4 January 2015

Favourite Books of 2014

It was my annual tradition over on my other (now defunct) blog to sit down on New Year's Day and list my top 10 books of the previous year.  Since much of my reading this year has been text books, it was a bit harder than usual to come up with 10; but here they are (in no particular order, other than the order in which I found them on my bookshelves!).

Dynamics of Faith (Paul Tillich):  This one was one of my textbooks, and I enjoyed every word of it from cover to cover.  As one of my friends (LM) said, "I love those moments when you read someone putting your unarticulated thoughts into precise words."  That describes this book.

An Everlasting Meal (Tamar Adler):  This was the first book on my Christmas-Holiday-Reading-List.  It is a book of essays all about cooking, with an emphasis on the ethics of cooking.  There are recipes scattered through the book (I've flagged a few that I want to try), and they include ingredients such as "3 pounds of meat from a tougher part of a happily raised animal."  The writing is beautiful - precise and poetic at the same time.

Adult Onset (Ann-Marie MacDonald):  I was so excited when I heard that this book was coming out, since it had been 11 years since her last novel, and the book did not disappoint.  It ended up as my bedtime reading through the late autumn when school was at it's busiest (10-15 minutes at a time over about 6 weeks); but I was invested in the characters and it was a pleasure to spend time with them each night before drifting off to sleep.

Stone Mattress (Margaret Atwood):  Let me just say that no one can craft a sentence the way that Margaret Atwood does.  This is a collection of short stories that I read in almost one sitting.  As soon as I finished one story, I wanted to start the next one right away.

Tell (Frances Itani):  There has been a bit of buzz about this book, as it made the short-list of the Giller Prize last year.  It is a gently-written book, set in southern Ontario (very near to where I grew up) in the aftermath of the Great War.  It deserves all of the praise that it has received.

Seconds (Bryan Lee O'Malley):  It has been a while since I had read a graphic novel, so I'm glad that I brought this one with me to read over my Christmas Holidays.  A quirky story, combined with brilliant expressive illustrations made this book a pleasure to read.

Pretty Girl-13 (Liz Coley):  I tend to download e-books from the library to read at the gym, since I can make the font nice and big and easy to read while I am on the elliptical machine and I don't need to worry about the book closing on me.  The trick is to find books that are light enough for gym reading (after all, the goal of going to the gym is to exercise!), and engaging enough to keep me from getting bored (with the added bonus that a very interesting book keeps me motivated to come back to the gym to keep reading).  I heard about this book from one of the blogs that I follow, downloaded it, and loved it.  In the Young Adult genre, with a puzzle to solve, it fit my criteria perfectly.

Wild (Cheryl Strayed):  Another book that has been receiving a lot of buzz recently, due to the movie that was recently released.  I downloaded this one from the library - not for gym reading but to read on a day trip to Winnipeg for a big interview in church-land.  With an early-morning flight there and a late-evening flight home, several hours to kill at the airport on either end, and some down-time after lunch before continuing the interview, this book kept me absorbed so that the hours flew by, and I was able to relax and read a few chapters after lunch so that I was refreshed for the second half of the interview.  I love going on outdoor adventures, and it was entertaining to read about someone else's outdoor adventures.

The Absolutely True Diary of a part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie):  This was another gym read, but was an incredibly powerful book that made me both laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page).  He is blunt about the dark side of living on a reservation, but with an undercurrent of love and laughter.  This book has been banned in many school boards, but I don't understand why - it should be required reading for all North Americans.  We are all treaty people, after all.

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline):  Ending off with one more gym read, also in the YA genre - this time, a dystopian future.  Unlike some other YA dystopian novels (I'm looking at you, Divergent), this book felt as though it took place in a future that really could exist.  Plus, all of the '80s pop-culture references were amusing to read about.  I wasn't quite sure if the target audience for this book is young adults (the age of the protagonist), or those of us Gen. X-ers who remember the '80s!

And there is my list for this year.  Mostly fiction this time around - when I have time for reading non-school books, I tend to gravitate towards fiction as an escape.  I have also listened to a pile of audio books this year while driving - for the 8 months I was working, I spent one day a week working in the district with 6-7 hours of driving associated, plus there was the whole cross-country move.  None of the audio books made the cut though.

I think that this is the first year that any e-books have made the list.

So that is my list for this year - a pretty good list, if I do say so myself.  Wishing everyone who reads this a very Happy New Year, filled with lots of good books to read!


  1. I loooove Sherman Alexie! And Dynamics of Faith was great. There are a few books on this list I'm going to have to check out. :)

  2. Thanks, Kate. Some of these will go on my ever-expanding want-to-read list.