Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best and Worst of 2014

In 2014 I read a hundred books. I read tons of science fiction, and not enough classics. I read more non-fiction than I usually do. I finished the Harry Potter series. I read three David Mitchell books, and loved them all. I had slumps and sprees. It was a good year ^^
Here are my favourites of 2014, described in one sentence (as usual, best if not be taken too seriously):
Best in Fiction

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Quiet tension, sad fates, oriental setting, beautiful writing.
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Epic family story, peels like an onion, beautiful writing.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
Humans are awful animals, beautiful writing.
Best in Science Fiction
Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons
Great sci-fi books Great books.
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
Every nerd's comfort read.
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Gender is overrated.
Best in Fantasy

Among Others, Jo Walton
Less is more - very quiet, subtle, and thought-provoking book.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
Cleptomaniac & co, commotion & banter, cool sidekick.
Best in Non-Fiction
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield
Inspirational - that is all.
Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick
The real lives of North-Koreans are shocking.
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
Funny, daring, will possibly gross you out.
Best in Classics
Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
Life is a bleak piece of hell, and then we die.
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Melodramatic, atmospheric, dislikeable, unputdownable.
The Biggest Disappointment
Disclaimer: I am aware that these are highly popular books. I personally didn't like them. I maybe *got* them, but still didn't like them. Tastes are different. The fact that you enjoyed them and I didn't does not mean we still couldn't be friends. Happy new year.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Nothing special, a mega annoying female character.
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Plain characters, uninspiring, relying too much on shock value.
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Confusing, too long, I don't click with Gaiman's writing.
The Fault in our Stars, John Green
Teenagers don't talk like this; John Green does.


  1. 100 books is such a great number to end the year on. Our lists have a few in common. :D We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves really stuck with me too this year.
    I definitely want to read Chris Hadfield in 2015!

    1. It's great that our lists had a few in common :)) Let's hope the same will happen this year.

      Please read (or better listen - I know you like audiobooks) Chris Hadfield, it was so inspiring!

  2. I want to read all those books in your favourites...except the ones I've already read

    1. I suspect there aren't that many here that you haven't read. :)

  3. What a great list! I'm surprised and pleased that Locke Lamora made it on there :)

    I sooooo can't wait to start Ancillary Justice. It's just sitting there on my Kindle, waiting for me. Happy New Year!!!

    1. Thanks Sarah! Huh, fingers crossed for Ancillary Justice, people either love or hate it. I will probably buy the sequel today and read it next week.

      I read too little fantasy this year, so the selection for this category wasn't exactly plentiful. That being said, I *really* enjoyed the first book in the series and I'm not at all against reading the third book some time (soon-ish? book blogger TM). :)

  4. What a great list, I list try out your best fantasy books, they both sounds and look really good.
    I did not like the Kite Runner either and I never tried The fault in our stars because I know this is not the sort of book I enjoy, so I get why they made your list! :-)

    Happy new year and to many good books in 2015!

    Kind regards,

    1. Thank you Bettina - I wish you the most pleasant new year :)

      You are wise to not try out books you know you will like. I admit I suspected I won't like it, but I try to read something from authors that are *very* popular so that I can rely my arguments on something when discussing why I don't like them with people :)

  5. Life is a bleak piece of hell, and then we die.

    And that's why I don't read Thomas Hardy (much; only read 2 of his books to date?) =P

    Great list! Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy The Name of the Wind (I barely recall the plot and need to revisit it myself before reading the second novel on my shelf) and American Gods (dunno if we've discussed this before but is it your first Gaiman novel? I had to re-read AG the second time to like it, actually).

    Happy New Year Riv! All the best--and plenty of books to read!--for 2015 :)

    1. Thanks Lianne, all the best to you as well and a happy new year! :)

      Jude was my first Hardy but the masochist in me is very excited to pick up that Tess from the shelf and give it a go. American Gods was not my first Gaiman - I tried Neverwhere a few years back and it did nothing for me either (only it wasn't that bad because it was quite short). I think Gaiman is not for me, objectively I understand he has Mad Writing Skill, but subjectively, I just don't connect with his stuff. :)

  6. What a great best books list! I loved Middlesex when I read it a few years back, and also really enjoyed Rebecca. Have you read any of Du Maurier's other novels? My personal favourite is My Cousin Rachel.

    I also found Chris Hadfield's book truly inspiring. He is an amazing individual.

    As for your disappointments, I don't get along with Neil Gamain's writing either, so you're not alone.

    All the best in 2015!

    1. Thanks Melissa, and happy new 2015 to you as well. I haven't read any other du Maurier yet, but I want to - I'll write down My Cousin Rachel to try next.

      I agree so so much on Chris Hadfield. And good to know I am not alone in my disappointments :)

  7. Good for you for putting your disappointments out there! Even super popular books don't work for everyone, and they honestly shouldn't since there is no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to books -- and you're right that disagreeing about books shouldn't be a reason to not be friends :)

    Middlesex and Rebecca have been calling to me from my shelves for a long time -- I really should get around to them one of these days :) Happy New Year Riv!

    1. Thanks Christine, and a happy new year!

      I can easily recommend Rebecca, it's one of those classics that doesn't feel "heavy" (at least writing-wise; it is a bit gloomy on themes and such) at all.

  8. Great list! I have enjoyed Rebecca, Middlesex and Among Others too.
    I especially liked the sci-fi/fantasy sections, have added all the ones I haven't read to my wishlist.
    Happy reading in 2015!

    1. Oo, you already read Among Others - great! Happy new year to your whole family, Sam!

  9. Wow, you did amazing this year! I've added several of this to my wish list, my TBR pile thanks you ;) Happy reading this year!

    1. Thanks Ellie. Happy to be your guinea pig :D

  10. Nothing to Envy was such a great book -- one of my best nonfiction books of the year as well, although I couldn't get my act together to write a best of 2014 blog post this year. :p

    1. I can't wait to read more non-fiction about North Korea this year. Happy new year, Jenny!

  11. I agree with your point on John Green! I love Among Others and Rebecca. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is our next book group read, so good to see positive thoughts. Happy new year!

    1. Thanks Ellie, I hope your book group will enjoy the book :)

  12. Some of the books you list among your favourites are there on my list too! You probably know that, though :D Others are on my TBR list. I also share in the disappointment concerning American Gods. Meh.

    Besides, who did you just call "sidekick"??? He's NOT!!! :D

    Your post have inspired me to finally sit down to writing my own review of 2014 reads. I just need to figure out which format I want to do it :)

    1. Thanks Ekaterina (and sorry for the late reply, my inbox is completely out of order...)

      Yeah, saying Jean Tannen is a sidekick is a bit wrong. Locke could not do without him. They belong together :p

      I will not try another Neil Gaiman book, there is absolutely nothing tempting about any of his books for me (not even Stardust - I might have tried it if I hadn't seen the movie already).

  13. I just found this blog; it's looking great! How do you find the time to read this many books? I envy you!

    I don't know if you still remember me (probably not), but I'm totally into "space exploration" myself these days. Only then behind a computer screen. ;)


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