I went back over my neatly compiled list (thanks, GoodReads!) to review the books I loved, the books that were meh, and the ones I really didn't like. I'd forgotten about any number of them. Also: I read a hella lot of nonfiction this year.
The best I read, and by best I just mean they are my favorites:
One of my very favorite books I read all year is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. If you haven't read it, please put it on your to-read list for 2014.
Where'd You Go Bernadette was so much fun. The insights into Microsoft culture in Seattle made me laugh out, and I like books that make me laugh out loud. Even if the ending was more than a little improbable, it's still one of my favorites.
If you like to create at all, I recommend Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.
Typically books that feature children in peril are ones I don't even pick up. If I know a book is going to be tragic, I don't read it. But I started The Fault in Our Stars and then I couldn't stop reading, and I'm so glad I did. It's wonderful.
Other notable reads:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is beautiful.
Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is so, so good. But then there's that ending to talk about, which I won't do here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
GoodReads says that I read The Keep by Jennifer Egan although I have no memory of that whatsoever. It also says I read Castle.
Which I don't remember, either, but I bet I got the book based on the title with this guy in mind.
Thumbs up for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard is excellent.
For books I didn't like at all, and these may make some folks mad but I did not get:
We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves. Once I realized who the sister is, I thought, "No, just no," because I knew it would be sad. I skipped ahead and read a little and yep: sad. I shouldn't judge an entire book based on that, but I was really okay leaving it essentially unread.
I listen to a couple of book podcasts and I follow a number of book lovers and fervent readers and writers and editors and publishers. I heard about Night Film for months before I read it. Has anyone read it? Can you tell me what you think happened at the end? Was the whole thing a set up? Was Scott in a Cordova movie the whole time? If so, why? Did Ashley really die? Did she have cancer? Did anything actually happen in this book or not? And also: WTF, in general. .
The Secret History is one of my favorite books ever. I have been hopping up and down to read The Goldfinch. And y'all. I don't know, man, I just don't. Overall, I'd say, yes, read it. I thought it was in need of more editing, especially the last one-third or so. Maybe it's me, because by then I was skimming. That last bit with the shoot-'em-up and the Russian gangsters, or whoever that was? I was lost. The long passages of philosophical musings left me cold. Maybe I'm not literary enough to appreciate Donna Tartt's talents. It's possible.
Boris is a wonderful character who really came alive on the pages. Some sections were beautifully rendered and I'm not sorry I read it. More surprisingly neutral about it.
What do you think? What were your hits and misses of the year?