Best books lists are a deeply flawed concept in a lot of ways. Reading’s not the priciest hobby, but buying a great number of new books, particularly the ones with buzz you inevitably hear about and must consider, takes a good deal of expenditure. Even if you buy tons of books, you need the time to read them — and there are always many you don’t get to. Comparing this book and that book is a fallacy anyway, because every person’s POV is different – and is effected by the person’s age, identity, situation and the circumstances around that particular read. It’s a fool’s game.
However, it’s also – and to me, this is the important bit – fun.
For me, these lists are really a starting place. A chance to open the conversation. And all the above, all the holes in the endeavour, perform a critical function: piercing the seriousness of it. After all, if there are so many things keeping these lists from meaning anything, they can mean whatever you like!
And I like it that way.
This was the first year probably since highschool where I read a long list of books, particularly fresh ones. One of the ways I got myself back into reading, and keep my momentum going, is my addiction to check marks — personified here by GoodReads, a service that lets me track books read and even pages read. I offered myself a reading challenge, upped it three times throughout the year, then surpassed it anyway. It has been a good year for me and books.
And one of the things that’s shaped my habits – buying, reading, etc. – is the idea of doing one of these delightful end of year Best of lists. To be honest, I’ve always envied the people who read enough to give 5, 10, 15 books worth reading that are less than a year old, and who are excited to talk about them. Finally, I get the chance.
Since the beginning of last year, I read 27 books published in 2014. And here are the 10 that most impressed me…
- The Flight of the Silvers (Daniel Price)
- The Martian (Andy Weir)
- The Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer)
- California (Edan Lepucki)
- Red Rising (Pierce Brown)
- Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)
- Landline (Rainbow Rowell)
- Ancillary Sword (Ann Leckie)
- Orfeo (Richard Powers)
- Otherbound (Corinne Duyvis)
Honourable Mentions: Marshlands (Matthew Olshan), Yes Please (Amy Poehler), The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Claire North), A Hero At the End of the World (Erin Claiborne), Animals (Emma Jane Unsworth), The Blonde (Anna Godbersen).
Unfinished Contenders: The Mirror Empire (Kameron Hurley), The Book of Strange New Things (Michel Faber), Of Bone and Thunder (Chris Evans).