Five Favorite Reads of 2014

I'm embarrassed by how little I've managed to read this year. But I really ought to be kinder to myself, given I was enormously pregnant during a long summer in a vigorous teaching program, and then, you know, I had a baby. But I'm no good at taking it easy on myself, which is why I've already finished two books this month and am working on a third. You're likely to hear about both when I share my favorite reads of 2015, because, so good.

Yet, there were a few gems among my too-few reads of 2014.

The Girl With All the GiftsThe standout favorite for the year was easily The Girl With All the Gifts, which I can't hardly say a thing about without spoiling the early reveal. Needless to say, it takes a genre that I thought didn't have much more to offer in a brilliant direction. It's gruesome and fantastically imagined and heart-achingly lovely. If you read anything I read this past year, read this. Because I want to talk to you about it.

I have a love-hate relationship with The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, because while I am utterly enamored with the premise and the world Emily Croy Barker so painstakingly creates, she needed an editor. Badly. Possibly a machete. And as much as I was willing to float along when the narrative slowed, there was very little payoff at the book's end. I was as livid to learn there would be more after reading for so long assuming I'd get some closure as I was salivating at the prospect of more. I guess that means it's a winner?

BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette was a bizarre, clever romp I would never have picked up for myself and that's why I'm so glad I read with some gals who have such good taste. The fact that the author wrote for Arrested Development isn't surprising, but unlike many - and possibly all - of the Bluths, the quirky characters that populate this novel have real heart, in addition to being delightfully off-kilter. It's like Portlandia meets Gilmore Girls.

Gidion's Hunt is The Lost Boys film I actually wanted. Bill Blume's narrator is genuine and genuinely likeable, not even just for a teenage boy, and there's some real bite to this vampire yarn. He tells me he's editing the sequel, and I'm trying to be the polite writerly friend and not say, Gimme.

LongbournWhile I was a little fearful of reading Longbourn and sullying forever my love of Pride & Prejudice, I can now heartily recommend it to anyone who wants more from their Austen-inspired work than just more shirtless Darcy (though that's cool, too). The intimacy in Longbourn is of a different kind, but no less tantalizing. I was fascinated from a historical perspective as well as a literary one. I also liked getting more reasons to despise Wickham.

So, there you have it. What did you read this year, and how many nights of good sleep did you miss reading it?