A Year In Books (2014)

There are few things that sum up a year for me more completely than the books I encountered within its confines.

Since spending more time reading is one of my main goals for this coming year, I was slightly surprised to realize that I’d read 36 books last year (not counting books re-read) — not a huge amount, by any means, but not too shabby, either, when considering I’ve been teaching full time since the summer, and was working two jobs in the spring.

So here is my overview of some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the year’s reading:

Best “Just Fun” Book

fangirlRainbow Rowell’s Fangirl — This was somehow utterly perfect.  A book about writing and reading.  About fantasy and escape, and growing up and facing our lives.  It made me want to write, and create, and live.

Runners up (in this particular order): Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (this, while not a great book, had an atmosphere to it, an aura, that has stuck with me through the months)

art objectsBest Nonfiction

Jeanette Winterson’s Art Objects — A book about writing and art that pierces and burns and inspires.   

Runner up: Parker Palmer’s The Undivided Life 

Best Fictionocean at the end

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane — A strange and haunting tale about growing up, and all the things we forget along the way.

Runner up: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (a book filled with wisdom and beauty and the lure of the east)

Best Audiobook 

jonathan strange2Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — I never wanted it to end, and it felt like it never would.

Runner up: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley in Search of America (simply wonderful — a tale about the open road, encountering the other, and the ultimate pull of home)

Best Play murder in the cathedral

T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral — A powerful explosion of language.  Colorful and vibrant and piercing.

Runner up: Moliere’s Tartuffe (an excellent complement to teaching tragedies in my Global Literature class — a chance to talk about J.R.R. Tolkien’s eucatastrophe)

Most Read Author

earthseaUrsula K. Le Guin with 7 (The Earthsea Cycle and The Left Hand of Darkness) — Her books were certainly a highlight, especially The Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and Tehanu.  

Runners up: William Faulkner, with 4; followed by Parker Palmer, Rainbow Rowell, and Annie Dillard, each with 2

Worst Reads

I’d have to say it’s about a tie between Veronica Roth’s Divergent (which lacked any vibrancy of language, and which was forgotten as soon as read) and Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment (the premise of which I adored, but the execution of which was inconsistent, sloppy, and mediocre).


If you’d like to check out all my reads from the year, you can visit my goodreads page, here.

Books on my to-read list for 2015 include Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (which I’m one chapter away from finishing), Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and just about anything by Sigrid Undset, though I especially have my eye on The Master of Hestviken, her biography of Catherine of Sienna, and Stages on the Road.  

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