Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kelly's 2014 in Review

Dear Jenny,

I realize that 2015 is now well underway, but I had intended to write this post at the end of 2014 and got waylaid and now I just want to do it anyway. So here I am!

What happened to me in 2014? Theory: ToB + Non-fiction

I got woefully behind this past year, both in reading my books and in writing about them. The reading, I think, happened early on in the year when I went all-out reading as many Tournament of Books books as I could, thereby pushing my TBR books to the bottom of the reading list for the first three months of the year.

As I've already said, that's not happening this year. It was fun in its own way, but I'm taking a break. If any of the ToB books strike my fancy, I may try to get to them before March, but I'm not racing to complete as many as possible again. It was too much, and then I burned out for at least another month after it was done.

Also... I had quite a few non-fiction books last year -- 7 out of 12 of my books! (I didn't realize Arc of Justice was not fiction until I started it...) I am not much of a non-fiction reader, so I struggled to write about those books (which means that I procrastinated and, when the end-of-the-year crunch hit, I was woefully unprepared). Only 3 of my books this year are non-fiction (well, as far as I know... apparently I am dumb and do not always notice!) so that should help.

Abandoning with Abandon = Success!

I also wanted to report on my plan to "Abandon with abandon" this year. As you know, I *struggle* to stop reading a book I am not interested in, but 2014 was my year -- I abandoned reading 13 books! And I didn't look back! (Well, until right now, cause I wrote them down so I could tell you about them... and also so that I would remember not to pick them up again. Heh.)

Aaaand... on a related note, let's have a moment of silence for one of those books that has been near and not-at-all-dear (apparently!) to me... Don't Know Much About History. This book first showed up on my TBR list in 2012 and after 3 attempts at it (even completing an entire chapter in 2014 and making a year-long plan!) I have officially dumped it. It's already gone -- donated to the library. I just couldn't get interested. Guess I will continue to not know much about history. Oh, well. Moving on!


To Be Perused (TBR): What's up with that?!

Oh, yeah... I had a whole other list -- art books to peruse! As I did a terrible job of keeping up with my TBR books, so TBP fell even further down on the To Be Done list. I did peruse one of them (Detroit Ruins) so I will write about that soon.

And, what the heck -- I'll post the list again for 2015. Perhaps this is my year? Or not... doesn't matter. It's our blog and I'll skip on my TBP list if I want to, list if I want toooooo....

My Favorites

I forgot that I listed my favorites of the year last year. I just checked my 2014 list to see if I had any that I really loved and yes, yes I did. Here they are:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

You are familiar with this book, as it was on ToB. But besides just being a great book, this was also a terrific aBook/pBook combo pack -- I read the pBook and aBook together and I am so glad I did. The images in the pBook are fantastic, but the author herself reads the aBook and her self-editing throughout the book was so very interesting!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This one is on the ToB list for 2015, so I imagine you will be reading it soon enough -- I am looking forward to discussing a couple of plot points with you, actually. I really liked this book... interesting, touching, suspenseful. Just a great read.


Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Have you read this book? I have seen the movie many times and this is totally a case where the book is so much better than the movie! While I did, of course, picture Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard the entire time I was reading it, I thought the story was so much more enjoyable, complex, and heartbreaking than the movie.


Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

Oh, man. This book was kind of tough, but also funny and really good. After generally feeling like she is invisible for some time, this woman wakes up one day to find out that she is actually invisible. Aaand... her husband and kids do not notice! Ooof. I thought it was going to be super heavy-handed after that, but there is also a certain lightness to the book that makes it a truly enjoyable read while also being a commentary on a woman's status in the home and society.

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

Have you read this? It's YA and pretty darned charming... much of it is  predictable, but the "flat out" elements are sweet and disarming. I loved the characters and didn't want it to end.

Heft by Liz Moore

This one was random and unexpected -- I think I got it for free or super-cheap as a Kindle deal and I didn't have any expectations. But I really, really enjoyed it. An extremely overweight recluse and an athletic teenager become unlikely friends through their shared connection: the teen's mom is the older man's former student. This quote from Amazon nails it: "It is a memorable, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive novel about finding sustenance and friendship in the most surprising places."

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Well, I don't have to tell you anything about this book, cause I know you love it too. Another one that makes me grateful for the ToB. This one needs a re-read, I think!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Spooky good. Really tightly written. Mystery, drama, general weirdness. Loved it. Have you read it? I'd recommend the pBook -- besides the awesome story, there is a lot to see.

Paper Towns by John Green

Another YA here --  I went on a little John Green odyssey this year and also read An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska, which were also good. But this one has stuck with me, months after reading it. The characters and their emotions and reactions were achingly real.

The Numbers

And finally, the boring stuff: the numbers! In 2013, I read 100 books and I speculated that it was at the expense of not making things. But I am happy to report that in 2014, I read 101 books and I also made stuff! So yay! A big part of that is because, once again, about half of my books were aBooks (so I can listen while crafting). Same as last year, about a quarter were eBooks and a quarter were pBooks. Aaand... half of all of them were library books. The library is awesome!!

Thank you for indulging me on this retrospective. How was your year in reading?



  1. Well, fudge.

    After all my big talk about not getting sucked into the ToB this year, I finally went and actually *looked* at the books aaaa... a bunch of them look super good! DANGIT!

    Okay... I *may* jump on the ToB bandwagon but *only* after I have read my TBR books for these months. :)

  2. K,

    There are quite a few TOB books that sound like you'd like them. Definitely Station Eleven sounds *so* perfect for you. A heads up: I've heard that the Ferrante is third in a series, and that you can't really read it cold. So avoid that one unless you want to read the others first. I got the audiobook of Everything I Never Told You, which I heard was good.

    And...I'm currently reading All the Light We Cannot See! Which takes me right into your Year in Reading Post---we read some of the same ones, and I didn't even realize it. Of course I knew we both loved Long Division, but A Tale for the Time Being was one of my favorites, too. In fact, it's the book I'm doing with the middle school parents! I loved that one.

    I also read Night Film this year! Someone recommended it and I bought it. I have a pBook, and as a hardcover, it's a really awesome object. I loved everything about it, I even remember liked the way the pages felt. A tactile experience. I cannot even fathom how they could make an audiobook of it. My guess is the eBook is full of fun hyperlinks and such, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was a good mix of creepy and mysterious.

    The TOB---it's like The Godfather! Just when you thought you were out, it pulled you back in!

    100 books! That's fantastic!

    1. Yes, I am *very* interested in Station Eleven (and it looks like it would be a good aBook) and had already rejected the Ferrante for that reason (I hate it when they include sequels/follow up books).

      Um... I actually committed to getting matching tattoos from ATFTTB with someone on the ToB boards last year and have not done it --- wonder if she did. (I'll have to look that up...) Forgot all about that!

      I did a joint aBook/pBook read on Night Film and the aBook was pretty terrific, but definitely missed some tactile aspects of the pBook (much like ATFTTB!) But the reader was really, really good, so that was a nice aspect of it. (He described the artifacts very well and had a good voice.)

      ToB is the Godfather. Of course it is.

    2. Had to go back and see what the tattoo talk was... Jess Thrift and I were going to get tattoos if Tale for the Time Being won:

      And then when it didn't win, we still said we would do it, but we weren't so emphatic about it. Heh. It was this image.

      What a great book that is!

  3. K,

    I forgot to add---because of a graphic novel I teach, American Born Chinese, I've totally ruined Breakfast at Tiffany's for myself. I use the Mickey Rooney character as an example of hideous Asian stereotypes in the American media, dating back to the 60s. But maybe the book is free of that business? I hope so!

    1. Well, the book does not have a white man *acting like* an Asian man, so yes! (In fact, I don't even recall his ethnicity being stated in the book, so that makes the Rooney thing even *worse.*)

    2. The Rooney thing is actually jaw-dropping for the kids. If they could say "what the fuck?!" ---- they would.

    3. You should try reading the book -- see what you think! (It's short -- you'd burn through it.) The Holly Golightly character is pretty complex.