Last night while I was on my computer:
Husband: “Did you get your blog post done?”
Me: “No” (complete with grumpy face and growling sound of sorts)
Husband: “What’s wrong? Writer’s block?”
Me: “No. Goodreads screwed me over.”
Husband: “Wha? What’s Goodreads?”
Me: “Goodreads is supposed to keep track of the books I read, and the books I want to read, and when I got my Year in Books email it said I only read 20 books but I’ve read way more than 20 books and Goodreads didn’t do a good job of compiling my yearly reading data for me!!!!!”
Husband: “Why do you need that?”
Me: “I don’t. I just like to have it.”
Husband: “Oh. Okay. G’night…”
I wanted to write a post for today about all the books I read in 2014, my favorites, my least favorites, etc. I had it in mind to do so, and then Haley wrote a post of the books she read this year, and I thought it would be swell to list the books I’ve read and tell you all about them. Fun, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this is fascinating…
But Goodreads, my favorite reading/bookish app/social media thing, has failed me this year. I’m grumpy about it.
I have read many more than 20 books this year. And I have spent way too much time trying to sort through the 292 books on my Goodreads “Books I’ve read” shelf to see which ones I did read beyond the 20 Goodreads decided to keep track of.
Why do I care? I just do.
Anyway, I decided to go ahead and write the post even though it may be slightly less accurate than it would have been if Goodreads had done its job…
I think I actually read something more like 41 books, one of them twice (Something Other Than God), and listened to three audiobooks. Here they are:
- Tobit’s Dog
- The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter #1)
- The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter #2)
- The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter #3)
- Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England
- Still Missing
- The Fault in Our Stars
- The Secret Keeper
- Brideshead Revisited
- Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
- The Sun Also Rises
- The Screwtape Letters
- Keeping Faith
- Station Eleven (audiobook)
- Prince of Thorns (audiobook)
- The Darkest Minds (#1 of a trilogy+, audiobook)
- Never Fade (#2 of the Darkest Minds trilogy)
- In the Afterlight (#3 of the Darkest Minds trilogy)
- Sparks Rise (#2.5 of the Darkest Minds trilogy)
- Insurgent (I’m reading Allegiant, #3 of this trilogy, now)
- The Liar’s Club
- He Leadeth Me
- See How She Loves Us
- Hail Holy Queen
- 33 Days to Morning Glory
- Pope Awesome and Other Stories
- Something Other Than God (x2)
- Realer Than Real
- Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves
- Teaching From a State of Rest
- Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Spain
- Surprised by Truth
- Catholicism for Dummies
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
- Rediscover Catholicism
- The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World
- The “R” Father
- Joan of Arc
- A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy
- Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
- 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know
- Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
- The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
44 books all together, almost even numbers of fiction (21) and non-fiction (23). As a great lover of fiction, I have been surprised in recent years by how much of my reading has been non-fiction. But as you can see, I read lots of Catholic and religious books these days, which make up the vast majority of my non-fiction list (19 of 23), and even some of my fiction list (9 of 21). Here are my thoughts on some of the books:
Disappointments: Biggest one? Brideshead Revisited. I liked the book, but having heard Haley refer to it as a highly influential book her conversion to Catholicism, I was expecting something… more. It was good, and I liked it. It just didn’t move me as much as I expected it to. Another disappointment has been the Divergent trilogy. I thought it was supposed to be really enjoyable (for fluff reading), and it has been just so-so. I’ve liked it enough to continue reading all three books, but it’s not as good as I thought it would be. I was also kind of disappointed by the Sister Queens book. I was thinking it was going to be historical fiction (one of my favorite genres, surprisingly underrepresented in my reading this year), but it was just straight-up history, and on the long and boring-ish side.
Better Than Expected: Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England. I didn’t expect much from this book, but I ended up really liking it. It had some really beautiful passages and a moving section about an experience with the sacrament of Reconciliation. It was a lovely book. Also, the Darkest Minds trilogy+ was much better than I thought it would be. Young adult dystopian fiction is my go-to these days when I want to read something easy and frivolous. I got the first book to listen to when I drove a few hours for an appointment. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything other than easy and frivolous and mildly entertaining, but it was quite enjoyable and I quickly read the rest of the books too.
Most Annoying Book: Keeping Faith. Historically, I have really liked Jody Piccoult books, even though they get a little predictable in their courtroom drama. This one was just odd, with a little girl seeing visions of God, but in her visions God was a woman. The psychological experts were terrible, and the way Ms. Piccoult described the Catholic Church’s process of determining whether the little girl’s visions were real or not was off, as was a statement about what a person must be like to be canonized a saint.
Weirdest Titles: Desperate: Help for Moms Who Need to Breathe and Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut. The former was pretty good, in spite of its melodramatic title. The latter was so-so.
Least Favorite Book: Prince of Thorns. It was absolutely awful. It’s not a book I would have chosen. I needed and audiobook to listen to when I went to Michigan to pick up the puppies. I downloaded the Audible app to use my husband’s account, and I planned to download a book onto my phone when I stopped at Starbucks on the way. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that you can’t download books fro the app, so I had to select from the books my husband already had downloaded. Prince of Thorns is what I ended up with, and it made for a crummy listening experience on my long drive, full of battles and blood and testosterone and a very unlikeable main character.
Favorite Fiction Book of the Year: The Screwtape Letters.
This one also could have gone under the heading of “Better than expected.” Super Friend told me about this book a few years ago when we were talking about all-time favorite books, before my conversion. I don’t remember exactly what she said about it, but I think her description went a little bit like this, “It’s about a devil who writes letters to his nephew, also a devil, instructing him how to corrupt souls…” I thought it sounded very weird and not at all interesting. This book is now on my list of all-time favorite books. It’s just so clever and it inspires deep thinking. As I’m writing this, it seems like I read this longer ago than this year, so I’m wondering if maybe I reread it this year? I must have. It’s definitely a book to be read more than once.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book of the Year: Pope Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves. This book blew me away. It made me so sad that I wasn’t Catholic while JPII was alive. I didn’t know much of anything about him, because I didn’t care much about what the pope was up to when JPII was in the role. But this book. Oh my goodness. Now I know. He was amazing and he is fascinating. The way Jason Evert writes this book, by highlighting five special loves of JPII as a means of helping readers come to know him and understand his teachings better, is brilliant. By the way, the five loves? Human love, young people, Mary, the Eucharist, and the Cross. Read this book.
There. My Year in Books, in spite of Goodreads. Aren’t you happy I persevered with this post?
Here are just a few of the books that I have lined up to start 2015:
I love to chat about books (obviously). What were your favorites from 2014? Tell me all, please.