The LT Year in Reading: 2014 Edition
Best Premise, Worst Execution
Corey: The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg. At least it gave me high hope for the rest of the series because with such a good premise, you can only get better in execution, right? Right?
Worst Premise, Best Execution
Kate: Inamorata by Megan Chance. A story about a lady-demon and twincest should not be fascinating, compelling, thought-provoking and beautiful, but this really was.
Corey: Is it lame to say the Harry Potter books? I reread the whole series a few years ago and, finding that to be an incredibly rewarding experience, have been trying to reread at least one of the books every year. I get something new out of them every time and somehow always forget how funny J.K. Rowling is.
Kate: Not lame! Mine are similar — The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman. I didn’t think much of them the first time, but the second time was, well, magical.
Kate: The Ice Storm by Rick Moody. Ugh. I can’t believe I wrote a paper on that in college.
The Peripatetic Award for Best Travel Memoir
Corey: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck definitely. It showed me what really good writing feels like after a slew of less-than-intellectually-taxing reads and reminded me how valuable second chances are when reading. Not to mention it’s a plain old great travel narrative and piece of Americana!
Kate: I have to agree, only because it’s the best travel memoir I have ever read, ever. It even beats The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson, another favorite of mine.
The Peter Mendelsund Award for Best Cover
Kate: My copy of The Golem and the Djinni (by Helene Wecker) is truly beautiful. Pretty sure it’s the UK version. (See above)
Corey: I loved the cover for Tom Rachman’s The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, but then it’s essentially a big pile of books, which, to my eye, is one of the most aesthetically happy things ever.
The Shock and Awe Award for Most Surprising Read
Corey: Under the Harrow by Mark Dunn. This was one of those random books one picks up at the library after aimlessly browsing that turned out to be one of the best books I read all year. I just didn’t see it coming! Second place to John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, which was also not on my radar at all. I just happened to pick it up and ending up loving everything about it.
Kate: I Know This Much Is True. Compulsively readable. Wally Lamb might have been my favorite author this year.
Most Fun Read
Kate: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It was a freaking blast! I loved how it balanced realism with craziness — it pushed suspension of disbelief, but in a really great way.
Biggest Drag / Biggest Disappointment
Corey: The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton! There was so much hype about this book and it was such a mess.
Kate: Usually I just put these out of my mind and off my Kindle as soon as possible. Probably the second in the Dune series. Actually, the whole Dune series. And The Bloodletter’s Daughter — similar hype, similar messy execution.
Kate: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which might also have been the most surprising. I’d been resisting it because I hated the cover and it looked lame and philosophical. It was anything but — smart, witty, fast-paced and incredibly rich.
Corey: All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, recommended by my friend Sheryl. I loved Sackville-West’s style and, given her association with Virginia Woolf (with whose works I have a pretty spotty relationship), I probably never would have discovered her if not for Sheryl.
Books We Didn’t Get To (things that languished at the TBR all year!)
Kate: Ulysses (yet again) and Light in August
Corey: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the poor thing, and Alberto Manguel’s A Reader on Reading just didn’t get finished, alas.
Favorite Read of 2014
Corey and Kate: The Golem and the Jinni hands down! We didn’t get around to blogging about it, but this was a wonderful, magical, historic, and surprising book—by far our favorite book of the year.
How about you, dear readers? What were your favorites (and least favorites) of 2014? Chime in below!