Favorite Reads of 2014

This year I read an unprecedented number of books (91!!), which is a new personal record. If anything, I wish I had time to read more, because my e-reader is still filled with awesome books I haven’t touched yet. Here’s a list of my favorites from 2014.

Adult:
15819028The Golem and the Jinni – by Helene Wecker. A beautifully written blend of historical fiction (turn-of-the-century Manhattan), fantasy, and Jewish/Arab folklore and mythology, this was the best adult fiction I’ve read in a long time. In fact, I liked it so much I read it twice—once in January, and then again this month.

My Salinger Year – by Joanna Rakoff. A delightful recounting of the author’s experience, in the late 1990s, as an assistant at a literary agency whose clients included J.D. Salinger. The memoir wasn’t so much about the author’s interactions with Salinger, as her first year struggling to survive on her own, in a “real” job, with a crappy apartment and an obnoxious boyfriend (a wannabe writer). I loved the details about her work for the old-school agency, a place that used typewriters for all their correspondence and only had one computer for everyone in the office!

Middle Grade:
20454626Hook’s Revenge – by Heidi Schulz. I’m not a huge fan of J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan, although I love the world he created. This book took one of the best parts of the original (the pirates!) and made them the focus. I loved the spirited main character (Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn) and the wonderfully snarky narrator, reminiscent of Lemony Snicket. Bonus points for the gorgeous illustrations by John Hendrix.

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! – by Tim Federle. If I’d written a favorite books post in 2013, I would have included Better Nate Than Ever among my top MG reads that year. The sequel does not disappoint. Having successfully landed a role in E.T.: The Broadway Musical, Nate now has to contend with all manner of Broadway types, including child stars with more experience than him. Nate’s fantastic voice, coupled with the author’s inside knowledge of Broadway, make this a wonderful read for any theater geek.

Young Adult:
14061957The Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising) – by Leigh Bardugo. Technically, this isn’t one book, but I’m lumping all three books together, because, after Ruin & Rising came out, I binge-read the trilogy over the course of a lazy summer week. This is, hands down, my favorite fantasy series of the year. The world-building, the intricate magical system, the great characters made this a superb trilogy.

Stitching Snow – by R. C. Lewis. I’m a huge sucker for fairy-tale-inspired stories, and this is one of the more creative ones I’ve read. It’s a reimagining of Snow White, set on a mining colony in outer space, with droids filling in for the seven dwarves, and a truly nasty evil queen. There was lots of fast-paced action, plus enough political intrigue to keep the story moving without being confusing. I also appreciated that it was a stand-alone, with a satisfying ending.

18079719Grasshopper Jungle – by Andrew Smith. This is the third book I’ve read by Winger, and they’re all so good. This one, however, had such an insane premise that it reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing. Mix together hordes of giant, flesh-eating grasshopper-creatures, a coming-of-age story brimming with sexual confusion, a colorful cast of small town characters, and an apocalyptic vibe, and you get a truly memorable read. I devoured this one straight through, without stopping.

Of Scars and Stardust – by Andrea Hannah. You know the kind of book, that when it ends, you think, “Wait. What happened there? What was true and what wasn’t?” That’s the kind of book this is. I won’t give anything away, but this is a dark, brooding read that makes Ohio in the winter seem like the spookiest place you could ever live. Beautiful, atmospheric writing.

What were some of your favorite reads of 2014?

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Favorite Reads of 2014

  1. I haven’t read HOOK’S REVENGE yet, but here’s an interesting side note. I went to high school with the illustrator! I recently saw him pop up in my Twitter feed, followed his profile to his website and saw the connection to this book and a number of others. It’s funny because I remember him drawing in high school. He’s two years older than me, but we were in orchestra together, and I was friends with his sister, who is a year younger than me. Anyway, small world!

  2. casacullen says:

    That’s so cool. I love it when you find out you have a personal connection to someone in the writing/art world.

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