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Don't Be Afraid of the Dork

Covered in dog hair, Obsessed with books, Wondering what it's all about. I suspect the answer is ice cream and the ocean.

My Favorite Reads of 2014

City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón Magic Bleeds -  Ilona Andrews The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell The Son - Philipp Meyer Foundling - D.M. Cornish The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

It's time to reflect on the past year's reading and try to choose the ones I loved best.   I read more new releases then I used to in the past but my list is still going to be primarily books published outside of 2014.


My overall impression of this year's reading was that it was so-so.  I don't feel like I found any books that I really love.  However, I did give 7 books 5 out of 5 stars which I was surprised at.  Upon revisiting to make this list I downgraded one to 4 stars but otherwise I stand by my ratings.  I must be going soft in my old age.  All the five star books are on here as books 1-6.  Then I'll have to choose 4 out of the 29 books I gave 4 stars to??!!  My overall impression of the year and my ratings don't really agree with each other!  So maybe it was a better year than I am remembering...


1) Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore


A lovely poetic and philosophical book about nature and grieving.  So many beautiful and incisive observations and so peaceful. [this book does not seem to be in the Booklikes library:(]


2) City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett 


A 2014 release! I think this may be the only 2014 release on the list - sorry! A book that skates the line between fantasy and mystery with gods who interfere in every day life and a smart, funny and tough heroine.  Icing on the cake is fantastic world building.


3) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro


This book is set in 1950's England and cast as the journal of an old school Butler.  The voice is entirely unique and the way the book slowly unravels and brings home its point is mesmerizing.


4) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 


The hype around this book when it first came out made me avoid it for a long while, a fact for which I am now kicking myself.  This may be the favorite book I read this year.  Dreamy and atmospheric and utterly delightful.   This book mixes mystery, fantasy, historical fiction and romance in a way that I was completely absorbed by. 


5) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


I think I am starting to see somewhat of a trend in that many of the books I loved this year ignored the barriers of genre.  The Shadow of the Wind is an epic historical romance and mystery which also flirts with the idea of the supernatural.  Great characters and great storytelling.


6) Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews


This is book four in the Kate Daniel's Urban Fantasy series.  This is a series that just keeps getting better with each successive book and I enjoyed this one so much.  They won't win any awards for lyrical writing but the story is fast paced and well plotted, the characters and setting are complex and interesting, the romance is hot and believable and not over powering.    


7) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell


A group of unlikely people, led by Jesuit priests, make first contact on an alien planet and it does not end well.  That's the basic plot but the book is so much more than that.  It's a book about religion and faith which is filled with tragedy that somehow manages also to have a great sense of humor.  An engrossing read that also happens to tackle some big ideas.


8) The Son by Philipp Meyer


A generational tale spanning a family in Texas from the mid-1800s to the 1980s.  It's a personal story of each of the three narrators which each have a very unique voice.  Through the narrator it manages to tell the tale of this one crazy Texas family and also of how the west was won or more accurately perhaps taken by force and corruption.  It's epic and brutal in the best possible way.  


9) The Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish (3 books: Foundling, Lamplighter, Factotum)


A fantasy middle-grade series that has a somewhat Dickensian flare and is based in a very rich imagination.  I would love for there to be more sequels.  It has one of the coolest and most interesting female characters I've encountered in a long time.


10) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


The last one is always the hardest to choose but think this one edges out a few others listed below.  This classic Science Fiction Comedy novel just made me so happy.  Satire at its most lovable. 


Honorable Mention:  11/22/63 by Stephen King, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Martian by Andy Weir, The Lunar Chronicles by Marrissa Meyer and The Lovegrove Legacy by Alyxandra Harvey, and Sabriel by Garth Nix.


What books had your toes curling in delight in 2014?