After spending the majority of 2013 at Hogwarts you’ll be happy to know that I stuck to books for people my own age in 2014. Here’s a list of the books I read over the course of the year and how they made me feel on the inside.
A Dance With Dragons – George R.R. Martin
Y’all know the deal. Swords, dragons, betrayals, very detailed descriptions of every meal and beverage. I’m not going to spoil anything here, except to say that Arya Stark is the queen of my heart.
Aleph – Paulo Coelho
I dunno, guys. I think I need to read this one again. I read it very early on in the year (important note: I have the memory of whatever creature on earth has the least amount of memory) but I do remember that while I was a little taken aback by the plot, I found many little nuggets of wisdom that led to brief moments of introspection.
Zeitoun – Dave Eggers
An incredibly sad (and infuriating) true story about a man’s wrongful arrest during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the affect it had on him and his family. Dave Eggers does a masterful job telling the story, weaving his journalistic abilities in perfectly with his knack for creating such compelling narratives. A warning: if you are interested in reading this book and don’t know anything about the story, just go pick up a copy and read it and then Google things about it. Afterwards. AFTERWARDS, okay guys?
Room – Emma Donoghue
Stories that are told from a ~unique~ perspective are always a welcome thing in my world. The narrator in “Room” is little 5-year-old Jack, who has been locked up in a room with his “Ma” by some psycho for his entire life. This perspective was perfect for conveying the heartbreakingly subtle details of the protective bubble that Jack’s mother has created around him, but I will admit the baby talk got tedious at times. Overall an easy and entertaining read. I blew through it in about two days.
You Shall Know Our Velocity! – Dave Eggers
Me starting this book: Yay! Dave Eggers! Me a quarter of the way through this book: Oohhh you silly Dave Eggers, this is why I read you! Me halfway through this book: DAVE, WHY? Me finished this book: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Democracy – Joan Didion
Joan Didion DA GAWD. Three years ago, I bought this book for $3 at a used bookstore, got about 12 pages into it, and then abandoned it. Sometimes you’re just meant to read a book at a different time. Thankfully I picked this one back up in 2014, because the structure of this story is mind-blowing. It’s as complex as it is elegant. It demands a second, third, fourth read, which I will be happy to oblige.
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Second time reading this gem. Breaks my heart in different ways, every time.
The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons – Sam Kean
This was a cool non-fiction read about BRAIN STUFF. It’s a really entertaining combination of storytelling and science, which makes sense considering I was introduced to Sam Kean via multiple episodes of Radiolab. If you’re fascinated by how the brain works, this is a really accessible book to satiate those curiosities. SCIENCE, Y’ALL.
The Chairs Are Where the People Sit – Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti
This is a cute little book of ramblings (I mean that in a good way) from Misha Glouberman, a speaker/charades teacher/community activist/dude, and captured by his friend Sheila Heti who was responsible for one of my favourite 2013 reads, “How Should a Person Be?” Some of these little ramblings are great, others are tiring and mundane.
Bluets – Maggie Nelson
FIVE BLUE STARS OUT OF FIVE BLUE STARS. This is a memoir, this is poetry, it’s part philosophy, part love letter, part confession, part therapy… but wholly, unequivocally one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in a long time.
Am I A Redundant Human Being? – Mela Hartwig
I admittedly chose to read this book 100% based on the title alone. It turned out to be a trip down a Modernist lane of self-analysis that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to go down but went along with anyways.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Oh, a dystopian novel about women’s rights? YES PLEASE. This book was written the year I was born, but it could have came out last week. It’s that relevant, that harrowing and that poignant.
The Circle – Dave Eggers
I had no idea that I read three books by Dave Eggers this year. Totally unintentional. Anyways, this book is about a girl named Mae who starts a job at a company that is basically Facebook, if it bought Google and Twitter and expanded to engulf an entire Silicon Valley city. Which… y’know, is scary because it could totally happen. Much like any Dave Eggers book, there are things I loved about it (in this case: the idea, the philosophy, the ending) and things I didn’t enjoy (the pace, the character development). Spoiler alert: it will make you want to delete all of your social media accounts.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
This book was recommended to me by a lovely lady who owns a bookstore near me. I forget her name, but she looks like a Susan so we’ll just roll with that. Donna Tartt’s most recent book “Goldfish” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014 but before committing to that hardcover behemoth, Susan suggested I start with one of her previous books. This book has a lot of things I enjoy: arrogant academics, classical references, murder, mystery and strong characters. Solid.
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
(I’m not rating this one because being judgemental is bad, namaste)
SOMETIMES WE JUST NEED TO BETTER OURSELVES, OKAY?
Leaf Storm – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(I can’t rate this one because Gabo Bias)
When I got the news that my beloved Gabo died in April, I was in a gourmet burger lounge with my boyfriend and I immediately started crying. In public. Over an author. It took me until the end of the year to be able to pick up a book of his again, but I will forever need his magic in my life.
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviour – Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman
Another easy (and interesting) non-fiction book about why humans sometimes defy all logic and do stupid shit. Worth it.
Love Me Back – Merritt Tierce
The last book I read in 2014, and undoubtedly my favourite. This book doesn’t care if you like it. This book is so viscerally raw, it stings you deep down on some secret level where you thought books couldn’t reach. Read it if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, read it if you’ve ever used sex to feel better about yourself, read it if sex has ever made you feel worse about yourself. This book will sink its teeth into you, and it doesn’t care how you feel about it.
BONUS! So far in 2015, I’ve read “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz (4.5/5), “Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay (3.5/5) and have just started “Living to Tell the Tale” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Later, bookworms. Feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments!