Foley’s Fiction Farm Year End Review: My Top 10 Books that I read in 2014
Out of the 100 books I read this year, these were my favorites.
I read 100 books in 2014. As a professional bookseller, someone who quite literally is paid to read, I thought this would be a simple undertaking, a challenge that I would easily crush. 100 books? That’s nothing! This was put into perspective for me when a coworker pointed out that 52 books is a book per week, and anything more than that would be a potential struggle. I pride myself on my ability to read a full novel in a single day, but sometimes I forget that I have a full time job and, well, a life outside of simply laying on my couch and reading YA novels. I also forgot about that pesky thing called Netflix. Alas, it was much more difficult than I had anticipated to read 100 books in 2014, but I snuck in some children’s books and graphic novels, and I think I can pat myself on the back for a successful year. A lot of the books that I read in 2014 were Advanced Reader Copies, so some of the books I’ll mention below might not be out for several months. Hold your jealousy. No wait, don’t. Be jealous. I have the best job ever. Without further ado (and really, in no particular order), my top 10 books that I read in 2014.
1. Attachments – Rainbow Rowell: For anyone who knows me, it should come as no surprise that Rainbow Rowell is on this list (spoiler alert, she’s on here TWICE). The first book of hers that I read was Eleanor & Park back in 2013 as an Advanced Reader Copy, and I fell in love with it and her writing style. Then came Fangirl, and I found myself swooning all over again. This year I had the opportunity to go back and read her first novel, Attachments, as well as her new novel, Landline, (again spoiler alert, that one’s on this list, too) and I was not disappointed. Attachments is a love story that’s entirely one-sided for the majority of the book, which was fascinating to read. This is Rowell’s first novel, so it’s not as strong as her others, but that is not to say it isn’t a strong novel – it is. The love story is unique and captivating, and plays to the voueristic tendencies that live in all of us, whether we admit them or not.
2. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart: I actively avoided reading this book for months simply because people seemed to love it so much. God, I’m such a hipster sometimes. Anyway, I finally picked it up, and the premise sounded so boring and annoying. A bunch of rich kids hang out on their private beach in their family’s mansions on the Cape, and discover secrets. Ugh. It sounded so pretentious and awful. Then I read it. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the sounds that came out of my mouth when I finished this book were barely human. I made some sort of screeching pterydactyl sounds, then paced the room like a lion, then stared at my fiance, desperately wanting to scream out the ending, but only able to mouth the words, “OH MY GOD” and “HOLY FUCKBALLS” and other colorful phrases. Needless to say, my opinion of this book changed rapidly.
3. Winterspell – Claire Legrand: This book is a sexy, steampunkish version of The Nutcracker. I love me a good fractured fairy tale, and I thought this one was clever and dark and twisted and right up my alley. As the main character struggles with saving an entire kingdom and her father, and possibly other people, she also struggles with discovering her own sexuality. It’s a cool book. I liked it. (Two phrases that my former English professors would smack me for putting in a review).
4. As You Wish – Cary Elwes: I listened to the audio version of this Princess Bride memoir, and I am so glad I did. Cary Elwes reads the book, with guest appearances from various members of the cast and crew. It’s filled with funny and sweet anecdotes from the making of the film, and if you’re a fan of the movie, you have to read or listen to this book. It’s wonderful.
5. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn: At this point I think everyone has probably seen or read Gone Girl, so it’s probably not a shocker that this one made the list. Gosh, what a great book. Such brilliant writing, such fantastic twists and turns, I loved every second of it. And in case you’re wondering, I’m completely Team Amy.
6. The Walls Around Us – Nova Ren Suma: I had the absolute pleasure of reading an early manuscript of this book, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved it so much. In fact, part of the review I wrote for it went out with the promotional Advanced Reader Copies. It is a beautifully written story about young women, ballet, and the consequences of actions. It’s got a little bit of a Black Swan vibe, and it’s utterly captivating. I was blown away by it.
7. Landline – Rainbow Rowell: There it is. The second Rainbow Book on my list. Landline is her latest novel, and it’s got a magic phone in it where the main character can call her boyfriend and his past self picks up. This book has a melancholy tone, and the main character grapples with the decision to save her marriage or prevent it from happening altogether. I think I cried, probably.
8. Don’t Touch – Rachel M. Wilson: The main character of this book suffers from severe, crippling anxiety, which causes you, as a reader, to feel that anxiety. It’s well written and it doesn’t gloss over anything. She doesn’t just “get over it”. It feels realistic, as if perhaps the author has those anxieties, or knows someone personally with those anxieties. Plus, it’s just a good story.
9. Kiss of Broken Glass - Madeleine Kuderick: This one is darker and it deals with self harm. It takes place over a long weekend in a mental hospital after she’s found harming herself at school. We get her innermost thoughts, and at the end, we see real struggles – again, this one doesn’t just have our character “snap out of it”. She really struggles, and it feels realistic. There was an author’s note in this one where the author explains that the main character is based on her daughter who went through nearly the same thing, which explains the raw emotion in the story. It’s a good read, if a little cringe-worthy at times.
10. Strega – Karen Monahan Fernandes: This YA novel has everything that I love in a story: Strong female character who bonds with other even stronger female characters, witches, magic, evil, and lots of backstory. Imagine you’ve been having nightmares your whole life. Your parents were murdered, then your grandmother was murdered. The nightmares have only gotten worse. Now your nightmares are slipping into reality. That’s what’s happening to Jay, and she’s not super stoked about it. As she works to figure out what is going on in her life, Jay slowly begins to uncover secrets about her life, and her past lives. Yes, you read that right. Past lives. See, Jay is a descendant of the Strega, the world’s first witches, and there are demons after her. It makes high school kind of a drag when your family has been murdered and you’re next on the hit list.I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, and I’m now waiting not-so-patiently for the sequel.
There you have it folks, the top 10 books that I read in 2014. Here’s to 2015!
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by Ryan Foley
Book seller, book lover, all around bibliophile.