a year in good reads

You can’t be a good writer without being a voracious reader, and I take the book stack on my bedside table seriously. I find there’s practically no better way to overcome writer’s block than to pick up a book and lose yourself in its pages. Love the book or hate it, there is inspiration to be found in other people’s words. In fact, I so disliked one recently read book (which I will not mention because I do not want to author-bash) that I just had to get back to the computer and write because if that book got published, surely mine stands a chance.

Anyway, 2014 was undeniably a good year for reading enthusiasts. My absolute favorite book of the year was ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. This book is an achingly beautiful interwoven tale of a blind French girl and young Nazi boy during World War II. I can’t even begin to do it justice with a plot description so just take my word for it and put it on your Christmas list now. And I mean, now now.

A close second was STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel. I picked a good time (shortly after the Ebola panic subsided) to read this novel about the end of most of humanity due to a highly contagious flu. Contrary to what you might think, there is nothing about this book that is hysteria-inducing. In fact, the death of ninety-nine percent of humans is very matter of fact; it’s how the remaining one percent connect to each other as they move on with life, love, religion and the arts that sucks you in and leaves you turning page after page, well past a reasonable bedtime hour.

EUPHORIA by Lily King and A LIFE IN MEN by Gina Frangello (both profiled in my summer reading list) rank in my top five, and rounding out the top is REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS by debut novelist Bret Anthony Johnson. This heart wrenching account of the upheaval a family endures after their kidnapped son is found and returned to them left me sleepless and teary. Okay, maybe that doesn’t make you want to run out and grab a copy, but you should.

As the last days of December tick down, I’m sad there are still so many books on my TBR list that I won’t get to before 2015 and its slate of offerings. EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng, THE CHILDREN ACT by Ian McEwan, and THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters would all be great finds under my Christmas tree and would quickly jump to the top of the pile of books currently awaiting my eyes.