Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 reads

Books and lists and being concise when I'm normally loquacious all make me giddy with delight, so it's only natural this particular post has become my favorite to write each year.  Looking back over this compilation, it seems I read a decent amount of fluff -- so it goes when most of these were enjoyed during late night nursing sessions, I suppose.  I'm so happy to have discovered Rainbow Rowell and Liane Moriarty {whose novels make up 1/3 of this year's selections!}, both of whom write "chick lit" that won't melt your brain. 

Anyhoodle, let's do this!  By now y'all know the drill... snapshot book reviews in 30 words or less, written in the order in which they were read, with the top five favorites noted denoted with an asterisk. 

The House Girl - I really enjoyed the dual narrators in this easy historical fiction read.

Fangirl* - I'm obsessed with the way Rainbow Rowell writes her characters.  I wasn't sure I could love another of her books as much as Eleanor & Park, but this surpassed my expectations. 

Allegiant - I read this purely out of obligation to finish the trilogy.  I didn't love it, but the ending didn't cop out, soooo... points for effort. 

Sharp Objects* - Dark and twisty with an ending that kept on giving... I need Gillian Flynn to write more novels. 

This Is Where I Leave You* - I can't remember the last book that made me laugh outloud so many times. But the humor is dark and the characters are so gorgeously flawed and fucked up. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette* - So uniquely written and quirky and wonderful. 

11/22/63 - Totally engrossing... all 863 pages of it.  Reading in bed doubles as an arm workout if you're dumb enough to buy a hard copy like your's truly. 

Real Happy Family - Real Shitty Book.  There's a reason this was a free Kindle download -- I'm angry I fell for it. 

The Rosie Project - Predictable but adorably so. 

The Husband's Secret - The gateway drug into my Liane Moriarty Fandom. 

What Alice Forgot - Another delightful delicacy from Moriarty. 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home - When it seems like our collective social conscience is stuck, stories like this are a good reminder of how far we are capable of coming in a short span. 

Black Moon - The journey is better than the destination, but I overlooked the abrupt ending after such a creative premise. 

Landline - The fact that I still really enjoyed this book despite truly disliking one of the main characters is a testament to Rowell's writing. 

Attachments - I liked it better than Landline, but less than E&P and Fangirl. 

The Hypnotist's Love Story - This took longer to hook me than Moriarty's other novels, but I thought the characters were fantastic. Any author who can make you sympathize with a stalker is top notch. 

Delicious! - Ruth Reichl's first novel was entertaining, but not nearly as special as her memoirs {which are some of my favorite reads of all time}. 

Big Little Lies* - My one critique of Moriarty is she wraps her plot points up a little too neatly... BLL followed suit, but I couldn't put it down. 

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" - This made me like Lena Dunham less, Which bummed me out.  Because I really want to like Lena Dunham.

{Clarification: I don't at all think she's lying when she says she was sexually assaulted, and I don't believe she is an incestuous child molester.  I do think she feels she's a speshul snowflayke who experiences life on some sort of deeper plane than the rest of us.  Which is obnoxious.}

Yes Please - This made me like Amy Poehler more.  Which I didn't think was possible. 

Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, & the Wild Magic of Growing a Family - Adored it, but it's highly possible I just read it at the exact right time {i.e.: having recently given birth to a second tiny meatloaf}

What were your favorite reads of the past year?  Anything particular you're itching to pick up in the new year?

{Past Yearly Reviews: 2011, 2012, 2013}


  1. I loved a lot o these. Fangirl is my favorite RR, and I adored The Rosie Project. There's a sequel!

  2. My favorites from 2014 were Euphoria (Lily King), All The Light We Cannot See, and Life Drawing (Robin Black). So far my favorite from 2015 (yep, I have one already) is Trans Atlantic (Colum McCann). Happy New Year!

  3. Thank you for this! I'm going on vacation on Sunday and I need some books to devour and everyone on facebook is recommending titles like "Gone Girl" and "The Hunger Games" -- I don't know if you've heard of them or not ;)

    I agree that Gillian Flynn needs to write more books (I'm from Missouri so I feel a lot of loyalty to her)...although I just read her bio online the other day and was disheartened to discover she went to my college's rival school.

    I'm also a huge Liane Moriaty fan - sometimes I feel like the endings are just too predictable, but I love the way she weaves storylines together.

  4. I look forward to these posts every year! I've tried other's recommendations for books too often to be disappointed. The books you've recommended have never failed me. :) I actually just bought a few of these based only on your description... which is rare for me.

  5. You will love the Secret History. Also, have you read Tartt's The Little Friend? I liked it very much, although it received mixed reviews. I think with your love of a little bit of creepiness, that The Secret History is going to be very much your jam.

    1. Oh good! I'm jazzed for picks along the edgier end of my tastes! I actually own The Little Friend, but have never read it. Pretty sure I bought it at the Wake bookstore with my Deacon Dollars (aka: my parents' cash) intending to give it to one of them for a holiday and then realized that was a dick move and kept it. I'll have to unearth it!

  6. I just finished What Alice Forgot By Liane Mortary - couldn't put it down....maybe my all time fav of hers

  7. Ps. Also heard The Kitchen House is amazing!

  8. Book list blog posts are my absolute favorite to read & write! (Been trying to write mine for three days but stupid blogger won't let me upload my pictures and I'm refusing to give in and post pictureless ...GRRR!)

    I'll try to make this short but I probably won't... We've read many of the same books and no one wants to be in my book club so ramble on, I shall! We're almost entirely on the same page, except when it comes to Liane Moriarty. Every time I read one of her books I say it's the last one I'll read. And then I read another. So maybe I don't dislike them as much as I claim to? Something about her writing style just irks me. I did enjoy most of The Husband's Secret, save for the neatly wrapped up little ending, as you mention. I'm halfway through Big Little Lies right now as my late night nursing book and am so annoyed by the little commentaries from all the moms throughout the book. And I'm hating how it paints the moms as such silly, petty women. But, I have only myself to blame when I keep reading books by an author I know isn't my favorite. Anyhoo - quite enough on that.

    Amy & Lena - EXACTLY. Loved Rosie Project and Bernadette. This Is Where I Leave You was one of my favorites this year too. And the movie wasn't terrible, which is all you can hope for with a movie based on a book. Sharp Objects made me want to scrub my brain clean. I'm not cut out for dark, twisty kids. I loved E&P and enjoyed Attachments so I need to check out Fangirl and Landline. I have to confess to loving Delicious! I know the plot was ridiculous but I just ate it up. (PUN)

    Currently reading All the Light We Cannot See (when I'm not half asleep nursing - takes a bit more brain power) and am also excited about Station Eleven and Wicked Girls.

    I'll whip Blogger into shape and get my damn list posted soon. Read some this year I think you'd like too!

    1. I would totally be in your book club -- I'd even bring the wine and actually read the book! Geography is so lame.

      After my Liane Moriarty binge, I can see how she's not everyone's cup of tea. Her perfectly convenient endings do bother me a bit {although I did like that prologue or very last bit of The Husband's Secret where she went all Butterfly Effect on all the characters... it made things a little more realistic / messy for me}, but I really enjoy most of her characters. They feel a lot more two dimensional to me than characters written by, say, Emily Giffin or other popular "beach read" authors. I do agree about the petty women in BLL... although, unfortunately, I've encountered a lot of those types in my quest for Fun, Chill SAHM Friends.

      I had such high hopes for the movie adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You! I mean... Tina Fey! Jane Fonda! The resurrected Peter Russo! Tami Taylor! I didn't hate it, but I felt like they really missed out when they left out the details of the miscarriage {which was more like a stillbirth in the book, right? or am I remembering incorrectly?} and the past history between Paul and Judd {the whole mangled arm thing}.

      DEFINITELY read Fangirl! I think I would have liked Delicious! oodles more had I not read all three of her memoirs multiple times {have you read these? you should, if you haven't -- I think you'd really enjoy them) -- I just love them so much, it was hard for a novel to measure up.

      Happy to hear you are enjoying All the Light We Cannot See -- I downloaded it a while ago but my 3 am brain couldn't process anything intelligent at the time ;)

      Tell Blogger to get it together -- can't wait to peruse your list {also: MORE NASH PHOTOS}

  9. Oh, wonderful! I needed more recommendations. I read most of the books on your list this year, and agree with you on most of them. I'm not a Lena Dunham fan, though, so refused to purchase her book (as if that will make a difference!) I think you'll love All The Light We Cannot See. Beautifully written and so engaging. Yay, books!

  10. We read so many of the same books in 2014. I was on a kick to read 50 books, but we had a lot of overlap. I too loved Eleanor + Park (Landline was only ok to me), didn't really like Sharp Objects (creepy!), but loved Yes Please. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is one I think I need to read again, but This is Where I Leave You is one I'm glad I didn't borrow, but rather OWN on my Kindle (rare for me). And my first book of 2015 is All the Light You Cannot See. Happy reading!

  11. We read a lot of the same books! I rank Rainbow Rowell's books in the same order as you. Landline was definitely a disappointment to me. I don't think I saw it on your list for 2015, check out "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson. Really really great.

  12. I read Everything I Never Told You for my book club and it was good. I felt the writing seemed like it was a new writer but otherwise good. I think you will enjoy it... its also an easy/quick read so great after you are exhausted chasing the tinies around all day!

  13. Clearly we were on the same page with our thinking today! I wrote my book list yesterday and posted it today too!
    I agree with so many of your reviews. Adding a few of yours to my list for this year! Definitely want to read Amy's book and 11/22/63. My best friend has been pushing me to read it and I keep putting it off because it's so stinking long. Need to give it a go!

    1. Great minds! 11/22/63 is a beast, but it's wonderful -- it didn't feel like such a behemoth!

  14. Heard Alan Cheuse's review on NPR of Descent by Tim Johnston and had to start reading it immediately if not sooner. http://tinyurl.com/qgh4bo4 What? A literary thriller? I'm in!

  15. In 2014 I loved The Orchardist (Amanda Coplin), The Good Lord Bird (James McBride), The Lowland (Jhumpa Lahiri). The Circle (Dave Eggers) was a good light-ish and quick read for those of us entrenched in social media. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler) was also good.
    I'm about to start Every Day is for the Thief (Teju Cole), and I'm reading Sons and Lovers (D.H. Lawrence - not exactly new!).

  16. LOVED Tell The Wolves I'm Home, as well as This Is Where I Leave You.

    I am DYING to hear your thoughts on All The Light We Cannot See - I read it over my Christmas "break" and actually wept when it was over, because it was over. I want to read it again and again.

    Also fiiiiiiinally read Life After Life which is a 2013 read but I loved it and highly highly recommend. Sassy characters, snarky parentheticals throughout, reincarnation, British accents, and WWII.

  17. Love this post! I like a quick book review. I've added a bunch of these to my want to read list on Goodreads. (Tell me you're on Goodreads, I really like it for the ability to see what friends/bloggers are reading.)

  18. Loved this is where I leave you.
    Have you ever read anything by Sarah Addison Allen or Sarah Jio-I'm fond of both, quick reads too.

  19. I've added many of these titles to the e-cue at my library, and bought a few more. As a nursing mom, I'm doing a lot of reading these days! I'm already a few chapters into Waiting for Birdy! I'm a first-time mom, and I really appreciate her thoughts on her second pregnancy, while reflecting on some of the newborn stuff I'm going through now. Did you know there's now a sequel to The Rosie Project (called The Rosie Effect)? It came out last month:). Thanks so much for the recs!

  20. I LOVE, LOVED Station Eleven. It was for sure my best of 2014.

  21. Very similar reading lists from the last year and I love having some new ones to read, too.

    I need to write up my 2014 reads. On the (ignored) to-do list!


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