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December 31, 2014 / Leslie

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.

Favorite Books

The Martian by Andy WeirHen Who Dreamed She Could FlyInflux-print

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 KolbertYou by Caroline KepnesDefendingJacob

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 DrawingMurder of Crows

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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Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Dec 31 2014 2:32 pm

    I want to read The Martian this winter. There were two non-fiction books on my favorites list and I hope to read more in 2015. Happy New Year, Leslie!


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:14 pm

      The Martian was at the top of my list .. .I hope you enjoy it.


  2. diane / Dec 31 2014 3:07 pm

    I MUST read The MArtian and Station Eleven in 2015 – glad they made your list. I loved Defending Jacob.


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:13 pm

      Both are very good. Even though they are science fiction they are realistic.


  3. laurelrainsnow / Dec 31 2014 4:43 pm

    I have a copy of You on Sparky…and I must read it soon! I have heard so many people use the “creepy, but addictive” description, so I am intrigued.

    Also curious about The Innovators.

    Enjoy the New Year!


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:11 pm

      There were several creepy characters in You… the kind of people that appear ‘normal’ on the surface, but when you know them a little better… eeek!


  4. BermudaOnion / Dec 31 2014 10:12 pm

    I’ve only read one of those books! I need more time to read! Happy New Year!


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:15 pm

      There never seems to be enough time to read!


  5. Sue / Jan 1 2015 9:51 am

    Thanks for these suggestions. I need some more variety of reading choices. 103 books! I have never kept track of what I read, and sometimes pick up the same book from the library again, without realizing I’ve already read it. A good goal for me for 2015.


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:17 pm

      I use Goodreads to track my books. Sadly, I can’t remember half of what I read before I found Goodreads in 2009, especially if it was a library book. Many are lost down the memory hole.


      • Sue / Jan 16 2015 10:25 am

        Just finished Influx — what a great book! So I went back to the library and got his other two books, Daemon and Freedom. These are frighteningly real, and make me wonder just how possible such a thing would be. Thanks again for the tips!


      • Leslie / Jan 22 2015 1:31 am

        That was my first book by this author too. I stumbled across it when offered a review copy. I intend to read his other two books too.


  6. Sarah's Book Shelves / Jan 1 2015 1:23 pm

    The Martian and Station Eleven made my Best of 2014 list too – and I feel the same way you do about dystopian books! I also really liked Defending Jacob…I think I read it last year? Happy New Year and congrats on making your goal for this year!


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:18 pm

      I’m tired of the zombies – it was refreshing to find a dystopian book that didn’t go there.


  7. nrlymrtl / Jan 1 2015 1:44 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read The Martian and The 6th Extinction. I’ll be keeping them on my TBR list. I tried Innovators but got lost in the jargon. Fortunately, my man (who is an IT guy and has a computer science degree) loved this book and was caught up in the history.


    • Leslie / Jan 1 2015 2:27 pm

      The Sixth Extinction was my favorite non-fiction book of the year. It was very thought-provoking and informative.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Darlene / Jan 2 2015 1:22 am

    I just started listening to You. I’m not too far in but I’ve heard the same things you say about it so I imagine I’m going to like it too. I enjoyed Station Eleven as well. I listened on audio and it was really good.


  9. Beth F / Jan 2 2015 3:41 pm

    Oh you have some great ones there. I need to read or listen to the Martian


  10. Alex / Jan 5 2015 5:21 am

    The Martian is in my to-read books of 2015. Several bloggers recommended the audio version, so i may try that.


  11. sagustocox / Jan 5 2015 8:45 am

    The Martian seems to be making a number of lists. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Hwang Sun-mi sounds lovely!


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