Best Books of 2014

I set a goal last January 1 to read 20 books. I ended up reading 29! This year's goal is a bit of a reach at 30 because I felt like I read a lot in 2014. But with my resolution of turning off phone notifications for email and Facebook & going to bed earlier, I just might find the time.

Here's my best of the best list. And I'm pretty sure I am currently reading the best book I will read in 2015, so be looking for my review in the next couple of weeks!

The Affair
This was one of the books my book club voted to read (I didn't make it to any meetings, but I read all of the books). I didn't vote on it because I thought it sounded whiny and unrealistic, but it really surprised me. The story is told from three incredibly differing perspectives - the wife, the husband, and the mistress. That's what makes it so good! The books I usually read show the wife's view and occasionally the other woman's, but rarely are they in detail like this. It also takes place in Boston. I had a trip there a month after finishing this book and got reservations at a certain restaurant that was mentioned.

The Appeal
I love a John Grisham and this one is one of the best. David works in water safety, so it was particularly interesting for me. Since it was very informative on that front, there was less of the legal mumbo-jumbo that he typically includes. Without giving it away, I will say that there are some good twists in it that make it unlike the usual little man vs. big corporation books.

The Bell Jar
I'm probably the only woman of my age (and intelligence, haha, did you catch that?) that hasn't read any of Plath's books or poetry. I've had it at the back of my mind to do so for awhile, so when I saw this one on display at the library I picked it up. Depression and mental illness are issues close to my heart and the book wasn't earth shattering. What makes it such a good read is studying up on her life and death before you begin it. It's fiction based 99.9% on her life. It wasn't published in America for quite awhile for fear of it hurting her mother. Once it became imported contraband it got published here.

Heartbreak Hotel
I'd had this one on my Amazon wish list for years and years. It was recommended on some message board and I could never find it at a library. I really like reading about the 1960s and '70s, Southern lifestyle and (don't laugh) college sorority life back then. Not that I've read too many books like that, but when I come across one it's usually good. This was a nice little glimpse into that privileged era and how a debutante dealt with coming of age in desegregation times. In Alabama. So a little dramatic.

Silver Star
In the airport on the way home from Boston I found this book along with a note telling me to read it then pass it on. It's by the same author as Glass Castles so I knew it would pique my interest. Again, something about the 1970s in the South... This one deals with some harsh topics that happen even more today. There were several times when I was literally holding my breath for paragraphs at a time, hoping certain things didn't happen.

The Kitchen House
Another one I picked up from a display at the library, and I didn't think I'd like it all that much. It was amazing though! The story is based on a white orphan who was raised by the black slaves on a large Southern (again!) landowner's tobacco farm. It touched on plenty of topics that we all know happen(ed) but never talk about. I had tears in my eyes for many, many parts of it. It may take awhile to really get into it, but I promise it is worth your time.

The Witness Wore Red
Although I don't usually care to read non-fiction, books about crimes or lifestyles totally different from mine are quite fascinating. The witness wearing red in this book is a woman my age who was one of 90-something wives to the big FLDS polygamist priest. It was just jaw dropping - from the way she was raised and lived with so many siblings, to her parents' complete...I don't even know the word for it. Amazing and makes me think of sister wives in a totally different way than I did before.

Number the Stars
This was one of the first "big" books I read in elementary. It was my first introduction to the Holocaust, which became a lifelong interest of mine. I wanted to re-read it from an adult perspective and pick up on the things I probably missed as a child (like using cocaine to throw off scent dogs). While it wasn't as altering this time around, I still enjoyed it and suggest for everyone to read for a German child's understanding of what is happening to her Jewish friend. The author is still a favorite of mine, and lots of her books take place in Texas.

Lookaway, Lookaway
I grabbed this one from the Mobile library while I was visiting David's parents and....oh dear! It's the story of a moneyed Southern family with more drama than a soap opera. Let's see. There's a dad obsessed with his Civil War reenactments, children with all sort of sexual issues and a mom trying to cover and pretend everything is normal. I laughed through the whole thing. Very interesting to me that it was written by a male as it was definitely a chick read.

I've linked to Amazon so you can check out more reviews of these books. I'm a huge fan of libraries, where I got most of these books. If you read a kindle or decide to purchase one, I'd love for you to use my link - it'll fund some more books for me. 

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