Best of Reading for 2014

Posted 28 December, 2014 by Trish in Reading Nook / 49 Comments


2014-end-of-year-book-survey-1024x984It’s that time of year ago–the one to take a look back at my reading for 2014. I read more books this year than I have in years (thanks to a small increase in audio from last year and lots of graphic novels), but I wasn’t absolutely blown away by any single book. I guess 2014 was the year of quantity over quality. Bummer, huh?

So below is my 2014 Year in Reading. Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has yet again provided us with the questions. I hope you’ll play along! Any links I have to book posts will be down at the bottom.

Best of Reading in 2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
The Sparrow by Mary Donia Russell. Runner up goes to East of Eden by John Steinbeck.


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Definitely Possession by A.S. Byatt. I so wanted to be swept away but now a year later I remember it being a tedious slog.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

I adored The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. While I can’t call it a favorite, it was perfectly cozy at the time.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell–if readalongs count. We had a great turnout for that readalong. Drood was another one I pushed for a readalong and I couldn’t even finish it.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

While I did read some series books this year, the only one I’m actively reading is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I hope to start Drums in Autumn (#4) after the new year. Hub and I started the first Stephen King Dark Tower book on audio during our roadtrip, but I fell asleep halfway through.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Is John Steinbeck a silly answer? He’s certainly not new, but this year was my first to read his fiction.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Hmmm. How about superhero comics? I really enjoyed Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and look forward to reading more next year.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The first half of Room by Emma Donoghue, parts of The Sparrow, and definitely Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager by Gabaldon.

Room - Emma Donoghue

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

If I were a re-reader, I wouldn’t likely re-read anything so quickly as next year. Though Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is one I could pick up and read in little snippets again and again and again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Something you lose with audiobooks and ebooks, I think. Tampa is definitely one I was glad to have in ebook form. The most loverly constructed book is definitely Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I couldn’t stop touching the pages.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Emilio from The Sparrow? Junie from Tell the Wolves I’m Home? Or just Jamie and Claire from Outlander. Yup.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Sparrow. So many dogearred pages in my copy. I’m not quite done with it yet, but Tiny Beautiful Things is gorgeous as well.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Hmmm. Maybe Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It made me think and think and think. I’m still thinking about it. Also Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Talk about validation!

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Why was I so intimidated?!

East of Eden

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

TBD. Guessing it will most definitely be something from Tiny Beautiful Things.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

ShortestThe Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (144 pages). It was also one I mostly skimmed.

Longest: Without looking, likely Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. Though I read several really long books this year.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Tampa by Alissa Nutting.  Teacher who is sexually obsessed with her students. What a train wreck. Runner-up is Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer–even more frightening is that his is nonfiction.

18. OTP of the Year
(OTP = one true pairing — don’t worry, I had to look it up, too)

Duh. Jamie and Claire. And now on the Silver Screen as well. Sigh.

Outlander GIF

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Anne and Emilio from The Sparrow were two of my favorites. Lee, Samuel, and Adam from East of Eden. Ma and Jack from Room. June and Toby from Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Should I stop there?

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I enjoyed In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson–and I’ll continue to read more of his books. Of course the Gabaldon (because I’m a broken record).

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Um. Like 90% of my reading list would qualify as recommended. It wasn’t peer pressure, but I HAD to read The Sparrow after ALL the praise I had seen.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Newest? Can I cheat and say Older Jamie? Because he’s aged well. Yup, nope. No other crushes. Mike Noonan from Bag of Bones by Stephen King or Emilio from The Sparrow would likely be the only other two contenders.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. Next year I should keep track of how many new releases I actually read.

AJ Fikry

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I’m trying not to make all of my answers The Sparrow. Of course The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Gaiman was very descriptive. Also major kudos to The Martian by Andy Weir for the best scientific worldbuilding.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The audio for The Martian was fantastic and both hub and I got many giggles out of our listening.

the martian

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

It was a tearless year for me in terms of books. I need more bookish tears in 2015! The books that touched my heart the most were The Sparrow, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, East of Eden, and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I had to reach for that answer…

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Sparrow. The Sparrow, The Sparrow, The Sparrow.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Insert any of the thirteen graphic novels I read here?

nonfic graphics

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

One Day by David Nichols. I throw the book across the room when I was finished. The characters were incredibly insufferable.

31. Books that I Abandoned?

I had to add this question so I could include Drood by Dan Simmons here. I read half of it (almost 400 pages!), but yuck.


There is also a blogging section and a 2015 section to this little survey. As my answers were mostly uninteresting, I skipped it. Bottom line is I don’t have any specific reading plans for 2015. I love having a clean slate!


 So What Did I Read in 2014?

1. One Day by David Nichols (paper)
2. Possession by A.S. Byatt (paper)
3. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audio)
4. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (paper)
5. Spirit Boy by Paul Apowida (ebook)
6. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (graphic novel)
7. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel)
8. French Milk by Lucy Knisley (graphic novel)
9. Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (graphic novel)
10. Saints by Gene Luen Yang (graphic novel)
11. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (ebook)
12. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (graphic novel)
13. A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached (graphic novel)
14. Relish by Lucy Knisley (graphic novel)
15. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard (ebook)
16. Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs (graphic novel)
17. Stitches by David Small (graphic novel)
18. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (ebook)
19. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (paper)
20. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (paper)
21. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (ebook)
22. The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea (ebook)
23. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (ebook)
24. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (ebook)
25. The Martian by Andy Weir (audio)
26. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (audio)
27. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (audio)
28. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (ebook)
29. Redshirts by John Scalzi (audio)
30. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (paper)
31. Room by Emma Donoghue (paper)
32. Tampa by Alissa Nutting (ebook)
33. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (paper)
34. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (paper)
35. Austenland by Shannon Hale (ebook)
36. Good Chinese Wife by Susan Blumberg-Kason (paper)
37. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (paper)
38. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller (graphic novel)
39. Quiet by Susan Cain (audio)
40. Kindred by Octavia Butler (ebook)
41. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (audio)
42. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (paper)
43. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (audio)
44. Night Film by Marisha Pessl (paper)
45. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (paper)
46. Crimes of Paris by Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler (paper)
47. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (paper)
48. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (audio)
49. The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (graphic novel)
50. Marbles by Ellen Forney (graphic novel)
51. Bag of Bones by Stephen King (ebook/audio)


I Like Stats

Pages: 13,916
Audio: 92.4 hours
Book Posts: 31 (61%)
E-books: 13.5 (26%)
Audios (including dual reads): 9.5 (19%)
Graphic Novels: 13 (25%)
Young Adult: 6 (11.7%)
Books for Review (from pub, etc): 4 (7%)
Library Books: 12 (23.5%)
From the Shelf (before 2014): 16 (31%)
Male/Female Ratio: 21:29 (42%:58%)
Fiction/Non-Fiction Ratio: 34:17 (67%:33%)
Published in 2000s: 37
Published in 1900s: 14
(kept track with Tally Track App)

Some linky linkies. In case you’re wondering about my 2013 Reading Year2012 Reading Year2011 Reading Year (or my pretend 2011 reading year), or even my 2010 Reading Year.

 How was your 2014 Reading Year? What were your favorites?




49 Responses to “Best of Reading for 2014”

  1. Now I’m really glad The Sparrow is high in my TBR list! It’s probably going to be one of my first books read in 2015. I really liked The Martian too, even though I wasn’t so sure about (did you say peer pressure?). I definitely wouldn’t have read it based on the blurb alone, since it didn’t sound like “my kind of book” (which goes to show how much I know!). I’m really glad I read it in audio – it was probably my best listening experience of the year.

  2. And 12,000 miles away in Auckland,New Zealand as a result of your recommendation I conquered my Steinbeck fear and absolutely loved East of Eden.x

  3. What a fun survey. AJ Fikry was my favorite of the year! And – I have to disagree on East of Eden…while I did really enjoy parts of it (the central story), I thought it was way too long and diverted into incomprehensible philosophical mumbo jumbo a bit too often for my taste. However, one of my closest friends from high school loved it (and I read it on her recommendation), so I’m probably in the minority here.

    I have Quiet on my TBR list as well…
    Happy New Year!

  4. Great answers! I’m so jealous of people with year-end reading stats! Maybe I’ll try again this year to keep them myself. I’ve tried the past couple of Januarys to keep records and haven’t managed to make it into February yet!

    I love The Sparrow but didn’t participate in many readalongs this year. Maybe this year will be better for that, too!

  5. So happy to see so much love for The Sparrow and Tiny Beautiful Things. You’re making me want to read The Sparrow again and it’s only been about a year since I picked it up! I love looking at stats, too. You read quite a few nonfic this year!

  6. I really enjoyed The Martian, too, although I read the e-book. Now I want to go back and listen to it on audio! :) Here’s to an even better reading year in 2015.

  7. Last year was kinda like this for me – a bunch of okay books, but no real winners that stood out. Hopefully you’ll have a really fantastic reading year next year to make up for it!

  8. Great list! I am completely with you on The Martian! It was too Hollywoody but very funny and a delight to read. I need to check out Sparrow – I haven’t been too keen to read it before but should check it out now.

  9. Ti

    The Sparrow certainly made an impact on you. It was a powerful book, for sure.

    My list comes out on the 31st. It’s not nearly as detailed as yours.

    I am excited about getting back to reading. My eye issue really threw me off. I’m sorry I had to bail on Bag of Bones. I was so looking forward to it but could not read at all.

  10. Great post! I tried one of the Outlander books once, and I couldn’t get into it. Basically, I am just not a romance reader. I loved The Sparrow, though, and I really liked Bag of Bones. Mike Noonan is a great fictional crush. Now I want to read Tell the Wolves I’m Home, East of Eden, Bad Feminist, Night Film, Room, and Quiet.

  11. Oh yes, on the OTP! And re Junie, I think there is no book this year, even the one I am calling “the best” that I thought was as good as Tell The Wolves I’m Home.

  12. I am hoping to squeeze one last book in before the end of this year. It was fun to see your reading list from the year. I feel like I read some good books this year but I would like to stretch my reading a bit more in 2015. I am not even sure if I know what that means exactly but still….I hope you have a wonderful new year Trish!

  13. I am going to read The Sparrow on January and now I am even more exited to do so thanks to your words! Have a wonderful 2015!!

  14. I think The Sparrow dominated my lists the year I read it, too :-) And now you make me want to tackle East of Eden – I haven’t liked any of the Steinbeck books I’ve read yet, but maybe I just haven’t read the right ones.

  15. Sounds like I need to read The Sparrow! Oh I agree, Jamie..Duh! Listening to Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. The Martian on audio in on my 2015 listen to list.
    Happy New Year.

  16. It’s so interesting to me that we read a lot of books in a year but there are only a few that really stick in our minds! I think 2015 will be the year for me to finally read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking.

  17. I keep telling myself I’ll make it through the Sparrow one day. Third time will be the charm, right?

    I read so many fun books this year–brain candy type books more than anything of great substance. Between work, health issues, financial stressors and everything else, I’ve found it hard to concentrate on much else. Who would have thought I’d actually find myself reading straight romance novels again? It’s so . . . not me. LOL I’ve never been a big nonfiction reader, but I actually read no non-fiction books this year. Crazy. It’s almost embarrassing the books I did read. But not because at least I was reading and my reading fit what I needed in the moment. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

    I hope you have a wonderful New Year, Trish, and may you read many great books.

  18. I love posts like these! Yay for having a great reading year Trish! Hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the holiday season!

    I read The Sparrow years and years ago and it was fabulous. I was shocked by it and one day I think I would like to re-read it.

  19. Jamie and Claire. ahhhh, they are the best couple. Why can’t he be real? I also loved In A Sunburned Country. Isn’t he the funniest? I love how he makes fun of himself. Cracks me up! I’ve read almost all of his travel books. Trying to get my hands on his African diary book. And East of Eden, LOVED IT. I have read it twice. So good. Happy reading in 2015.

  20. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see The Sparrow and East of Eden – two of my absolute favorite books ever – as your two favorites of the year! Also … Tiny Beautiful Things … I read it in January and I’m STILL thinking about it. I might need to buy a copy.

    • I’d be curious what else you would recommend Jancee. I do better with collections rather than individual comics (I’m not a series reader) and I have the complete Hush and The Dark Knight Returns waiting for me. And Kingdom Come (which isn’t Batman specific).

      • I started with Batman Arkham Asylum (Grant Morrison) because it was the Arkham Asylum video game that sparked my obsession. It’s a great graphic novel to introduce Batman’s Rogue Gallery as well. I also highly recommend The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb) – it might be my favorite overall. A Death in the Family (Jim Starlin) and The Killing Joke (Alan Moore) also provide the origins for some of the big events that are now canon for the universe. And of course you have to read the New 52 reboot. Here’s the Goodreads link – so far there are 6 of the graphic novel compilations. Soooo good!!

  21. In a Sunburned Country, The Sparrow, East of Eden, you read so many books I love this year! I’m so with you on One Day, hated those damn characters. I just posted my survey too. I love being able to look back on everything I read throughout the year.

  22. Well done. You got a lot of reads in this year, Trish. I’m on the cusp of pulling the trigger to read The Martian. The eBook is on sale for like $3 right now. For some reason, I just can’t make that decision. But, to be fair, I have bought like 8 eBooks over the holidays what with all the sales going on. And probably just as many digital comics. So I have a lot of catching up to do.

    Always enjoy reading your year end round up. I’m actually working on mine right this very second.


  23. Love this! I may have to do it at my blog . . . if I ever get back there. Enjoying the family time too much to blog.

    Trish, thanks for the bookmark and card (love the kitty, of course)! I figured you were busy or it got lost in the mail – no biggie. It was a lovely surprise. :)

  24. Loved reading this! So much love for The Sparrow, well deserved. AJ made my favorite list , but there were really only two books I was blown away by this year and AJ made it on the list after some shuffling :) I think I need to explore more graphic novels.

  25. Any author you haven’t read yet is “new” in my opinion! And Steinbeck is a great one- I’ve still got many of his I want to try. Never thought about which cover was my favorite, which is funny since I’m very much into visuals and used to make my own book jackets when the originals disappointed me! I didn’t know The Martian was funny- looking forward to that even more now. Have a great new year!

    • I liked Girl with Pearl Earring, but I didn’t find that I really had much to say about it when I finished. Quick read but a year later forgettable. Have you read it?

  26. Oh my gosh I read One Day a few years ago and absolutely HATED it. I kept waiting for the main guy to just grow up but he never did. It put me right off that author permanently I think.

    Happy new year Trish! :D

  27. Jennygirl

    Trish you are so freaking organized! i bow down to your supreme blogginess. You make me want to be a better book blogger in 2015.
    So I agree wholeheartedly with you on The Sparrow. I know, never did my review, but that book and Emilio and his views has stuck with me since finishing. I know age definitely shapes my thoughts on that one, because if I was younger my reaction would have been anger. East of Eden has stayed with me too. Again the characters and how they turned out. We must read more Steinbeck for sure in 2015.

  28. Kristi

    My reading year was pretty similar. Nothing really blew me away, but I read some pretty good books. I too am reading Tiny Beautiful Things. I’m about halfway through and have been close to tears several times and I’m not a crier when I read.

    I read Tell the Wolves I’m Home at the end of last year, and I still think about it. Despite not being a crier, that book WRECKED me. I mean, ugly, heaving sobs. Toby, oh how I loved him and June.

    Glad you enjoyed East of Eden. That book is probably my favorite ever. I need to read more Steinbeck. I read Travels with Charley this year and really liked it. I’m hoping to re-read Grapes of Wrath one of these days. I haven’t read it since high school.

    I hope you have a great 2015 reading year!

  29. Pretty sure The Sparrow would end up in most of my answers, too! And that book has really stayed with me.

  30. Lu

    Yes, The Sparrow for all the answers! I can’t believe I forgot Anne & Emilio for my answer to the best non-romantic relationship. Also June for most memorable character. It looks like you had a fabulous reading year!! Happy 2015!

  31. You had a great year in reading. Great list. I liked Peter Heller’s novel The Painter and Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted for 2014 books. Cheers

  32. Great list! I loved reading all of your responses and am inspired to share mine, albeit a bit late. :)

    So, so glad you loved The Sparrow! It’s on my Lifetime Top Ten list. She has a new one coming pretty soon called Epitaph. It’s the follow-up to Doc, which I haven’t read, but my husband loved it. If you haven’t read Dreamers of the Day or Thread of Grace, I highly recommend both.