December 2014 archive
So, even though I wasn’t with We Still Read at the beginning of the year, like any book-crazy mama, I did set goals. Here’s how I did on this year’s goals…
60 80 100 Books — I started the year with a goal of 60 because, while I’d read 85 books the previous year, I also knew that work was going to be ramping up and I’d be taking graduate classes in the fall. Apparently that wasn’t an issue! This year I read 103 new books and reread 2 for a grand total of 105 books! I’m pretty sure this is my most readingest year as an adult. Yay!
- Read 5 Classics — Well…this was a fail. I didn’t even read one. Oops.
- Write About My Reading — I did some monthly posts on my blog and started writing here in September, so I’ll count this goal as met, though ongoing.
Overall, 2014 was a great reading year for me. I read a ton and have really enjoyed sharing my reads with you! So, what’s on the horizon for next year?
- Read 100 Books — I have a hard time setting numerical reading goals. I don’t want the number to be pressure, just motivation. I’m sticking with 100 books because 8.5 books was the average number of books I read per month in 2014. I feel like I should be able to continue with that pace. Of course, I reserve the right to increase my goal at any time!
- Read 5 Books by Shirley Jackson — My goal for reading 5 classics a year never seems to work out, so I’d decided to take a new slant. I decided to choose an author and read at least a portion of her body of work. I chose Shirley Jackson because I loved “The Lottery” but never read anything else by her. Some investigating led me to add several titles to my to-read list. I’m excited about this goal!
- Reflect on my Nonfiction Reading — I love nonfiction and read a fair amount of it for work on teaching and leadership. I find these books grab me and I’m inspired and motivated while reading them, but I don’t always put my learning into practice. I’d like my nonfiction reading this year to include reflection and goals for implementation.
I hope your 2014 was filled with stacks of good books and that 2015 brings more of the same! Here is my New Year’s wish to you, from the fabulous Neil Gaiman:
That’s one long post title, but my brain is fried. My daughter is onto her second week of winter break from school, so things are getting a little crazy here. Not to mention this post is coming SUPER late today, but I had an eye doctor’s appointment and spent all afternoon dilated and hiding from the sun. So, I’m not giving an in depth wrap up full of yummy stats because, I’m already eying my bed.
Quick and dirty today folks!
As of right now (I add this because I might sneak another book in this year):
2014 books read: 151
Total page count: 49,333
My goals for 2014:
1. Read 85 books. EXCEEDED
2. Read at least 10 presidential biographies. EXCEEDED (I read TWELVE this year)
3. At least 50% of what I read should books that I own. DIDN’T HAPPEN. I don’t have the exact breakdown, but I know my library usage exceeded 50% (by a lot!)
4. Use my e-reader more in 2014. SORTA. I read more e-books via the library, but not many I own.
5. Be more diverse in my genre/subgenres. MET. I definitely read more fantasy and sci-fi, but still a lot of romance and YA.
My goals for 2015:
1. FINISH the Presidential Challenge. If I keep up the one a month, I’ll finish in December 2015.
2. Read 125 books.
3. Read/Clear out half of my TBR Owned bookcases. Ideally, I’d like to downsize by two bookcases, but that’s pretty lofty.
4. Increase the genres in my reading, add in more non-Presidential biographies and non-fiction.
5. Reread more. I love diving back into a loved book, and I need to do it more!
So, that’s it for tonight. I’m pretty happy with my reading year and am already looking at 2015 with excitement!
2014 was not a good year for me, reading-wise. I have read only 47 books, and six of those were re-reads. I shelved nearly as many unfinished books. So I didn’t have a lot to go on for a Best Of list….BUT- there have been some very good ones! I admit some. (like The Dinner) were not well regarded by yours truly, but I honestly think it’s because of the frame of mind I’ve been in most of the year.
With that in mind, when I selected my top 10, I didn’t go by the number of stars given at time of reading. Nope. These are the top 10 books I’d go back and read again, and buy you a copy while I’m at it. Some only received 4 stars on GR, but I’m not one to hold that against them.
In no particular order- here are my top ten for 2014:
1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy)
This wins the Series Finale trophy. I listened to this whole series through on audio and it’s the best three Audible credits I’ve spent this year.
2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell-
I would read her grocery list, but somehow haven’t made it to Landline yet. But this is another winning example of Rowell’s excellent wit.
3. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood –
I read this immediately upon receipt of my preorder- with two kids and a full time job, it took me two days to read the nearly 900 page glorious continuation of the Greatest Love Story Ever.
4. Damsel Distressed-
Kelsey’s debut novel (and companion album) arrived and were devoured without hours of each other. Kelsey had a special touch to the story that left me thinking of Imogen for weeks afterward.
5. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian-
This one gets Best Horror. That’s not something I read a whole lot of this year. This one involves young children, and I really tend to avoid those since having kids. But instead of returning this unfinished book to the library (as I did with the majority of books this year), I renewed the borrowing period and doggedly eased through it over a three week period. I had to find out what happened!
6. Drawing of the Three-
I started The Dark Tower series out of a sense of obligation. The first one was total rot and I barely made it through on audio. Book two, The Drawing of the Three drew me in and made me want to finish the series.
7. My Reading Life – Pat Conroy.
That masterful artisan of words wrote a book about his love of words. ‘Nuff said.
8. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children –
I really enjoyed this one- so much that I’ve requested my library get book 2 ASAP.
9. The Prince of Tides-
10. I’ll Give You the Sun
This book gave me all the feels and all the happys. It reminded me why I love reading in the first place.
Oof. This has not been my reading year, friends. I fell short of my goal (more on that some other time), and I suspect what played a major role in that was my book choices fizzled so often. Ho hum.
Only three of the books I chose for my top 10 (ish – you’ll see) list are standalone novels. The rest were sequels of some sort. My reading year, I tell you!
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Anderson is one of my favorite authors. She does an impeccable job of telling raw, emotional, important stories, and this one was no exception. It’s a must read!
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
I’m a loyal library patron, so I don’t buy many books. If I buy a book – especially a series – that means I absolutely love it and intend to read it again. I asked Santa for Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone series this year (and received it!), because it is that good. It’s a rare treat when an author closes out a series with a satisfactory bang, which is exactly what Dreams of Gods and Monsters did.
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Someday, Gabaldon will finish her Outlander series and break hearts all over the world. This is book eight of the ongoing series (with the first published more than 20 years ago), and while it isn’t the last, it ended in a way that would be comfortable if it ended up being the last. Just in case. Because you never know. (The last book ended with a major cliffhanger, and I would have rioted if something happened to prevent some sort of resolution being published. It takes Gabaldon years to complete each book, so there’s always that chance. But we won’t talk about that.)
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Oh, Jandy Nelson. This woman has my book-loving heart. Nelson’s writing is simply beautiful. Her words float off the page in ways I’ve never experienced before, and the stories she tells are just so gorgeous. This is another must-read.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
The Anna/Lola/Isla books may be my favorite fun series of all time. They aren’t deep and meaningful, but they’re a quality way to pass the time. The characters Perkins has given us are realistic and flawed but oh so lovable at the same time. I love Perkins’ writing like I love candy.
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The second book in a series sometimes mellows out more than I’d like, and while this one was more mellow than The Fifth Wave, I finished the book shaking my head and trying to figure out what just happened. It’s like what Monica Geller says, “Things just. Got! Interesting!”
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Rowell’s climb up the age ladder has been interesting. She’s knocked it out of the park with a high school story, a college story and a young-professional story, and she did it again with the married-and-established crowd. Rowell gets me. Her writing really, really gets me.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
If you haven’t read Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series, GET ON IT. Fantasy. Paranormal. Friendship. Romance. History. Adventure. Cars. What more could a reader ask for?
I said my list was a top 10-ish because I only listed eight separate books, but five of them have at least one book that comes before it, and I don’t recommend you read any of the above if you haven’t read the other books in its series.
Happy Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve is actually my favorite part of Christmas. I love the magic and anticipation. If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you the Happiest of Christmases. If you don’t celebrate, I wish you a warm day full of books and yummy treats!
And now, my favorite books of 2014…
I cannot express how much I love this series. I actually read The Raven Boys and Dream Thieves twice this year in anticipation of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. If you haven’t started, make these books a goal for 2015.
I was definitely on a Maggie Stiefvater kick this year, but The Scorpio Races is definitely my favorite Stiefvater and one of my favorite books of all time.
This is one of the most beautifully written books. If you’ve ever lost someone, this book will help heal your heart.
Usually I finish trilogies a little disappointed, but Laini Taylor did not let me down. Not even a little. She is such an amazing storyteller, and this series is an all-time favorite of mine.
I already reviewed this, but here’s a second recommendation. Great nonfiction.
How have I never read Maureen Johnson before this year? Creepy paranormal fiction at it’s finest. I loved this. Obviouslyl
I read all three books in the His Fair Assassins trilogy this year. Each focused on a different character and her point of view. Assassin nuns are so badass.
Swoon. That is all.
This might be the most uplifting book I’ve ever read. I thought it would be cheesy, but Brene Brown is so honest and real. I quote this book often and may have given several copies as gifts this year.
Are we sensing a theme in my 2014 reading yet? Yes, I have an addiction to YA fantasy. This series has been out for quite a while. I remember shelving them when I worked at Borders in college, but somehow I never got around to reading them. Wow! Garth Nix has built a fascinating world. I devoured these books. You should too.
It was hard to limit myself to 10, but these are the books that really stood out for me this year. Hope you will take a chance on some of them!
In no particular order and without further ado:
1. The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker
I bought this book then immediately bought it for my mom and started recommending it to every one that has ever read a book. I said that this list was in no particular order, but when I started thinking about a list, I knew that this one would be on the top because wow.
2. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
Writing and love and marriage and all things good. An excellent, EXCELLENT essay collection that I dogeared so badly that it doesn’t even make sense. “Oh I think that was on that one dog-eared page… oh yeah, I DOGEARED ALL OF THEM.”
3. One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp
I know that I was late to this party, but I’m glad that I came. The book was maybe a bit overwritten, but hey. I have come back to the ideas of this book SEVEN MILLION TIMES this year. “thankyouthankyouthankyou lookatthislookatthislookatthis” has become my battlecry, the beat I march too.
4. And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
I thought I loved this guy, but man, I had no idea. His books are getting progressively better and better. This one touched me deeply and I have thought about it for months and months. I’ll read this dude’s grocery list.
5. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
This was the first book I read last year and I could just tell that I may have a bad reading year- how on earth can all the other books expect to add up? This mammoth of a book just blew me away about 800 times.
6. We are Water, by Wally Lamb
If you ever hear someone slow clapping and chanting “WALLY! WALLY! WALLY!” that person is probably me. I’m realizing that this is really just a list of my favorite authors and their newest books, but you know what? Whatever. This is my list and I love Wally Lamb.
7. Landline, by Rainbow Rowell
Ummm, this is proving the point from #6, but RAINBOW ROWELL, HOW CAN I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH!? My friend Tameka read this, sent me a text to ask if I’d read it yet (no) and immediately bought it for me and had it shipped to my house. “You NEED this,” was all the note said. Well, I did. Quotably, re-readably, huggibly good.
8. Undertaking by Audrey Magee
Another recommendation from a reading friend. Julie read this and sent me a text. “You have to read this. It’s dark and twisty and you’ll love it.” Is it awful that everyone knows how morbid I am? So I got it from the library and read it, mouth agape, in about 8 minutes. I couldn’t look away. Remarkably good.
9. Big Little Lies, by Lianne Moriarty
This is really just a stand in for the crazy amount of Lianne Moriarty books I read this year. I think I read every single one of her books this year. I had a tough reading year and kept getting bogged down by heavy books but don’t really read fluff so this was the perfect mix. Easy to read but gritty topics. I loved this one and am thankful to Lianne for making my reading year move along.
10. The Martian, by Andy Weir
I just finished this one yesterday so may be slapping this one into the top ten on emotion alone, but that’s how these things work, right? I loved this and know that I’ll be thinking on it for a long time. I am an absolute space-travel nerd and LOVE survival books so this was pretty much written with me as the target audience. It completely worked and I can’t wait to see the movie, which I just found out will start Matt Damon. Casting director, good work, friend.
(I tried to put cover pictures. Sorry if words aren’t enough. It wasn’t working and I don’t have the brain power to figure it out. It’s December 23rd. Give me a break 😉 )
The year isn’t over yet, and already I’ve read 149 books in 2014. Of those (so far) I’ve rated 77 books with 5 stars. SEVENTY-SEVEN books. Yes, I’m an emotional star-rater, so I’m generous in general. But, that aside, this was a SPECTACULAR year for me. Trying to narrow this down to a Top Ten is torture.
In no particular order:
1. Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke – I love Kels and Imogen and this book is POWERFUL.
2. Marie Lu – I know, this isn’t a book specifically, but I read the entire Legend series AND her newest, The Young Elites, and they were ALL five stars. So BAM, she gets her own spot on the list.
3. This is also cheating, double so because I didn’t read the entire series in 2014. But, Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series was my favorite contemporary romance read(s) of the year. I LOVED this series.
4. Kiersten White is hilarious, but this one was dark, funny, and historical. Also, this cover is the best. SWOON!
5. These Broken Stars – I never wanted this book to end and can’t wait for the second book in the companion trilogy later this month. It was beautiful and stark and sexy and gritty and cool!
6. The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi and Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs – I’m cramming these into one spot just because they both packed an emotional punch for me. Contemporary, but beautiful and haunting and I’ve thought about each one ever since I finished.
7. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – I reviewed this book on WSR earlier this fall, but basically it made my Top Ten because I didn’t have a single other book that literally made my stomach hurt the way this one did.
8. Series Finale – Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood – DoGaM was AMAZING. I’m already planning a reread. Sisters’ Fate was a great conclusion, full of mystery, magic, and Finn.
9. The Rules of Scoundrels by Sarah Maclean – Another series I read in 2014, and the final book just came out. This series was H-O-T and the period was fabulous and the gaming hell was wickedly delightful.
10. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard – One of my favorite presidential biographies of the year. This read like a novel, but enlightened like non-fiction.
So, I have two more even though I’m technically out of numbers. I’m throwing the rules out the window for these two. Because, even though I haven’t finished the Throne of Glass series yet, and Raven Boys #4 isn’t out yet (I reread #1-2 in prep for #3’s release), these two books/series/whatever are already well within my favorite books of all times.
There are a few that I didn’t mention, only because I feel like they’ve gotten a lot of air time on the internet already or because otherwise this list would be huge. But, I can’t skip mentioning them somehow: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour. Open Road Summer by Emory Lord. Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Push Girl by Jessica Love.