2014; A Reading Year in Review

Happy new year, book lovers! I hope you had a wonderful NYE and that you’re not hung over. I characteristically did nothing but read to celebrate NYE, it’s too expensive (and tiring) to do otherwise.

2014 was a mellow year, I focused on working hard and saving money – there haven’t been as many highs as there have lows, but all round it’s been a fine year and a great year for reading.

Much like 2013 and 2012 I have discovered many wonderful books. However, unlike its preceding years there were few books that really blew my mind. The more I read the harder I am finding it to be impressed.

I have read 101 books this year, including one I couldn’t finish and a re-read. That is 13 more books than 2013 and 40 more than 2012. Considering I didn’t expect to read more than 50 books I’m fairly impressed with myself, I must really have avoided social situations to have read this much. I am hoping for a more eventful 2015, so I doubt I’ll have another 100 book year.


I gave 25 books a five-star rating on GoodReads, two more than 2013. However, considering how many more books I read in 2014 I consider this is a lower percentage than both 2013 and 2012.

In chronological order, my five-star books were:

  1. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Some Hope by Edward St. Aubyn
  3. A Good School by Richard Yates
    “Never say anything that doesn’t improve on silence.”
  4. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
    “How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”
  5. Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  7. Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
    “What a pull he has! What a magnetism! Women jump off balconies and follow him into wars. Women turn their eyes from an affair, because a marriage of three is better than a woman alone.”
  8. Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  9. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
  10. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
  11. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
  12. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    “That life – whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”
  13. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  14. Precious Thing by Colette McBeth
  15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    “Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.”
  16. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
  17. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
  18. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  19. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  20. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
    “Only the very young and the very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favourite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in the creek near Colorado Springs. The rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people’s favourite dresses, other people’s trout.”
  21. The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling
  22. Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling
  23. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  24. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
    “The only beginning is birth the only ending is death – if you can’t count on that, what can you count on?”
  25. The Oracle’s Queen by Lynn Flewelling

There is far more fantasy on this list that I think I have had before. I didn’t feel as if anything could replace Parade’s End as my favourite book(s), however, The Secret History came very, very close.

I was surprised by how many books I had considered under par this year, however, the only book in 2014 I regretted reading was Being Binky by Binky Felstead – it wasn’t a book for me.


Outside of reading, I’ve found some wonderful new blogs this year and written for some of my favourites: Don’t Read Too Fast, EmilyBooks, Shiny New Books. It’s been amazing reading them all, and conversing with you on Twitter, it makes  book blogging all the more enjoyable.

Special shout out to Jenny @ Reading the End for commenting the most in 2014, especially considering I do not repay the courtesy nearly enough.

Happy New Year, ofBooks readers, it’s been another wondrous year reading with you all.

What are you looking forward to reading in 2015?

18 thoughts on “2014; A Reading Year in Review

  1. What a great year of reading Alice! The Sense of An Ending was one of my favourites too. You’ve inspired me to read Slouching Towards Bethlehem which I have had for years but never read. Look forward to reading more from you in 2015. Happy New Year!


  2. I definitely agree that I had many more subpar books this year than previous years. I’m so glad to see Purple Hibiscus as one of your five star reads – I think that’s going to be my book club’s pick for next month, since we want to read another Adichie.


    1. Oh, I am excited for you to be reading it, I’ll look forward to your review. I loved Americanah, but something about Purple Hibiscus really enveloped me. I’ve got Half a Yellow Sun sitting on my to-be-read pile ready for me to devour this year.


  3. That is so awesome that you read so many books last year. It will be interesting to see what you discover this year and what hits our shelves/screens. 😀

    I hope you have a really great 2015!


    1. You too, my dear!

      I’m so excited for 2015’s books. I’ve read a Graphic Novel already – which is so unlike me – and I feel like it’s marked the beginning of a new literary adventure.


  4. Happy New Year! Quite a few of the books you mention are on my to-read list so I’m looking forward to getting around to them! I think I’m going to read The Secret History very soon, so I’m glad to see you that you enjoyed it so much.


  5. THE SECRET HISTORYYYYY. I want to reread The Secret History right now, but I think it will be more satisfying if I wait until the next time i’m craving it. I don’t want to read it too often. Then maybe it will lose its pull. (Probably not but best to play it safe.) It’s not my favorite book, but year over year it is making a better and better case for itself as one of my five desert island books.


    1. Me too, but I’m going to do as I did with Harry Potter and leave it 10 years. Just enough time to sort of forget what happens – re-live the genius with fresh eyes.


  6. Oh boy. THat’s a lot of books. I just finished 30ish books for 2014. I am hoping to bump that up to 40 for this year. I’ll check out your goodreads account to see what sort of other books you’ve read.


    1. I’m not sure how it got to that many, I really don’t think I did anything but read. I reckon you’ll hit 40 with ease, it’s all about finding the right books.


  7. Happy new year! Caught up on your Berlin posts – glad you had a nice time and love the nutcracker.

    ‘The more I read the harder I am finding it to be impressed.’ I have to agree with this; it occurred to me the more I read, the less there is to discover on the unique front. That said, I like that The Secret History came close to pushing Parades End off the top spot for you, because it makes the difficulty in being impressed less of an issue. Can’t believe those stats; incredible!

    Hoping you have a wonderful 2015 reading year 🙂


    1. ‘It occurred to me the more I read, the less there is to discover on the unique front.’ I feel similar. It’s more that I know what I adore, and it’s hard to find books that top my favourites. When it comes down to it, I think Parade’s End encompasses two things for me; fantastic writing and an ability to tap right into my emotions. The Secret History was just mind blowing, but it didn’t have that emotional edge.

      Hope your 2015 reading year is wondrous too 🙂


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