it was just a little too hard to cut the list by one to make it a top ten. (And eleven look better in the collage I made, anyway.)
Warning: if YA contemporary fiction isn't for you, then, well, this may not be the list for you. I read a lot of YA this year. But, there's also a classic, a book about baseball, and a book about books.
And a note: So many of these weren't published in 2014, but hey! That just means your local library might have copies in stock.
11. To All the Boys I've Loved Before. I love finding a book I can recommend to just about anyone (if they enjoy the genre). And this book is that book. It was just good and fun and sweet without any caveats. I happy sighed at the end. (And there's a sequel!)
10. On the Jellicoe Road. I read the first 50 pages thinking, "I am going to hate this book; what is even going on?" and then by page 100, I thought, "Please never ever ever end, book." It started strangely and ended magically, and it was unlike anything I've ever read before. How often can you say that about a book? (I've since read Saving Francesca, another of Marchetta's, which I also enjoyed.)
9. Please Ignore Vera Dietz. This book uplifted and gutted me, all at once. It was dark yet hopeful, and I was Vera's cheerleader the entire time. But, boy, do we do impossibly cruel things to the people we love the most, don't we? I wish I had read this with a book club because I just wanted to talk about it for hours after I finished.
8. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I kind of hate the title because every time I recommend this book to someone, their eyes glaze over before I finish saying it. Please ignore your instinct to ignore this book because it's amazing. I actually think if you love books, it should be required reading. When I become president, I'm making that an official law. (Pretty sure that's how laws work.) I also finished it in something like two hours, which always warms my heart a bit.
7. We Were Liars. This is one of those love-it-or-hate-it books, I've learned since finishing it (and loving it). Some thought the twist was contrived or something something, but it was the first book of the year I paused while reading just to savor the words. I loved it, twist and all.
6. How to Love. Do you have a TV show or movie that you revisit all the time because it just hits a particular note for you? It's not necessarily great or award-winning but it's what you seek out on rainy days when you just need to warm up? For me, that movie is Catch & Release, and it's also this book. I just loved it, start to finish, despite knowing it was basically a guilty pleasure. I loved it so much that after my library's loan expired, I bought the book to have in my house forever.
5. I'll Give You the Sun. For those of you who don't think you enjoy reading young adult books, I suggest starting with this one. It's not great young adult fiction, it's just great fiction. It's a beautiful story, despite how old the characters are. It's poetry, really. I never wanted this book to end. (Honorable mention to The Sky is Everywhere for being almost as good. Jandy Nelson, get to writing a dozen more books, please!)
4. Althea & Oliver. I understood so well the love between these characters regardless where it went or how messy and complicated it became along the way. I could see this book as a movie or, even better, a CW show that further explored Althea's time in New York. And the writing was top-notch. I practically shivered as she wrote about the cold New York weather. Different and quirky and sad and lovely, and I thought the ending was just perfect.
3. What Alice Forgot. What an unexpectedly wonderful book. It was funny and sad, with so much perspective along the way. I wanted to have coffee with Alice by the end. (Having emotional feelings for fictional characters should be a resume skill of mine.) Another I wish I'd read with a book club.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird. I always say this is my favorite book, but a few pages in, I realized how silly that's been to say all these years since I remembered next to nothing about it. Thankfully, I loved it even more than I thought I did and hoped I would. After re-reading, I wanted to have another baby (or maybe just adopt another puppy) to name him Atticus. I wanted to tattoo "and only the children weep" on my arm (or maybe just frame the words in my living room). Another book that every single person should be required to read in their lifetime, and though I'm usually very much "to each their reading own" when it comes to books, if you didn't love this book, you're wrong.
1. The Art of Fielding. I read this Vanity Fair piece, about the book's writing and publishing process, and I'd almost recommend you read that first (though, heads-up, it's long), so you can enjoy the book that much more. This book is a masterpiece. It's long and maybe a little slow to start, and the characters all do terrible things at some point, but it's my favorite book of the year. And that wasn't even a hard decision to come by. It'll probably stay in my top-five favorite books of the decade. Whenever I hear about a book and I think, "Oh, that premise isn't for me," I'm going to remind myself that my favorite book of 2014 was about a small college's baseball team. It doesn't really matter what a book's about. All that matters is how a book makes you feel.
Now, I'd genuinely love to know what books you loved this year.