Best Reads of 2014

This is a selfish list… but here are the books that I’ve read during the 2014 Calendar Year. My goal was to read 50 books this year (A good writer has to be a good reader). These are the books I’ve read, enjoyed, and am now ranking for your potential reading pleasure:

1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown- From start to finish, I was enthralled. As mad that I have to wait for the second book as I am about waiting for George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter.

2. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest- It might have just been the new world of steampunk, it might have been the flashbang style of what happens inside the city walls, but whatever it was… it worked.

3. The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater- I think she had the most likeable band of characters that I’ve read in a long time. It helps that her prose is full of clever turns of phrase and authentic interactions.

4. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller- Considering I just got married in March, this makes sense. What a great book for understanding and gaining perspective on marriage.

5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.- Finally read this. Dark and haunting and, at times, mystifying. But his writing is so good that you have to read it just to see a style that is borderline unachievable.

6. The Tarot Accounts by Keith Dupuis- A member of my writing group, Keith just finished his first book in the past few weeks. The world sincerely needs to be on the look out for his work. The stories of Rune and Brand will be bestsellers in no time.

7. The Daedalus Incident by Michael Martinez- Hard to figure out where to put this one! It was such a teasing, pleasurable combination of genres. I didn’t love one of the viewpoint characters though, and that caused it to slide a little in my eyes.

8. Looking for Alaska by John Green- I get the hype on him and totally understand now why my students find his work so appealing. It’s raw and unapologetic in its approach to a younger generation that is facing real life problems. I loved the characters, but also think his main way of interesting the audience in his characters is a bit cheap. Are there kids that have ridiculous and amazing talents? Of course. But a kid who memorizes the last words of famous historical figures? It’s plausible, but it made Pudge feel a little fake to me.

9. The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough- The fact that this even cracks the top 10 is a credit to Jason’s ability. I’m just not that into science fiction, but I loved his characters. I actually thought the major weakness of his character was the major weakness that my character suffers from… A steady person that happens to be in the midst of incredible circumstances. Our characters lack that poetic individuality that makes them a long-lasting favorite in the eyes of an audience.

10. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb- Seriously a treat to dive down into what I would consider foundational fantasy. As with any book of this style, there are times where the description weighs a hundred pounds and the pace is too slow. But who wouldn’t want to be trained by Chade? Cool story and fun to read.

10. His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik- Once again, the idea of this world is gripping and fascinating. Dragon air forces during Napoleonic times? Yes, please. The climax doesn’t pay off though, and the style can be weighty at times.

11. The Gunslinger by Stephen King- The prose in this story is just easy and interesting. There are some creative worldbuilding elements, but I struggled to fully enjoy them. A lot of chasing that amounts to little pay off.

12. Divergent by Veronica Roth- I’m sorry, but it just isn’t fun to read. I felt the same way about it that I felt about Eragon after reading Game of Thrones. You just can’t go back to something like that. I get why the book is popular, but I prefer the depth of almost every book above this one.

It’s May and I’ve only read 16 books… Good thing the summer is almost here.

Honorable Mentions Just Because I Read Them For Class and They Don’t Count:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Romeo and Juliet by Billy Shakespeare

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury