The year began with a bang but ended with a bit of a whimper, I am sorry to say. My total book consumption was a little shy of six dozen books, but I read only one novel in December: All the Light We Cannot See.
Horowitz's follow-up, Moriarty, hit the shelves right before Christmas, and it's on my list of January reads.
A favorite read from 2011, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (review) was followed up in 2014 by Hollow City. It also was wonderful, but it wasn't the end — which will please author Ransom Riggs' fans.
It was not the only series on my reading list in 2014. I consumed the entire All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, including re-reading Discovery of Witches (also from 2011). The series was far-reaching in time and geography. It was very intriguing, and very worthy.
Another favorite read was One Summer: America, 1927. Who knew so much happened during a few months in a single year? Well, I suppose Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors, who did not disappoint with this book (review). It's incredible, and a worthy read.
Another fascinating historical read was was American Decameron, a series of stories written by another favorite author, Mark Dunn (review). Based on the structure of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, a classic short story collection (which I also read in 2014), Dunn wrote one story for every year of the 20th century, set in every state and a couple of geographical locations outside of the United States. Many of the stories have stayed with me, especially 1948.
If you think human culture and society is strict and complicated, try living life as a bee. Laline Paul showed readers that in another fabulous novel, The Bees. Told from the perspective of Flora 717, a bee in the hive, Paull shows us what life in the hive is like — and helps us understand their lives and plight. I cannot see the world the same way after seeing it through the eyes of Flora 717.
The Book of Unknown Americans took my breath away. The character-driven novel features people who live in a particular apartment building in Delaware. Latino residents had come to the United States for their own reasons, bringing their families for a better life, for safety, for opportunities. How many left prosperous lives, how many were far from everything they knew, how many sacrificed everything to be in a country not their own — at least, not yet. How do people adapt, how do they cope, how do they relate? Cristina Henriquez's characters take us places we never could have imagined.
My least favorite book of the year was Unbroken — not because Louie Zamperini's story is not compelling or interesting, but because Laura Hillenbrand's storytelling did not feel compelling or urgent. I felt the same way about Seabiscuit, another of the author's books.
What were your favorite books of 2014? Which did you like least? Did any disappoint you? Let me know!
Here is a complete list of my 2014 reads:
- All the Light We Cannot See
- The Miracle Jar
- One Yellow Daffodil
- Hanukkah Around the World
- Judaism (DK Eyewitness Book)
- Hanukkah, Schmanukkah!
- Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays
- Hanukkah Lights: Stories of the Season
- This House is Haunted
- The Family Fang
- The Book of Unknown Americans
- The Brothers Cabal
- The Bees
- A Red Herring Without Mustard
- Second Glance
- Centuries of June
- A Room With A Zoo (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/room-zoo)
- The Interestings
- Bats at the Ballgame
- Ouroboros Ouzo / Extent Demon King / Johannesburg Cabal and the Blustery Day/A Long Spoon: A Tor.com Original
- Bats at the Library
- I Lost My Bear
- The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag
- Bats at the Beach
- Bandit’s Surprise
- What Successful People Do Before Breakfast
- Tobacco Road
- The Book of Life
- Shadow of Night
- The Fault in Our Stars
- A Discovery of Witches
- The True Story of Stellina
- Top Secret Twenty-One
- Toots the Cat
- Millions of Cats
- The Beauty of the Beast : poems from the animal kingdom
- Takedown Twenty: a Stephanie Plum novel
- The Eye of Zoltar
- The Eyre Affair
- The Goldfinch
- American Decameron
- The Decameron
- Year of No Sugar
- The River of No Return
- Healthy bread in five minutes a day : 100 new recipes featuring whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free Ingredients
- The creative habit : learn it and use it for life: a practical guide
- One Summer: America, 1927
- A Face in the Crowd
- Twittering from the Circus of the Dead
- Ender’s Game
- Hollow City
- I Suck at Girls
- Sleep Donation
- A Walk in the Woods
- Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
- Coffee is good for you : from vitamin C and organic foods to low-carb and detox diets, the truth about diet and nutrition claims
- Not left behind : rescuing the pets of New Orleans
- You can't take a balloon into the Metropolitan Museum
- You can't take a balloon into the National Gallery of Art
- You can't take a balloon into the Museum of Fine Art
- A contract with God : and other tenement stories
- House of Silk