Greetings Fellow Wordy Nerds! I have been quite absent since August – grad school will do that to you! But I have been busy reading – mostly class-related, but still, it was reading. I decided to post my year in review for several different categories, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction and Fiction. I will start with the YA fiction.
My Favorite Five YA Fiction Books of 2014:
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Such a great story, I fell in love with Gaiman with Ocean, but this one was just a lovely book about a boy whose family is killed when he is a baby. He is raised in a graveyard by ghosts, hidden so he does not meet the same fate.
4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Such a great way to show how other races are subjected to discrimination and bias, from both whites and those in their own communities.
3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Touching and funny, I laughed so hard at so many scenes in this book.
2. Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I fell in love with Maberry’s series – this is, hands down, my second favorite zombie series, and my favorite YA series period.
1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. So many people were angry about this book, but it was deftly written, so interesting and just shocking. Great read, and it’s a quick one too!
My Top Five Science Fiction Reads for 2014 (Sadly, I did not manage to squeeze in The Martian):
5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The classic, which I had not read until this year. I read it quickly and realized so much of what I read now was influenced by this one seminal work (I feel like a dunce now).
4. Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines. THIS is my favorite zombie series: it is witty, tense, and written so well.
3. Kindred by Octavia Butler. Classic science fiction, Octavia Butler broke down barriers for female science fiction authors. This book is about time travel, which I am agog over. I actually bought it for my birthday last July, only to realize it was on my reading list for my Slavery Narratives class this past fall. Score!
2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Much like Fahrenheit above, I cannot believe it has taken me so long to read this classic dystopian novel. It blew me away, but gave me hope that there is actual adult dystopian fiction, although most of what is popular nowadays is young adult.
1. The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price. This was my favorite science fiction for the year. I loved it. Time travel/parallel dimensions, great characters, wonderful writing, and an author who reaches out to his fans. Excellent.
Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads of 2014:
10. Enslaved, True Stories of Modern Day Slavery by Jesse Sage & Liora Kasten. Admittedly, this was assigned reading, but this book was written so well – it was a collection of narratives from modern day slaves, and in one case, a former slave owner. It really is eye opening and a must read for those who say “slavery was abolished.” No. It wasn’t.
9. Between Two Homelands, Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany , edited by Hedda Kalshoven. Interesting book, letters from a child who left Germany during the Holocaust.
8. Restavec by John Robert Cadet. More assigned reading, but a memoir based on Cadet’s life as a restavec, or child slave in Haiti. So touching, sad, and honest. It was a humbling read. We also got to meet the author in class.
7. Sex and the Founding Fathers by Thomas A. Foster. Humorous read, although I still do not know why I need to know the (possible) size of George Washington’s member?
6. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Assigned reading, a slave narrative. So sad, but also hopeful.
5. Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Great book – not as funny as I would have thought, but I really enjoyed reading that we had some of the same experiences growing up, because we are close to the same age. Reading about her experience when they got cable and HBO brought back so many memories to me!
4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I loved this book about the author and his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. They formed their own book club and shared books for two years before she passed. The book is so much more than a review of books however.
3. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. I read this book just a few months before Ebola came to America – this book is so scary and gripping. It was such a great read.
2. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I am NOT a runner, but I love reading about ultramarathoners – and this book is so interesting. Plus, it introduced the non-running world to Scott Jurek, who is my hero.
1. Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon. If you guessed “assigned reading” – you are right! This book is about the years following the Emancipation Proclamation and the forms of slavery that still existed in the South up through World War II. This book really pissed me off, but was written in such a journalistic style, it was easy to read. I had to stop reading so I didn’t pass the assigned readings.
Now, my Top Ten Fiction Books of 2014:
10. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Great book about the village of Eyam and how they sacrificed by quarantining themselves in an isolated outbreak of the plague.
9. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Post-apocalyptic fiction with something of a twist – a roving band of actors performs Shakespeare years after the Georgia flu has wiped out a large number of people in Canada and the US.
8. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill & Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Scary and horrifying, these two books have a link, other than the paternal one. Doctor Sleep was the sequel to The Shining, the sequel I never even realized I was missing.
7. Lexicon by Max Barry. Great book, I think I’ve blogged about it before, but the book shows the power of words.
6. American Gods by Neil Gaimanan. I fell in love with Gaiman this year. This book was so good, and dark, just the way I like them!
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Beautiful, although it too, is dark. But Gaiman is a beautiful writer and a wonderful storyteller.
4. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I loved this book, although I realize it might not be for everyone. Ursula dies again and again and again, although she cannot fully remember existing before – she does have a sense that she’s been through these things before. Another similar book (that I did not enjoy quite as well) was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. In it, Harry CAN remember all his previous lives, which puts him in danger.
3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Pulitzer winner for 2013. Very long book, plenty of twists and turns. Tartt is an excellent storyteller as well.
2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This one was so much better than The Goldfinch, I believe. Even as I write this, I miss the characters and want to delve back into it.
1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know I blogged about this one, I just have to say that any book that can make me cry for at least an hour (more like two) just because it was OVER – well, that, my friends, is a great book!
And, yes, I did “cheat” by creating my own tie between Stephen King and Joe Hill – this is justifiable. If you’ve read the books, you will know why. Happy Reading in 2015! I will be doing the Read Harder Challenge on Book Riot.