My Favourite Reads of 2014

happy-new-years-cat

As a new year approaches I like to take a look back on what books I’ve devoured over the last year. These are my top 3 favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2014:

*Click on the links to see my reviews of each of these

Fiction Top 3

3) Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: One of the mostly beautifully written modern stories I’ve ever read. The novel’s tone is dark and lurking but is balanced with the fierceness of  Ree, the female protagonist. A quick and awesome read.

2) All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr:  Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best Historical Fiction! This novel is one of the most popular published books of 2014 and it’s worth all the attention. Following the lives of two young people who are on opposing sides of World War II, the novel explores humanity at one of its worst times in history. This book has all the feels! Worth the read.

1) Stupid Children by Lenore Zion: I can’t say enough good things about this book. I came across this small-time publication through The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads and I was lucky enough to be apart of a group discussion with the author (see my review for some insight into this discussion). This book has a strange but amazing concept. After Jane’s father attempts to commit suicide, he is institutionalized and she is sent to the foster care system. The family she is adopted by is apart of the Second Day Believers cult. The novel depicts Jane’s upbringing with this family and the ordeals of living within a cult. This book is funny, creepy and extremely thought provoking and is the kind of book I almost want to read again. Support small press and buy this book!

Non-Fiction Top 3

3) The Romanov Sisters by Helene Rappaport: This novel won the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best History & Biography! Lucky for me, I was able to read this book through Netgalley.  For those that have never explored non-fiction or even a history piece, I’d recommend this one for you. This informative book reads so much like a fiction and it gives a massive insight to the lives and personalities of the Romanov family.

2) Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette PasternakThis book is a bit personal but it was so immensely helpful that I have to include it. For anyone suffering from a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior), please read this book! It’s informative and has real exercises and practices that will dramatically help you get a handle on your condition. Life changer!

1) Diet Cults by Matt FitzgeraldWe are constantly bombarded with information of what to eat and what not to eat. Tragically, all of this information often times contradicts itself depending on the source and whatever died fad is currently being endorsed making being healthy quite confusing. Matt Fitzgerald, a professional coach and athlete, makes food simple again with this book and breaks down the data that many diet cults perpetuate. He never bashes diet fads but explains why they appeal to people, why they work for a short time, why our bodies can adapt to eat anything and how to get back to the basics and stop stressing over food! This was a game changers for me with my approach to food.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 224 pages.
Read from August 26 to 28, 2014.

Winter’s Bone was a delicate surprise. This book is so expressive and the narrative reads like a beautiful and ardent poem. I read this passage at least three times because it read so wonderfully:

“Ree needed often to inject herself with pleasant sounds, stab those sounds past the constant screeching, squalling hubbub regular life raised inside her spirit, pole the soothing sounds past that racket and down deep where her jittering soul paced on a stone slab in a gray room, agitated and endlessly provoked but yearning to hear something that might bring a moment’s rest.” p.10

Ree is a tough and resilient teenager of sixteen. She has had to take care of her two brothers and her mentally ill mother as her father has been involved with cooking up crystal meth and has recently skipped bail, a practice that is being taken up by a few farmers in the Ozark area. Unfortunately for Ree, her father is missing and if he doesn’t make his court date they will lose their home. Determined to save her home, Ree starts looking for her father but she is finding out that there aren’t too many people in town, even from her own extended family, who are willing to assist her. There is a secret that is being kept from her in regards to her father and Ree will do whatever it takes to find out what that is despite what danger she may find herself in.

What makes this story remarkable isn’t the plot, as it’s fairly straight forward, but the character work. It’s absolutely impeccable. You feel for Ree but she is so remarkably tough. Having practically parented herself and raised both her brothers she is wise beyond her years and through Ree you start to get an idea of what her family is like and and see just how small the town is that she lives in. Woodrell is so masterful with his words, the book is short, yet you feel that you know so much about Ree. While the book is a bit dark, you find yourself just as determined as Ree so you never feel dismayed, enough though there are some difficult moments in the book.

I think that anyone could read this book, it’s just executed so well. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the movie but I haven’t actually seen it myself. I could see that the plot line might not be enticing enough on screen, isn’t that the beauty of a book? However, now that I’ve read the book, I will give the movie a go.

I’d say this is one of my favourite books of 2014 so far as it’s not very often you find a book that is this whole and well done. I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for something intriguing, dark and beautiful.