There’s no possible way anyone is able to read all the books that came out in one year. It’s just not possible. And since I’m not a speed reader (yet), I just couldn’t read everything I wanted to read this year. The books listed below are the books that were ones everyone was talking about on television and radio, they’re books that you’d always see people on the subway/in coffee shops and most importantly, they’re books that helped shape the year 2014. Luckily for me, books don’t go bad and I do have every intention of reading them… eventually. If you have read one of the ones listed, let me know in the comments your thoughts on the book(s) and why it did/didn’t have an impact on your 2014 reading experience.
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale – I put this book on the list out of sheer curiosity more than anything else. Kathleen Hale was warned not to read too much into her Goodreads reviews. Some will like your book, some won’t. But when she decided to bite the bullet and log on to hear what people thought of her new book No One Else Can Have You, she stumbled on one persons review that read,
“F**k this,” it said. “I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”
As Kathleen Hale explains,
“Well, it’s a weird book,” I reminded myself. “It’s about a girl with PTSD teaming up with a veteran to fight crime.” (source)
What proceeded to happen next is a bit of a cat and mouse chase for Hale, who shared her experience of tracking down her reviewer/catfisher and putting a name to the face of the person that “reviewed” her book. All of this is explained in her article for The Guardian and this book and author received a lot of quizzical looks from the public about her behaviour, but did get people to take notice. Myself included. And although, I don’t necessarily agree with her actions, it did make me want to pick up her book. I want to read the book that got Blyth up in arms and I wanted to read the book that others on Goodreads called, “a compelling mystery that grabs hold of you”. (source)
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – This is one of those books that kept popping up everywhere in my social feeds. So after I finally did some research, I found myself being surprised that so many people wanted to read a book written about medicine and the limitations surrounding the care and spiritual well being of the elderly. As someone that had a Grandparent suffer with alzheimer’s disease, it was very difficult to watch her slowly lose her memories and her whereabouts. Her quality of life was beginning to diminish, but I find peace and clarity in believing that the nursing home she resided in made her happy as she spent hours doing crafts, socializing with others and what I like to believe enjoying her final years. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal,
addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.
Even now, as I’m sitting her writing this post, I’m even more interested in reading Being Mortal as his research is something that hits close to home. There are so many of you that I’m sure are in the same boat as me that would find this subject fascinating, so let’s all get our butts in gear and start reading what sounds like a compelling book.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – It was the cover of Eimear McBride’s that originally had me intrigued. When I finally snapped out of it and stopped judging a book by the cover and picked up a copy of the book to find out the premise of the book, I ignored that pesky never ending reading pile and purchased a copy of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. According to the description of the book, it’s “the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.” Reading the premise again has me itching to read this amazing debut novel… I really need to get it together.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – Due to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, the rights of women and feminist ideas became regular dinner conversation here in Toronto and thanks to people who bravely took a stand and authors like Roxane Gay, Caitlin Moran and many others, the word feminist has become a commonly used word in our vocabulary. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that span politics, criticism, and feminism. My hope is that many of you have read this book and can tell me your thoughts about it in the comments. I’ve been itching to read it, but just haven’t got the chance to you yet. The people that I do know have read it say it’s absolutely marvellous and I have no doubt that they’re telling the truth. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that explores “one woman’s journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). She’s been called revolutionary, insightful and funny and this is one book I’ll definitely be picking up in the near future.
Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole – A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure (and it really was an absolute pleasure) to read Open City by Teju Cole. I remember reading that book and thinking to myself that Cole’s writing was outstanding. Not only was it smart and thoughtful, but also felt like it was writing that mattered. So why in God’s creation have I yet to read his new book, Every Day is for the Thief? It’s not like I haven’t see it reviewed everywhere, The Guardian, NPR and the Telegraph, to name a few, it just slipped through the cracks. If you haven’t read read Teju Cole before, take my word for it, he’s amazing and as indicated on Goodreads, he’s often compared to the literary greats JM Coetzee and Chimamanda Adichee.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi – During some downtime at Inspire this past November, I treated myself and read about 10 pages of Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird in the PRH booth and I was immediately transfixed. Then this funny thing happened called, Christmas preparation and my reading list took an immediate hit. So I would say that of all the books on this list, Oyeyemi’s book is the one I’m the most bummed that I didn’t read in 2014. To give you an idea of why I can’t wait to read it, I’m going to share the description with you,
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
So stay tuned to the blog and/or my Goodreads profile, because I have no doubt that this book will be appearing on them very soon.
Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle – I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to believe that this book came out this year, because as a Toronto resident, the Ford controversy has felt like a never ending situation. But the book most certainly did come out this year and it nailed our formative (thank god) Toronto mayor to the wall. For awhile, it seemed like you couldn’t turn on your computer or television and not see our mayor, Rob Ford. Robyn Doolittle has closely covered Rob Ford’s career and had a hand in helping expose Ford’s cocaine problem. I’m sure I don’t really need to relive the drama, but there was photographic proof, video proof and an embarrassing audio file that kept having Torontonians feeling embarrassed and slightly mortified. As the controversy has died down a bit and a new mayor has been elected (and his last name isn’t Ford), I’m finally interested enough in reading Crazy Town. I’ve heard that she reveals some new facts about the Ford family and really takes a microscopic look at the family that had Toronto in the news for a big chunk of 2014.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – I’m going to tell you a story. About a year or so ago, I sat in a meeting and I heard Sarah Waters’ Canadian editor tell everyone that M&S would be the Canadian home to Sarah Waters new book. The word “elated” comes to mind. I was jumping up and down with excitement to read the book. Then some weird things happened.
- The manuscript came out… I didn’t read it.
- The advanced reading copies came out… I didn’t read it.
- The BOOK came out… I didn’t read it.
So now here we are… present day and I still haven’t read the new Sarah Waters book!? What is wrong with me. Everyone I know that has read it says it’s brilliant and even without having read it, I know that they’re right. So I’m making a point to get it together and finally read The Paying Guests in 2015. Let’s all do it together? Okay? Good. I like knowing that we’re in the same boat.
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee – I like to call Chang-Rae Lee’s book, “the Sia book.” Not because the artist Sia had any affiliation with the book, but doesn’t the cover look like the dancer in Sia’s hit song Chandelier? Anyway… see how quickly I get off track? On Such a Full Sea,
takes Chang-Rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.
Typically, I’m not a huge fan of futuristic, imaginative worlds, but after finally reading the Harry Potter series this year, I’m now more interested in reading this particular genre. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this book and I’m sad I missed it this year. Thank goodness, I finally own a copy and can start reading it ASAP.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – Originally I had no idea that this book was a graphic novel. I kept seeing Mariko Tamaki’s book popping up all over my regularly circulated book websites and I thought the cover was pretty fantastic, but had yet to pick up a copy. It wasn’t until my friend Anne purchased a copy of the book that I had a chance to browse through it. The art and the use of only three colours to tell this heartbreaking story about a girl on the cusp of teenage hood. As someone who always enjoys a good graphic novel and young adult novel every once in awhile, I’m surprised I didn’t rip it out of Anne’s hands right then and there. BUT sinceI adore my pal and it wasn’t my book, I didn’t take it.. I swear, I’m a really nice person. As I sat compiling this list, I started to remember how much I longed to read this book. Now if Anne would just get back from Thailand, I could borrow her copy and we’d be in business.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Ready to hate me? I know you might after you read this. This year, I had to the absolute pleasure of meeting the incomparable David Mitchell and let me tell you, he’s everything you think he’s going to be. He was witty, charming, funny and gracious. He was in town to promote The Bone Clocks and he took a few minutes to answer some Twitter questions that had been submitted (it’s worth checking out here) and I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that on the day he came in, I was not having a good day. I don’t remember why and I’m sure it’s irrelevant now, but I just remember having a pretty crappy morning and then David Mitchell walked in the room. His sense of humour, his appreciation and his charm was the reminder I needed about how lucky and fortunate I am to get to work in an industry that allows me the opportunity to meet people named “one of the Time Magazine‘s most influential people”, although, Mitchell was quick to point out that in the grand scheme of things, he’s not even the most influential person in his house. I have such fond memories of that day and I’m sure I’d continue my David Mitchell love fest if I read The Bone Clocks, I just haven’t read it… yet. Every one I know has called it a masterpiece and are determined that it will one day be made into a film, but I haven’t read it. I’m not sure if I consciously chose not to read it or I was intimidated by it’s size (it rounds in at a nice 624 pages), but I just haven’t. This is another that I don’t want to put off too long. I think when it comes out in paperback, I’ll make a point of finding an empty Sunday and finally dive in.
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti – My cousin Joanna is really into fashion and I think she has a real future in the industry, so when she came to visit, it made perfect sense to hand her over my copy of Sheila Heti’s Women in Clothes. According to its description, the “book is unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.”
Now I’ll be perfectly honest and share with you that I have zero fashion sense. Sometimes I dread getting out of bed, because putting an outfit together seems so intimidating, so it might make little sense to you why this book would be included in this list. BUT I got to meet Sheila Heti this fall and not only was she spunky and full of life, but she made me want to obtain a copy of her book and really understand the essence of clothing; the why’s, what’s and how’s in our clothing decisions. You never know, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two if I read this beautiful book.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG – Any book description that starts with the sentence, “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .” makes me perk up a little bit. Celeste NG’s book was another book that just kept popping up everywhere. I hadn’t heard much about it and then poof, everyone and their dog was reading this book. I can see why though. The description continues to read, “When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.” It just sounds like the perfect book club read. I plan on suggesting this one and I’ll be sure to bring oodles of wine and cheese so we can really examine the Lee family.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriatry – I had to end the list with the cover that most made me stop in my tracks this year. Seriously. Have you ever seen a cover look as stunning as Liane Moriatry’s Big Little Lies? Here’s a quote from Entertainment Weekly,
The secrets burrowed in this seemingly placid small town…are so suburban noir they would make David Lynch clap with glee…[Moriarty] is a fantastically nimble writer, so sure-footed that the book leaps between dark and light seamlessly; even the big reveal in the final pages feels earned and genuinely shocking.
From the sounds of it, the cover isn’t the only thing that’s intriguing about this fantastic looking book!
There you have it friends, I’ve revealed my reading skeletons with you and gave you a glimpse at some of the books I didn’t get around to reading this year. Like I said in my introduction, books don’t go bad. Well I guess, technically, they do get musty smelling, but in my humble opinion, that’s half their charm. I will eventually tackle all the books I’ve listed above, but in the interim, I’d love it if you shared with me the books you’ve read in this list that I should start with first. I’d also love to hear the books you didn’t read (but really wanted to) in the year 2014.