Have Ranked High on Goodreads But I Don't Really Remember Much About Them At the End of the Year So Maybe They're Not As Good As I Thought When I Read Them

Cloaked by Alex Finn

Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

The Better to Hold You by Alisa Sheckley

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke


  1. I read Dark Places and Bossypants this year too. I know DP's ending is predictable, but I kind of liked the neat little bow I was given. That book was just good. I'm terrified for the movie version though. Charlize Theron and Chloe Grace Moretz do not seem like good fits.

    1. Yeah, the ending of Dark Places was very satisfying. I hadn't heard about the movie version, though. Those are... some odd casting choices.