What’s the Best Book You Read in 2014?

With December here, the 2014 To Be Read Pile Challenge is coming to a close. This is my favorite reading challenge as it stresses reading books you already own. Like so many writers, I have a book buying problem. I love bookstores and even when I’m shopping in a place like Target, I have to peruse the book aisles. I just love books!

What that leads to is multiple shelves of books that I haven’t read yet because I’m always buying more or renting some from the library or listening to ones on audiobook.

Unread books

The To Be Read Pile Challenge focuses on reading 12 books that have been sitting on your shelf for more than a year in one year’s time. You’re also allowed to pick 2 alternates in case one of the books you choose is impossible to get through.

This year I read all my 12 and one alternate! (And I just looked at my Goodreads shelves – I read 40 books total this year! Hoping to finish the two in my sidebar before 2015 as well.)

What were the final 2 books I completed for the TBR Pile?


Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

I hate to admit I did not really like this one. But here’s the honest scoop. I think Jen Lancaster is a great writer! She is funny and witty and has a great writer’s voice.

I think the problem for me was that I could not identify with her in this book. Bitter is the New Black is Jen’s memoir about having it all – six figure salary, name brand clothes, posh apartment, all the witty comebacks and snide comments one can muster. Then she loses everything, and has to learn how to budget, shop less, and live less extravagantly.

I didn’t grow up or ever achieve a six figure lifestyle, so I’ll be honest and say the most bitter person in this book, was ME, the reader. I had a poor attitude reading Jen’s story because I couldn’t handle her complaining about loss when it seemed she didn’t appreciate what she had for so long.

Bitter party of one! I admit I wasn’t in a mindset to appreciate this book like I could. Sorry Jen!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Bookworms will love this paranormal read by Deborah Harkness! Diana Bishop is a researcher at Oxford, who haphazardly uncovers a book that is filled with all the secrets of the magic world – vampires, demons, and witches. Now, all those creatures are showing up in the library and everywhere else Diana roams.

With the help of a tall, dark and handsome vampire named Matthew, Diana must discover the secrets of the book before the others do.

I liked this one. It’s an interesting spin on how the worlds of paranormal creatures intertwine. And there’s a historical element to it because Diana is descendant from Elizabeth Bishop of the Salem Witch Trials.

Anyone read the next one in this series?


I want to know what your favorite book(s) you read this year was!

When I look back at my list, I had books that I hated (One Thousand White Women), I had a few classics I completed (Anne of Green Gables, Mansfield Park, Rebecca), and I had books I loved (The Night Circus, Official Book Club Selection, Love With a Chance of Drowning).

But my favorite book I read this year was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

A young adult novel by genre, this book is phenomenal for any audience. It won the National Book Award – and BONUS* it’s one of the most banned books of all time! (Shhh – it talks about masturbation. hehehehe)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of Junior, an American Indian growing up on a reservation who takes a risk and attends the all white school in the next town.

I learned so much from this book. I think it should be required reading for students. It talks about race – yes – but it does it from the voice of a high school student – with honesty about both sides.

It talks about poverty and the downward spirals that poverty fosters – alcoholism, abuse, depression. Still, Junior is able to show us these things with some sense of humor and humility.

Get the book if you can. I read this one via audiobook which I loved, because the author reads it and I so appreciate hearing any story about a different culture in the voice of a native speaker, but if you get the book there are really fun cartoon drawings in it because that’s how Junior makes sense of his world, through drawing.

I cannot speak highly enough about this book. I didn’t want it to end. It was so good. And I learned so much.


What was the best book(s) you read in 2014?
What titles will you be putting on your 2015 To Read Pile list?

Exciting news! Adam from Roof Beam Reader has kicked off the sign up for the 6th annual To Be Read Pile Challenge this 2015, so be sure to create your must read list and sign up!

24 responses

  1. Best book this year for me hands down: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    Runner up: Smoke by Ellen Hopkins
    I adore Ellen Hopkins use of verse. If you’ve never picked up one of her books, take the time in 2015!
    My 2015 book list is enormous — both the virtual list and the three stacks I keep tripping over in my closet. I’ve asked for a Hermione Granger time turner for Christmas!

    1. You’ve talked about Eleanor and Park before and I know I’ve picked it up. I need to read that one.

      And I hear ya on the exponentially growing lists! I have a kindle queue and a book stack!

  2. Catherine Johnson | Reply

    I guess with that bitter one she’s all messagey about appreciating what you’ve got, but books have to be entertaining first, then have some level of empathy (like my zombie one (just kidding;)) I keep forgetting to read Eleanor & Park. Glad I came here. My favorite book this year is Eric Hill’s memoir, How to Stick a Dart in Your Head, it’s absolutely hilarious! And his wife is the lovely and talented children’s author Susanna Hill.

    1. What a title! Sounds like something I’d like! Thanks Catherine!

  3. This is a totally unfair question! I’ve read so many, and LOTS of them were really good. I started out the year writing down every book I read, but then I kept forgetting, and soon I wasn’t doing it anymore. Let me think….

    There were two really good books by an author who was totally new to me, Paul Draker. The books were New Year Island and Pyramid Lake. They were gritty and full of all kinds of horror, and I absolutely loved them.

    As for a book I couldn’t finish? American Gods by Neil Gaiman. My son loved it and recommended it. It bored me to tears!

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I have to bring a new title to book club for next year and I’m supposed to find a genre we haven’t read yet – so horror might work! I will look up Paul Draker for sure!

    2. P.S. WHY aren’t you on Goodreads? You know you can log all your books you’ve read and want to read there! That’s the main thing I use it for. Just logging all my book titles.

      Yes, some write mean reviews – it has its trolls – but overall I love the site.

  4. I started reading the follow up to A Discovery of Witches but couldn’t get into it. I’m going to give it another go in the new year. Favourite book of the year probably has to go to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

    1. I love the Outlander series, too. It seemed like I had been waiting forever for it to show up on TV. They’ve done a good job so far on Starz!

    2. I still haven’t seen Outlander! 😦 I need to see that show and read the book!

      (Don’t think I’ll grab the sequel to Witches right away either. But I did like the book.)

  5. Hmm. It’s much easier for me to make “best music” lists. Ironic, since I’m a writer and a freakin’ author myself.


    This year I discovered Robert Pobi, for one. “Mannheim Rex” was good, and “Bloodman” even better. A bit gory, but the writing is very good considering the genre. I also enjoyed Hugh Howey’s “Wool Omnibus (The Silo Series).” Kind of like an underground “Hunger Games” (which, come to think of it, sort of describes “Mockingjay” anyway). “Joyland” by Stephen King was a real treat, as was Joe Hill’s “Horns” and “NOS4A2” (admittedly I am only 53% finished as of today, but it’s grabbed my interest fiercely). Like father, like son, I guess. On the nonfiction front, “The Lost City of Z: a Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” was both captivating and thrilling.

    1. Joyland peaked my interest. I’d love to check that one out. And Doctor Sleep. But – and don’t yell at me – I have to read The Shining first.

      You should check out Night Film. It’s a creepy thriller about an investigative reporter who’s obsessed with tracking a story about a cult film horror director. And what’s cooler is that the book is a digital media book so there are things inside it you can scan and unlock online for more insights into the director’s world. Creeeeeeepy!


        1. I said don’t yell!!!!

          Now kindly take your pounding fists away from my blogspace. You can return once you’re calm again. 😛

  6. I keep hearing about “Eleanor & Park” – I really need to read that! The best book I read this year was “Code Name: VERITY” by Elizabeth Weins.

    I’m currently on a gorge-fest with historical romance author Courtney Milan. She writes very engaging characters and everyone ISN’T a duke or earl. My fluffy reading of choice is historical romance.

    1. LOL. “Everyone isn’t a duke or an earl.” True dat.

      Thanks for the book ideas!

  7. Your post is a stark reminder to me that I did not finish a single book yet in 2014. Not even one. I have time to fix that, right?

    1. You have the month of December to read something Eli! Get to the library or sift through that TBR pile!

      1. Does it count if I’ve read it before?

  8. I just read Station Eleven and LOVED it!!! I also loved The Rosie Project and many more, but those two stand out.

    1. I just added both of those to my goodreads queue last night!

  9. I see you have lots of books to read Jess. 2014 is not over yet! lol! I have read a ton of books this year. But I’d have to say the two I enjoyed most was “Five Days in Skye” by Carla Laureano and “Place in His Heart”, a historical novel by Rebecca DeMarino which was based on her family back in the mid 1600’s as they settled in the Americas. 🙂

    1. I do like historical fiction and it’s been awhile since I’ve read any. Thanks for these new author recommendations, Karen!

      And be honest, your list to read is just as big as mine!

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