[This post is part of the Gabriel’s Countdown to 2015 series. It is also done as part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.]
[Edit: I just realised that this week’s TTT topic is bookish resolutions for 2015 and this is totally off-topic. Don’t worry! My resolutions will all be posted on the first day of the new year so stay alert for that. Now, back to my yearly book wrap-up!]
According to my meticulous Google Documenting, I’ve read 48 books this year. I was totally going to compare that to my book count resolution set at the start of 2014…only I apparently forgot to set any resolutions this time round. Previous years targets hovered around 50, though, so I guess I’m close if not totally there. Nonetheless, I’m quite happy with the number because I’m such a glacial reader and also because Life Happens.
Still, because I hadn’t actually finished that many books and most of them were of middling quality, I am loath to generate a Top Ten list like everyone else is able to. Instead, I’ll just dish out awards to the few I actually really liked because who doesn’t like gawking during awards season (even if this particular awards show is missing fancy dresses, fashion faux pas, or any real celebrity)?
(Note: books I read in 2014 =/= books that were actually released in 2014. My inability to jump extends to bandwagons as well).
The “Makes Me Want to Get Writing Straightaway” Award: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (also winner of the “Most Fancily Named Author” award)
Fangirl is the story of fan fiction writing, for fan fiction writers. Telling two separate stories, Fangirl follows the burgeoning romance and college life of a fan fiction writer as well as her actual fan fiction, a thinly veiled homage to Harry Potter. Rowell writes both equally well, and there are several points throughout my reading where I just wanted to put the book down and get cracking on my own abandoned fictions. If a novel gets you aching to do something more than any self-help or non-fiction guide book does, you know it has to be pretty awesome.
The “Addictive Action For A Non-action Fan” Award: the Sylo series by D. J. MacHale
I’ve never really been into pure-action thrillers but the Sylo series, which admittedly does have some scifi-ish elements, has made for an amazing read. D. J. MacHale is one of my favourite authors and it was great to see that he didn’t just chance into writing the one good series (Pendragon). Sylo (and its sequel Storm) are incredibly engaging, non-stop rollercoaster rides with enough twists and turns to put the finest at Six Flags to shame. I cannot wait to get my hands on the final instalment.
The “Messes with Main Character’s Head to Mess With Your Heart” Award: Schizo by Nic Sheff
Short but by no means a light read, Schizo chronicles a schizophrenic young man’s search for his missing brother. Written based on the author’s own experiences with mental illness, the book is a powerful, riveting read, giving the reader insight into the unreliability and perspective of a schizophrenic mind. While it is definitely not an in-depth exploration of mental illness or even schizophrenia specifically and the twist can be seen half a book away, it still warrants a read, especially for anyone interested in such topics. Just don’t do it around a cheery, holiday season.
The “Of Course It’s Japanese” Award: Confessions by Kanae Minato
One of my mini reading themes this year was apparently exploring books not in my usual favourite genres, this time the psychological murder thriller (…or sorts). Confessions is a classic example of what
everyone maybe everyone I feel edgy Japanese literature is like – macabre, filled with disturbed characters, yet utterly intriguing. It’s like watching a train wreck and then finding out the driver was some sort of interstellar ghost monster.
The “Great Laughs, Great Listens” Award: jointly won by Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
The three winners all share several things in common – they’re all written by hilarious, industry-breaking women; they’re all audiobooks I listened to this year; they’re all author-narrated; they’re all funnier when listened to than read.
Unlike Jenny Lawson’s masterpiece which was equally excellent in both written and audio forms, I found all three of the above just okay when read. Some of the punchlines were great while others fell unexpectedly flat. Then, I found out it’s just because I wasn’t “reading” the lines out in my head right. It’s always interesting to hear words read out exactly as how the authors intended them to be and, in the case of comedy, it can make the difference between a belly-aching guffaw and a questioning eyebrow raise.
The “So Short A Word Count Is More Appropriate Than A Page Count” Award: Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
Mitosis is really a short story rather than a full book but it’s still one of the best things I’ve read all year. It’s required reading for fans of Steelheart (actually, Steelheart is required reading for this too) and is great to blow through over a commute, tea break, or the inevitable loo escape during an awkward date.
So that was it – some of my favourite reads of the year. This coming year, I aim to finish more books (with an actual target this time) and, hopefully, write about them all here.
Dear reader, how was your year in books? Which ones did you love/hate?