the love of learning

It’s here! My 2014 reading challenge wrap-up

FINALLY! Here I am. BOOKS! I sailed through this 2014 reading challenge like a feather on the wind. I’m very surprised I did so, to be honest, as I read some incredibly hefty books, and I spent the first half of the year not reading at all. Something about travel tears me away from it. When I’m on a plane or bus bound to some new destination, I find myself people watching and daydreaming. I do my best thinking on airplanes. (When I’m not blind with panic, that is.)

love of learning

I think I’m getting better at knowing what books I’ll love, because most of these were really, really good.

The Books

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout
What is the What – Dave Eggers
Divergent – Veronica Roth
Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Allegiant – Veronica Roth
Beyond Belfast – Will Ferguson
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea – Thomas Cahill
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath – Sylvia Plath
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis
The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
The Shoemaker’s Wife – Adriana Trigiani
The Jade Peony – Wayson Choy
Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan
Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
29 – Mary Sojourner
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven – Susan Jane Gilman
The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert
Unsaid – Neil Abramson
Until I Find You – John Irving
It Sucked and Then I Cried – Heather B. Armstrong
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
All the Lights We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

As per usual, I’m stealing this 2014 end of year review from Jamie over at Perpetual Page Turner. I’ve got bit of a crush on her.

Number Of Books You Read: 30
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Fiction

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?


1. The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
3. All the Lights We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
4. A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. I DID love the book, but it was not what I expected.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven – Susan Jane Gilman. In a good way. Mostly because I judged it by the cover.

5. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout. Recommended to everyone. One of the most emotionally jarring books I have ever, ever read. It lingered with me throughout the year, and just thinking about it now brings me to tears. And the subsequent reactions from the reviewers.

6. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

The Divergent series, because it was a light and riveting read and I REALLY needed it when I was travelling around Europe.

7. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Joseph Boyden. Canadian lit gold. Fantastic, brilliant.

8. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. I don’t read fantasy/sci-fi much anymore, so this was a treat.

9. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout. Could NOT put down.

10. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None. Not much of a re-reader. :)

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid

12. Most memorable character of 2014?

Alma Whittaker from The Signature of All Things, hand down. Brilliant woman. Who knew I’d find mosses so fascinating? Close runner up: Iris Chase from The Blind Assassin.

13. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

I loved everything in my top four, but I THINK All the Lights We Cannot See would beat them all. There was one entire chapter I reread three times because it left me breathless.

14. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout. That anyone can endure such a brutal experience is beyond my understanding. Amanda Lindhout is the bravest person I know, even if she made some very terrible decisions in her journalistic life. It was some of the reviews that really sparked some feminist rage in me, though. I wrote a lot about it.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

A Prayer to Owen Meany – John Irving. Huge Irving fan, and you’d think I’d read this book much earlier. I can’t decide if this is my favourite book of his, or The Cider House Rules.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”
― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

“Perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

Longest Read: Until I Find You – John Irving
Shortest Read: The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Definitely Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Damn!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

The Shoemaker’s Wife
by Adriana Trigiani is maybe the only romance I read this year, and I loved it. Ciro and Enza win.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Zorba and the narrator, OBVS!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway. Recommended by my tour guide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Is it wrong to say I have a crush on Alma Whittaker from The Signature of All Things? What a woman.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid might be the ONLY debut I read.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Beyond Belfast – Will Ferguson. Dude’s hilarious.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

I cry pretty much during EVERY BOOK. Every book in my top four for sure. Sobbed through A House in the Sky, and All The Lights We Cannot See. And actually, What is the What by Dave Eggers too. Exceptional.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

29 – Mary Sojourner. Beautiful.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

What is the What – Dave Eggers. In a good way.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

I really enjoyed how Gone Girl was written. Very conversational.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Divergent series, because of the shoddy writing. If I had to read one more time how the antagonist rubbed her sweaty palms on the hem of her shirt, I was going to shoot myself.

Christmas reading

How I’ve spent my Christmas vacation.

Have you read any of these? What are you reading in 2015?

I’m aiming for 52 books again this year. WHEE! You can see my complete upcoming reading list here. And follow me on Goodreads here! BRING ON THE LITERATURE!

  • January 05 2015
    Shut Up and Go

    Phew! So relieved to see you read Divergent…

    • January 05 2015

      I shamelessly devoured that series. Sigh.

      • January 05 2015
        Shut Up and Go

        Same. But you’re right with the sweaty palms and shoddy writing. I feel like every chapter is the same fight…against someone different.

        • January 05 2015

          So just curious, cuz I just read Divergent on NYE …. your take on Hunger Games vs. Divergent? I kinda hated Hunger Games. A lot. But I enjoyed Divergent. Granted, I’ve only read one of the three so maybe it’ll go downhill for me like Hunger Games did …. anyway, just wondering! :D

          • January 06 2015

            I actually preferred Hunger Games! But my sympathy for Catniss did run out by the third book. That’s not to say the Divergent series isn’t worth reading though.

          • January 26 2015
            Shut Up and Go

            Oh I’m obsessed with both. You put a teen fiction novel in my hands and my schedule is booked (hehe) for a least a few hours.

      • January 26 2015
        Shut Up and Go

        But what, do you think, is the NEXT Divergent/Hunger Games/Twilight/Harry Potter?

        • January 28 2015

          Oh lawdy, I don’t know. That Maze series? I haven’t read it but my little cousin is obsessed haha

  • January 05 2015

    Nice! I read the Cellist of Sarajevo a few years ago and loved it too. My favorite books of this year were probably The Signature of All Things, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (he’s Steven King’s son and the book is SCARY) and In the Heart of the Sea, which is a nonfiction books about the Essex Whaling Disaster and was riveting.
    I’m going to get a House in the Sky on Your Reccomendatoin!

    • January 05 2015

      Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed The Signature of All Things! I looooved it. I’ll check out NOS4A2 — I need a “scary” book for my next reading challenge and I haven’t found anything that interests me. You should def check out A House in the Sky. You’ll appreciate it on a differnet new level, as a travelling woman, I think.

  • January 05 2015

    I’ve really fallen off the reading wagon but I’ve enjoyed your book updates!

    I also read The Signature of All Things (fantastic, I just love Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing so much and Alma was such a unique character!) and the Divergent series (riveting at first but I was grossly disappointed by the last book). And Gone Girl — loved it, glad nobody spoiled it for me.

    Here’s one I recommend for you: Steve Martin, Born Standing Up. It’s a memoir of his stand-up years and how he got into comedy. If you haven’t read any of his books, they are treats. EXQUISITE and soft and each word feels like it was carefully chosen, then pulled from a starry sky. Not what you would expect from him as a writer at all. I recommend anything he has written (The Pleasure Of My Company, Shogirl, An Object of Beauty) but Born Standing Up is the best.

    You’ve convinced me to read A House in the Sky!

    • January 06 2015

      Thanks Kate! I’m so happy to hear so many people enjoyed “The Signature of All Things.” I felt like I was the only one reading it, hahaha. I haven’t read anything by Steve Martin, and I’m surprised he’s such a talented writer, honestly. I’ll definitely pick up one of those.

      Like I said to Steph, as a travelling lady “A House in the Sky” is a total must-read. Prepare to cry a lot

      • January 06 2015

        You know, now that I think about it, I think you should start with Shopgirl or The Pleasure Of My Company before moving onto the other books. They’re better introductions to Steve Martin’s writing.

  • January 05 2015

    I so enjoy reading your book updates and reviews! A House in the Sky has actually been languishing on my shelf for several months now. I think this might have given me the push that I need to finally delve into it.

    • January 06 2015

      YAY! That’s THREE people in this comments section that said they’ll reach it. Hahaha. Lindhout should start paying me. Let me know what you think.

  • January 06 2015

    Ah ha ha, I’m glad to see someone else complain about the writing in Divergent. I enjoyed the series but I have the same complaint. Also really enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane – have you read any more from him? My fave read of 2014: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. I want to recommend it to everyone but it’s the type of book that some might find upsetting (this book contains subject matter that may be disturbing to some viewers… I mean, readers). Still amazing though.

    • January 06 2015

      I will look up Enchanted! I seem to be all about disturbing books. Lol.

      Looove Neil Gaiman, but I’ve only read a handful of his books so far. Stardust is excellent, and The Graveyard Book was great too

  • January 06 2015
    Jules Torti

    I love bookish posts like this. I see we have a few matches–A House in the Sky should be a mandatory read for humans, everywhere. Here’s my coveted list:

    • January 07 2015

      Totally! LOVED your list. I’m inspired to do my own Top 10 now!

  • January 07 2015

    I loved A House in the Sky and totally raged at the Goodreads reviews too!!! I have to read The Signature of All Things but have been scared of Elizabeth Gilbert books since Eat Pray Love — even though I love her as a person?

    Loved What is the What as well. Amazingly told and always have a spot on my heart for Dug.

    • January 07 2015

      I’m so glad I wasn’t the only person enraged! I was FLOORED. It didn’t seem like many people in the travel community were talking about it either, which kinda shocked me.

      Believe me, “The Signature of All Things” is NOTHING like “Eat Pray Love.” Gilbert is an incredible writer, and it really comes out in this book

  • January 07 2015


    I’ve had All The Lights We Cannot See on my to-be-read list but after your raving…sooner rather than later it will be in my hands! Ditto to A House in the Sky. I saw I added it to Goodreads in 2013 and I’m like hmmm guess time to get to this then!!

    You are making me want to reconsider picking up The Signature Of All Things. I was reading it and I just kept getting distracted by it. It could have been a “it’s me, not you” thing though and the timing is all wrong because what I read of it was like THERE IS NO GOOD REASON WHY I AM NOT LOVING THIS.

    So agree re: Divergent. I’ve only read book 1 and I want to finish but I’m not highly motivated. And the movie…it was okay. BUT THEO JAMES MAN.

    You just reminded me I’ve had Undress Me In the Temple for forever. But yeah that cover. EH.

    Happy to see you read Let’s Get Lost! What did ya think? (I will be okay if you didn’t like it *sniffsniff*

    Adding 29 to my list thanks to you!

    • January 08 2015

      I LOVE HOW EXCITED YOU GET!! I feel like if you and I were ever in the room we’d talk nonstop for hours about books until we’d entirely exhaust the whole thing hahaha

      Please do read A House in the Sky! I urge you to. Like another commenter said, it should be mandatory reading! And definitely read Undress Me. AND I would reconsider The Signature of All Things…it’s the kind of book you take real slow, I think. Just soak up the language

      I loved Let’s Get Lost! Not one of my favourite books, but a really riveting read

  • January 08 2015

    I’m so excited you mentioned The Signature of All Things. I just happened to pick that one up at a used bookstore the other day on a whim, so now I’m super excited to read it!

    • January 08 2015

      Oh awesome, let me know how you like it! Like I said to someone below, it’s nothing like Eat Pray Love. Gilbert is exceptional.

  • January 08 2015

    I did a book challenge with some friends last year. I was thinking of doing the same in 2015 but decided against it. I’m so glad you had a great reading year though!

    • January 08 2015

      It’s definitely challenging! I didn’t find this one so hard, but the 52-book challenge nearly killed me.

      • January 09 2015

        Yeah… I read like, 49 books last year and that was enough. A book a week? Mmm… Maybe not!

  • January 16 2015

    The blind assassin and Owen meany are onmy top ten list for sure. Boyden is also great. I just finished the orenda and it was amazing. I think I liked it better than through black spruce but it was very graphic with the violent scenes. Highly recommend it. Another great Canadian book is famous last words by Timothy finlay. Was on my top ten list for years.

    • January 16 2015

      Awesome, thanks! Orenda is on my list for this year, wooot. The onl Findley book I’ve read is “Not Wanted on the Voyage” which I LOVED. Will have to check out Famous Last Words.

  • January 18 2015

    Thank you for introducing me to Jamie’s surveys! Just finished mine :)