Reading for Pleasure – 2014

Time, once again, for a recap of a year’s worth of reading. I did not hit my goal of 40 books or 15,000 pages. But, I did read some pretty great books and was about on par with 2012-me. I ended up reading a total of 33 books and 11,000 pages, which is nothing to sneeze at. I stretched myself to try out a variety of genres (mystery, true crime, romance, YA, graphic novels, etc.); I kept up my desire to read more non-fiction, and I even pushed through a few “classics.” Here are the books I read in 2014, with tiny tidbits as needed (for full reviews, see my Goodreads page) (as always my must-read favorites are marked with *’s):

  1. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, David Foster Wallace
    Mmm this had its amazing moments, but oh man can DFW ramble on and on at times…
  2. One Day, David Nicholls
    Bleh. This was a disappointing rip-off of better stuff (e.g. Time Traveler’s Wife and When Harry Met Sally).
  3. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
    So sad but still pretty good. You were warned.
  4. Anne of Green Gables,* L.M. Montgomery
    Yes. This series will always be a favorite, particularly the early books.
  5. Anne of Avonlea, L.M. Montgomery
  6. Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery
  7. Prayers for Rain,* Dennis Lehane
    This was a surprisingly good mystery. Makes me want to read more Lehane. Very gritty; would recommend.
  8. I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa, Charles Brandt
    Ah, the spring of true crime. This was interesting and well-researched.
  9. In Cold Blood,* Truman Capote
    Ooof. So good. Long, but I have no idea what could be cut. Occasionally takes liberties, but overall amazing.
  10. The Areas of My Expertise, John Hodgman
    Mmm. Not my favorite. My inner-history-major doesn’t like fake facts, even if they are funny.
  11. Defending Jacob, William Landay
    This was fairly decent throughout but the ending felt like a let-down. This is a common problem I have with mysteries…
  12. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories,* Carson McCullers
    Oh, Carson McCullers. Such pure Gothic delight and goodness.
  13. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
    Not as Gothic, but definitely still a lovely slow burn.
  14. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
    OH my goodness this book just became an endless parade of sadness. Every character that was introduced I just thought “Ok, what the most horribly poetic way for this person’s life to go terribly wrong,” because then it happened.
  15. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
    Oh, the classics. Picked this one up again after abandoning it in undergrad. Slow, but with some amazing reflections on gender roles.
  16. Outlander,* Diana Gabaldon
    I am not ashamed! This book is guilty-pleasure goodness. Might give a few more books in the series a try…
  17. People Are Unappealing: Even Me, Sara Barron
    Fluffy and entertaining memoir.
  18. Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
    Oi. Read this in a weekend. First Vonnegut. Can understand the appeal. He is different and strange and definitely not for everyone.
  19. Eleanor & Park,* Rainbow Rowell
    This book is a lovely illustration of mid-teen years and awkwardness and longing. SO much good stuff about having a less-than-ideal family situation but somehow not wanting anyone to know/empathize/whatever. Gave me all of the feels. Would recommend.
  20. Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays,* Joan Didion
    Oh sweet beautiful non-fiction. Some people have a problem with Joan Didion. I have no such problem.
  21. White Bird in a Blizzard, Laura Kasischke
    Read this one after seeing the interesting-looking movie trailer. Whipped through it quickly and loved the creepy tone Kasischke establishes. Still haven’t seen the movie, but want to…
  22. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
    Oh man. I had a variety of feelings about this book. Some parts (e.g. soldier friendships, his blunt writing style) were lovely, while others were horrendous (portrayal of women as crazy/crazed/ridiculous/stupid/vapid). Yikes.
  23. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen,* Lucy Knisley
    This short graphic novel was sweet and cute. I love a food-based memoir. Give me all of the food-based memoirs.
  24. What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
    While I was initially against reading this book-club book (overt, gratuitously sad books piss me off), I ended up enjoying it for the most part.
  25. 11/22/63,* Stephen King
    YES. Such a good suspenseful novel about time travel and JFK and love and LIFE. Read it. I would recommend this book to ANYONE.
  26. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
    Lahiri’s writing is beautiful. I still think I prefer her short stories, but this book is enjoyable.
  27.  The Arrival, Shaun Tan
    A graphic novel without any dialogue/text that succeeded in making me cry. Enough said.
  28. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail,* Bill Bryson
    This book is highly entertaining and will make you want to go thru-hiking.
  29. The Maze Runner,* James Dashner
    A very great start to what is hopefully a good series. Cannot wait to see the movie. (Although, ugh, they better explain why the group of teenagers who are charged with saving the world is ALL DUDES plus one lady…)
  30. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
    Enjoyed this much more than his fiction. Apparently he *does* have respect for some women, which is encouraging. Wish he could have finished the book himself, as I’m sure it would have been better. Would recommend.
  31. Bad Feminist: Essays, Roxane Gay
    This book is amazing you should read it now. My favorite non-fiction of the year. Never has my desire to photocopy chapters and mail them to friends and family been so strong. Favorite essays: How to Be Friends With Another Woman; Blurred Lines, Indeed; The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances from 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help; The Alienable Rights of Women
  32. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
    Read this for book club; felt mixed about it. It’s a slow burn and achieves a very distinct tone. However, parts felt gratuitous and it’s hard to enjoy a book with a (seemingly gratuitous) body count. Oh well…
  33. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena Dunham
    Read this book to see what all the hype was about. Feel pretty much the same way about the book as I do about Girls: presents some interesting/underrepresented stories; does not (and should not be expected to) speak for the entire female population; is an interestingly unapologetic spectacle.

Have decided to scale back my 2015 reading goals a bit: I want to read 30 books or 10,000 pages, whichever comes first. I want to maintain my commitment to reading new genres, conquering classics, and throwing in some non-fiction here and there. Happy reading, everyone!

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