Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: The books

Hey, the holidays are mostly over and I'm cranky and ready for everyone to go back to work/school, including me, so let's talk about books, yeah? Here are all the books I read in 2014 and what I thought of them, in case you care. Don't worry, there weren't that many, and I've grouped the series stuff together for purposes of expedition.
  1. The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith, AKA J.K. Rowling. I loved both of these books and I think Ms. Rowling has a hella awesome new series on her hands. Apparently the BBC thinks so, too.
  2. The Shining by Stephen King. I had never read this, can you believe it? Loved it. I find King a bit uneven but this one was pitch-perfect and MUCH scarier than the movie. Also: SPOILER! Scatman Crothers didn't have to die y'all. Screw you, Stanley Kubrick, for randomly killing off the most likeable character in the whole damn enterprise. Also, after reading the book the decision to cast Shelly Duvall is even more puzzling. WHAT WAS KUBRICK SMOKING, YOU GUYS?
  3. Case Histories, One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson, the first three books of her Jackson Brodie series. I love these books, and I heart Jackson, and I have GOT to get hold of the TV series that was made from them because JASON ISAACS, Y'ALL. (You may know him as Lucius Malfoy, among other roles. I just know him as yummy.)
  4. Dust by Hugh Howey, the final book in the whole Wool/Silo saga. Did not love. I have no idea what happened here because the rest of this series was fantastic, but this book was so BORING, and then I guess he wrapped things up but in a really unsatisfying way. Maybe dude was feeling the pressure of Wool starting out as a short story and then blowing up into a whole THING that he had to do, or something, I dunno. But meh.
  5. The Paleo Coach by Jason Seib. Freaking fantastic, one of my best books of the year or maybe ever, non-fiction-wise. If you're looking to start a fitness routine, or if you're trying to lose weight, or whatever health-related New Year's resolutions you've got going on, you need this book. Seib is all about getting your mind right before you can make outward changes, and he is spot on.
  6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I love everything she does, and this book was no exception.
  7. A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, the seventh, eighth and ninth books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. I freaking LOVE this series, it's like coming home every time I read a new book in it, but I didn't super love The Beautiful Mystery because hello, they changed the setting completely and I was not down with that. Half the characters were missing and it felt claustrophobic.
  8. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, another book I should have read years ago but hadn't. I loved it. Such a quiet but powerful and compelling story.
  9. The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum. This is one of the Inspector Seyer books but I can't remember which one; we get them all out of order here in the US. Norwegian police procedurals. Love this series.
  10. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. If you've read her blog then you've sort of read this book, but I love the blog and enjoyed the book very much. It reminded me of Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, which is just about the highest praise I can give to a food memoir.
  11. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Little vignettes all strung together to make up the story of an English-language newspaper in Rome. I loved this while I was reading it (on the beach), but ultimately it was super depressing. So yeah.
  12. Countdown City and World of Trouble by Ben Winters, the last two books in the Last Policeman trilogy. Loved, loved, loved. Not QUITE as much as I loved the first book, and I didn't super love some of the decisions he made with his characters toward the end, but by then I didn't care; I was all caught up in the fact that an asteroid was about to hit the Earth, OMG!
  13. Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe. If you've read a lot of paleo nutrition books, you probably don't need to read this one, but you might as well. I liked it a lot, I just don't know that it added anything new to the conversation.
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is my daughter's all-time favorite book and I had never read it. I liked it just fine. Not enough to read the rest of the series, though.
  15. Faithful Place, Broken Harbor and The Secret Place by Tana French, the third, fourth and fifth Dublin Murder Squad books. Another series and author that I absolutely LOVE. Of the three I was least crazy about Broken Harbor and most crazy about Faithful Place but they're all outstanding.
  16. How to Meditate and Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron. Two-ought-fourteen was the year of learning to meditate; 2015 will be the year of making it a daily practice. Yep.
  17. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. See above. I am all about the mindfulness these days. It keeps me off Prozac.
  18. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Not part of the Jackson Brodie series above. This book was absolutely extraordinary. I loved it. It's the sort of book I might re-read from time to time.
  19. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Because no one would shut up about this book. I did like it. It's definitely YA fiction, which isn't HUGELY my thing, but I liked it.
  20. On My Own Two Feet by Manisha Thakor. Another absolutely fantastic must-read nonfiction book. Buy a copy for every young woman you know. I did not understand money AT ALL until I read this book, and I wish I had read it 30 years ago. My financial situation would be COMPLETELY different now if I had.
  21. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I thought I was tired of post-apocalyptic fiction until I read this book. It's definitely a fresh take. I liked it very much.
  22. The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch, the second book in the Hangman's Daughter series. I loved the first book and I loved this one, too. Seventeenth century Bavaria? I'm in. These books read like role-playing games, in a way. Fantastic setting, fantastic characters, tons of action and puzzles to solve and little tidbits about archaic medical practice. So great.
  23. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the only boner in the bunch. I really hated this book, so much that I was never able to finish it (after THREE attempts). My review on Goodreads says it all, really.
And that's it. That's all of 'em. Apart from A Child's Christmas in Wales, which I read every Christmas Eve, and Stoner by John Williams, which I'm reading now and only halfway through and may get counted as a 2015 book at this rate.

In related news, I've bought 30+ Kindle books just since Thanksgiving, OMG. Those $1.99 deals get me every time. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, All the Light We Cannot See, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Ten Thousand Saints, every book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, every book in Barbara Wilson's Cassandra Reilly series, The Song of Achilles, The Drunken Botanist, plus more Atkinson and Penny and Fossum and Potzsch (and King and Howey) ... damn, y'all! It's going to be a good year for reading. I'll tell you all about it next December.

1 comment:

  1. THE SONG OF ACHILLES!!!! Oh, that was one of my favorite books the year I read it. Oh yes. All the Light We Cannot See is also wonderful, but I can never remember the name of it. But wonderful. [song of achilles!!!!!!!]