2014 has been quite a year for me here on the blog. Not only did I post consistently all year long, but I read more than a book a week on average, re-did the look of my blog (twice) and added a couple of features (The Sunday Review and Book Thoughts On Thursday).
Book blogging has become so much more to me over the past year and a half than I ever expected. Through it I’ve redefined my relationship with books, lit a spark that has replenished my enthusiasm for reading and, most importantly, had the chance to engage with like-minded people about what we love (or don’t) about the books we’re reading.
It’s a community, and one that I am thankful to be part of every day.
So, to wrap up what has been a truly stellar year for me, I’m going to look back over the bookish moments that made 2014 for me. I’m basing this year-end review on the link-up hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner (go check it out and link-up yourself – it’s a lot of fun and she has a giveaway!), but with a few of my own questions added, a few small tweaks and a couple of skips. So here we go, let’s check out my 2014, shall we?
Number of books read: 64
Number of pages read: 19,809 (this is just books finished, not DNF or partially-read)
Genre I read the most from: Literary Fiction
1. Top books you read in 2014 (in no particular order because I couldn’t decide on one):
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
- The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff
- The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
- Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
- Newjack by Ted Conover
- The Martian by Andy Weir
2. Book you were excited about but ultimately found disappointing: This one is a tie between These Broken Stars and The Vacationers.I had heard such good things, so much hype, and with both of these books I got to the and and just sat there thinking, “That’s it?” and “Well, that was underwhelming.”
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? Station Eleven. I went into this without any expectations, really, just a fair measure of curiosity. And then my socks were blown clear across the room.
4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2014? There are some pending reads – books I’ve recommended and that I know people are planning to read, but I think in 2014, this would go to Station Eleven, which I got at least two people to read.
5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014? This entire series:
6. Favorite new author I discovered in 2014? I absolutely cannot pick just one. I can maaaaaybe get it down to three, if pressed. The first is Rita Leganski. Her book The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow was brilliant, and I can’t wait to read her next book (plus she’s super nice on Twitter)! Station Eleven was a wonderful surprise, so Emily St. John Mandel must be on the list (plus: Canadian!). And Newjack by Ted Conover was one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. Possibly years.
7. Best book from a genre I don’t typically read/was out of my comfort zone? The Martian by Andy Weir. I’m not normally into space travel or sci-fi in general, but this book was excellent.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Again, probably the Razorland books by Ann Aguirre. Particularly Horde.Though The Martian was pretty pulse-pounding too!
9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year? I honestly can’t see myself re-reading any of the books I read this year in the upcoming year. In the future at some point, sure, but not next year.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
11. Most memorable character of 2014? Hmmm. I think the most memorable were actually real people – Helene Hanff from Q’s Legacy and Lena Dunham from Not That Kind of Girl. Though if I had to pick a fictional one, it’d probably be Mark from The Martian.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014? I was lucky this year. I read many beautifully-written books. But there are three that stand out as having taken my breath away: The Opposite of Loneliness, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow and Station Eleven.
13. Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book of 2014? Probably The Opposite of Loneliness – both for its content, and for the untimely death of its author. I couldn’t help but dwell on not only how unfair dying so young is, but on a selfish level, what we readers lost. This young woman was immensely talented, and, grateful as I am for this book, I will always feel just a little bit cheated because I’ll never get to read her first novel.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? Gone Girl. It’s been on my list for ages, and there was so much hype! (Thanks to Martha for sending it to me!)
15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?
Once, when I was old enough to ponder these things and young enough to think there might be credible answers, I whispered to Dad during Rosh Hashanah services, “Do you believe in God?”
“Not really,” he said. “No.”
“Then why do we come here?”
He sucked thoughtfully on his Tums tablet and put his arm around me, draping me under his musty woolen prayer shawl, and then shrugged. “I’ve been wrong before,” he said. And that pretty much summed up what theology there was to find in the Foxman home.
16. Shortest & longest books read? Shortest was The Library of Unrequited Love and the longest was The Diviners. Strangely enough, these both happened to be among my least favourite reads of the year. Unrelated.
17. Book that shocked you the most (because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.): Gone Girl. Definitely. And I can’t say another word for fear of giving something away!
18. OTP* of the year (you will go down with this ship!)? Well, I’m not that big on romantic entanglements, though I’ll root for a couple as I’m reading a book if I like them both. But once in a while one will get under my skin. This happens more often in a TV show or movie than a book, so my first pick shouldn’t come as a surprise: Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls from the first Veronica Mars book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Obviously a ship that first sailed in the TV show. At this moment, to be precise:
My other pick was one that just couldn’t be denied: Tiny Cooper and the second Will Grayson from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
*OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar
19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year: It’s a bit of a cheat because it’s a re-read, but it’s got to go to Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, a real-life pair who “met” when Helene, a New Yorker, started ordering books across the Atlantic from Frank’s bookstore in London. They feature in Helene’s collection of letters, 84, Charing Cross Road and in her memoir Q’s Legacy (which was new to me this year, so I guess it’s not a total cheat).
20. Favorite book you read in 2014 by an author you’ve read previously: I didn’t read much along these lines this year, but I did finally finish The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) which I thoroughly enjoyed. Was it perfect? No. But for Rowling’s first foray into a new genre, it was pretty darn good. I’ll definitely be reading The Silkworm – and any other Cormoran Strike novels that come along!
21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation: Newjack by Ted Conover. I mean, there were a bunch of books I read mainly because I’d heard good things about them, but they were already on my radar. This one, I hadn’t even heard of. But I’m really glad I gave it a try – I discovered both a new favourite book, and a new favourite author.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014? This one, I’m skipping. I don’t really do fictional crushes.
24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year? This one goes to Station Eleven, hands down. What made this book was the details she imbued her setting with. They made the post-apocalyptic setting imaginable in a way that was both horrifying and beautiful.
25. Book that put a smile on your face or was the most FUN to read? Oh, any good book will put a smile on my face, even if it’s a sad story. I’m vaguely sociopathic that way. But if pressed to choose one, I’d say The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. That book was whimsical and a breath of fresh air.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014? Both The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow had this effect on me, though Bonaventure probably cut me slightly deeper. You know, in a good way.
27. Hidden gem of the year? I can’t even remember where I heard about it, but The Uncommon Reader was just brilliant. It’s a tiny book, easily read in a sitting, but one I’d heartily recommend to any booklover.
28. Book that crushed your soul? The Opposite of Loneliness, not so much because of the content, but, as mentioned in #13, because of the context.
29. Most unique book you read in 2014? The Strange Library was definitely unique. (Though I have to complain about the term “most unique” since unique is absolute and doesn’t have degrees… but there goes the grammar nazi in me again….)
30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Oh gawd. Shatter Me. THAT BOOK. I very nearly threw it out of the window as I struggled to make it through the first 2/3 or so. It did get a bit better, though, so there’s that. These Broken Stars on the other hand… inconsistent plot and worldbuilding, annoying characters, less than convincing premise and the sense that the two authors wanted to write entirely different books but mish-mashed their ideas together anyway. Definitely not for me.
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? Trisha from eclectic/eccentric commented on my blog, which led me to hers – and I’m so glad! I love her reviews, am in awe of how many books she gets through (and I like how varied they are), and really enjoy her comments when she visits me. I can’t remember if I discovered Karen’s blog One More Page in 2014 or 2013, but I feel like it deserves a mention, because not only is it one of my favourite bookish online spaces, but Karen herself has become a great bookish friend. I’d highly recommend checking out both of these ladies’ blogs if you haven’t yet!
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? Hmmm. I don’t really know – I wrote a lot this year. Possibly Will Grayson, Will Grayson just because I had fun writing it.
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I started a new feature, Book Thoughts on Thursday, so I’ve been pretty happy about sharing some bookish thoughts. Check out the very first BToT here.
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? Oh, the Vancouver Book Fair that I went to in October with my friend Jaime, for sure. I don’t go to that many bookish events, but I’m really glad I made it to this one!
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014? You know what? I don’t have one big moment. The year was full of lots of little ones – relationships forged, frienships made and books discovered. These all added up to one of the best years I’ve had in my reading life so far. For that I’d like to thank each and every one of you – you’ve all played a part with your comments, posts, Tweets, reviews and recommendations. I love you all!
7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? The post on popular authors I’ve never read got quite a few comments, as did the one on YA books for adults new to the genre. My list of favourite books of 2014 so far also got a fair number of views!
8. Post you wished got a little more love? Probably any of my discussion posts – not because I feel that they were particularly well-written, but because comments lead to discussion. And I like talking about books! If I had to pick one, though, I’d probably go with my post about diverse books, because I think it’s an important topic and I also feel like I need to make more conscious effort to read diversely.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Book Outlet. Though it was also the worst.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I did, you can check them out in the sidebar of my blog ==>. I did pretty well at the TBR Pile Challenge – I managed to read 44 books that met the criteria of having been published in 2013 or earlier. I also managed to meet my Goodreads goal of 64 books (barely!). And, though I didn’t *quite* manage a full board, I did get a few rows in both the original and YA Book Bingo Challenges. I also managed 23/26 of the A-Z 2014 Reading Challenge. I didn’t complete the Official 2014 TBR Pile Challenge, only completing 5/10 of my chosen books. This wasn’t much of a surprise since I’m a big mood reader and committing to 10 books in advance, even with 2 alternates, really doesn’t work for me. Overall, I’d say I did pretty well, but I think I can do even better in 2015!
1. Favourite book-to-movie adaptation of the year: There were some really great movies that came out this year. The new installments from The Hunger Games and The Hobbit, The Fault In Our Stars and Gone Girl were among the most-hyped. But I’m going to say that my favourite was This Is Where I Leave You. I thought it was excellently cast, they did a great job with the screenplay, and I loved some of the small humorous touches they added (like the kid with the potty). If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend it.
2. Best books about books and reading: This is a genre (is it a genre? Or a category?) that I absolutely love. My top picks this year were Q’s Legacy and The Uncommon Reader, which were both amazing. I also really enjoyed Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman.
3. Best YA book of the year: Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I loved the characters in this book, and it’s one example of two writers writing alternating characters that worked out brilliantly.
4. Best book-reading tea: I’ve become a huge fan of Harney & Sons teas over the past year. Their blends are pretty much the best around and they come in funky tins. Vanilla Comoro is my all-time fave.
5. Favourite notebook for jotting down thoughts and quotes: I’m now a dedicated Moleskiner. I’ve got a regular journal, a pocket journal and a book journal by them, and the paper is the best.
6. Favourite note-taking pen: I know it’s a bit old-fashioned, but I love writing with a fountain pen. There’s just nothing like it. Writing in a Moleskine with a fountain pen… well, now, that’s pretty much journalling heaven.
1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be top priority in 2015? I did a whole post on this topic here, but I think top of the list are The Night Circus and All the Light We Cannot See.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)? I heard something about a new John Green book, so if that’s true I’ll definitely be picking it up hot off the presses…
[skipping 3 and 4 because this has been a long survey and I want to eat dinner]
5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015? As I said in my last Top Ten Tuesday post, I’m not much for resolutions and lofty goal-setting. But I guess I hope to come up with some good ideas for posts, I hope to continue posting consistently, and I want to meet or beat my reading goal. I also want to keep up writing at least a little bit every day.
6. A 2015 release you’ve already read & recommend to everyone: I haven’t read any in their entirety yet, but I started The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins last night (out on January 6th) and though it’s quite dark, it’s really well-written. I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends!
That’s officially it for 2014, so I hope you’re all celebrating with loved ones and looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!