Books I Read in 2014
I did a considerable amount of reading this year, and I think there’s some good variety. I especially enjoyed reading a few books that I knew I should read but hadn’t, such as Bless Me, Ultima; 1984; and The Road. I read my usual hoard of mystery novels, but also some books outside my comfort zone, such as the MaddAddam trilogy and Karen Fowler’s novel. Reading poetry is definitely a new thing for me, but I’ve learned so much from reading Christian Wiman and Mary Szybist. Next on my list is the complete collection of Jane Kenyon’s works.
Fantastic Books I Highly Recommend
Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima. A classic novel set in New Mexico.
Atkinson, Kate. Case Histories. A wonderful mystery involving four different cases.
Atkinson, Kate. Life After Life. A time shifting novel in which the main character returns to life in various eras. Sort of confusing at first, but definitely worth reading.
Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. This series is so well written and fascinating. It’s dystopian, but so different from the popular dystopias (The Hunger Games, Divergent). This is dystopia for adults. Plus all the biblical allusions made me happy.
Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood.
Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam.
Fowler, Karen Joy. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. A unique plot, funny, and memorable.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Beautiful story. Incredible writing. This author is magical and reading about a culture so different from my own has been eye-opening.
Hosseini, Khaled. And the Mountains Echoed. As above.
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Invention of Wings. A terrific historical novel about Sarah Grimké, a female abolitionist and a semi-fictional slave named Hetty.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. I thought this was the darkest, grayest, most depressing book ever, as I was reading it. But then I realized that it is filled with hope and resilience. It’s a classic for a reason.
McCreight, Kimberly. Reconstructing Amelia. An unusual mystery story in which a mother tries to discover the truth about her daughter’s supposed suicide.
Mitchell, David. The Bone Clocks. Fantastic premise. Completely unique. I don’t want to describe it because I don’t want to give anything away.
Orwell, George. 1984. I finally read it, ironically in a year in which I experienced some of the themes in the book.
Picoult, Jodi. Leaving Time. Another unique story. Involves elephants and ghosts.
Szybist, Mary. Incarnadine: Poems. She will be in Abilene at HSU in the spring. Her poems are mystical, unique, and beautiful.
Tartt, Donna. The Secret History. The snarky blurbs on the Amazon page might make you turn away from this novel, but I loved it.
Wiman, Christian. Once in the West:Poems. I chose this collection to review for my Creative Writing class. He writes poems about suffering that chill you to the bone and yet you find hope.
Good Books: Recommended
Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. A teen novel. But I enjoyed it.
Dugoni, Robert. My Sister’s Grave. A terrific mystery.
Garvin, Ann Wertz. The Dog Year. A lovely novel about a woman finding herself.
Flynn, Gillian. Sharp Objects. Best known for Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn writes wonderful, unique mysteries.
Flynn, Gillian. Dark Places. As above.
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Another teen novel. I loved it. Yes, I cried. I cried even more at the movie.
Hugo, Richard. The Triggering Town. A textbook for Creative Writing. Good stuff.
Krueger, William Kent. Ordinary Grace. I found this book to be a wonderful mixture of mystery and beautiful writing.
Mason, David and John Frederick Nims. Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry. Another textbook for Creative Writing. Tedious at times, but foundational.
Lippman, Laura. What the Dead Know. An excellent mystery.
Milchman, Jenny. Cover of Snow. I loved this mystery novel. Very different, exciting, sometimes unbelievable, but good.
Moriarty, Liane. The Husband’s Secret. A good novel. The reviewers love it. I liked it.
Penny, Louise. The Long Way Home. Not as good as the previous Inspecter Gamache novel, but good.
Ragan, T. R. Abducted. A fascinating novel about a real estate agent kidnapped and kept in a cabin by her abductor.
Robinson, Marilynn. Lila: A Novel. I had a hard time getting used to Robinson’s style, but her main character was fantastic and I enjoyed the story.
Westerfield, Scott. Afterworlds. Most people offer gushing praise for this novel. It is unique in that it mixes the story of a teen author with the novel she writes. I thought it was good, but not great.
Fun To Read but Not Great
Most of the following books are mystery novels that I consider my “trash” reading. It’s not that these books aren’t well written. They are, but they aren’t literature. I just love mystery novels.
Atkinson, Kate. Started Early, Took My Dog.
Atkinson, Kate. When Will There Be Good News?
Atkinson, Kate. One Good Turn.
Forman, Gayle. If I Stay.
Gudenkauf, Heather. These Things Hidden.
Jacobson, Alan. The Seventh Victim.
Laffety, Linda. The Bloodletter’s Daughter.
Lippmann, Laura. Butchers Hill.
Lippmann, Laura. Baltimore Blues.
McGilloway, Brian. Bleed a River Deep.
McGilloway, Brian. Gallows Lane.
McGilloway, Brian. Borderlands.
McGilloway, Brian. Little Girl Lost.
Ryan, Hank Phillipi. The Other Woman.
Sandford, John. Stolen Prey.
Sandford, John. Field of Prey.
Stevens, Chevy. Still Missing.
Wassermann, Robin. The Waking Dark.
Webb, Debra. Bone Cold.
Definitely Not Worth the Time
Kilborn, Jack. Afraid: A Novel of Terror. I found this novel decidedly un-terrorific.
Johansen, Iris. Body of Lies. I wanted to like this series, but it was too unbelievable to stick with it.
Johansen, Iris. The Search.
Johansen, Iris. The Killing Game.
Johansen, Iris. The Face of Deception.