So my friend Trish (who is practically my reading Twinner) posted this lovely little survey on her site, and she really found it from over at The Perpetual Page Turner, a lovely, lovely little book blog run by Jamie. Seriously, you should go check it out. And because I love surveys nearly as much as I love reading, what was left for me to do other than fill out a survey about what I read this year? Obvi.
Best of Reading in 2014
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Oh god, the possibilities… Americanah was AMAZING and talks about culture and privilege in brand new, interesting ways. I read The Martian three times. And Bad Feminist has burrowed itself in my brain and refuses to come out.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Hmm…maybe John Green’s Looking for Alaska? I’d heard so many good things about it and kept waiting for the magic that didn’t happen for me. I was hoping The Bear would be more insightful instead of a stilted Room-esque adventure where the childish viewpoint hampered the story (one with a choppy layout, to boot). Oh and definitely Lauren Beukes’ follow-up novel Broken Monsters. I counted down the days to when my pre-ordered copy arrived…and was so disappointed by execution of the story. It was fine – it was your basic hard-boiled crime story. What I had expected was so many of the magical noir-esque themes from Shining Girls to be present. None of the story-telling magic was there. Oh! And The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I tried so hard to love that book. And then I tried even hard to like it. None of it worked. The language sounded stilted and forced, the premise was sketchy, the characters didn’t seem warm or investible… It sounded like the kind of story I should love and I couldn’t even finish it. Womp wahhh.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
I was surprised how much Girl with All the Gifts changed my mind. When I started it, I hated the narrator, how it was told through a…small girl…and we got pieces of information in tiny pieces, hand fed. She told rather than showed. But I found myself reading a little bit more, a little bit more, and before I knew it, the story had entirely changed, the narrator had matured, and I found myself really invested in how it played out. Then I handsold it to everyone I had been complaining to. Ha!
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
I tend to push all the books I read and love! I think The Martian was my most successful – all of my readerly friends back home picked it up, a bunch of my reader-group friends online picked it up, and half my sibs and cousins. Seriously, I think Weir should send me a royalty check. Or do a solid and just write his next one a bit faster because NEED more of his imagination is my hands rightnow! I also pushed King’s Dark Tower series to everyone I heard hadn’t read it (even if they weren’t readers), but for some reason, people are more reluctant to read my favorite book of all time. How rude, right?!
5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
The girls and I started reading Anne of Green Gables as our out-loud book right before the holidays. I’ve read it a gazillion times and the girls have seen the brilliant PBS movies, but it’s been fun sharing the story with them. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door was a pretty fun YA read – I crushed harder on it than I maybe want to admit, but all the same, I don’t know that I’ll read the others in the series. I didn’t realize before now how few series I dabbled in this year!
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Roxane Gay, hands down. She is sheer brilliance. I loved reading what she had to say about feminism, growing up, pop culture, politics, and how everything fits together. Even when I didn’t agree with her, or particularly enjoy the topic, I very much enjoyed Gay’s refreshing way of putting together her argument. She always called it like she saw it, she cut through all the bullshit and made sense about very touchy subjects. Bad Feminist should be mandatory for people. All people. How do we make that happen?
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I didn’t really read too many books outside of my comfort zone. I take that back – I read a few romances, but they were pretty ridiculous. So while they fit the “out of my comfort zone” criteria, I can’t say there was a “best” book.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Martian, hands down. I could not read it fast enough! I swear my heart was pounding nearly as fast as our protag’s.
9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I read The Martian three time this year, so there’s a strong possibility a fourth reading is a possibility. I need to make margin notes in my paperback copy of Americanah. I want to read Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair again…because I can’t remember who did it, although I remember I liked the ending.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Gosh, I am bad about remembering these. The Night Guest had a better cover than feel of the writing itself. The House in the Sky was pretty cool, too.
11. Most memorable character of 2014?
I agree with Trish – Emilio from The Sparrow was definitely in the mix. Watney from The Martian. Boris from Goldfinch.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The Sparrow. Americanah. The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham. It wasn’t the most put together storyline, but Cunninham’s writing is gorgeous. The Book of Unknown American by Cristina Henriquez is one of my favorite reads of the year. Everything I Never Told You by Cynthia Ng was gorgeous, but heartbreaking from the very first sentence.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
I feel like I’m mentioning the same books over and over! Bad Feminist made me underline and dogear and shout “YES!” so many times. The Sparrow made me think about faith and finding your path in life, no matter what it might be. And, as random as this sounds, Flight 232 by Laurence Gonzalez, the incredible story of the United Flight that lost all engines and somehow crash-landed without killed most of the passengers, made me think about how everything happens for a reason. Maybe it doesn’t, but that book sure made me think it’s harder to check out if it’s not your time.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
The Sparrow had been recommended to me so many times, but space-travelling Jesuits, man…
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I am really bad about having quotes handy…
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman came in at 114 pages.
Longest: Goodreads tells me the longest book I read (discounting re-reads) was The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, at 843 pages. If we’re including re-reads, I betcha Stephen King’s The Stand would win! That baby’s more than 1100 pages!
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
I wasn’t the only one who thrilled in Tampa by Alissa Nutting because so, so wrong! It’s about a teacher who seduces her students and yes, it’s just as squicky as the tabloids make it out to be.
18. OTP (One True Pairing) of the Year
Umm… Georgie and Neal from Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, I suppose. Or Samantha Reed and Jase Garret. No one’s romantic storyline really knocked my socks off.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Melanie and Miss Justineau from The Girl with All the Gifts.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
I really, really loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I read a few more of her books, but that was the best of the bunch. It was a paler version of The White Mary, but I still loved the stuffing out of it.
21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
So much of my list! I did quite a few readalongs, but The Sparrow for sure would still be on my TBR if the group hadn’t read it!
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
No one really. I guess I’m hard to impress? Eh.
23. Best 2014 debut you read?
The Martian. I’m starting to wonder how many times I’m going to type that title. Heh.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Every book reads that way for me. I might not like the stories, but every place seems just as real when I’m reading. I don’t know how to turn that part off. Some do better than others… but those are the books I like best, so I feel like I’m double-answering that question.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Trying to avoid the obvious The Martian answer here. I guess Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography will work. It was really a lot of fun, well written, and well staged. I didn’t think a choose-your-own autobiography could work…but it did. Gimmicky, but still way more fun than it should have been.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Everything I Never Told You starts with the death of a couple’s obviously favorite daughter, and the rest of the book explores all of the secrets and tiny little things her family kept secret. My heart hurt for their grief, but also because you knew that if they just pooled their resources, they’d figure out what went wrong. GAH. Tissues.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
City of Women by David Gillham. It didn’t come out this year, but I hadn’t heard of it. I love World War II fiction and this one was hard to put down.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
The Sparrow. The Sparrow, The Sparrow, The Sparrow.
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. The title wasn’t lying and I really wasn’t expecting that!
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, because some things happened that were truly, incredibly unfair, and I wasn’t allowed to step in and fix them. (Incredibly good book, though.)
31. Books that I Abandoned?
My name is Katie and I am an unabashed DNFer (Did Not Finish-er). With so many good books out there, it’s impossible to read them all, so why not try to at least stack the deck a little in your favor? The book’s not working for you? Give it a bit to collect itself, then pitch it if it doesn’t work!
There are more questions Jamie posted, but I haven’t done much book blogging this year, and I haven’t really focused on my year ahead. Although I will say that I’d like to focus on my writing a bit more, and I’m going to continue both my Stephen King re-read project, and my journey of reading a biography on all of our presidents.
So there you have it. A glimpse into my reading year. What was yours like? What books should I add to my year ahead?