Happy New Year!
In lieu of resolutions, I thought I’d share my favourite reads of 2014 with you. Some books are current, some have been on my reading list for a while, and others are old favourites that I’ve revisited.
10. “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan. I picked this up at a garage sale for 25 cents. It’s clearly worth more. A simple and satisfying novel about a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, and an evening that changes the rest of their lives.
9. “Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs. This book is just fun! The photographs are so bizarre, and the story Riggs builds around them is inventive. We didn’t have YA like this when I was growing up. (God, I’m that person now.)
8. “In the Skin of a Lion” by Michael Ondaatje. Another book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. It was interesting to imagine Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, seen through the eyes of immigrants. Historical, romantic, political.
7. “Lucky” by Alice Sebold. This rape memoir will resonate with anyone who lives with trauma. The quote that I keep close to my heart: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
6. “Room” by Emma Donoghue. I finally got to reading this, after the hype had settled, which is my usual. I was utterly charmed by Jack’s voice, and deeply moved by his mother’s devotion to keep him safe. Thinking of the shed still gives me chills.
5. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman. A book full of wonder as one might expect from Gaiman. About a man reflecting on events from his childhood.
4. “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. I revisited this book recently and was blown away by its intricate plot, and novel-within-a-novel structure. A complex sisterhood story that is more bitter than sweet.
3. “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood. The second book in the Maddaddam trilogy. What I loved most about this book was being able to connect with Ren and Toby. And of course, the dystopian world Atwood created is as intriguing as it is horrifying.
2. “Maddaddam” by Margaret Atwood. The final book in the trilogy of the same name. I found myself in tears when I finished it, which I didn’t expect from a work of speculative fiction. Three words: I love Toby.
1. “Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala. This searing memoir has stayed with me all year. The author candidly shares her experience of losing her family to the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka ten years ago. A validating read for survivors of trauma.
My book club is great because I come across books I might not have otherwise picked up. Such as: “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern; “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford; “The Dinner” by Herman Koch.
I also love reading book by writers about writing. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from “The Faith of a Writer” by Joyce Carol Oates:
“What can an older writer presume to offer a younger? Only what he or she might wish to have been told years ago. Don’t be discouraged! Don’t cast sidelong glances, and compare yourself to others among your peers! (Writing is not a race. No one really ‘wins.’ The satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.) And again, write your heart out.” (24)
“Self-criticism, like self-administered brain surgery, is perhaps not a good idea.” (136)