The end of the calendar year is always a happy time for me. I'm in between semesters and have minimal work to do, I'm at my grandparents' house in New York, and I get the satisfied feeling of reflecting on the past 12 months and planning the next. Of course, I love looking back on my reading and blogging most of all.
2014 was not as milestone-packed as 2013, which saw my blog's first birthday, the launch of Lit Up Review, and my first book convention. However, in 2014, I did attend another convention and celebrate my blog's second birthday.
Most importantly, I read 105 new books—possibly 106 by the end of the year—which made compiling this list nearly impossible. But, as I did in 2012 and 2013, I triumphed over my indecision. Without further ado, here are the best 14 novels I read in 2014 in the order that I read them.
This book was on my to-read list for ages, but I kept putting it off, worried it would not be as good as everyone said. I read it. It was as good as everyone said. Now I want to read Zusak's other books, but I keep putting it off, worried they will not be as good as The Book Thief.
2. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
With John Green-esque writing and a cleverly bittersweet plot, this novel is one of the most thought-provoking contemporaries I read this year.
3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This book gets points for its unique concept, but the real reason I loved it was that, despite its fantastical elements, it drew me in and immersed me in its world. After turning the last page, I could not read anything else until finishing the sequel.
This book about the women's suffrage movement in London has history, feminism, and England, which are three of my favorite things. Need I say more?
5. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
This not-quite love story between a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with OCD takes countless turns before reaching a satisfying, realistic ending. Throughout it all, McGovern writes with compassion and empathy, crafting an exquisitely emotional story.
6. Conversion by Katherine Howe
This book was absolutely made for me. Not only does it tell the real story of the Salem Witch Trials, but it draws parallels between the 1600s hysteria and a more recent historical event.
Reading this book was love at first sight. I knew I would adore it from the moment I read the blurb, and I ended up praising it even more than I thought I would.
8. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
I love reading books that take place in offbeat historical settings (i.e. not Nazi Germany or a turn-of the century mansion), and I love reading books that make me angry and horrified. As a result, this book that spotlights a brutal school integration in the 1950s was perfect for me.
9. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
A creative concept (a library that shelves the souls of the dead and a girl who helps maintain it by recapturing runaway spirits) collides with Schwab's rich, gorgeous writing to produce a 2014 favorite.
I loved the diversity and the New York setting in this romance between a Hasidic girl and a West Indian boy, but most of all I loved the ending.
11. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Easily the most terrifying book I have ever read, this part murder mystery, part courtroom drama kept me up hours past my bedtime.
12. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
I loved this book for the same reasons that I loved Lies We Tell Ourselves. It tells the story of a girl who is thrown into an insane asylum for not conforming to gender stereotypes in her Victorian society (which, as this story taught me, was a common occurrence).
I was going to make an exclusively YA list, but I had to include this middle grade title. The clever plotting and brilliant cast work together to form one of the smartest novels I have ever read.
14. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Sometimes I finish a book and am left with an overwhelming sense of awe simply at how well the story was told—the plot had no clichés, the characters had to work insanely hard to escape danger and overcome problems, and overall the writer was never lazy with the storytelling. Salt & Storm was that kind of book.
What books were your favorites of 2014? I hope you read just as many wonderful ones as I did. Have a fantastic New Year's Eve tomorrow night, and I'll see you in 2015.