Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorites of 2014

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. And I always challenge myself to a ridiculously high number because I read a lot of picture books and comic books. I was looking through the titles I read in 2014, and decided I would create a list of my favorites from the year. It's been over a year since I've updated this blog, so I thought this might be a good way to get back into the swing of things. I'll begin with adult fiction.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman
Coralie Sardie's father owned The Museum of Extraordinary Things on the Boardwalk near Coney Island in New York. He preferred to call the people in his employ wonders, rather than freaks. Coralie grew up thinking of The Wolfman and The Butterfly Girl as friends and not freaks of nature, as the world outside had come to see them.

I fell in love with Alice Hoffman's book, The Dovekeepers, in 2011 and just knew I would love this book too. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a wonderful love story, and a beautiful portrait of New York in the early 20th century. If you're like me, and you really enjoy historical fiction with a little bit of weirdness, I would highly recommend this one.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler
After reading The Great Gatsby in my Literature of Conflict class my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to study English in college. That book also began my life-long love affair with the books and stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. So when a novel about Scott's wife Zelda, told from Zelda's perspective, crossed over the circulation desk at the library, I had to read it. I've always been a little fascinated with the mythology of the Fitzgerald's. I've come to learn over the years that a lot of what we believe about them is, in fact, fiction. But they did lead quite extraordinary lives. And even though their marriage was rocky, they were, in fact, passionately in love.

Z is also a work of fiction, but the author tried to remain as true to reality as she could. It is a fast paced and enjoyable read, and it got me interested in doing some research of my own. So I read The Romantic Egoists, a book of pictures and scrapbook pages compiled by their daughter Scottie Fitzgerald. I would recommend both books to anyone interested in learning a little more about Scott Fitzgerald and his very exuberant wife, Zelda.

The Beginning of Everything, by Robyn Schneider
This book would definitely qualify as the best YA book I read in 2014. Our protagonist, Ezra Faulkner, is a tennis star at his school, until a debilitating accident takes away his ability to play and with it, his popularity. He has to make a decision: eat lunch alone or reconnect with his childhood best friend, Toby. Toby is not the most popular guy in school, but he is definitely one of the happiest. Since he and Ezra parted ways in middle school, Toby has come into his own. He is confident and comfortable with who he is.

This book is darkly humorous and thoughtfully challenges high school stereotypes.  It reminded me a lot of this really interesting nonfiction book I read a few years ago called The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth. I would recommend The Beginning of Everything to anyone who enjoys the books of John Green or Maureen Johnson. It has a similar type of humor and is full of fun literary and pop culture references.

Trillium, by Jeff Lemire
Trillium tells the story of two people, one from the distant past and one from the distant future, who meet by traveling through space and time. It is a beautiful and a little unusual love story that has one of the best meet-cutes I've ever seen in a comic series.

I really love Jeff Lemire! After reading his comic book series, Sweet Tooth, I was completely hooked. I get really excited when I find out he's going to start something new. He wrapped up his eight issue series Trillium in 2014, and I absolutely loved it! The series is now out in trade, so I would definitely recommend that you go to your local comic shop (or library) and pick one up.

I think I will leave it there, for now, and write a separate post for children's and picture books because a lot of good ones came out in 2014.

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