Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 14 favroite books of 2014

2014 was a good year for books. There were so many I read this year that stuck with me and touched my heart. This is my narrowed-down list of the 14 books of 2014 that will have a lasting impact on me and that I will remember long after 2014 is over.

Links take you to reviews I have written or someone else who reviewed/talked about the book better than I could.

Favorite Adult Novel

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A love story to books, bookstores, and book people. I can't stress enough that this book is an absolute must-read, even if adult fiction is not your usual fare

Favorite Young Adult Novels

When I was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
A wonderful testament to family, friendship, and counter-narratives. A lovely tribute to Reynolds' neighborhood of Bed Stuy in Brooklyn and the people who live there.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
A perfect, beautiful summer read. But instead of mindless fluff that perhaps most people equate with beach reads, this one has soul. The characters Gae Polisner has created in this book are so loveable despite their flaws. Francesca and Frankie Sky will stay with me for a long time.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Despite the ridiculous, somewhat gimmicky premise of this book, it is surprisingly poignant and universally relateable. I'm grateful I was able to hear Whaley talk about this book personally, otherwise I'm not sure I would have ever read it. 

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
I don't even know how to describe this book. It defies labels. Andrew Smith has created something provocative and discussion-worthy with Grasshopper Jungle. While this is not a book I would have read on my own -- I chose to read it due to the number of people who are talking about it -- I'm really glad I picked it up. You are definitely missing out on a cultural conversation by not reading it. 

Favorite Middle Grade Novels:

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
I've staked my claim that this is the book I will be rooting for to win the Newbery in early February. Newbery or not, A Snicker of Magic will undoubtedly be a children's classic. The link above takes you to my Nerdy Book Club review. I also interviewed Natalie here on the blog.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
That sneaky Jenni Holm. She always writes novels that I initially think I'm not going to like and then every time manages to make me fall in love with them. Not only will kids love this book, but there is a lot of worthwhile discussion to have about what it means to grow old and what a privilege it is to do so.

The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando
This book kind of snuck up on me. I was expecting this to be a light, fluffy read but what I actually discovered is that Tara Altebrando has written a novel about middle school mean girl behavior so spot-on, that it took me back to a place I didn't want to go to. But it is for that reason that books like The Battle of Darcy Lane are important. They show kids and remind adults just how hard it is to survive this time in your life -- and that it does get better.

Favorite Picture Books:

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison
An ordinary little dog lives at the circus among extraodinary, talented animals, and yet everyone loves Jane just the way she is. The illustrations in Extraordinary Jane are some of the most endearing I have ever laid eyes on and they tell more of the story than the words do. By the time I got to the last page I was weeping. I have such a soft spot for dogs, what can I say, and Hannah Harrison just knows how to illustrate love into her paintings.  

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
After I finished The Adventures of Beekle, I just had to sit and let it linger for a while before I could do anything else. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and the story will warm your heart and tickle the back of your throat as you choke back a few tears.

Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton
Sometimes wrecking things is fun. Most of the time it will get people mad at you. I think we've all known some Rexes in our lives, which is why this book rings so true despite the fantastical characters contained inside its pages.

Edgar's Second Word by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Hazel can't wait for her baby brother to arrive. She practices reading aloud with her stuffed bunny Rodrigo, anticipating the day when she and her brother can read and discuss books together. When Edgar does finally say his first word, both Hazel and her mother are elated. But they soon find out that Edgar's first word causes more trouble than they anticipated. Lovers of Mo Willems's Knuffle Bunny books will undoubtedly fall in love with Hazel and Edgar.

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
This book gave me the feels. Despite not being a true biography of Frida Kahlo's life, this book is so much bigger that. It felt like a living, breathing poem and was simply enchanting. 

Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
I know I'm a crier by nature so perhaps telling you that I was tearing up by page one doesn't hold much weight, but I generally don't cry at the beginning of a book. Firebird is the story of a young girl of color who aspires to be a ballerina someday, but sees only the obstacles before her. You get the sense that Copeland is writing this story not only to all the African American girls who dream of being dancers, but also looking back at herself when she first started out.

Narrowing this list down was hard. I probably could have done my 20 favorite books of 2014, but I figured I'd keep it at 14. What were your favorite books this year?

1 comment:

  1. You're so sweet, Beth. And so kind. Thank you for sharing this list--there were apparently some I missed that I shouldn't have. I'm going to remedy that right now! Happy new year!