Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Reading Year in Review

Since I've been in grad school, I haven't been reading for fun as much as I'd like. This past semester, I made a conscious effort, with some success, to read more books that weren't for school. Here are my five favorite books I read this year.

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

A friend recommended this to me. I went through a few stages while reading it. (1) This is interesting. I like the setting and the idea. (2) Oh, come on. Another teen love story? (3) Wow. The writing is gorgeous.

Thank goodness I didn't stop after stage two. I still haven't picked up the rest of the trilogy, but it's only from lack of time, not lack of interest.

"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?"

4. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

This was the first book I read for a class in romance subgenres and one of the first books I read this year. It was different than I expected from the cover synopsis, but it was imaginative and full of wonder.

"I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents."

3. The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham

I remember listening to this audiobook a few years ago, maybe when I was in college. It left a much bigger impression on me this time around. Kitty isn't an extremely likable character, but she's a remarkably relatable one, at least to me. Very rarely, I read books that make me stop and wonder how the author got into my head, and I love that.

"I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art."

2. Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

I think, for a 26-year-old girl, I probably put a lot more faith than I should in a boy who refuses to grow up. Somehow, this book slipped through the cracks when I was growing up, so this was the first time I read it, and it's one of those cases when I read a book at the exact right moment in my life. It's funny and adventurous with an undercurrent of serious observations about the world and especially about growing up.

"To live will be an awfully big adventure."

1. Lovestar, Andri Snaer Magnason

Oh, my goodness, this book was so strange and so wonderful. Another recommendation from a friend, this Icelandic book is one I never would have found on my own. It's set in the future, when mankind has been freed from its reliance on cords by the harnessing of animal waves, and the story juxtaposes the life of Lovestar, the scientist who was responsible for this technology, with the lives of Indridi and Sigrid, two young lovers who believe they're meant to be together. It's very different, but in a refreshing I-didn't-know-I-needed-this kind of way.

"A seed becomes a tree becomes a forest green as a carpet. An egg becomes a bird becomes birds fill the sky like clouds.

An egg becomes a bump becomes a man becomes mankind, manufactures cars, writes books, builds houses, lays carpets, plants forests, and paints pictures of clouds and birds.

In the beginning all this must have been contained in the egg and the seed. Forest. Birds. Mankind."

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