Best BooksThe Best, The Worst, The Rest


  • I had a goal of reading 36 books this year and complete my Book Bingo Card. However, I am being pressured to complete this post before year’s end. I intend to complete my Book Bingo Card by December 31, but will fall short of my total reading goal. I realize this is a total first world problem.
  • Not all of these books were published in 2014; they are just the books I read during 2014.
  • I wrote reviews for some these books, mainly joint reviews with my snobby reading friend Jennifer Spiegel (under our stage name: Snotty Literati). Whenever there’s a review, I include the link. Whenever there’s not, I don’t.
  • I would love your thoughts on any of my thoughts. I would also love your thoughts on any books you think I should read. I am all about the thoughts. I want them. I am greedy for them.

Now, on to What I Read in 2014…

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2014

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012). Not only is this my favorite book of the year, it goes into my list of all-time favorites. It’s the story of what can happen when you value people for who they are, not what they look like or how they are different. It’s a book that shows how similar we truly are despite the differences that make us unique and, ultimately, special. I probably also love it because my son read it too and announced it was his favorite book. While considered juvenile fiction, Wonder is a book for all ages.

2. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2014). My love for this woman and her way with words is well-documented. This collection of essays is geared for writers, but I encourage anyone who enjoys good storytelling or wants a different perspective on how to be good at something to read this book.

3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013). If you ever felt misunderstood, different, an outcast, or even normal angst during your adolescence, then Rowell is your gal. She writes with humor and grace about the awkward beauty of growing up and urgency and total everythingness of falling in love. Add to that the backdrop of the 80s and you have YA perfection.

4. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (2013). Earning The National Book Award for Fiction, The Good Lord Bird is a humorous and provocative historical novel chronicling Abolitionist John Brown and his storming of Harper’s Ferry. McBride creates a motley crew, while throwing in some well-known members of the anti-slave movement. A truly great read.

5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (2013). The title and pink flowers on the cover scream beach read, chick lit, and maybe even Lifetime movie. But trust me—this is lit for the clever and witty chick. Like you. The chick reading this column right now. Moriarty has architected a smart story that follows three disparate storylines that all converge in a way that will take you by surprise. If you liked Where’d You Go, Bernadette then add The Husband’s Secret to your reading queue and pop it up to the top. Oh, and if you haven’t read Bernadette yet… what are you waiting for?

6. Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle (2010). The problem with so many short stories is their structure, or lack thereof. They often don’t wrap up very tidily and I find myself asking if I missed something. So imagine my delight when I come across a collection of stories that each has a clear beginning, middle, and end. And they are interesting, a little weird (in a good way), and really well written. That’s this collection. Check it out. Amazon has only one copy left.

7. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (2012). More clever chick lit from Moriarty, and this was actually written before Hubby. I read both of her books for my book club and we all enjoyed this one (but Hubby was better). Nonetheless, a breeze of a read with highly engaging characters that will keep you turning the pages.

8. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (2005). I would have never even heard of this book, let alone picked up this gem of a book were it not for my Book Bingo group and a little square that required us to read a fellow player’s favorite. As much as I want to write as eloquently as Ann Patchett, I would be happy to write as creatively, succinctly, and resonantly as Rosenthal does here in her memoir formatted like an encyclopedia.

9. The Complete Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman (1986, 1992). This is the only graphic novel to make my list and the only graphic novel to ever receive a special citation from the folks at Pulitzer. The artist and storyteller is the son of a Holocaust survivor who uses the comic book medium to tell of his father’s harrowing experiences and their subsequent, challenging relationship.

10. The Last Night at the Ritz by Elizabeth Savage (1973). It’s 1960s Boston, and an unnamed and unreliable narrator walks us through a history of martini lunches, affairs of the heart, betrayals of friendship, books, and feminism as she celebrates her birthday at the Ritz with her dearest friend. Lush sentences about books, boys, and booze make this a highly enjoyable read. The

Honorable Mentions
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert
The Home Place by Carrie La Seur
Sky of Red Poppies by Zohreh Ghahremani
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The Book I Should Have Read by Now
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Book I Read for a Second Time (and Enjoyed as Much as I Did the First Time)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

The Books I Wanted to Like More than I Did
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

The Book I Should Be Embarrassed to Have Read But Am Not (Okay, I Kind of Am…)
It’s Just a F***ING Date by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt 4 stars

The Binge-Reading-Instant-Gratification-Total-Crack-Candy-Crushers (aka Totally Empty Afterward)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Book that Is On So Many ‘Best Of’ Lists… But not Mine
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeymi

The Bad
Beautiful Bodies by Laura Shaine Cunningham
Erotic Poems by e.e. cummings
A Highly Unlikely Scenario, Or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor

That’s all I’ve got! Peace, love, and books! See you next year!