Monday, February 23, 2015

Books of 2014

A list of books from the year, in keeping with tradition. (2012, 2013) At only 10 books, it's clear I need to step up my game next year.

This year, featuring some of my favorite lines from the books.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - Donald Miller
Kelle Hampton talks about this book all the time, but I'm not sure when I decided it was actually worth my attention. It's the story of how to tell a story, mostly autobiographical. I wrote more down from this book than I did for the rest of 2014's books combined, and have it on my list to read again. It's not only about how to tell a good story, it's about how to live a good story.
"I’d heard that in a movie, that other people testify that our lives are actually happening." 
The Circle - Dave Eggers
I don't think that I love fiction, but then I read this book and was blown away at how someone can come up with the things writers come up with. Although many of the things suggested in this book are feared to actually happen at some point, it was a great story of another world. I have his other books on my list of books to read next.

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
I never thought I would finish this book, but eventually managed to do it. I've watched the show so had a grasp on characters, names, and places, but still was confused for a good potion of the book, and half the time practiced character-based suspension of disbelief - just kept reading despite not knowing who's doing what and/or for what reason. When I have a free year, I'll read the next one.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Read this book solely because I saw the trailer for the movie and was so confused. I'd seen the book before, but it was described as a thriller and mystery, both of which I'm not passionate about. But then I started reading this book and couldn't put it down, and was so surprised when it abruptly ended. The movie was equally good. 

All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
This book is one of those that has a list of characters at the beginning, with their job title and relations with other people. I turned to that page in the front of the book more times than I simply turned to the next page while reading. I googled a lot, both people and events, and learned more about Watergate than I thought there was to know. I'd like to say that I at least marginally understood the money problems and political issues, but I'm sure more went over my head than I understood. Then I watched the movie again, and it's equally as good. 

Prozac Nation - Elizabeth Wurtzel
While I'd heard the title before, I decided to read it after stumbling on a quote by Wurzel out of this New Yorker article (the article is very worth your time to read, I re-read it quite often):
In the history of the written word, never—not in the Bible or Beowulf, not in daily reporting in the New York Times with its rigorous reporters’ desperate fealty to facts—has there ever been a reliable narrator, not even on objective matters: One person’s purple is someone else’s violet is someone else’s indigo is someone else’s blue. I have been engaged in telling the truth about my life for most of my life now, and I believe everything I say. The events I describe are precisely as I remember them, and as anyone else who was there recalls. And still, I know: There are other versions.
One person's purple is someone else's violet is someone else's indigo is someone else's blue. That quote is why I read the book. I read this book mostly on the metro in Singapore, sometimes unable to hide my blatant shock and disgust for things Wurzel recounted in a mixture of a objective bystander's report and an ashamed participant, fully acknowledging she went through it in something of an amazed tone that all of this was going into her first book. It's serious and gives something to think about in terms of mental health and depression, which can't be a bad thing, for anyone.
"We are such extensions of each other, my mother and I, so much two pieces of the same being, that everything that's hers is mine."
The Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz
I learned a lot from this book, despite having knowledge of a lot that he talked about. Schwartz uses classical psychology experiments to explain why choice isn't helping our lives, which was interesting to see many of the topics in new light. Having said that, it was somewhat redundant, in that much of the takeaway from this book could have been summarized in a book much shorter.

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
I'd just come back from SE Asia and wanted something easy to read, so I chose to re-read this. I know so many people have opinions about this book, but I love it and wish I could be Elizabeth Gilbert's best friend. Probably will read it again in about a year.
"I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen."
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
This was one of those books that I figured I should read for cultural references. I was shocked to find when I started reading that the book is about a young boy, and not a young girl like I had thought. Naturally, now that I've finished it, I'm throwing out references all over the place, scoffing at anyone who doesn't get them. That's the only thing to do after you willingly read Dickens, right?
"I find the truth to be, Handel, that an opening won't come to one, but one must go for it - so I have been." 
The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert
Again, fiction isn't always my first choice, but I figured I should give her other books a try. Turns out, this book was written very similarly to how she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and in fact, I could see a lot of her in her main character. The book, while long, kept my attention throughout, and it was a very endearing story, while also being very factual. It taught me a lot about horticulture and mosses, and I'm not sure who wouldn't want to learn about those things.

"She did not want only the conclusions; she wanted the in-between."

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