Leslie's Top 10 Books Read in 2014

I’m always bothered by people who do best of lists before the year is over. What’s to say you aren’t going to read the best book of the year on the very last day of the year? That’s why I always wait until January, at which point people probably don’t care anymore because they’ve already seen a million and one best of lists. Well, here is one more.

Last year I only read 79 books, including many comics. This is partially due to a lethargy that took over the last quarter of the year that made me slow at everything and partially due to a giant leap in job duties that took up some free time. Despite that, I read 24,701 pages last year, which isn’t nothing to frown on. Of the 79 books, I rated 20 of them 5 stars on Goodreads and another 42 as 4 stars. Not too shabby of a year. I ended up re-reading 3 books (all graphic novels) and they all landed on the 5 star pile.

So which were my favorites?

The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey
I want everyone in the world to read and love this book as much as I did. I was so in awe of Carey’s writing and plotting, so surprised by plot twists that I had a happy post-read afterglow for days afterwards. I want more books like this in the world – standalones full of heart and surprises and emotion and not skimping on the action either.

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer is my favorite YA author hands down. I think there’s no way this series can get any better and then, somehow, it does. Meyer was juggling a ton of characters in this third volume and yet I didn’t feel as though any one character was jipped. I wanted to spend more time with everyone and continue their space adventures and fight against the Evil Queen Levana. This is a series that I think about a lot between books and can’t wait to get a double dose this year with Fairest and Winter. But then it will be over and I will be sad and I will buy anything she ever writes for the rest of time.

Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
I’m pretty certain this is the best comic series I have ever read. Gabriel Rodriguez’s art astonished me from beginning to end, and together with Joe Hill, gave me nightmares for days. I’m thankful Fernando suggested I read the last volume t home instead of on an airplane to Comic Con because, by the end, I was full on ugly sobbing. These guys deserve all the accolades that can be given to them and then some.

Robogensis by Daniel H Wilson
Speaking of nightmares, Daniel H Wilson once again manufactured many of mine this year. I never dreamed a sequel to Robopocalypse would exist, but man, am I glad it does. It feels real and surreal and crazy all at the same time. I would not want to live in Wilson’s world, but I really love visiting it and revealing in the victories and commiserating in the defeats.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Forget Song of Ice & Fire. Give me Marie Rutkoski’s romantic fantasy realm of a general’s daughter and her mysterious slave boy getting in above their heads. Rutkoski’s writing was beautiful in its descriptiveness while pacing rarely let up. With so many series ending in 2014, I’m so glad this one started.

Prisoner of Night & Fog by Anne Blankman
In 400 pages, Blankman reignited a love of historical fiction in me that I had forgotten for nearly a decade. This is a delicately weaved tale of family and love and doing what is right when it’s by no means easy. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of the home front during World War II, but this gave me a fictional glimpse at what it was like on the other side before everything exploded. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
Ignore the title and ignore the cover. What is between the pages of this book is so much more than the sum of its exterior. I had such a hard time putting down this near-future sci-fi standalone full of mystery, weird secret societies and an app that makes every decision for you. Life at a freaky elite boarding school and the technology ruling the students’ lives makes for one compelling read.

Strange & Ever After by Susan Dennard
I was disappointed with one series ender after another in 2013. Luckily that wasn’t the case in 2014. While it’s the only book on the list that is a series ender, man, what an ender it was. There were tears and cursing and white-knuckle gripping of the book. I still can’t believe what Susan Dennard did to me through her characters. I don’t know if I will ever get over that ending, though she has officially landed on my list of “automatically buy all the books no matter what”.

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
My favorite books either leave me dreamy for a fictional world or leave me clutching the blankets in terror it seems. The Rule of Three was too realistic in its depiction of how society will fracture after a catastrophe like the complete loss of electricity. It stuck with me for a year and has made me both eager and terrified to read the sequel. If the world as we know it ends, I hope a level-headed kid like Adam lives in my neighborhood.

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
Who knew coming home could be so fulfilling? I might not be an emo, manic depressive teen with dreams of great adventures anymore, but returning home to Francesca Lia Block was just as exciting and welcoming in its subversive weirdness as it ever was. Block is not to everyone’s taste, especially anyone who doesn’t like weird drug-fueled psychedelic dreamscapes filled with manic pixie dream girls, but it still feels like home to me.

 

Runner Up in Comics:

All the Marvel NOW books I picked up, particularly Young Avengers, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye
I read a fair amount of comics in 2014, but my reading timeline shows a strong turn towards the Marval NOW! line of books around mid-summer after reading tons of DC comics that left me feeling bleak and mildly disgusted in some cases. First came Hawkeye then Captain Marvel then Guardians of the Galaxy, Young Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Black Widow and more. I might not always know what’s going on because I lack background, but I always have fun with Marvel’s latest lines so far. I already have a long list of Marvel books to pick up this year. Compared to DC, the Marvel universe is full of so much fun and adventure and no one is trying to chop Batgirl’s legs off or skin the faces of everyone Batman loves. Sunshine can happen to superheroes too, you know.

 

Just Didn’t Get the Hype

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I called the big “reveal” mid-way through chapter 2 and just ended up hating all the people in this book to the point that I wanted everyone to end up at the bottom of the river. I’m definitely not the target audience and I might have to stay away from this sort of “marital crime” sort of books in the future because it just made me grumpy and angry for awhile.

 

Of course a lot more books came out last year, so what are the glaring omissions from my list? What 2014 book should I bump up on my TBR list this year?