Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Favorite Reads of 2014

Are you into reading? I've always been pretty voracious, aside from a small break in college when I was reading too much for class, and tend to go through about a book a week. Jeff always makes fun of me because he says I'm a bit pretentious when it comes to my book choices because they tend to be pretty serious, but I do have a soft spot for books about summer vacations or summer camp. Here are some of my favorite reads of 2014:

Were you a fan of choose your own adventure books growing up? Life After Life looks at one girl's life growing up in the English countryside in the early 20th century and how small changes - the language she chooses to study in school, or turning left versus right during the walk home - can have huge consequences. Life After Life was a trickier read because each time the story regenerates, the reader is left to figure out where it has picked back up in her life and what is different from the last version of the story, but I found it incredibly interesting.
In The Gravity of Birds, a famous artist reveals a secret painting from the beginning of his career, which leads to a cross-country search for the two sisters featured in the painting and unravels the mystery of his relationship with both of them. I loved it for the discussion of art and the intricacies of the characters' relationships, and it didn't hurt that a portion of the story took place at a summer house.
A number of people recommended The Girl You Left Behind, so I picked it up without even reading a description. It was nothing what I expected, and so, so good. The main character is a woman in occupied France during the first World War who would do anything, including befriending the German soldiers, to keep her family safe and reunite with her husband.
I started reading Jhumpa Lahiri's books in college when one was assigned for class, and they are all tragically beautiful. The Lowland centers around two brothers growing up in India in the '60s and how they respond to political changes within the country.
I initially was turned off by the title of Paris Was the Place because it sounded like it should be a romance novel, but while there's a little romance it's so much more than that. Paris Was the Place is about a young college professor who moves to Paris in the 1980's to be near her brother and find herself, and gets drawn into her volunteer work with immigrants seeking asylum in France. 
Everyone's been talking about The Goldfinch all year, and there are lots of differing opinions. It's at once a tragedy and a mystery spanning several decades centering around a boy trying to find family and a home as well as one famous piece of stolen artwork. What I loved most about The Goldfinch though is the beautiful prose and full of wonderfully complicated characters.
I told you I liked books about summer vacation, right? Well We Were Liars is that and so much more. About a famous, wealthy family that summers on a private island each year, We Were Liars is a suspenseful and haunting story of a young damaged girl trying to remember her past. Be warned though, I really enjoyed the story but this is actually young adult so it's a very easy read.

I love getting book recommendations, so tell me, what were some of your favorite books of this year?

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  1. Thanks for this! I'm always looking for book recommendations. Copied them into a note on my phone! I just finished above by isla something. Totally not what I was expecting and the twist actually made me dislike it! My Bookclub just read where'd you go Bernadette. It was a quick enjoyable read but no piece of literary work.

  2. I really like to read (in face I just finished my book, The Leftovers, this afternoon) and I'm always looking for new suggestions. Thanks for this list!


  3. I looove getting book recommendations - I'm hoping to do a lot more reading now that I'm "just" working and not in grad school anymore, and I love getting book recommendations! Time to make a trip to the library!