My Favorite Reads of 2014

 by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_227649499I originally come from the island of Newfoundland but right now I’m coming to you from the island of my sofa. I have the flu and, due to my husband’s medical history and resulting weakened immune system (detailed in Olympic Hope), I have placed myself here, in solitary confinement,  with only tea, books, and tablet as companions. A good place from which to comment on my favorite reads of 2014.

Here are the books that I found inspiring, compelling, challenging, or truly entertaining this past year:

he Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany with Death as narrator. A young girl, through the theft of books and with the aid of her foster father, develops a passion for reading which sustains her through the reign of Hitler. This novel is classified as YA but its power and eloquence defy such limitation. Searing. Grim. Indelible.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
This memoir contains a collection of previously published articles (NY Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s) about love, friendship, work, art. Clean, clear language. Honest. From the soul. Inspirational.

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
Set from 1977-1997. A fumbling man discovers his love of mazes and finds his way to self through his labyrinth of a life. Quiet. Arresting. Realistic.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by MaryAnn Shaffer & Annie Barrows
This epistolary novel is set on the Channel Islands during WWII. A tribute to book lovers, it details the journey of a cast of courageous book club members whose island is occupied by the Nazi regime. Nostalgic. Enchanting. Inspiring.

419 by Will Ferguson (2012 Giller Prize Winner)
A literary thriller set in Canada and Nigeria, this is a woman’s crusade to find the man she deems responsible for the downfall and death of her father. (The term 419 is a code for Nigerian email scams.) Taut. Intriguing. Educational.

After This by Alice McDermott
An apt portrayal of the reality of life in an Irish Catholic American family. Lyrical. Engaging. Poignant.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Set in France during WWII, this novel has two surprising protagonists, one a blind girl, one a Nazi soldier. The beauty in this lies in the author’s ability to create sympathy for the young soldier and to help the reader see through use of sound. (A must read for any writer seeking to improve sense of sound in writing.) Ambitious. Authentic. Riveting.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Atkinson’s first novel, this exquisitely-written piece details , from conception onward, the life of Ruby who takes us into the world of her quirky British family.  Complex. Funny. Heartbreaking.

My favorite book of the year? I must cite two from the above list: 419 for the education I received (until I read this, I would have assumed 419 to be an area code, no more) and The Book Thief for its innovation, power, and simplicity. (In case you noticed… yes, I am currently reading a lot of WWII fiction: my work-in-progress, Book II of a trilogy, is set during that era.)

shutterstock_165829418And now… I’m looking for some good reads while I remain quarantined on the couch, Kindle at the ready.  Any suggestions?

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My best to you,

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4 thoughts on “My Favorite Reads of 2014
  1. I loved The Book Thief as well – haven’t seen the movie, but I hear it’s equally good. I have always loved Ann Patchett so that goes on my list. And also the Guernsey potatoes! I am desperately looking for things to read that my mother would still be able to follow. She has Alzheimers but is still interested in reading; it just gets so discouraging for her when the plots are complicated, there are too many characters, or the timeline is all over the place. My two favorite books this year were A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor – it’s light, but funny in the way Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut are – with (I believe) a little bit more sweetness and light, and Anna Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs, which hit me at almost every point I lived, and also had a happy ending. Perhaps I will have one too. 😉

    • Hi, Paula,
      Thanks for recommendations. I have already paid an online visit to the local library and put a hold on “Still Life with Breadcrumbs.” Can’t locate “A Highly Unlikely Scenario” there but will hunt it down on my Kindle later.
      Have you read any of Anne Tyler’s books, e.g. “A Patchwork Planet”, “The Ladder of Years”? I don’t know if they are what you are looking for but they deal with everyday characters in small, daily struggles. Other suggestions: Carol Shields’ novel called “Unless”… an amazing story of a woman dealing with a family crisis; W.O Mitchell’s “Who Has Seen the Wind?”…a simple, lyrical story of a young boy on the Saskatchewan prairie.
      All the best in your search for great reads and happy endings! Thanks so much for stopping by. Will continue to follow your tweets…

      • Thanks, Annie. I have read some Anne Tyler, but neither of the ones you suggest. I’ll definitely put the Shields and Mitchell on my “to read with Mom” list. Triumphant, simple and lyrical I think suit her better than small, daily struggles, since most of her small, daily struggles are looming very large indeed these days. I still remember at the end of Anne Tyler’s Amateur Marriage, Michael Anton and his limp, the gait said “I _think_ so…but I don’t _know_ so.” It summed him up so well!

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