We’re ushering in a new year, and that makes it time for a review of the good, bad and unexpected among my reading for the past year.
I like the opportunity to step back, look over the titles for the last twelve months, and actually think about what I’ve been reading. One reason I write down every book I read is because it all blurs into a haze when I try to remember on my own. With the list in front of me, I could tell you something about every book on it—but take the list away, ask me to name the books I read, and I doubt I could give you more than a quarter of them. So it’s nice to stop, look back, and remember just what voyages of reading I went on this year!
1) Best Book – I had a particularly brilliant reading year in 2013, leading me to break this item up into subcategories. I’d thought I only had a pretty good 2014 of reading, so I was pleasantly surprised to look back and realize how many really excellent books I read after all! So…subcategories again this year. 🙂
1a) Best Romance/Romantic Couple – This one goes to Cress by Marissa Meyer, with the delightfully naïve yet brilliant Cress and the self-consciously roguish Thorne. Their relationship develops slowly across several hundred pages and still hasn’t been resolved (see #8 below!)
1b) Hardest to Put Down – Foxmask by Juliet Marillier, which about figures since she frequently has incredibly tense conclusions. I’m not sure she has ever made me wait so long for a happy ending before, and while this one wasn’t tense for as long as some others, the last 30 pages were brutal. Oddly, a possible contender for this spot was Emma by Jane Austen, but for the exact opposite reason. See #4 below.
1c) Most Intriguing – Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee, a deceptively simple semi-picture book that I may not have understood even half of. But it was simply lovely.
1d) Best Worldbuilding – I think that’s the best word for it… I loved the reincarnation concept of My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares. Fascinating and in many ways quite beautiful.
1e) Best Magic System – I can’t tell you how many friends I grabbed this year and said, “You have to read Libriomancer! Because there’s a librarian hero, and he can reach into books and pulls things out!” Jim C. Hines starts with that absolutely wonderful premise, and then builds a complex and ingenious strata of rules and limitations and abilities on top of it—and makes an amazing concept totally awesome by stocking his librarian hero’s shelves with books I’ve read.
2) Worst Book – I’m going to give this one to The Art of Procrastination by John Perry, who I think had a pretty good essay that he then expanded into a not very good book. I did not learn much about how to get things done though procrastination, and instead became profoundly annoyed by some of his ideas (most especially the idea of avoiding unpleasant tasks by trusting that someone else will be “happy” to do them. No—they’ll just fall on people who are conscientious enough to see that someone has to do them!)
3) Most Disappointing Book – The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman had a lovely concept—a library where you can check out magical items from Grimm fairy tales! But somehow, the writing style just didn’t work for me. I could always see what the writer was doing, if that makes sense. Or perhaps I couldn’t see the story for the words. However, this is an extremely subjective complaint, and I almost want to recommend this one to others in the hopes that they’ll have better success with it (because that premise—so cool!)
4) Most Surprising (in a Good Way) Read – Even my friends who are the most ardent fans of Jane Austen told me Emma was not her best…but it was the last Austen I hadn’t read (making it a contender for #5 too) so I picked it up anyway. And I was delightfully surprised to discover that I found Austen’s world and writing style almost strangely relaxing. I think this was the most soothing book I read all year, and I mean that in the best way possible!
5) Most Satisfying Read – Wild Rover No More by L. A. Meyer, which was a good book, not a great one, but a satisfying conclusion to a series I’ve been reading for twelve years. And I do like finishing things.
6) Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2014 to Read It – A tie here, between The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and The False Prince by Jennifer A. Neilson, both taking this spot for the same reason. They were huge on the blogs I follow when they came out, and yet it took years for me to get to them. On the plus side: both had their entire series published by the time I picked them up!
7) Most Hilarious Read – As usual, I looked through my Pratchett reads of the year here, and I’m giving the nod to Making Money, as conman-turned-postmaster Moist von Lipwig finds himself making real money—at the Mint. Moist is one of my favorite Discworld leads, and I always love best the ones set in Ankh-Morpork. Though with all due respect to Making Money, the funniest book of the year really was Pratchett’s Maskerade, ineligible because it was a reread.
8) Most Looking Forward To in 2015 – Last year I was most looking forward to the (then-unnamed) Fairyland 4 by Catherynne Valente…and since the publishing date was delayed, I am still most looking forward to the now-named Boy Who Lost Fairyland. March, they tell me… And there’s a close second from Winter by Marissa Meyer, to finish out her Lunar Chronicles quartet. Which won’t be out until the end of the year!
What were your best or worst of 2014? Or feel free to answer any of the other questions!