14 of 2014

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I've decided to put together a list of my favourite book that I read this year. I've read more books (and graphic novels) than any other year ever so picking only 14 was almost impossible. But I did try!

Books are not in any particular order, I can't really figure out in what order I should arrange them.

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
It took me forever to finish this book but turned out to be one of the best I've ever read. My imagination might have been a bit biased because I've seen the amazing Kubrick's film first but, you know, it's always a good thing to have a film just as good as a book.

2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
There isn't many books that leave me speechless. This one did. Jhumpa Lahiri is a master in portrayal of characters. And the stories she tells are outstanding yet very real. I don't think I could put out in words how much I loved this book.

3. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This was the year of reading female memoirs/essay collections and Gay's Bad Feminist was on the top of everything I read. From my perspective of privilege - white middle class university student, I felt the need to have my "idea of feminism" challenged by someone else's perspective. And that's exactly what I got. Gay discusses variety of topics, some of them I race and gender, and it gave me some inside point of view and change my thoughts about the topic a little.

4. The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon
One of the last books I've read this year and I have to say is one the very best. Selvon uses a unique voice to tell the story of Moses and other immigrants from West Indies in the fifties. It was very thought provoking specially with the latest killings of men of colour all over the United States. I'm also going to try read the sequel next year because I can't get enough!

5. Vita Brevis: A Letter to St. Augustine by Jostein Gaarder
Vita Brevis is a precious little fictional letter to Aurel by his former lover. It is also a very smart reflection on his Confessions from a point of view of a woman that once new him. I think this is the book that started my crying party this year.

6. Any Human Heart by William Boyd
I fell in love with William Boyd. The way he crafts a fictional diary of a person from young age to death is incredible. The way he makes fanfiction into serious literary fiction is a miracle. But that's a discussion for another time.

7. Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus is a graphic memoir in which Art Spiegelman tells a story of his father, survivor of Holocaust. And if I should pick one story that I'm gonna come back to it's this one

8. Summer Crossing by Truman Capote
A short novel that made me think over my love for Breakfast at Tiffany's. I never thought I wanted to know what it's like to be young and rich and bored but this little gem gave me everything on a silver plate and I loved it.

9. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
It's one of those book lots of people are talking about and I've never read. Truth to be told one of the main reasons I wanted to read it was Rowell's Fangirl. And it was definitely worth it.

10. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a genious, there is no doubt about that. And this re-telling and mash-up of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty is amazing. With a plot twist I had not seen coming. Also the illustrations by Chris Riddell are fantastic.

11. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I love me some epistolary novels and this one was a great surprise. I've had the book at home for some time but only after someone mentioned it in my reading group I started reading it. The story of Nazi-occupied Guernsey was better than I expected and like any story of WWII it made me cry several times.

12. Robert des noms propres by Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb is one of my favourite authors of all time and I've read every book of hers that has been translated to Czech, my mother tongue. This one I've read in English and it was a fantastic and somewhat tragic story of a ballerina. A fictionalize biography you could say. And also very short. Short books that are on point like this are the best.

13. Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes by Gabriel García Márquez
I've tried to read Márquez ounce before and failed miserably. Hundred Years of Solitude is long and dense and you need to have specific mindset to get through. This book however is short and fast paced and so much more interesting to me. And I loved it.

14. Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West
There was something disturbing about this little book but I can't figure out what it was. It left me with an uneasy feeling but that's about all I can remember. I suppose I have to re-read this one.

And it wouldn't be me if I wouldn't pick a honourable mention:
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
I have learnt that the best self-help books are the ones written about someone else. Memoirs just like this one have great power of helping you sort your own life, pick up the pieces, turn it around and, most importantly, not to be afraid to dream bigger. I can't say it makes everything perfect. But it's a start. And that was Amanda's book this year. A kick in a right direction. I might be heading somewhere...

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