Saturday, January 3, 2015

Best Books of 2014

Adding to the thousands of other lists out there, here is my take on the best books of 2014.

Best Book
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

It was really hard to pick a winner this year!  When I finished reading Station Eleven, I would not have called it the best book of the year.  I really liked it, and I gave it 4.5 stars in my review.  But I don't know that I loved it enough to call it the best.  Not initially at least.  However, as I think back over the books I read this year, Station Eleven is the book that stands out the most in my mind.  I am a fan of the post-apocalyptic stories, and I read a lot of them.  After a while, they all start to blend together.  But Station Eleven is different from all the others, and I still think about it often.  I loved the premise that "survival is insufficient" and how the story focused on how people really "lived" and didn't just survive after a major epidemic drastically changed the entire world.

Honorable Mention
The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacobs

I received an ARC of this book, and honestly, I wasn't that excited about reading it.  The title was interesting, but the book looked long and the story didn't sound that appealing.  My initial judgment was that it would be boring.  How surprised I was when I started reading!  The story pulled me in right away, and I was hooked through the whole book.  This is a story about an Indian immigrant family and how they have built their lives in America.  It is a  great story about family and how secrets and the past can affect present lives.  I really enjoyed all the characters, and I thought the whole book was well paced and well written.

More Good Books from 2014:  An Untamed State by Roxane Gay and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Best Chick Lit
One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

JoJo Moyes is one of my new favorites, and her book Me Before You is on my list of all time favorite books.  One Plus One was just a joy to read.  It made me happy.  In my review, I described it as the perfect summer beach read.  It had great characters, a fun road trip story, a little bit of romance, and some family drama.  Just a great read all around, and one that I would highly recommend.  Especially if you are looking for something light and easy and enjoyable to read.

More Good Chick Lit from 2014:  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Best Young Adult
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I just realized that I never wrote a review for this book.  It was really good, and I read it in under 24 hours.  I needed some time to process it after I finished, so I didn't write a review right away.  Then I just never got around to it.  So here's a mini review right here:  this is a captivating story in the "unputdownable" category.  I gave it 4.5 stars.  The official book summary is very intriguing ending with this:  "if anyone asks you how this book ends, just LIE."    I recommend NOT reading too much about the book beforehand.  I wish I would have followed that advice.  I read a little too much and the ending was a little spoiled for me, which probably caused me to knock it down from a full 5 star rating.  Lockhart uses unique language and story telling devices to share this story, and the end result is an intriguing and more sophisticated piece of young adult literature.

Best Nonfiction
This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl

I don't read a lot of nonfiction, so I didn't have a lot to choose from in this category.  However, This Star Won't Go Out left such a lasting impression on me that it was an easy choice for this category.  I really, really enjoyed reading about the life of Esther Earl through her journals, writings and the stories of her family and friends.  Esther Earl was the inspiration for one of my favorite novels, The Fault in Our Stars, and I just loved learning more about her in this publication.  It doesn't read like a typical book, as it was never really intended to be published.  However, the whole collection paints a beautiful picture of a beautiful girl who left a lasting impression on this world during her short time here.

For more good books, check out my Best Books of 2013 list.

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