2014 Superlatives (Book Edition)

Favorite book/best book: ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr
runner up: ‘White Oleander’ by Janet Finch

I read both of these books for book club. Coincidence?

Best Ending: ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan
Worst Ending: ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Piccoult

Talk about a letdown. I adored ‘The Storyteller’ until the last ten pages. UGH.

Best YA: The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress) by Marissa Meyer

I feel like I’m the only one of my friends that has read this series and that needs to change right now. I myself wasn’t interested in the books based on the covers, but oh holy cow I’m so glad Cinder was the deal of the day at the iBooks store because that’s the only reason I downloaded it. I then proceeded to stay up all night to read it. I just love Cinder, I love her chemistry with Kai, and I love the world Marissa Meyer built. It’s the most enjoyable read an the equivalent to eating a big chocolate cake. Plus, they are fairytale retellings, and I love the twists she puts in there. The final book, Winter, cannot get here soon enough.

Most Challenging, and therefore Most Rewarding: ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace
Most Challenging, and not at all rewarding: ‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo

Sorry, Victor, but I don’t need to know THAT many details about France’s plumbing system in the 19th century.

Book that Made Me a Better Person: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It was just a beautiful book and everyone should go read it and then watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s two awesome TED Talks; We Should All Be Feminists and The Power of A Single Story.

Best Narrative NonFiction: ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand

Best Nonfiction: ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg

Both super fascinating and hard to put down!

Best Graphic Novel: ‘Blankets’ by Craig Thompson

Best Atwood: ‘Year of the Flood’ by Margaret Atwood
Best Atwood Impersonation: ‘The Girl in the Road’ by Monica Byrne

Favorite Shakespeare: MacBeth

Best Classic: ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
runners up: ‘All the King’s Men’ by Robert Penn Warren
‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley 

Best Historical Fiction: ‘The Aviator’s Wife’ by Melanie Benjamin

Charles Lindenberg was kind of an asshole and also kind of a Nazi. You learn something new every day.

Most Enjoyable: ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline

80s references everywhere! It was so much fun to read. Could it be a movie now, please?

Most Heartbreaking: ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ by John Boyne

All I did was sob.

Biggest Surprise: A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

Biggest Disappointment: ‘Shatter Me’ by Tahereh Mafi 
runner up: ‘Spook’ by Mary Roach 

‘Shatter Me’ was just too much for me to handle. Everyone on the internet loves the author, and she seems cool, but I wasn’t impressed by her work. And I know Mary Roach is better than ‘Spook’ which had so much potential and was really just boring after the first two chapters.

Best Memoir: ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed 
runner up: ‘A House in the Sky’ by Amanda Linkhout

Both memoirs were thought-provoking and, at times, heartbreaking. Both of the leads are two complex examples of strength, which I loved.

Things I Loved in 2014 (that weren’t books)

With the closing of another year, the internet is inundated with ‘Best of’ lists. I tried to steer clear of posting one of these for a while, but the enormous amount of downtime on my Christmas break has lead to me crafting some end of year posts, as well as one that looks ahead to 2015.

I read a lot of books, but that’s for another post. Here I’m going to talk about the non-bookish things that I became totally obsessed with this year. Here are those five fun things:

Chris Evans’ movies (and his arms) 

Two of my favorite movies this year both had one thing in common: Chris Evans. He started out his year really strong with his reappearance as Captain America, but I’ll get to that. What really took me aback was his film Snowpiercer.

Directed by a South Korean revelation by the name of Bong-Ho, Snowpiercer is the story of an uprising on a train…the train where the rest of civilization resides post-some-huge-apocolyptic-event. It has a stellar cast and Chris Evans is one of the leads. He’s gritty and raw and real and as I was watching it (it’s gripping as a visual art as well) a siren went off in my head. Chris Evans isn’t just a pretty face, the dude can act.

He doesn’t get to stretch himself the same way in Captain America, but he’s a compelling force that holds the screen and your attention in what is so far the best movie to come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reason it’s so freaking good is the directors treated it like a 1970s spy thriller with a dash of Argo and comic book action sequences. Plus, the title of the movie is taken from a poem and has multiple meanings. This appeals to my inner nerd in multiple ways.  Chris Evans in those tight suits and kicking the ass of twenty bad guys in an elevator appeals to my ovaries in multiple ways. All sides of me win on this one.

“1989” by Taylor Swift

I have a confession to make—I am a Taylor Swift fan. I tried to keep my unabashed love for her on the down-lo for a while because for some reason I felt guilty liking her. Well, I don’t feel guilty anymore. With the release of “1989,” arguably my favorite album of 2014, I felt all shame slip away. I love Taylor Swift. There, I said it. Her music just speaks to me. This album lets me indulge in every emotion, from wanderlust in “Welcome to New York” to nostalgia and longing and love in “Wildest Dreams” to optimistic romanticism in “How You Get the Girl” and catty vengefulness in “Blank Space.” “Clean” is just a great song, and the one I relate to most. I’ve cried at more than one song more than once and I have no qualms admitting it here on the internet. It’s just a great album and T. Swift herself is great.

Murder Mysteries 

I probably shouldn’t revel in the deaths of others, but boy did I discover a love for mysteries this year. I’ve always liked them (underneath all the wands and potions, the Harry Potter series are a bunch of whodunits), but this year I’ve been absorbed by them in various formata. I binged True Detective, which was great, and Top of the Lake, which is EVEN BETTER. My friend Katie got me into Sherlock, I became obsessed with the podcast Serial, and I’m slowly making my way through the Swedish version of The Killing (it’s good even if I have to read it) and I’m about to start the TV version of Fargo. On top of all of this I put lots of great mysteries on my TBR and I’m anxiously awaiting all of Broadchurch (the UK version, hello David Tennant!) to be available. I’ve had some pretty weird dreams, but my sleuthing skills are getting better.

Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon

I once again have my friend Katie to thank for introducing me to Reese’s instagram. This is where my newfound respect for this Hollywood badass started. First of all, her pictures are adorable, and she has such refined, beautiful taste. Second, it’s a great glimpse into what an awesome mom and person she is. She truly cares about stuff! She’s also a savvy businesswoman, something I really admire. She was one of the producers of Gone Girl and she’s the anchor of Wild which was just heartbreaking and lovely. She works on projects she is passionate about and it shows in their quality. In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, she said that her production company wants to focus on lead women who are complex. It’s a wild idea for Tinseltown, but I’m down! I plan on fully supporting her.

To top it all off, Reese was a joke on The Mindy Project which is the only show that keeps me consistently laughing with it’s clever, timely jokes and hilarious asides. The captain of that ship is Mindy Kaling, another awesome lady who I stalk on social media. Mindy is funny and fashionable. She’s smart and she likes things like the Kardashians and Edith Wharton. She carries herself so well and she had the most hilarious story about the recent Nobel Peace Prize Winner. I can’t say enough good things. Are there people out there who don’t like Mindy Kaling?

My dream for 2015 is to have lunch with Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon. Maybe you can come, Katie.

A Really Late November Book Haul

Oh my goodness, I have been quiet lately! I have good reason to be (which I’ll go into more detail later), but for now let me just say I’ve missed my little corner here on the internet.

That being said, I have been doing lots of reading, and less purchasing of books. My TBR cabinet (when I included audio and e-books), clocked in at exactly 100 books which is WAY TOO MUCH. Like seriously, it’s a sickness. I’m starting to envy people who don’t have TBR lists at all. I dream of the day…

Too make myself feel like less of a horrible, materialistic person, I put myself on a book buying ban of sorts. Basically I can only buy a book after I read five out of the TBR cabinet. I want to keep myself on this ban until I get myself down to 20 books.

These were my last purchases before the ban, and they were three good ones. Check them out below.

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From left to right they are…

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood-A bleak short story collection about being in the “winter” of one’s life. Marge is one of my favorite authors, both alive and dead. We read this for book club and I enjoyed it.

Middlemarch by George Eliot- It’s the ‘E’ of the Penguin Drop Caps collection, it’s yellow, and it’s on my list of 100 Books to read before I turn 30. Those were all the reasons I needed to buy it.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler- Because she’s one half of my favorite duo. The book is super colorful and it seems like a less serious read.

Just three little books, though I’m sure I’ll be back in December with even more since it’s the holidays. Until next time (which should be soon since school is out in 2.5 days!), I’m out.