Last year was not the best of reading years for me. For five months of it I was on medication that completely sapped my ability to concentrate. (I’m now off of ALL medication! Woo hoo!) Once I got my mind back, my husband got a new job working in various northern states. And then we bought a house. And had to move into said house, which was exciting and exhausting at the same time. So, 2014 was the year of rereads and fan-fiction when I needed an escape. However, I still managed to read a few wonderful, new-to-me books before the year’s end. Here are my top ten picks:
10. Starflower (Tales of the Goldstone Wood #4)
By Anne Elisabeth Stengl
This was a fun little Christian fantasy. Stengl crafted a lovely world full of sunshine and shadows, and her take on dragons is one of the most interesting I’ve ever come across. And Starflower herself is a super cool heroine. I’m trying to stay completely free of spoilers here, so I’m going to stop. This book and the rest of the series are great winter reads.
9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
By Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s stories are always interesting. Often when I close his books, I don’t know quite how I feel about what I just read. But I loved this book, making it my second favorite of his next to American Gods. Where American Gods was gritty, this book was absolutely gorgeous. Gaiman articulated everything I felt during childhood in lines so lovely that the pages blurred.
8. One Thousand Gifts
By Ann Voskamp
I don’t do nonfiction. If I’m going to read, I want a story that lets me escape, the more fantastical the world the better. But Voskamp has such an interesting, unique way with words that I couldn’t stop reading. Her writing was thought-provoking and profound in its focus on the mundane. I enjoyed it even when it made me uncomfortable.
7. The Shadow of the Wind
By Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Incredibly pretty. I love books that are odes to books, and this one is my current favorite. Through Zafón’s writing and Graves’s translation, reality became magical. Read my review here.
6. Outlaw/ Water Walker/ Hacker
By Ted Dekker
Yes, this is cheating. No, I don’t feel bad about it. The Outlaw Chronicles, of which the afore-mentioned books are three, seem incredibly original to me. I felt like Dekker had lost his edge for a while. I still bought every book he published, but some of his more recent stuff fell flat for me. However, The Outlaw Chronicles and the preceding Books of Mortals trilogy restored my faith in him. The four published books of The Outlaw Chronicles are all so different from one another, which makes them even more fun. Hacker in particular was a really interesting read.
5. Dear Mr. Knightley
By Katherine Reay
This book was adorable. Yes, I realize it’s pretty much just a modernization of Daddy Long-Legs, but I loved it anyway. I related to the main character’s bookishness and her reasons behind her love for books so much it was a little scary. It was predictable, but the story was told so well that it didn’t matter. Dear Mr. Knightley made me cry, but it mostly made me happy. It’s tied with The Perks of Being a Wallflower for my favorite story told through letters.
4. The Rook (The Checquy Files #1)
By Daniel O’Malley
Best opening of any book ever. It’s a mashup of things I love (X-Men, 007, the X-Files), done in a way where the story somehow manages to be completely original. Read my review here.
3. The Princess Bride
By William Goldman
The Princess Bride has been one of my favorite movies for over a decade. So, how had I never read the book behind the film?! I supposed I had always assumed that, even though I generally like books better than the movies they inspire, The Princess Bride was just so perfect as a movie that I didn’t want to risk not loving its origin. I shouldn’t have worried; Goldman’s book was absolutely delightful. I still love the movie, though. It will always be my and Chris’s Valentine flick.
2. A Storm of Swords
By George R. R. Martin
I read A Game of Thrones a couple of years back after my brother read the entire (published) A Song of Ice and Fire series and wouldn’t stop talking about them. I loved it, but I just didn’t have the time to devote to reading the other books in a series that large. As soon as I got off my meds last year and was able to start thinking again, I decided that, as my time had been freed up, I would give ASoIaF another go. I reread A Game of Thrones and loved it even more the second time. A Clash of Kings and A Feast for Crows were both amazing as well (A Feast of Crows gets too much criticism and not nearly enough love, in my opinion), but A Storm of Swords is my favorite book of the series thus far. So action packed! I plan to read A Dance with Dragons sometime soon.
1. The Name of the Wind
By Patrick Rothfuss
As much as I enjoyed the other books I read last year, The Name of the Wind is the best book I’ve ever read. EVER. I loved it more than Harry Potter. Since 5th grade, I have loved NOTHING more than Harry Potter. I reread them every year. A giant painting of Hogwarts is hanging in my foyer. I’m wearing Ravenclaw socks as I type this. I adore Harry Potter. But Kvothe has usurped him. Which isn’t surprising as the series is entitled The Kingkiller Chronicle. Kvothe is more real to me than most real people that I’ve met. He’s the most interesting man in the world, even though he’s fictional. Rothfuss is the most competent crafter of words I have ever read. His writing is stunning. I’ve been evangelical in my desire for others to read this book. That being said, if you read no other book in 2015, read The Name of the Wind. Your brain will thank you.
There’s my list! Have you read any other these? What were your favorite books last year?