sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 27, 2016

my favorite books of 2014
posted by soe 3:02 am

I locked myself out of my site again last night and couldn’t get back in until this evening, so will be giving you an additional post sometime this weekend to make up for the missed one.

I was looking through my draft folder hoping to find a half-finished set of book reviews. Alas, they all require more work than that. However, I found this partially composed list of my favorite books from 2014, so I thought I’d share it, since they’re all out in softcover now, should you be looking for a reasonably priced gift for someone:

The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez: A collection of linked stories about immigrants from South and Central America who live in an apartment building in Delaware. Some are here legally, some illegally, but all of them are looking for a better life and having mixed results in finding it.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin: I picked up this book expecting a graphic novel and instead found a non-fiction book detailing a shameful incident in our nation’s military history. The outrage you feel for the men of Port Chicago will keep you turning these pages and will stay with you long after you’ve passed the final one. This book was the one that I kept walking up to people wanting to talk about. Give this to the person who keeps responding that “All lives matter” to help them understand or to the person who is sparked by righteous fury.

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd: The 11-year-old main character of this book is a collector of words (the best of them end up inscribed on her sneakers); her best friend is a boy who likes to do good deeds. They live in a Tennessee mountain town full of quirky residents and an ice cream factory, and once was was home to magic and music. Word lovers of all ages should pick up this middle-grade novel.

Landline, by Rainbow Rowell: A middle-aged tv script writer and her BFF get their big break, but it’ll require she work through Christmas and miss celebrating the holidays with her daughters and long-suffering husband at his family’s home — and possibly destroy her marriage. When she decides to stay at her own childhood home for a few days (it’s closer to work), she discovers that the phone she’d used all those years ago is giving her the opportunity to reacquaint herself with that past. A must-read for those of us who are in long-term relationships.

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman: If the idea of dragons living as human scholars of mathematics and music in a castle setting doesn’t interest you, do not bother reading this book.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein: Kyle loves games of all sorts, so when his hero, a local eccentric who’s made billions inventing games and who’s put some of that money into reopening the town library, creates a Willy Wonka-like contest for its dedication, Kyle knows he wants to be amongst the competitors. An enjoyable read for fans of games, books, Roald Dahl, and tech.

Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell: A baby found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck is adopted by one of her fellow survivors, a solitary man. When the welfare folks come poking around years later and threaten to send her to be raised in a more suitable environment, the two of them run away to Paris — she to look for her mother and he to keep her a while longer. Beautifully written.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin: A curmudgeonly bookseller receives an unexpected gift that changes his life. It’s cheesy and you see the second half of the book telegraphed within the first, but you don’t care. Highly recommended for book lovers.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes: I loved this memoir and how they got pretty much everyone involved to share sidebars. If your life is punctuated by quotations from this film, read it!

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson: A middle-grade verse memoir about growing up black in South Carolina and New York City in the 1960s and ’70s. Even if you think you don’t like verse novels, check this one out.

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver: A woman living at the foot of West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains makes a disturbing discovery — the woods around her house are suddenly awash with thousands of brilliant butterflies. This book combines discussions of climate change and personal growth and offers a look at working class farmers just holding on and how both of those things affect them. I find Kingsolver to be a must-read pretty much all the time.

(Yes, I recognize that’s 11, rather than 10. I’d had nine on the list when I originally composed it nearly two years ago, and upon reflection, I probably would have replaced one of the items on the list with another. Since that didn’t seem emotionally honest, I thought I’d just expand the list to include them all.)

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