Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Bookish Wrap-Up

Emily at Love Woke Me Up This Morning posted 12 questions summarizing her year in reading and invited others to answer the same questions. Here are my responses!

1. How many books have you read this year?
I exceeded my goal of reading 100 books. I'm at 120 as of today, and I'm guessing I'll finish at least one more on the plane ride home tomorrow. That's by far the most books I've read in a year since I started recording my books in 2006. (I've written a little about why I think that is.)

2. Which book surprised you the most?
Probably War and Peace. I expected the whole thing to be a slog, and a lot of it was (especially the War parts), but I actually liked it quite a bit. If you're just looking for the story and don't care about the accomplishment of reading the entire 1,400+ page book, it would probably be worth a read of the abridged version.

3. What book were you the most disappointed in?
That would be Love Does. It had been recommended to me many times, by multiple people, and I absolutely hated it. I thought it was self-indulgent and the author was hugely blind to how his wealth and privilege allowed him to do most of the things he talks about in the book.

4. Did you start any new series?
Series for which I actually intend to read all the books? Only the Thomas Cromwell series by Hilary Mantel. I read both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies this year, and I'm looking forward to the final book. I also read Cordelia's Honor, which is technically a combination of the first two books of a series, but I don't plan to read the rest of the books in the series, which focus on a different character.

5. Did you finish any series?
Nope. Not a big series reader.

6. What was your favorite book cover this year?

Looking back over the books I read this year, most of them have pretty boring covers, but I like the cover of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. It's a good representation of the book itself: We see Nadia Bolz-Weber exactly as she is, with all her tattoos and not smiling for the camera, but the design of the text is an intentional callback to the long legacy of religion that continues to inform her faith.

7. What was the best non-fiction book you read?
As I said previously, it's a tie between two: Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon or "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Both were excellent for different reasons.

8. What are you currently reading?
I'm listening to Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals and reading God's Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène in paperback. I also downloaded the Kindle version of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer to have something to read on my phone, but I don't expect to really get into it until the new year.

9. Any reading goals for 2015?
Stay tuned for a list of 10 goals for Top Ten Tuesday!

10. What books are you looking forward to in 2015?
The only yet-to-be-published book I have on my to-read list is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven because I've seen so many people gushing about it already. I also look forward to reading the final Thomas Cromwell book and the next Cormoran Strike book, whenever they're published.

Edited to add: I just saw that Rachel Held Evans' next book is coming out in April 2015. I definitely want to read it!

11. What books deserve a shoutout?
These are books I haven't mentioned much but which are also great. I'm pretty sure I've shared all my 5-star books of the year at one point or another, but many of the 4-star books are worth a mention as well:

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha
Walking the Bridgeless Canyon by Kathy Baldock

12. Your top 5 books of 2014.
Haha, no. It was hard enough to narrow it down to my top 10 favorite fiction and my top 10 favorite nonfiction of the year. You can check out those lists.

How was your year in reading?

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  1. Thanks for doing the sort of link up! I liked Love Does, but I totally understand about the things that bothered you about it! When I look back at reading it, I definitely see stuff that bothers me too. I've heard him speak too though and I liked it a lot. He's a bit ADD though so hes hard to follow sometimes lol

  2. I think most, if not all, of the people who recommended Love Does to me also heard Bob Goff speak, so he must be an inspiring speaker. I just wish that had come across better in his book.