My Top 10 Books of 2014

Here’s a list of my top books from this year; these books are not in any particular order.  All pictures are from Amazon:

  •  The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair: This book is a woman looking back on her childhood and the summer she visited India and discovered the secret that her mom fled from India to keep.  I thought it was well written and a good pick for anyone who loves reading South Asian fiction.
  •  Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South by David Beasley: I was really touched by this story, which focuses on several people, black and white, who were sentenced to death and the role that race played in determining whether or not the sentence was carried out.  This story particularly struck a chord with me because it takes place in Georgia, which is where I live….in fact, some of the locations mentioned in the book are literally within minutes of my house.  It was eye-opening to see how far we’ve come since the events in this book.
  •  Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 by Geneive Abdo: When I first started reading this book and realizing it was written by a non-Muslim, I was weary of how the book would play out.  I think that the author did a great job of explaining the frustrations and difficulties that Muslim Americans have had to deal with since 9/11 without doing what most non-Muslims who write about Muslims have done and that’s to either demonize Muslims or to focus on the so-called Moderate Muslims who are anything but.
  •  Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell: This is a book about a young woman who is adjusting to college life and trying to figure out how to balance her love for the Simon Snow series (similar to Harry Potter).  I really connected with the main character and saw my own experiences at that age being played out in the book.
  •  Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: This was the first graphic novel that I have ever read, and I thought it was an interesting way to write a memoir.  It took me about a day to get through it; it was so interesting that I kept picking it up and reading through a few more pages!
  •  Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed: I thought this book contained a lot of good information.  I read it at one time, but I think it’s better to take your time going through it so you can implement some of the suggestions in the book.
  •  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This historical fiction book is about a little-known chapter in American history when thousands of orphans were put onto trains to be adopted out by families out west.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I did think the ending was a little cliche.
  •  Goodbye I love You by Carol Lynn Pearson: This is memoir about a woman who has to first come to terms with her husband’s homosexuality and then has to deal with his death from AIDS.  I thought this was a sad and thought-provoking book, but I found Carol’s husband to be very unlikable character and thought he was selfish and manipulative.
  •  Maximilian and Carlota: Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico by M.M. McAllen: This is a history book on the short-lived and ill-fated reign of Maximilian in Mexico.  I remember seeing a picture of his execution in my high school World History textbook, but I knew nothing else about this period of time.  I was surprised to see how Maximilian was first tricked into accepting the role of emperor of Mexico by France and then later abandoned by them.  I think this is a good book for someone who is interested in learning more about World History.
  •  The Waste Lands by Stephen King: This is the third book in the Dark Towers series and my favorite so far.  I was really drawn into the story, and the only thing I really didn’t like about this book is that it ended on a huge cliffhanger.

So those are my top 10 books of 2014.  Overall I had a pretty good reading year and can’t wait to see what great books I end up reading next year!

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2015 Goals

I’m still working on the book that I’ve been reading since November, but I wanted to do a blog entry since it’s been a while.  I don’t typically come up with New Year’s Resolutions, but I do set reading goals for the year.  I met my goal this year of reading 45 books, but the vast majority of that reading was done before I started my current job.  If things continue as they are now, I probably won’t have much time to do reading after the semester begins again until spring break, and then not again until summer break, so I’m actually going to scale back my Goodreads goal for 2015 to 35 books.

In addition, I make a list of books that I want to read for the year.  The list is longer than the reading goal, so I never complete the list (not to mention I read books not on the list), but these are the priority books for me for this year.  Some of the books are rolled over from this year and some are newly added.  Any book with the ∞ symbol next to it, I don’t currently own:

Islamic

  • Dajjal – The AntiChrist by Ahmad Thompson
  • Enjoy Your Life by Dr. Al-Arfti
  • Muhammad Messenger of Allah by Qadi ‘Iyad Ibn Musa Al-Yahsubi
  • Burnishing the Heart: Selections from the Qur’an for Self-Awareness by Abdulwahid Hamid
  • Miracles of the Prophets by Abdul Mum’im Hashmi
  • The Ideal Muslim Society by Dr. Muhammad Al-Hashimi
  • Islamic Awakening by Yusuf Qaradawi

Memoirs

  • Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
  • Bengali Girls Don’t by L.A. Sherman
  • American Gypsy by Oksana Marafoti
  • I’ll See You Again by Jackie Hance
  • My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure by Shawn Decker
  • Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad by Firoozeh Dumas
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in Mumbai’s Undercity by Katherine Boo
  • First Darling in the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thifty Unrigar
  • Unorthodox: A Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Fantasy

  • Fortune’s Fool by Mercedes Lackey
  • The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques
  • Wolves of Calla by Stephen King
  • The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
  • Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Classics

  • What Maisie Knew by Henry James
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  • Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck ∞

Dystopia/Post-Apocalyptic

  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Graphic Novels

  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
  • Saints by Gene Luen Yang
  • Persepolis Volume 2 by Marjane Satrapi ∞

South Asian

  • Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
  • Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai
  • Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • In the Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan

African/African American

  • The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
  • Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful by Alan Paton

Far Asian

  • The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim
  • The Red Chamber by Pauline A. Chen
  • Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon ∞

Middle Eastern

  • Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mojha Kahf
  • Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
  • Bone Worship by Elizabeth Eslami

Historical Fiction

  • Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker: A Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Purge by Sofi Oksanen
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Fires in the Dark by Louise Doughty
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry
  • London by Edward Rutherford
  • The Clan of Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Nonfiction

  • Trail of Tears by John Ehle
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson ∞
  • The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
  • Hiroshima by John Hersey
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • A Night to Remember by Walter Lord
  • The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story by Richard Preston
  • Flu by Gina Kolata
  • No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses by Peter Piot  ∞
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Londoners by Craig Taylor

Other

  • Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Something Blue by Emily Griffin
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Mending Fences by Sherryl Woods

November Wrap-Up

I didn’t read very much this month, mainly because I was so busy with work.  For the month of November, I only read two books.  I wasn’t really impressed with either book.  I rated Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 4 out of 10 stars and Burn for Burn by Jenny Hann and Siobhan Vivian 5 out of 10 stars.  I just didn’t feel that either book was that creative or unique.  In the case of Gone Girl, it was a suspense book, but I figured out the plot early on taking away any of the suspense elements of the book.  In the case of Burn for Burn, I didn’t figure out the whole plot right away, but I thought the characters were stereotypical and cliche.

I probably won’t get much reading done the month of December either because of work.  I do have a two week break, so maybe I can get a little more reading done than in November, but I’m not sure how much work I’ll have to bring home to work on over the break.  I plan on doing a year recap and my goals for the following years towards the end of the month, so there should be a few more posts than in November!