Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Books I Read: 2014

As usual, I've compiled a list of the best books I read throughout the year! I love making these end-of-year lists! I feel like I've read a ton of stellar ones this year, but, I've got to narrow it down somehow. This list consists of all the books I gave 5 out of 5 stars to on Goodreads. According to my stats, the two genres I read the most from this year are science fiction and classics, and for the most part, this seems to be represented in my list of favorites this year. Enjoy!

Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork

This book is perfect; I couldn't stop gushing over it! I loved everything about Marcelo in the Real World: The characters were crafted phenomenally, the general concepts were interesting (plus, this is the first time I ever read a POV of someone with autism), and oh my goodness, there was so much emotion! There were moments that sent butterflies fluttering around my stomach but there were also moments where I was fuming mad over the rudeness that some characters aimed at Marcelo. Hence, in this beautiful contemporary, Marcelo discovers that there are some people in the real world that are kind-hearted and make our lives better, but there are others that are devious and corrupt. It took forever for me to get around to this novel, but now that I've read it, it's one of my favorites.

Cloud Atlas turned out to be quite an intriguing read, which is what I was expecting based on what I'd been hearing. I heard it was a confusing story about reincarnation, but I honestly wasn't very confused. I thought Cloud Atlas was a brilliant idea; readers are essentially reading more than one story, but they're all connected. They're even different genres, so the book can appeal to just about any lover of fiction. (Personally my favorite story was that of Somni-451, which is a dystopian story.)


The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's only novel is a very depressing piece of fiction, and as I mentioned in my classics post, that fact isn't helped by how Sylvia Plath's life ended. But perhaps the biggest reason this novel won me over is through Plath's beautiful writing style. She has to be one of my favorites in terms of how pretty her prose was. And while I also mentioned in my classics post that I couldn't relate to the general story very well because I hadn't truly been 'under the bell jar,' I didn't specifically mention that this disconnection caused me to feel detached from the metaphor... But about a month or so later, I saw someone who looked as though they were indeed under a bell jar. Now I understand that Sylvia Plath picked the most accurate metaphor.

In the beginning, I had about zero ambition to read this book. Cinderella retelling? No thanks. I'm not into fairytale retellings. Sailor Moon retelling? People who live on the moon? Heavy on the science fiction aspect? Now we're talking. I can't believe I put this book off for so long; it's amazing! Cinder is a fantastic character and the world that this is set in is so interesting! For the first time in a long time, I wanted the sequel, Scarlet, ASAP (and of course, the bookstore never had Scarlet in hardcover, so I had to wait forever). I definitely recommend Cinder for those who haven't read it yet - whether you like fairtytale retellings and Sailor Moon or not.

by Marissa Meyer

I devoured this book in huge gulps and fangirled my face off. Scarlet, the second book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, may have even better than Cinder. The characters in this book are absolutely wonderful; more have been added since the first installment and the newbies are just as prominent as the characters we've already met. Cinder and Scarlet are both pretty badass in their own ways, Kai is sweet and troubled, Thorne is adorable and hilarious, and Wolf is so complex and sounds so attractive.

by Marissa Meyer
I also devoured Cress in huge gulps and fangirled my face off. It's been a while since I've read all of the available books in a series in one year instead of getting distracted by other books, and I must say, so far, all of the Lunar Chronicles books are grade A material. Cress is a fantastic character; I'm very happy she's on our little team of heroes, and it was so interesting to watch her relationship develop with Thorne - so cute! There was definitely a lot going on; putting the book down to do things like eating and sleeping was difficult. However, there's a messy situation at hand... Well, there are a couple of messy situations at hand, and I'm so stoked for the next book, Winter (which comes out next November) to find out what happens. 

Where do I even begin? I absolutely adored Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorite novels of all time, and ever since reading it, I've wanted to read everything by the Bronte sisters. After reading Villette, Charlotte is officially my favorite author. Even though it was written about one hundred and fifty years ago, it is by far the most groundbreaking novel I've ever read. Even now, nothing about Villette is conventional, and I don't think a better picture of jealousy and loneliness has ever been painted. Our heroine Lucy Snowe must be an independent woman; she must learn to let go, and her love M. Paul Emanuel undergoes a series of changes before he can accept a woman like Lucy. Villette is one of my favorite books, hands down.

by George Orwell

I must say, I'm not easily frightened when it comes to books, but this one scared the crap out of me. I don't think George Orwell could've crafted a nightmare any more thoroughly. If I was an author I'd be so afraid of giving my book a year for a title, especially if that year isn't too awfully far into the future, but 1984 is far from dated; it's still sparking discussions and concerns long after its birth and futuristic date. Not only is our technology getting eerily similar to what's described in 1984, but no matter what time period we live in, the power of individual thought will always be praised and should never be taken from anyone.

Another book that took me far too long to get around to reading. I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Across the Universe, and A Million Suns lived up to the hype. Just when we think we've understood what's going on aboard the spaceship Godspeed, Beth Revis metaphorically slaps us in the face and challenges everything we knew by thickening the mystery. It's just as action-packed as the first one, too, and has a way of making me so nervous for our main characters Amy and Elder. I loved it!


The final book of the Across the Universe trilogy. Shades of Earth is by far the most different of the series, but I enjoyed it all the same. Tons of action, tons of mystery, and bits of romance - what's not to like? I loved every single book in this trilogy equally, easily making it one of my favorites. It's something that both guys and girls can enjoy; I highly recommend it to any sci-fi fan.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
I picked up this one solely because a teacher recommended it, so I didn't really know what to expect before picking it up with the exception of some really solid writing. The dialogue of the characters is a bit difficult to get used to, but the narration itself is gorgeous, and I've never read a story quite like this. It follows a woman named Janie who never seems to find a perfect relationship, until she meets Tea Cake, who sees her as more than someone to work or just stand around and look pretty all day. I don't want to give anything away, but I've never read anything where characters happen to be in certain circumstances, particularly where nature is concerned. I actually cried a little bit at the end. Their Eyes Were Watching God is definitely an underrated classic.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my selections and pass on any recommendations based on what I've listed for 2014. Hopefully you also read a lot of fabulous books this year - let me know what you enjoyed the most in 2014!

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