2014 Reading Wrap-Up
It’s always difficult to choose favorites, and I have been procrastinating on finalizing my picks. Science Fiction and Birds often top my lists, but I read a variety of genres and have a few other favorites too. Several fascinating non-fiction books also made my list. Because I read many genres, I didn’t rank them, they were all excellent.
I read 103 books this past year, achieving my goal of 100 books. A little over half of those were audiobooks. Here are my ten most favorite books read or listened to, but not necessarily published, in 2014.
The Martian by Andy Weir. Not only was it a fantastic story combining a thriller with a plausible science fiction setting, it was exciting to find a new author whose writing had me glued to a book – the printed word, not audio – where I had to sit still, not multitask, and read, read, read. I had to know how it ended!
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Hwang Sun-mi – a lovely story. This short book is a modern fable translated from Korean. It is the story of Sprout, a hen who wants more out of life than being a coop hen and laying eggs for the farmer. Beneath the fairy tale surface there are lessons on what makes a family, life and death, sacrifice, and ultimately that we should never lose sight of our dreams.
Influx by Daniel Suarez was another science fiction thriller – a high-tech, fast-paced adventure. The plot revolves around the idea of a conspiracy involving secret high-tech inventions and the question “Can technology be ahead of its time and its knowledge be too dangerous to be released?” As a techy and sometimes geeky person, I loved it. I’m still waiting for my flying car!
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. While this is non-fiction, it is not a heavy science book – it’s very readable and engaging. There have been five mass extinctions in the history of our planet and evidence leads scientists to believe we are on the verge of the next one. This is a fascinating, balanced account of the current threat to the diversity of life on our planet.
You by Caroline Kepnes. This book was so creepy and so obsessive it is still resonating in my brain. Seriously creepy and at the same time addictive – it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion and not being able to look away. I listened to the audio, which was so well done it had me looking over my shoulder.
Defending Jacob by William Landay. This was a bookclub choice. I had seen it on favorites lists last year so I had a feeling it would be good. Once I started this book I couldn’t stop listening – a fascinating legal thriller filled with the complexity, conflict and drama.
Life Drawing by Robin Black. I knew nothing about the author or the book when I was offered a review copy. All I had read was the synopsis and publicity sheet, and we know how wrong those can be – but in this case I discovered a new author and a beautifully written novel on relationships with complex, well-defined characters. And for you audiophiles – it’s narrated by Cassandra Campbell.
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. This is book two in a paranormal fantasy series about an earth inhabited by preternatural beings. And it’s written for adults! No sappy romantic triangles or sexy vampires, just fantastic world building and well-developed characters.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I enjoy dystopian novels best when they are set in a realistic environent – no flesh-eating zombies or vampires, please. In Station Eleven the world-building around a flu pandemic that kills most of the population and the tale of the survivors is so realistic I fear it could actually happen. Read it!
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. You don’t need a background in tech to enjoy this interesting and entertaining look at the people who had the most influence on the tech we use today.
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