I set a goal for myself earlier this year to read fifty books in 2014. As of right now, I’m four books shy of that goal. Not to worry; Christmas is fast approaching, which means I plan to devote large amounts of time with a book shoved up under my nose, slouched underneath three or four blankets, with my ragdoll kittens causing adorable ruckus not too far away. If I can’t see them knocking over nail lacquer bottles and devouring toilet paper, it’s not happening.
Amidst a slew of very “meh” books, I’m thrilled to report I’ve had the pleasure of acquainting myself with a few shining stars. Please consider adding the following volumes to your to-be-read pile. And, always, I’m open to hearing book suggestions.
.White Oleander by Janet Fitch.
I’m writing about this one first because I finished it only a couple days ago. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Renee Zellweger. Even if you haven’t, this book is a must-read, if only for the writing style. Janet Fitch is a force, let me tell you. As you come to know the characters, you come to know exactly what their reactions will be, and she absolutely delights or saddens you with the sharpness, delicacy, ease, and sheer poetry of her words. It’s very much a character-driven piece (rather than an action-driven one), at which my boyfriend Carson rolls his eyes (he’d rather have action).
In White Oleander, Astrid lives with her mother Ingrid, a cold, controlling, narcissistic woman, until Ingrid is convicted of murder. As Astrid then floats from foster home to foster home, she still keeps in touch with her mother from prison, for better or worse. You feel sorrow for Astrid as she slowly comes to realize the hold her mother has on her, and how much her mother has failed her in motherly duties. It’s also hard not to get pulled under Ingrid’s spell yourself. Definitely pick this one up to experience some incredible writing, as well as a great “villain.”
.Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
After I finished this book, I looked like a deer in headlights for the rest of the day. I read it in just a couple days (which is uncommon for me; I tend to stretch out books and am prone to procrastinate) while on vacation at Myrtle Beach. This is the best book in the trilogy, no contest.
Talk about non-stop action and emotion! I don’t care if you’re Team Gale or Team Wrong–everyone loves Katniss, period. Everyone wants to see her make it. You’re right there with her as she experiences depression, flashbacks, near-constant danger, and walking on eggshells to protect those she loves. Complete thrill-ride from start to finish.
If you’re a newbie, it’s not too late to start this series. Just don’t talk to me about Mockingjay.
I’m no longer on Tumblr (in my opinion, the whole site brings new meaning to the phrase “dumb masses“), but I imagine that the Tumblrsphere went a little cuckoo when this book came out. I can say this with confidence: if you even slightly like John Green, you’ll love Rainbow Rowell. (This is the part, for my own protection, where I pretend to like John Green’s books).
This book takes place in 1980s suburbia, and follows Asian, X-Men-fanatic Park and redheaded outcast Eleanor. You already know they’re going to fall in love, right? That’s okay; you’ll still read it. The book is written with such nostalgia (80s references aside) and sweetness that you’ll get all schmoopy and want to cuddle something. By no means is the romance overkill. It makes you pine, even just a little, for high school simplicity. Gorgeous book. Even if you don’t like YA, pick it up.
.Room by Emma Donoghue.
Whoa. Nelly. That’s all.
One part mystery and one part emotional journey with mother and son, Room is told by a five-year-old boy who has spent his entire life in the same room with his Ma. While you read this book, you’re experiencing things on a very narrow, almost untrustworthy, plane. I mean, your narrator is a five-year-old. This gives you a stripped-down, simplistic view of the shocking and often horrific events in the book. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry tears of both sorrow and triumph.
Get the audiobook if you can, too.
LOL. Who run the world? Oprah.
.Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter.
Nice to end on a children’s book, eh? Haters to the left, please; I believe adults can, and should, read children’s literature. Somehow, words of childhood are sweeter when they are read years after childhood has passed.
Pollyanna was (and still is) a free book on iBooks, an app which I strongly recommend you heavy readers utilize. I found it along the same lines, tone-wise, as Little Women. It’s sweet, sweet, sweet–but if you’re made of tougher stuff, it may be a bit too sentimental.
I, for one, adore Little Women, and I adore Pollyanna. It’s about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her austere Aunt Polly in an equally austere town. As child protagonists often do, Pollyanna changes each person with whom she comes in contact, declaring that she always tries to see the good in everything.
Sound schmultzy? It is. However, it is for children, and like I said, it’s along the same lines as Little Women. I really enjoyed it, even tearing up a few times at Pollyanna’s enduring sweetness.
What were your favorite books this year? I’d love to know.
Until next time,