Best and Worst of 2014


It’s so much fun, at the end of a year, to look back at all the great things I read and remember how much I loved them. I tried to put together a top ten list, but I got eight and then had a five-way tie for the last two spots, so I’m just going to stick with the eight. These are in no particular order, because I don’t think I COULD put them any of them above or below the others.

  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
  • Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
  • Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel
  • Either Purple Hibiscus or Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—I read all of her books this year and can’t decide between these two as the best representative. She’s one of my favorite authors now.

Honorable mention: Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce and Abhorsen by Garth Nix, two YA fantasy series I really liked but also can’t choose between.

Competitors in the five-way tie:

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
  • The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
  • Euphoria, by Lily King
  • 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helene Bertino
  • The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman

Bottom three:

  • China Dolls, by Lisa See
  • The Lost Sisterhood, by Anne Fortier
  • The Three Incestuous Sisters, by Audrey Niffenegger

Total number of books read: 208

Of those…

48 were adult fiction
26 were adult nonfiction
22 were young adult
28 were middle grade
approximately 70 were children’s picture books
6 were juvenile nonfiction
32 were graphic novels
15 were audiobooks

I reread 24 books: the Harry Potter series, The Poisonwood Bible, Mary Poppins, Fun Home, and the first fourteen books in the Babysitters Club series. Which I hadn’t read since the late 90s, and which I actually had a lot of fun tracking down at Half Price Bookseven ordering a couple onlinebecause only the first eight were available from any of my libraries.

My favorite of the authors I discovered is obviously Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but I feel excellent about the prospects with Sarah Waters, Allegra Goodman, David Mitchell, and Hannah Kent, too.

Looking at ratings (on Goodreads, of course), I gave one-star ratings to five books and two-star ratings to ten books, which is a strangely perfect proportion. Three- and four-star books are by far the majority, which I guess must mean one of the following things: that I’m nice in my ratings, that I am easily pleased, or that I do a good job vetting my books before I read them. To be honest it’s probably some of each; maybe slightly less the middle one. I gave three-star ratings to 69 books and four-star ratings to 89, leaving 34 books that got five stars—and if you take out the nine rereads, that means I read 25 five-star books for the first time.

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