Monday, December 15, 2014

My Top Ten Books From 2014

Today's post is a linkup to Mrs. Darcy's newly retitled "Quick Lit" roundup. (It was formerly known as "Twitterature.") I plan to spend this evening perusing all the other links there--and adding to my already overwhelming TBR list, no doubt!

Since it's December I am rounding up my top ten favorites from the year. Here they are, in no certain order:

Note: These weren't all published this year, just read this year.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron (audio, read by Meryl Streep).
Having seen and loved the movie, I decided to listen to the book, especially when I found out that Meryl (who played the lead role in the movie) did the narrating. I'm sure that made me love the book all the more. This is a story about love, marriage, motherhood and adultery, told with a lot of humor and insight, with a generous helping of recipes. It is Nora Ephron at her best.

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (audio, read by the author)
I have gushed over the mighty Ms. Jackson here before and, before this story, I would've told you her best book was The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. But this one was just... wow. The redemption of these characters took my breath away. I highly recommend getting acquainted with Joshilyn by picking one of her books and listening to her read it to you. Then you get a better feel for the books the way she intended them. Once you have her voice in your head, you appreciate what's being said-- and how it's being said-- all the more.

Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker
In my reading journal I called this novel, "highly atmospheric, with compelling characters." What I mostly remember is that the writing was just so good.

Golden by Jessi Kirby
This story resonated with me as an adult even though it was meant for YA readers. In my reading journal I called it "very clever and engrossing with a good message." I loved all the references to Robert Frost, and the mystery that the main character had to uncover even as she learned to navigate her own uncertain future.

When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman
This is the only nonfiction you'll find on this list. (Notable mention: Rob Lowe's Love Life-- the only reason it's not on here is I didn't like it as much as his first book. Highly recommend listening to it, though, as he reads it and you'll miss out on his impressions if you try to read it for yourself. He doesn't as much read the book as perform it. But enough about Rob.)
When We Were On Fire spoke to me, made me think, and has stayed with me. Though the author is- ahem- younger than me, I know of which she speaks and nodded my way through it. I've recommended it to several friends who loved it too.

Summerland by Elin Hildebrand
Elin Hilderbrand is a master at conveying a sense of community within the pages of a book. Her characters are well developed and the connections to each other, and to the reader, only deepen as the book goes on. This story about a tragic car accident and the ramifications in the survivors' lives during the course of a summer, has stayed with me.

Big Little Liars by Liane Moriarty
What's to say about Liane Moriarty that hasn't already been said a bazillion times? She captures what it is to be a woman, a wife, a mom so clearly. She does it again in this novel. Plus she keeps you turning the pages just to discover what really happened the night of the school fundraiser. Who got shot? And why? And who pulled the trigger? I tore through this book even though it was quite long.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
The writing in this novel is, according to my reading journal, "real and raw." And the premise is just clever. What would you do if you discovered you could talk to your husband back before he was your husband-- before life and reality intervened and your dreams for the future were still intact and unharmed? This novel muses effectively on the intricacies of marriage.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (audio, read by a narrator who sounded much like Jude Law, though it was not Jude Law, but it made me want him to play Don Tillman in the movie)
I still smile when I think about this story. I rooted for Don to get a clue and get out of his own way. Quirky and set in his ways, Don is wicked smart but is missing something-- and he knows it. His journey of discovering just what that is is a delight. I can't wait to listen to the sequel, which I've already put on hold at the library.

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
This was a re-read for me. I've gone back and re-read several of hers recently-- titles from the early 2000's that I loved and devoured, this time reading slowly and savoring. Like Liane Moriarty, her insight into what it is to be a woman at a certain stage of life is so affirming. And her powers of observation-- and capturing those observations on paper-- are unmatched.

Worth Mentioning: I am currently listening to A Man Called Ove on audio and I can already tell that this one will probably make it onto this list. But since I haven't finished it, I can't say for sure yet. The audio is read by George Newbern (the groom from Father Of The Bride)which makes the book all the more enjoyable. Ove is a curmudgeon and his take on life is akin to Don Tillman's in The Rosie Project. I guess I just like grumpy oddball main characters, especially when they're willing to open up to the surprises life might have in store for them.

I am on track to beat my record from last year for number of books read, coming in at 75 books read (or listened to) this year. I love reading, and great stories like the ones I listed here make the experience all the more pleasant.
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Rachel Olsen said...

Very telling:

"I guess I just like grumpy oddball main characters, especially when they're willing to open up to the surprises life might have in store for them."

I remember you raving to me over the phone about The Rosie Project this year. Will put it on reserve at my library.

MK Jorgenson said...

I didn't love Someone Else's Love Story like I loved other Joshilyn Jackson work, but now I'm eager to hear her read out loud! That thought had never crossed my mind...