Best of 2014: Book Edition, Part 1

I followed my reading goal of two-books-per-month again this year, and it was difficult to narrow them down to ten favorites. That’s what I call a good problem to have. Enjoy numbers 10 through 6!

10. Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. The protagonist changes, but some characters reoccur. During World War II, young American Rose Justice travels to Britain to volunteer as a transport pilot. However, bad luck in the air over France lands her in Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp. I’ve read a lot about World War II, but Wein does a fantastic job of showing the camaraderie that can arise between people in desperate situations. Rose and her fellow prisoners make a pact to “tell the world,” and by writing this book, Wein helps to fulfill her character’s promise.

9. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson x2

First and foremost, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is hilarious. John Green’s writing always has a dose of humor, but this novel made me laugh out loud more than any other. When two Chicago teens meet, and are both coincidentally named Will Grayson, the hilarity ensues. One Will Grayson is struggling with his sexuality; the other is struggling with his general apathy and a flamboyantly gay best friend named Tiny Cooper. Tiny alone is worth the price of admission, but the novel boasts a delightful cast of characters.

8. Longbourn, by Jo Baker

Longbourn

A novel about the servants from Pride and Prejudice could have been an epic failure, but not in the capable hands of Jo Baker. Longbourn only deepened my understanding of the world surrounding the classic story, while also providing compelling characters of its own. If you enjoy the “below stairs” aspect of Downton Abbey, consider this a more sophisticated version. And if you think that Jane Austen is all people sitting around in drawing rooms, then the uncertainty of a servant’s existence might better suit your fancy. (You can read my full review here.)

7. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

After years of good intentions, I finally read The Virgin Suicides. Now I understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to Jeffrey Eugenides. His writing style is a bit off-kilter, which is perfect for this story about a family of teenage girls cloistered by their parents. It’s a downright Hitchcockian example of the male gaze to female object, or as the wise John Green might say, “failing to imagine others complexly.” And aside from the English major speak, it’s just a beautifully written novel. (You can read my full review here.)

6. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

Just like the work that came after, Gillian Flynn’s first novel cuts to the bone. Camille Preaker is a reporter sent to her Missouri hometown to investigate the murders of two girls. The assignment forces her to rekindle a relationship with her mother and the teenage half-sister she never really knew. These women all demonstrate Flynn’s bravery when it comes to creating female characters with a healthy dose of menace about them. Sharp Objects is small town depravity as seen through Camille’s mind, which is as twisted as the rooms of her mother’s Victorian house. (Click here to read further discussion.)

Let’s do this one more time tomorrow!

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