What should you read this year? Here’s my list!
Just started reading this! It follows the story of a young boy named Amir in the district of Kabul in Afghanistan. Besides being a National Bestseller, the book’s plot precedes the rise of the Taliban in the country. It’s an excellent read so far.
The subtitle summarizes the story. The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. I am very excited to read this brave girl’s story.
Considered a classic for the ages. I read Pride & Prejudice in high school, and I’ve heard this Bronte novel is just as good. I won’t be deterred by the solemn-faced cover…
Ever since I saw the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I’ve been fascinated by this story and had the luck of finding it on sale at Barnes & Noble this week.
I read Flynn’s other two books. I was enamored and disturbed beyond words. I look forward to her third book being equally insane.
Confession. I started this one in 2014, and I finished it on the 1st. SO GOOD. If you like thrillers or anything by Gillian Flynn, this book is a win.
An autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. It’s unfortunate that I waited until after her death to look into her writing as the more research I’ve done, the more I can’t wait to start this book.
My dad sent this one my way because of my parent’s feelings towards minimalism. Since I’m not very materialistic, I think it could be a great read. I may even encourage my husband to read it next…
A novel based on Kerouac & his friends’ travels across America.
The dystopian fiction novel written long before dystopian fiction was cool. Long before as in 1931.
I loved the movies. I hate myself for not reading the books first. I hope to make up for it by reading them now.
I read the plot on Amazon and I think it sounds sweet and light. After all the classics I intend to read this year, it’ll be nice to have an easier read.
My husband I made a deal in 2012. He reads Looking for Alaska (my favorite book of all time) and I read Ender’s Game. He read Looking for Alaska right after we made our deal.
I think it’s my turn (3 years later).
“A dissection of American life in the 1960’s.” The plot summary sounds eerie, historically informative, and right up my alley.
The story between the friendship two girls that unfolds over twenty years, from 12 years old to their 30th birthdays. Considering I met my best friend at 10 and we’re still close as can be, I’m hoping it’s a sweet story about life long friendship. Gina, if you’re reading this – add it to your list! Also – Judy Blume.
Historical fiction novels are some of my favorite, and this book was compared to Mad Men. Enough said.
The description alone has me hooked.
“Unspeakable Things is a fresh look at gender and power in the twenty-first century, which asks difficult questions about dissent and desire, money and masculinity, sexual violence, menial work, mental health, queer politics, and the Internet.”
To increase my feminism knowledge. And because Kat Stratford is my spirit animal.
Purposefully picked because it’s described as “The easier to read Game of Thrones”. I love me some YA novels and Da La Cruz’s older series – The Au Pairs – was a guilty pleasure of mine in early high school.
This book was sent to me in the mail by an anonymous address in Illinois. No idea how they got my name or address, and with no name on the return address, I am intrigued. It’s not a book I would typically read but if I have the time – I’d like to try.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 was to read one book each month for the entire year. After spending the last four years reading text books and resume building websites, I wanted to rekindle my love for reading for pleasure.
The year is almost over, and I am too excited to share that I crushed my goal and read seventeen books in 2014. My fifteen year old self is saying, “That’s it?” But twenty-three year old me is damn proud I put my phone down from stalking social media and made reading a priority.
Here is the complete list (in order from best to worst)
From the BEST: The Help was superb. I was laughing out loud, bawling my eyes out, and pouring over the pages eagerly on my vacation last March. I was even ignoring my family – who’d I made the trip to see – to get to the end. Wonderfully written and a beautiful story. I’d recommend to everyone.
To the WORST: Sister Season was painful to finish, but I pushed through because the back had enticed me and I really wanted to like a story about three sisters in adulthood (just like me!). I never ended up liking it. Not at the beginning. Not in the middle. Not at the end. The story droned on and on with no real climax or plot. Pass.
I encourage everyone to read:
– The Help
– Gone Girl
– The Silkworm
– Angels & Demons
I encourage female 20-somethings to read:
– The Bell Jar
– Main Street
– The Devil Wears Prada
– Sammy’s Hill by Kristin Gore (Easy read, but painfully predictable. Hesitantly adding this.)
I encourage fellow nerd-series lovers (think The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Trilogy, Raymond E. Feist books) to read:
– Game of Thrones
– Maze Runner
I do not encourage ANYONE to read:
– The Sister Season
– MWF seeking BFF
– The Alchemist (terribly over hyped)
And for the books I read that don’t quite fit anywhere, I’d say:
– Read Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (not to be confused with Sister Season!) if you’ve read anything by Sittenfeld before and enjoy her writing. If you haven’t reading any of her writing I’d start with Prep or American Wife.
– Read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn if you adore Gone Girl or don’t mind an extremely twisted, disturbing thriller. This book is not for the faint of heart.
– Read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple if you like books that build the plot through correspondence (letters, e-mails, documents between characters) instead of storytelling. For all the lists I found this book on in 2014, I wasn’t too impressed.
– Read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells if you like sad, disturbing non-fiction. For the people who could stomach, “A Child Called It” this book would be for you. It was very well-written, but I dislike this genre. I rather have my sad, disturbing, crazy to be in fiction books and uplifting things to be in my non-fiction books.
There you have it. My extremely simplified review of my seventeen reads of 2014. I can expand on any of these by request!
I finished an entire book at Barnes & Noble on Sunday. Start to finish. An entire book.
My car was getting an oil change and they warned it’d be awhile because they were really backed up, so I sauntered over to B&N. I grabbed the newest book from one of my favorite authors and melted into one of those cozy chairs next to the round fireplace. Other Barnes & Noble locations have fireplaces right? It’s not just Fairbanks?
Oh man. It was so good. Curtis Sittenfeld never disappoints and her new book, Sisterland was no exception.
The story follows two identical twin sisters and the intriguing psychic abilities they were born and have lived with their entire lives. The book is narrated by only one of the sisters, Kate, and bounces between the past and present. From growing up together, to drifting apart, and how they ended up where they are now. It’s an intriguing story that keeps you turning pages for more and more background to their present situation.
My favorite part of Sisterland is that the climax the reader thinks is building throughout the book shifts dramatically when it’s reached. The plot changes in a few short seconds, and I loved that there was hardly any foreshadowing of this event. I’m not a huge fan of predictability. Sittenfeld is a natural story teller so the book is enjoyable throughout the first three fourths, but when I hit the OH MY GOD moment, I could not put it down. I poured through the last quarter of the book with ferocity.
Like Sittenfeld’s other books – Prep, American Wife – I was left with a content, yet unsettled feeling when I reached the end. Not in the way that anything was left unsaid. Sittenfeld ties up all loose ends. The ending isn’t very happy; although it’s not necessarily sad either. It’s realistic. It’s a contentment despite a nagging feeling. It’s life.
This book has my full recommendation for anyone who enjoys a good fiction story about family! The paranormal part of it isn’t as big of a deal as the familial relationships, so if you’re solely interested in magic or paranormal – this won’t be for you. Another great review if you need further convincing can be found on NPR’s website.
So 3.5 hours of reading later, and I had finished the book.
I reached an interesting predicament when I finished so quickly. I hadn’t bought the book. My intention was to sit down for 2 hours, maybe get half way through the book and then buy it on the way out to go get my oil-changed car. But I was done, and it was unpaid for, so I lingered in the chair debating my options.
1. Buy the book because it was the right thing to do
2. Buy a different book because then I still bought an item, but read two books for the price of one
3. Buy a drink or baked good to pretend I’m a half-way decent person
4. Return the book and leave the store silently
To no one’s surprise who has ever known me in the history of my life….
I bought the book.
I’m a terrible liar and I get guilt gut for days about the silliest things. I’ve broken school rules and certain laws that society considers suggestions *cough* underage drinking *cough*, but I couldn’t ethically put the book back and leave the store with no purchases. And purchasing a different book or even a coffee would only make me feel guilty for getting a two-for-one deal. To avoid all red faced, stammering, guilty conscious, stomach churning situations – I just bought the damn book.
It has now been added to our growing collection that I hope to turn into a lovely library at our next home, but is currently crammed into a free standing, overflowing bookcase.
Oh, and my car took 5 hours. After leaving Barnes and Noble, I had my husband pick me up. We went out for sushi and went shopping. It was a lovely, productive Sunday despite the oil change struggles.
I’m having one of those rare moments where I just finished the last page of a book I’ve been pouring over the entire day and I’m certain the book was written solely for me. The author, Sinclair Lewis, came 94 years into the future, looked into my mind, studied my thoughts and feelings, and returned to write “Main Street”.
I am Carol Kennicott.
For those that have yet to read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, the book is centered around the overly sarcastic (and hilarious) protagonist Carol Milford. Milford is a liberal, free spirited girl who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, attended college in the Twin Cities, and starts the book enjoying a busy, urban life complete with intelligent friends and all the right parties until she meets Dr. Kennicott.
The Doctor sweeps her off her feet and to the small, prairie backwoods town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota that consists of not much more than a Main Street and a few back streets. She detests the small town life and all of its inhabitants, and dreams of nothing more than leaving immediately. As the book progresses, she attempts to become a part of the town, joining clubs and societies, attending church, and making the best of her husband’s gossipy, boring friends.
Spoiler Alert. Years of trying to fit in and not feeling at all like she can be her liberal, outspoken self lead her move to Washington DC for a few years to pursue a career and her happiness – while still maintaining her marriage with Kennicott. She eventually returns, with a somewhat new outlook on life. But we see from the last few sentences of the book, the monotony of Carol’s life in Gopher Prairie will be unending.
I grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota on Main Street. My address was literally Main Street AND Minnesota. My father was the mayor and a small business owner, we had a lovely home and different outlook on life than most of our neighbors. My parents encouraged my sisters and myself to be free spirited, to think for ourselves, and to follow our dreams.
I attended college in the Twin Cities (I’m telling you – this book was written for ME), and fell deeply in love with big cities. I loved the bustling streets always filled with something to do and someone to do it with. I loved the skylines, the parties, the venues, the restaurants, the shopping, the everything. I was head over heels for Minneapolis.
But I was also falling madly in love with my now husband. A military man, who I married after finishing college, and then joined in the isolated, small town of Fairbanks, Alaska. Carol’s struggle throughout “Main Street” is my current struggle.
Kennicott’s intelligent, open minded, kind demeanor while still being passionate about nature, the outdoors, and small town values reminds me of my parents and my husband.
The townspeople in the book remind me of the groups of people I have met throughout Fairbanks and really don’t have much in common with, at all. Vida and Fern, the two friends Carol made for brief periods of time are without a doubt the ONE army spouse I had ridiculous amounts of things in common with and spent nine months hanging out with before she moved.
The comparisons go on.
I devoured the book, eager to find an answer to Carol’s/my struggle and I came to the ending with an unsettling feeling that there wasn’t one. There would never be an end to Carol’s struggle as long as she envied the big cities and Kennicott was not willing to move. As hard as she fought to change how she felt about it, time could only change so much about a person. We are who we are.
Thankfully, my time in this small, isolated town is on a timeline. Otherwise a government job in Washington DC may have been my next stop. That or crazy town.
A liberal, free spirited, city girl can only survive isolation from civilization for so long.
“They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word “dude” is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always peddlers or pants-makers.
“Where does she get all them the’ries?” marveled Uncle Whittier Smail; while Aunt Bessie inquired, “Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My! If there are,” and her tone settled the fact that there were not, “I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!”
― Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
Back in January I wrote a blog post about my love for reading and my commitment to read a book a month for the next year.
Well, it’s four months into the year so I thought I’d do a little check in. Since I’m checking in on one 2014 goal, I might have to check in on the rest as well. It never hurts to see if I’m on track. I rather not reach the end of 2014 and feel like I wasted the past year (Type-A personality problems).
The Reading List:
1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath [x]
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
3. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
4. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
5. MWF seeks BFF by Rachel Bertsche [x] 6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [x] 8. Watership Down by Richard Adams
9. A Little Princes by Frances Hodgson Burnett
10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
11. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
12. The Help by Kathryn Stockett [x]
I’m 4/4 and four months in! Three of those four books I can thank to my March vacation home. Flights from Fairbanks to
anywhere on planet earth Minnesota take a ridiculously long amount of time, and I also had a 16 hour road trip squeezed into that ten day trip. In short, I read like crazy.
Of the four books I’ve read so far, The Help by Kathryn Stockett was without a doubt my favorite. I still have yet to see the movie, so it was fun for me to read it with zero expectations. It was wonderfully written, realistic fiction novel based on African-American housekeepers/maids working in White households in Southern Mississippi in the 1960’s. I was laughing, crying, and feeling the warm fuzzies throughout the entire read.
The Bell Jar was excellent, but eerie. Read with caution. You may start to question your own sanity as you free fall into the mind of the clinically depressed Esther Greenwood. It is a classic, and my second favorite of the books I have read so far.
MWF Seeks BFF by Rachel Bertsche is not a bestselling novel, or even all that well-known, but for someone who just moved from a city with all my friends to an isolated location where I knew no one but my husband – this book was relatable in every way. If you have just moved and you’re looking for ideas on making friends, or what it takes to establish a good friendship with someone, this book is filled with research, evidence, and first hand accounts of the author’s struggles to make new friends after her move from New York City to Chicago. I appreciated this book immensely.
Lastly, I read the Alchemist. One of the most read, translated books of all time or something? This is potentially the unpopular opinion of the year, but I was not impressed. It hooked me and it was an easy read, so I dived right in and finished in a few short hours on our road trip, but I wasn’t left feeling much when I finished. It was too vague, and the whole “personal legend” thing was not much of an inspiration for me. I felt like the book tried way too hard to teach the reader a lesson.
I’m currently reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which is unfortunately not catching my attention at all after 100 pages in, and I have a strict “life is too short to read bad books” policy. I may have to add a different book to the list and let this one go…
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I love reading. Which makes sense considering I love writing. They sort of go hand in hand. And by sort of, I mean they do. I haven’t met a writer who didn’t love to read. If you love words, you’ll love them no matter how you utilize them.
One of my simpler New Year’s Resolutions was to read a book a month this year. Finish 12 books in 2014. In high school or middle school, that would have been a joke of a resolution. I could devour a book in just a day or two, and could easily finish two in a week if I was in a reading mood. I don’t even count the ones I had to read for class (many of which later became favorites). I read as often as I could until I got to college.
When I started college I hit a brick wall.
A brick wall filled with so much college reading material that reading for enjoyment was not joyful. On summer vacations and winter breaks, I had no desire to pick up a book. I did finish a few despite the homework. The Hunger Games in particular I remember reading on top of text books. But for the most part reading for fun was gone…
Then I did all that marriage/moving/career stuff, and it wasn’t until a few months ago on a date to Barnes and Noble that I found myself picking reading back up again. I bought the first in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the first book to the Game of Thrones series, and a healthy crockpot cookbook. The first two books I finished in a matter of days, eagerly purchasing the 2nd and 3rd novels in the Veronica Roth trilogy and finding myself contemplating my existence on earth after finishing Never Let Me Go. The Game of Thrones book was a little harder to get into, but you get the idea.
I finally have free time, so finishing a book a month should be no problem at all. I’m going to be honest about this too. I won’t even count the the entire Harry Potter series I’m rereading for the umpteenth time.
Even if you’re not into resolutions, I challenge you to read 12 books this year too. Even if you don’t like reading, or say you don’t have the time (turn off Netflix) I’m challenging you to read just 12 books. Why? I think George R. R. Martin puts it best,
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Here’s 12 recommendations that come with a signed seal of approval from me:
1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
3. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
4. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
5. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
8. Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
11. The Giver by Lois Lowry
12. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
(I wanted to add so many more to this list, and if you have a certain genre you like – I can suggest a multitude of books within that genre!)
And here is a list of 12 I want to read this year:
1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
3. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
4. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
5. MWF seeks BFF by Rachel Bertsche
6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
8. Watership Down by Richard Adams
9. A Little Princes by Frances Hodgson Burnett
10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
11. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
12. How To Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The first five on my list I actually already purchased from Alibris. If you’ve never used that website for book purchases, you are missing out! They sell books that national retailers weren’t able to sell due to bent or discolored pages, and/or already used books. I’ve never received a book from them I wasn’t able to read due to damage and the joy of reading comes at prices as low as $0.99.
What’s on your reading list in 2014?
I attempted to read World War Z recently. I mean I really attempted. I read over half of the book and tried to pretend it was what I was hoping it would be, but I finally just stopped because it wasn’t. I’ll admit I watched the movie first and when I bought the book, I was hoping for as thrilling of a plot line as the movie. I assumed it would follow Gerry Lane, Brad Pitt’s character, the former UN investigator as he traveled around the world trying to find the source of the outbreak and how to stop it.
It didn’t. Spoiler alert, kids.
The entire book was from the point of view from tons of different people as the virus spread, and I guess it was somewhat interesting to see it unfold from the eyes of so many characters but it also made it difficult to want to continue reading. I easily set it down after each character’s testimony was finished, and reluctantly picked it up again to follow someone else’s.
Frankly, I am happy they made a movie out of World War Z. I vastly preferred the thrill of the movie.
I do not usually feel that way about books. I mean, I am a Harry Potter addict and I can tell you every single scene in the movies that defers from the pages of the books. I also am that pretentious person who read The Great Gatsby and believe they made the movie a lot more flashy than what the story line intended. The Hunger Games I felt was close. The Hobbit was okay, but I remembering enjoying the book far more than the first of the three movies.
I suppose the no-brainer answer here is whether one read the book or watched the movie first. But my question is, wouldn’t we all be biased then? How can we REALLY prove that the book or movie is better if every one of us would have to watch or read one or the other first?
My favorite book of all time is Looking for Alaska. I mean, I am obsessed. At 14 years old, this book about a handful of rambunctious teenagers trying to understand the meaning of life, changed my own perspective on life. It challenged every fear I’d ever had, and gave me a lot of hope regarding my future. I became partial to its author, John Green, and since then have read pretty much every book he’s published.
Now John Green recently announced one of his books, The Fault in Our Stars, is turning into a movie. It’s a great book. I read it in less than twenty-four hours and was hooked, but The Fault in Our Stars is no Looking for Alaska. Another spoiler alert kiddos, but a book about two kids falling in love while dealing with cancer can get anyone emotional. Alaska was so much deeper, and I have always felt, one of the most original plot lines I’ve ever read.
So basically I was quite devastated that Looking for Alaska wasn’t going to be a movie. I’m not saying it’s personal, but it’s sort of personal. This book changed my life, after all…
But I had a bit of an epiphany after trying to read World War Z. I can’t help but criticize and not appreciate probably an immensely well-written piece of literature; simply because I watched the movie first. And so maybe it’s best that Looking for Alaska stays as a book. Maybe it’s best so that people don’t go out and watch the movie and decide to never read this powerful book, or else when they do attempt to read it, have no appreciation for its deeper meaning.
Even after my disappointment with World War Z, and the fact that I’ll probably never finish reading it I still believe books are better than their movie counterparts. I may have preferred the movie, but the book must be better – or else why would they have made a movie out of it?
Also, you should all go read Looking for Alaska if you haven’t. Especially before someone decides to make it a movie.
“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”
– John Green, Looking for Alaska