Thursday, January 1

What We Read: 2014

Happy New Year!  Now is the perfect time to look back and reflect on what made 2014 an amazing year of books.  

What We Read: 2014

  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • If on a winter's night a traveller... by Italo Calvino
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams
  • Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  • Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver


These are the books from 2014 that I didn't enjoy or I disliked for some reason.  Apologies if any of these are your favourite!

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is a modern children's classic.  I expected to find it magical and moving, but it reminded me of too many other American kid stories.  The slow-pace and heavily accented dialogue made me question its appeal.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff is a coming-of-age story set in a futuristic World War III.  Daisy is a rambling, lackadaisical narrator.  She is anorexic and has an incestuous relationship with her cousin.  Rosoff's aimed for Daisy to be a fresh viewpoint for discussing the topics of war and growing up.  But the narrative treats anorexia as nothing more than a convenient character quirk.  The plot jolts to an end with a six-years-later segment which feels shoe-horned in.

Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett focuses on domestic abuse and incest amongst members of the Willow family.  It is a disturbing, gritty tale set against an inhospitable outback Australian backdrop.  The sharp writing style and grim depictions of the landscape are excellent, but I wouldn't revisit this story.


These are the books from 2014 that changed the way I think and feel.  They have stayed with me long after the final page.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is confronting and violent, and won't fail to impact your perception of human nature.  The language is weird and rich, making sure you remember this wild story of a future world of violence and criminal reconditioning.

If on a winter's night a traveller... by Italo Calvino is an adventure in which the reader is the hero.  The writing engages the reader directly through second person point of view, leading you deeper and deeper into its web of overlapping stories.  No explanation can do this genius narrative justice!

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut reimagines the classic war story in a way that shocked and inspired me.  Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.  His narrative of time travel through WWII and an alien abduction discusses war so that readers can reach an unexpected high of empathy.  Vonnegut's prose is beautiful, minimalistic, and resonating.  Scenes and ideas that we are tired of seeing over and over again are made new in this book.  

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is popular for all the right reasons.  The writing is riveting and the story validates young readers' journeys of growth to self-empowerment. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is brilliant and witty.  Readers assume that 15-year-old narrator Christopher has Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism.  His narration immerses readers into the almost claustrophobic complexity of his hopes and fears.  The story is hilarious, nerve-wracking, and thought-provoking.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is stunning.  Eva's son Kevin murdered his classmates in a highschool massacre.  Eva narrates the story through a series of letters that reflect on and explain her thoughts and feelings, from before Kevin's birth to current day.  In Eva, Shriver has created a human being so full of empathetic fear, guilt, and retrospect that I couldn't escape its intense impact.  This book turned my thoughts on human life, love, and relationships upside down.  

It may have been a slow year for blogging, but the books of 2014 have taught me and changed me.  I hope that your reading continues to excite you.  Leave me a comment to share the books you loved from 2014 and let us know what you can't wait to read in the new year!

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