One of my favorite parts of this year was how many books I read–it was some really tangible evidence that I’m starting to get ME back. I finished 52 books which was more than 23,000 pages, which makes me happy. (Although I still think my 3 week, 4500 page Game of Thrones binge was a bit…insane). I’m hoping to do as well (if not better) next year, but for now, let’s look back on which books were my favorite!
They are, in no particular order, with my reviews from Goodreads included. I try to write my reviews within a day or two of finishing the book, so some of my thoughts may have changed a bit since these were written, but they were my immediate impressions:
- Outlander: Look, I don’t think this is great Literature or anything, and there were definitely things I could nitpick. But I loved reading this, I loved every minute of it. I have a total crush on Jamie, I got totally wrapped up in the story, I wanted to spend more time with the characters when I wasn’t reading, and I was sad when the book was done… and if that doesn’t earn 5 stars, I don’t know what does.
- Graceling: It started out a little slow for me, and a little eye-rolly. But by a few chapters in I was hooked on the main characters, which is basically what kept the book going for me. I felt there was a good combo of action, interest, and character development to make it work. And I ended it wanting more time with the main characters, which is always a good sign.
- Ready Player One: Are you a child of the 80′s? Do you geek out over video games, Monty Python, Blade Runner, Family Ties, Pac Man, Duran Duran, etc? Are you into fun sci-fi/fantasy? Ever wanted to be IN a video game? Then this is the book for you. This book is basically one big nerdgasm, filled with geeky fun. It was a quick, entertaining read, but I’ll admit that I probably missed at least 1/2 of the references–didn’t diminish the fun, but I feel like I need to revoke any partial geek cred I might claim.
- The Fault in Our Stars: Ok, it took me 2 weeks to figure out how to write about this book. Because I both adored and hated it. The hated part is pretty easy to figure out–book about kids with cancer, there’s bound to be death talk and as a rule, I now find it really hard to read about death talk in general but specifically death talk that is about kids. I sobbed my way through several parts of this book, though there was one specific line in the beginning(ish) of the book that was probably the hardest to read. It really just broke my mom heart into little tiny shards.
The loved part is also pretty easy, because it’s a fantastic story with some fantastic characters. NOW, I will argue one little point here–these teens don’t talk, think, or act like typical teens. I love them for this, but there were a few moments where I kind of went “hey, WAIT a minute, these are kids. They’re grown ups disguised as teens.” Whatever, I still love them. I want them to be happy. I felt like hugging them, and smacking them, and telling off the people who were mistreating them. All signs that I got way, WAY too attached to this book.
The basics of the story aren’t that revolutionary and follows several to-be-expected paths (if you are surprised by death in this book, I would be shocked), but the writing within the story, and the characters that fulfill the story are pretty wonderful. In the end, I loved the book, but I’m not sure I could read it again. I’m so, so, so glad I read it…but it hurt too many parts of me to want to read it again.
- Shadow of Night: I found this book to be an easier read than the first one for some reason (though I feel like I need to go brush up on my history and literature to really get some of the book). It felt, to me, less tedious, even though it clearly has 2nd book syndrome of doing a lot of set up for the final in the trilogy. I loved many of the new characters introduced, and the history Harkness weaves into the story both on a large scale level and on a “this is day to day life” level. And the further exploration of magic made up for a lot of the first book that I felt was missing that element. The biggest complaint I had about the book is that OMG there are entirely too many characters who get introduced this time around. I felt like I needed a chart to keep track of who they all were, and how they fit into the story. But that may just have been my issue. There were some other issues I could pick on if I wanted, but overall I really enjoyed the book. I think if you liked the first one (and if you liked the characters in the first one), there’s a lot in this book to like.
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: Add me to the chorus of people who adored this book. This may be the funniest, wackiest, and in very interesting ways, the most touching memoir I’ve read in a long time. Of course, be prepared for lots of vagina talk, taxidermied animals, and general hijinks, but also be prepared to see beyond the bizarre and into the sweet. I’ve read Jenny’s blog occasionally over the past few years, though I wouldn’t say I was a fanatic. This book, though, goes beyond a “blogger gets a book deal” book. Jenny has real storytelling chops, and anyone who can make me cry WHILE I’m laughing hysterically gets a giant thumbs up from me.
- Divergent: A quick, fun (odd word I know for dystopian fiction, but there it is), fast paced read. As a fan of the Hunger Games, EVERYONE I know said I needed to read this, and they were right, it was totally worth the time. I loved the characters (mostly), and felt that the plot moved in ways that were both surprising and made sense. I’m not sure I’m with the camp that thinks this is BETTER than Hunger Games (though I reserve the right to determine that later after I’ve had a chance to think about it more), but it’s definitely AS GOOD. I sped through it, and can’t wait see where the rest of the trilogy goes.
- The Night Circus: I’m positive I’m missing deeper meaning in this book, but even still, this is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve read in a long time. The imagery is astounding, and the story kept me intrigued and immersed from the very beginning. I’m sure I’m not getting the full depth of the story, but I loved it nonetheless.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: A fascinating, and at times heartbreaking read–which is made more astounding by the fact that it’s a non-fiction account of a (or some might say, THE) tissue sample. Skloot does a fantastic job of drawing together science, human interest, and history into a compelling and readable tale. I finished the book with many questions and wanting to dive into discussion immediately, always a good sign of a book that has captivated me. The tale brings up some murky questions about scientific testing, and the rights and responsibilities that go along with it, while managing to be a fascinating tale of one woman, and her family, and how the scientific/medical community failed them while succeeding at so many other things.
- A Game of Thrones: After all the hype, I was nervous that the book wouldn’t stand up to my expectations. But I read the whole thing in under 72 hours, so to say that it hooked me would be an understatement. The whole thing is such a soap opera (love! honor! lust! valor! intrigue! mystery! etc.), but I can say that even the characters I find myself loathing I am drawn to find out more about. I can’t wait to start the next one.
How about you? What were your favorite books this year?
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