Thursday, January 1, 2015
Honorable Mention: Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. This is a story that touches you to your core. Tess Durbeyfield is probably the most real character in all of the stories I read this year. She is sad, beautiful, strong, vulnerable, and brave. She is a victim of her times and yet in the end she manages to rise above it all. This isn't a story that will leave you smiling, but it also won't leave you the same.
#5: Night by Elie Wiesel. This is another story that will change you. Wiesel's account of his family's experience in the Holocaust is painful, horrifying, and raw. Watching these people be systematically stripped of their humanity is difficult, but it is necessary. The ultimate tragedy would be for us to turn away from theses victims' stories and to forget what atrocities the human race is capable of.
#4: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. This was my second Agatha Christie novel and there is no disputing that she is one of the best (if not the best) crime writer ever. While the stories happen in the most peaceful and idyllic of settings, they are filled with a suspense that is almost palpable. This particular story is fast paced and intriguing, and the ending (though a little convenient) is one you won't see coming.
#3: The Black Count by Tom Reiss. This story of Alexandre Dumas' father and the inspiration for characters like the Count of Monte Cristo was spectacular. I was hooked from the very beginning and I learned so much. It covers not only the story of General Dumas' life, but also slavery and race relations in 18th century France as well as one of the best overall accounts of the French Revolution that I have ever read. It's a shame that it took so long for this story to be told.
#2: Richard III by William Shakespeare. Of all of the Shakespeare plays that I have read, this one stands out as my overall favorite. It has a gripping story, immortal lines, and one of literature's best non-heroes. Richard is one of the most intriguing characters I have ever come across and you can certainly see his influence in our own modern storytelling. If you don't read any other Shakespeare history play, make it this one.
#1: Lila by Marilynne Robinson. Of all of the modern writers that I have read, none has touched me quite like Marilynne Robinson. This is the third book in her Gilead series and it was everything that I hoped it would be. We get a look at the past of the series' most intriguing character, and we see how love and grace given freely can change a person's life forever.
Yes, 2014 was a terrific year in my reading life and I am so excited for what I'm going to read in 2015. Here is a look at what I have planned for the first part of this year:
- Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
- A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway
- Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
- Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
- The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
What was your favorite read of 2014? What big plans do you have for 2015? Share with us. And happy New Year!