2014 Reading Highlights and 2015 Reading Resolutions

Following on from yesterday’s reading by numbers, here’s what caught my attention in 2014…

1. Best Book of 2014: A tough call! I’ve read some excellent books in the past year. I think it’s got to be either The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, or How to be both, by Ali Smith (the latter completely robbed of the Booker prize this year!). If I had to pick one… probably Kavalier and Clay, just because I found it so immersive.

2. Least Favourite Book of 2014: Mad About the Boy, by Helen Fielding. I loved the previous Bridget Jones books (and refuse to describe them as a “guilty pleasure” – I don’t feel guilty about it, and don’t think anyone should feel guilty about enjoying any books), but this felt like a real let-down. It had its moments, but didn’t have the sharpness of the previous books.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2014: Divergent, by Veronica Roth. I’d been really looking forward to reading this, as I love a bit of YA dystopia, but I just couldn’t get into it.

4. Most Surprising (in a good way) Book of 2014: Augustus, by John Williams. When this was picked for book club I thought it’d be very dry and I’d struggle to get through it, but quite the opposite was true – I couldn’t put it down, and devoured it in a few days. Very highly recommended – most of the book club raved about it too, it was one of our best discussions!

5. Book You Recommended the Most to People in 2014: We are all completely beside ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Loved this, bought it for a couple of people for Christmas too.

6. Favourite New (to me) Authors Discovered in 2014: Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon, Alice Munro. Also Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling, who I’m including here because I finally read her adult fiction this year, having grown up on Harry Potter, and loved it!

7. Most Hilarious Read of 2014: Looking at my list, I don’t really seem to have read anything particularly funny in the past year, or at least not anything that’s stuck in my mind as a funny read. I shall have to address that in 2015!

8. Most Thrilling Unputdownable Read of 2014: The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes

bernadette9. Favourite Cover of a Book You Read in 2014: Where’d you go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. I picked this one up purely because of the cover, and happily the contents were a good match!

11. Most Memorable Character of 2014: Definitely Scarlett O’Hara, from Gone With the Wind. Although a lot of this book was incredibly racist, which made parts very difficult to read, I did love Scarlett’s unrepentant selfishness and toughness. She’s not at all likeable, which surprised me – I didn’t really know much about the book before I read it, so I’d assumed Scarlett as the heroine would be one of these impossibly perfect and gentle ladies you find in Victorian fiction. She’s not of course – she’s a cast-iron bitch (which I absolutely mean as a compliment), and I loved her for it. After I’d finished it I filled my Tumblr with choice quotes from Scarlett, like this one:

I’m tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. I’m tired of acting like I don’t eat more than a bird, and walking when I want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could dance for two days and never get tired. I’m tired of saying ‘How wonderful you are!’ to fool men who haven’t got one-half the sense I’ve got, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t know anything, so men can tell me things and feel important while they’re doing it.

Marvellous.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book of 2014: How to be both. I just adore Ali Smith’s writing.

13. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2014: We are all completely beside ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler. It hit me right in the feelings.

14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2014 to Read: I didn’t read too many older books this year, so I’ll have to go for Gone With the Wind – which I mostly enjoyed, despite the unbelievable racism (seriously, I cannot stress enough just how racist this book is, even allowing for the time when it was written), and I do think Scarlett O’Hara is a fabulous creation.

2014 Reading Resolutions

I thought I’d look back and see how I did on last year’s reading resolutions, before setting more:

  1. Read more books by women – succeeded!
  2. Finish 2014 with fewer books on my TBR pile than at the start of the year – succeeded! At the end of 2013 I had 116 books in my TBR pile; at the end of 2014, that was down to 104.
  3. Write more reviews and other blog posts here – failed. I only managed 9 posts on this blog in 2014, compared to 12 in 2013. That’s pretty poor to be honest! I would definitely like to boost my blogging again in 2015, both here and on my other blog.

2015 Reading Resolutions

This year, I will…

  1. Finish the year with fewer than 100 books on my TBR list. I think that should be achievable, providing I don’t go mad and acquire so many more books this year!
  2. Explore books by authors of various nationalities. This is a difficult one to measure as I haven’t to date kept track of the nationalities of the writers I read, but I have a pretty strong hunch that I read mostly books by UK and US/Canadian writers, and they are probably mostly white. Which is no bad thing, but #readwomen made me think about broadening my horizons further. I would like to read more books by writers from around the world, more translations, and more books by people of colour.
  3. Read longer books. I’ve got a few hefty books on my TBR list which I just never seem to pick up. A quick look at my LibraryThing data shows the average length of a book I read in 2014 was 333 pages; most (65%) were in the 200-450 page range. I think that’s partly because if I take too long reading one book, I start to worry about all the other books I won’t have time to read in the meantime. Which is silly really – it should be quality not quantity! I think I just need to relax and accept that I am never going to read all the books, so I should really stop trying. In 2015 I would like to read at least five books that are 600 pages plus.
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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for this – my reading resolution is to widen the scope of what I read (tends to be mostly YA as I am a school librarian) and most of these are new to me, so I have added them to my virtual TBR pile on Goodreads and will seek them out over the year – they all look good!

    Reply
  2. Rebecca

     /  January 9, 2015

    Just finished ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ and have already recommended it to four people!

    Reply
  3. Always good to read other people’s books of the year lists. The Ali Smith didn’t do much for me though, I have to admit. Thought is was possibly my least fav novel she’s written [Hotel World / The Accidental my personal favs]

    Reply

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