Monday, January 5, 2015

BOOKS: 2014 favorites, 2015 anticipations, & the year of reading women

In 2014 I read 54 books.  Hooray!  4 over my goal!  Except I'm pretty sure, looking closer at my Goodreads list, a lot were such classic literature as Pocket Piggies Numbers!: Featuring the Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm (review: "PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGS!") so I'm not so sure I should call my overachieving a rousing success...

Still, of the 54 books I read, these were my favorites:

  • The Magician's Land -- Lev Grossman -- This is the third in the Magicians trilogy.  It's one of my favorite favorite favorite trilogies ever.  Do you like Harry Potter and Narnia but are a smart jaded adult?  These are the books for you!
  • Kittens -- Laura Ellen Anderson -- Freddie LIGHTS. UP. at this book.  It's also surprisingly long for a board book!  AND ADORABLE.  The illustrations are bold and bright and the text is cute and clever.  Kittens love to claw at quilts, but it's so darn cute you can't help but smile.  At the end, everyone snuggles up to snooze.
  • Puppies -- Laura Ellen Anderson -- See above.  Ditto the snuggling up to snooze at the end.  Adorable!
  • Tubby & Toot -- Leslie Patricelli -- I get a kick out of the Baby series by Patricelli, but these two especially make me laugh.  The "we wash my hair" singular literal meaning/plural common usage duality kills me (since Baby only has one hair).  Also "mommy dries me // daddy dries the bathroom".  YUP.  And Toot's adorable questioning about farts is quite sweet -- Baby isn't sure if fishy toots, but is VERY certain doggie does.  I love that the wee one in the books could be male or female -- the ones I've read are very gender neutral (though they do feature female/male mommy/daddy parents -- not that this is a bad thing, just that the gender neutral-ness does not extend beyond Baby).
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances -- Neil Gaiman (February 2015) -- I'm mostly excited because this supposedly features a special American Gods short story called Black Dog.  Between that and the Doctor Who story I think that covers all his bases for people who will want to buy this.  Tempting me with a Doctor Who carrot would be the opposite of attractive -- it's just not my thing.  But an American Gods story?!  LET ME AT IT.  WEEE!
  • The Buried Giant -- Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2015) -- Author of one of my favorites, Never Let Me Go.  It's been a while since he published, so I'm particularly thrilled.  Wait, has it really been ten years?!  Not counting short fiction...  Yep, doubly thrilled now.
  • The Fire Sermon -- Francesca Haig (March 2015) -- It's being compared to The Hunger Games (is there anything that's NOT going to be compared to HG these days?) and The Road (I doubt this, just because....THE ROAD!) so we'll see.  I follow Haig on Twitter and she seems nice.  I know, like that's an indication of a good book right?  But I'm digging it.  I'm in.  I can't wait to give it a whirl.  I hear it's already been optioned by DreamWorks.  At any rate, I feel slightly ahead of the curve on this one, and I like to be ahead of YA Big Series Stuff for professional reasons (I never read Divergent, oops...and I have a fandom-carryover-dislike of Cassie Claire, also oops).
  • All the Rage -- Courtney Summers (April 2015) -- I've seen this compared to LHA's Speak, so we'll see. 
Much like my friend Greg, I also want to try to deliberately read more books by women this year.  My to-read anticipatory shelf for 2015 is cut down the middle here, but my intention is to have the majority of the books I read be by women.  I've joined the GoodReads "2015: The Year of Reading Women" group so we'll see!

If you're still reading all the way to the end, here's one final shelf for 2014.

STINKY CHEESE SHELF  (That is, the shelf of things that weren't so great.)
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride -- Cary Elwes --I wanted SO BADLY to love this book.  But alas!  This book repeats its stories ad nauseam. Often, one story would be told, then there'd be an insert from another actor telling *the exact same story* but in different words (and sometimes barely different words), right after it was told. Stories in this book are repeated to the point of nausea.  SEE WHAT I DID THERE?  That's this book.
  • Living with a Wild God -- Barbara Ehrenreich -- I really wanted to enjoy this, but the audiobook went on and on dissecting adolescent journal entries like they mean more than I think they do.  Everyone has boxes of journals from when they were ten.  It doesn't make them gold.  I tried, but couldn't finish this.  It felt like it wanted to be Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (LOVE) but...nope.

*I am using Amazon affiliate links throughout this post because why not**
**Why not Zoidberg?


  1. Oh My God, Hayley. You have to read Courtney Summers' books. They are amazing. She is so amazing. I am so excited about All The Rage. Her characters are angry and sad, like normal teenage girls! I just finished This Is Not A Test- it was amazing! you can tell I feel strongly about this.

    1. I used amazing like three times. Jesus, self, get it to together.

    2. I requested an ARC from the publisher so we'll see if I can get my librarian hands on it before it comes out. I desperately want to read it.

  2. Wow you are amazing... last year I really had to push myself to read and by that I mean I had to make the time and umm let everything else by the side. I read maybe 4 books? Well more if you count kids and parenting books which I just realized I totally should.
    So it was probably The view from Castle Rock (Alice Munro), La amigdalitis de Tarzan (Bryce Echenique) and Delirio (Rosa Montero). I am still busy with Moranthology (Caitlin Moran), and then I read The Baby Led Weaning Book, The day by day Baby Book (Ilona Bendefy) bits of The Wonder Weeks (just loose chapters of this one), and The Hungry Caterpillar, Alice for the small ones (Lewis Carroll), Silvalandia (Julio Cortazar)... and I think that's about it.

    1. Well a LOT of these were audiobooks since I was driving a 45-minute commute each way to work! :P I never would have reached by goal without audiobooks. And using my Kindle while pumping. Gotta pass the time somehow (I Kindle + Facebook).

      I keep meaning to read a baby led weaning book. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. And just took Living with a Wild God off my To-Read list. :)

  4. Reading women...hmmm, Rainbow Rowell? Elizabeth Kostova? I think Cornelia Funke has a new one coming out this year. Having just checked my own 2014 reading list, it looks like I could stand to read more books by women this year too. I've got Marissa Meyer's Cinder on my To-Read list, but I know very little about it except that it was NaNoWriMo inspired. I'm going to have to add some of the books you've mentioned above. Off to do that now...

    1. Oh, also there is a list over at A Mighty Girl of biographies of women, many of which are also written by women. ( )

    2. I LOVE A Mighty Girl lists! Ooooh, new Funke! Must read!