My 10 favorite reads of 2014

These are my favorite books that I read this year (12/1/13-11/31/14), not that came out this year, but that I actually plowed through this year and thought, that was good. I say "my" because obviously,everyone has their own taste and mine might be far from yours.

Made me laugh:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The description of this book wasn't that interesting to me, but I ended up laughing, rooting for the characters, and loving the quirky, funny romance between two flawed people. I'd recommend this to people who like quirky stories, love stories, and fun characters. A great holiday present for a sister who's about to go on vacation.

A real thinker:

The Circle by Dave Eggers

I'm a technoholic. I dream of the day when logins are somehow more seamless. I love whipping out my phone to pay for Starbucks or LevelUp. This book really really made me think--and kind of scared me, too. Especially with the push to put body cameras on police, this is an interesting story. This book is great for anyone like me--invested in technology, and any luddites out there... it will confirm their paranoia. :)

The perfect dose of sugar:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

This book was just so absurd, but in it's absurdity, I really enjoyed reading it! The plot wasn't as wrapped up as I wanted, but it was still the perfect, absurd, beach read. I'd recommend this to girls who someday want to wear Louboutins, to people who are interested in crazy cultures, to someone who takes the subway or is looking for a book you can breeze through that's glittery and fun.

The book that had me in awe:

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

This book was beautifully written. It's the second of Maggie Shipstead's books I've read and she's now my favorite author. I love her way with words, characters, plot. She's just brilliant. For anyone interested in ballet, in relationships, in family, in secrets. Wonderful to curl up with when you have some time to fall in love with prose.

Nonfiction book club book that was enthralling:

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This book was so readable. It's history--but it feels alive. Well researched, well written, really interesting both historically and personally. I couldn't put it down. I recommended it to my mom and dad who both loved it, my book club loved it, anyone with a passing interest in American history, college sports, WWII would appreciate this book.

A historical fiction that took me to a vivid WWII:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer

A blind school-aged girl, a smart education-hungry boy, and how their lives are transformed in Nazi Europe. Doer's beautiful writing will appeal to anyone who enjoys beautifully written prose. This is the book everyone talked about this year, so a good one for moms and aunts who talk books with their friends.

A quiet, beautiful, startling novel:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell

A quiet book about the end of the civilization as we know it.  The story moves through time in a beautiful way, it follows characters as they lose technology and modern life, but maintain their dignity and hope. I'd recommend this to a lover of literature, someone interested in anthropology, someone who loves a beautifully written, haunting story.

Potential in an author, wonderful sense of setting

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I think wonderful things will come from this author. It's a great debut novel, well-written and with a solid foundation. I'd recommend this to people who like finding debut authors--I think this author will get even better on her second book.
Book that had me in tears:

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I like young adult literature and this was a great one. Love, family, loss, all wrapped together. Really a good read. For a teen (or adult!) who likes Rainbow Rowell and John Green, who's angsty and emo, who likes art.

Book that surprised me:

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff

I was apprehensive about this book, but I was a huge Rakoff fan so wanted to read it and wow, the iambic pentameter was just beautiful. As were the stories. It was too short, as was his life. It was lyrical, beautiful, and just a completely stunning read. For people who love language, who love beautiful prose, who loved hearing David Rakoff on NPR.

I saw this quote in an article and loved it and think the books I recommended basically ascribe to this, mayyyyyybe not CRA, but it's so entertaining it basically outs a crazy lifestyle while understanding it's absurdity.

"I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it`s reflecting life — toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things — and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict." Greer Garson 1990

There are so many "best of the year" lists and recommendations for gifts. Here are just a few resources:

The Penguin Hotline--they'll help you pick the perfect gift

Books on the Nightstand selected books

WaPo best 10 books of the year

NYTimes best 10 of the year (I've only read 1.25 of their list of 100 notables... ha.)

10 Best Cookbooks of 2014

NPR Best Books of 2014

Penguin Random House did an awesome thing-they have a list of the best of 2014 lists (that they keep updating)


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