2014 End of Year bookish thoughts and survey

And so, another year has come to a close. As a reading year, 2014 was at first dominated by one book, which also happens to be the best and longest book I read last year. It is named in the below survey. Loved the book, wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read it. I also read a lot of romance novels this year, some very good, as well as some awful, unfinishable ones. Speaking of bad books, a couple of co-workers and I happily MST3K’d two terrible books this year, using post-it notes and annotations in the margins.

I also finished a self-imposed project to read eight books written by authors who were at the National Book Festival in previous years. I’m glad that I followed through, as it added a nice mix of genres to my reading year. That said, 2014 ended with me feeling like I hadn’t read many books – a feeling perhaps due to the domination of several very long books. The long books often end up being the books I like best, but next year, I want to try to reach at least 75 books. I also hope to read more classics next year.

To further summarize my 2014 year-in-reading, I am borrowing the survey created by Perpetual Page Turner, with some modifications: I took out some questions if the answers seemed repetitive or boring. I also added a couple of questions of my own. I kept the numbering of the original survey, so it’s going to look wonky because I removed some questions.

Here goes:

Number Of Books You Read: 59
Number of Re-Reads: 1

 

  1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954 – 63 by Taylor Branch

  1. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. I still enjoyed it but love her other books more.

  1. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. I don’t know how a book with such a modest story ended up being such a perfect read.

  1. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

I’ve been aware of her for a while, but I didn’t read Courtney Milan until this year and then I binged.

  1. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I don’t read a lot of “self-help” type books (although, this is kind of self-help crossed with memoir / year-experiment book), but this one was very practical and had some insights that I’ve kept in mind since I read it.

  1. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Reading about doomed hikers on Everest is compelling, if tragic, reading.

  1. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Great title, too.

Bone Clocks

  1. Most memorable character of 2014?

Tough call – I’ll pick one from a book I haven’t mentioned yet: thoroughly teenaged Bab from Bab: A Sub-Deb by Mary Roberts Rinehart.

  1. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Edward P. Jones’ All Aunt Hagar’s Children.

  1. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed.” – Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan, 101 pages. (And my favorite of her books).

Longest: Parting the Waters, 924 pages.

Also, added for kicks:

Oldest: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (1864)

Newest: The Bone Clocks (Sept. 2, 2014)

  1. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Parting the Waters – it’s just one of many shocking injustices described in this book, but there’s an account that sticks in my mind – where an activist is pistol-whipped in the courthouse by a city official after trying to help a Mississippi black man register to vote.

  1. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

I know what this question is going for, but I’ll interpret this to mean my favorite romantic pairing in a book – I’ll go with Jenny and Gareth in Courtney Milan’s Proof by Seduction.

  1. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I loved the cross-class friendship (more of a friendly acquaintance, I guess) between Molly Gibson and Lady Harriet Cumnor in Wives and Daughters.

  1. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Most of the books I read come from recommendations of others, so I’ll go toward the peer pressure route and say Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series, but it was a good read.

  1. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The village and homes of Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters.

  1. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Inn at Lake Devine, with Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project coming in second.

  1. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

I cried at the end of The Bone Clocks.

Questions added by me:

30. Roll Call of Notable Unfinished Books

There are some books not even worthy to mention in this roll call – I had very little expectations going in and they were discarded easily. These are the rest:

The Chaos / Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson – I really wanted to like these books, as she has been recommended on other blogs, and I’d enjoyed hearing the author speak a couple of years ago. However, I did not like the writing style at all, at least in these two books. I did not find the worldbuilding compelling, didn’t care for the characters, and especially in The Chaos, I found the dialogue forced and bizarre.

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan – I was kind of on a like-it-loathe-it pendulum while reading this book. Eventually I bored with it.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery – Ugh, those twins. I love you Anne, but even you’re not enough to compensate for all the plotlines involving that insidious child Davy.

  1. Best Dialogue in a Book?

Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  1. Best Book that was adapted into film/tv?

Other than Wives and Daughters, I would say Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black.

 

For the comments, I’ll throw out some of these questions in particular: what was the best book you read in 2014? best dialogue (I love me some good dialogue)? Did you have any notable unfinished books?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “2014 End of Year bookish thoughts and survey

  1. I Discovered Courtney Milan too. I need to read more by her.

  2. I came so close to reading The Inn at Lake Devine last summer – this year, for sure! Wives and Daughters is high on my list, too.

  3. aartichapati

    I really enjoyed The Inn at Lake Devine, too! And YES, Bab is a total teenager, and oh-so-memorable 🙂

    I’ll have to read Parting the Waters – it sounds like a great one.

    • Parting the Waters is definitely worth the time investment. It may seem a little slow to start as Branch lays the groundwork of MLK’s upbringing and education. However, the accounts of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Freedom Rides are so detailed, it’s like an eyewitness account. Just incredible.

  4. yay for binging on Courtney Milan! I’ve only read 3 of her books so far, and this year I really want to catch up on the Brothers Sinister series. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the latest book that I really want to get to it.

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