Far too often this year it felt as though 2014 was a dud in terms of standout reads, it was too often we remarked amongst ourselves that there were just too many disappointing and mediocre reads landing in our laps. Yet, when I went to review what I read and to choose my favourites, I did discover there are quite a few to choose from that fall into the loved category! However, I cannot deny it truly did feel as though 2014 held more stinkers ever read in one year, and definitely more than in previous years. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll spend time writing about those ones, or maybe it will be the ones that disappointed me the most where attention will be called to somewhere in this post.
Upon reflecting on my 2014 Year in Reading, it did help to cement my plans to read on my own through most of 2015. What I mean by this is that I will put more effort into reading the books that I want to read, and to take from the piles of books that sit on my shelf, read from the backlists and firmly choose the books I want to read. I do not want to spend an overwhelming amount of my reading time spent on books that I feel “forced” into reading. I often felt that way this year. Does that make any sense? To boil it down – I will read what I want to read, choose what and when I want to read, and to choose books for my own purpose or pleasure. There are a load of books at home that were sent in for review that I did not get to this year, and I do want to make the effort to read those, I did say yes to them, but I want to choose which ones and when, and not feel pressured into reading them before they call out to me.
At the same time as ensuring that I will read (and try not to accept anything new) those review books, I really truly do want to pull from my own shelves or turn to the 700+ books I have on my “For Later” list sitting on the Bibliocommons site at my public library. Over this past year I noted that fellow Hoarder Elizabeth was reading only from the library and only reading those of her own choosing. I’m determined to proceed through 2015 in the same manner.
But, enough about my plans for 2015! Below I’ll attempt to discuss my standout reads for 2014 in some kind of organized manner, not just simply listing them as my “top reads” because this year I feel that I can break my reading down into separate categories. For instance, I read a lot of short stories this year. I also turned to many mysteries. I read more Canlit than ever and I have a few books that were so amazing but not necessarily published in 2014.
So, without further delay please find a snapshot of what my favourite reads were for my 2014 Year in Reading:
The Very Best Books Read in 2014 (note: some not published in 2014)
I planned on reviewing No Country (and really, I have a whole draft post in here about my gushing love for it, including quotes!) and Whitethorn together, but they never made it out in public. All I can say is that they were stellar 5-star reads. And in terms of No Country, here is where book bloggers and their greatness come to light 😉 : I would never had heard of this book if it weren’t for Shannon at River City Reading. It wasn’t until I saw her give it 5-stars on Goodreads did I check to see if our library had it (and kudos as always to our library for having so many great reads on hand!). This book hit ALL the hallmarks of what makes a great read for me. Why it continued to fly under the radar in 2014 is beyond me.
Whitethorn was another fantastic 5-star read. I was in such a slump, swimming in a sea of mediocre books, that I turned to the tried and true storytelling master. The beginning was similar in some ways to my all-time favourite book, The Power of One, but quickly branched out into its own wonderful greatness. Tom Fitzsaxby and Mattress continue to haunt my thoughts. Again, another extremely powerful read from Courtenay!
A Fine Balance – well there you have it – finally! I have read A Fine Balance. It was on my Backlist Reading Challenge and I was able to listen to this one, thanks again to the public library. At first I was unsure of the narrator for this one? It was John Lee and I wasn’t sure how the Indian accents were going to work? Well, those fears were quickly assuaged. Lee’s narration was incredible. I was moved to tears on many occasions and the characters, and their lives, and misfortunes have stayed with me long after finishing. No, it’s not necessarily a cheery, feel-good read, but it is very emotional and powerful!
Honourable mentions for Best Books Read in 2014
Ones not reviewed here are Reconstructing Amelia and Mother, Mother. Jackie and I had planned on a joint review for Mother, Mother, but that didn’t make it out to the public either, sorry. Both of these books were chosen for our Wink 3 Book Club and both were fantastic reads! If your book club is looking for great reads, we do highly recommend choosing any of these two! Again, Mother, Mother is one that seems to have flown under the radar in 2014, and we really felt more attention should have been given to it – Josephine puts Joan Crawford (Mommy Dearest) to shame!
Dollbaby is a fantastic debut! I did write a bit about it on Goodreads, and you can find that here, or on Twitter where I stalked Ms. McNeal in order to tell her how much I loved this book. 😉
Best Short Stories Read in 2014
Steph Vandermeulen is another book blogger we’ve met along the way (Bellas Bookshelves), a fellow Canadian she announced that she had published her very first short story. I quickly purchased Everything Good and boy oh boy am I ever glad I did! I strongly encourage you to grab this fabulous short story! There are parts in it that honestly still haunt me! (there is this scene where the father takes his son out to the woods – that’s all I’m going to say…) I cannot wait to read more from Steph! Hurry please!
Best Audiobooks Read (Listened) in 2014
The Biggest Disappointments Read in 2014
While there were a slew of mediocre books, these ones listed are the ones that truly disappointed me. If you note, they are penned by my most beloved authors and were highly anticipated reads for this year. It crushed me, like physically pained me, that they turned out to be such great disappointments. I understand it’s difficult to keep the momentum going, lord knows I shouldn’t be the one casting stones for I’ve never written a novel, let alone three, four or five… but I can still share my sadness with you when saying these were the most disappointing reads out of all the disappointing reads trudged through this year.
China Dolls and Adult Onset were not reviewed. I think it was due to my inability to see through my tears of disappointment, to write one clearly. 🙁 Jackie and I did plan on a joint review of China Dolls, but again, it didn’t make it out to the public. In short, China Dolls was not the calibre of “The See” that we are so accustomed to, and she is a book club favourite! This one was far too cheesy. Adult Onset, well, I don’t think I’ve calmed down enough yet. What happened? I did write something (probably still in a state of angst) here on Goodreads.
I am however, closing my reading year out with two lovely reads, Nora Webster and A History of Loneliness. Two Irish reads. 🙂 I will say that I know right now that A History of Loneliness will make My Very Best Reads of 2014, for certain. It is reminding me a wee touch of The Bishop’s Man, and it is so far a wonderful read to close out my 2014 reading year. Nora Webster is being read to me by a kindly Irish lady (Fiona Shaw) and is a lovely, quiet read reminiscent of The Age of Hope by David Bergen.
There you have it – my year in reading. There are a great number of wonderful reads up there posted, and I truly hope that 2015 turns into a stellar reading year for all of us here at the Literary Hoarders! A Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the very best for a Happy New Year!
I’m leaving Canada in about 3 hours and I’ve made the last minute decision that i need to go out and buy Linden Macintyre’s new book. And yes that is all because of you. Great list. It looks like 2014 was good to you even if it didn’t feel that way. As an aside, I quite enjoyed Adult Onset, though it is nothing like her previous books. Happy 2015!
Hi Tanya! Hope you enjoyed your stay “home” in Canada! And certainly I hope you love Punishment as much as I did – if it doesn’t measure up I’ll feel sad for I hate when that happens! Another one that I finished right at the end of the year and one I highly recommend as well, as it reminded me of MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man, is The History of Loneliness by John Boyne. I noted it above but after finishing it remains one that I cannot get out of my mind. I almost want to go back and re-read it. Same for Punishment.
As for Adult Onset – there has been so many varied opinions out there about it. I just thought that the development leading up to memories of her mother and the sniff of abuse was not as wonderfully realized as in her past two novels. Perhaps it was due to too much talk about this one being semi-autobiographical that stood in the way, and then it came out that this was actually a trilogy…at any rate, I felt the writing was so clunky here and not her normal style – it left me terribly disappointed.
I was also just about to comment on your site – I have Arctic Summer on the shelf as well – that sounds like something where you have to be in the right frame of mind to sit and read eh?
😉 Thanks for stopping by Tanya! Always good to hear from you! Safe travels back home!