In 2013, I read 39 books. I also made a New Year's Resolution that in 2014, I would read 40 books.
And, in the first recorded case in history of someone failing to fulfill a New Year's Resolution, I only read 25 books.
I also wrote two books this year, but WHATEVER. It doesn't change the fact that I failed to hit my goal by a full 1/3.
...did I do that math right?
Anyway, 25 books is still a lot of books. And, if you're reading this, you care about what I have to say to some degree and for some reason, so here's the list of books I read, in order of how much I liked them.
- THE GREAT GATSBY: Cause, duh.
- UNBROKEN: Holy hell this book. Holy hell this guy's life. I read this book and for a whole week after I didn't complain when my Wi-Fi took longer than I thought it should. I'm the real hero of this story.
- ONE MORE THING: STORIES AND OTHER STORIES: This book came out of nowhere and smacked me upside the head with its awesomeness. I knew BJ Novak was funny. I had no idea he was also so smart, insightful and ... dammit, I kinda hate BJ Novak. He writes like I wish I could write. Asshole.
- THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN: This is just a plain amazing book. Beautiful and funny and honest and ugh.
- PASTORALIA: I love George Saunders. He's my spirit animal. And BJ Novak might just be his illegitimate child. GOD I hate BJ Novak.
- RED RISING: A YA book that packed a totally unexpected wallop. I'm not usually much of a sci-fi guy, but damn this book was a fun read. Will it change the world? No. But it will entertain the hell out of you.
- THE CATCHER IN THE RYE: I know, it's a classic. And yeah, it's great. But, by waiting till I was 35 to read it means I missed the chance to identify with Holden. And, therefore, missed the chance to really experience this book the way it should be - at age 17, when you feel like the whole world's against you and will never understand you.
- STATION ELEVEN: I love a good apocalyptic story. But this one is less about the end of the world and more about what happens after the end. It leaps back and forth in time a bit too much for me (and therefore I never really felt the plot propelling me to keep turning pages), but it's got fascinating characters and beautiful writing to spare.
- JOYLAND: I'm telling you, keep an eye on this Stephen King guy. I really think he might have a career as a writer.
- DARK PLACES: The sneaky, creepy brilliance on full display in Gone Girl shows up here too, though it suffers from a pretty implausible and coincidental final act. Still, she tells a bloody good story.
- THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER: Felt like reading a John Hughes movie. Funny, relatable, touching and page-turning.
- ELEANOR AND PARK: I know I'm being manipulated. I can see the strings. But dammit, Rainbow Rowell's story of young love still got me all choked up. And made me miss mixtapes.
- LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISH: Weird little book, but beautiful little book. David Rakoff was a singularly talented and imaginative writer.
- ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY: Memoir via prose poem. Really haunting in parts and kind of a slog for me in others.
- THE GIVER: Loved the writing, loved the concept, but didn't love the brevity or the conclusion. Still, another prime example of just how great YA can be.
- A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD: One of those books that I enjoyed the hell out of in parts, and felt like was too precious for its own good in others. Sometimes books that play with narrative structure feel gimmicky to me, and this was one of them.
- THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO: See above.
- THIRTEEN REASONS WHY: Too far down the manipulation hole for me. Also, enough with the mixtapes, YA authors.
- SHARP OBJECTS: I couldn't get past the implausible premise that launches our heroine on our journalistic adventure. And, in her debut novel, I thought she was unable to find the balance between unlikable character you root for and unlikable character you just don't like.
- BRAVE NEW WORLD: This one was a struggle. There were moments where I understood why so many call this a classic, and then there were large swaths that left me bored and uninterested.
- YES PLEASE: I may be in the minority on this one, but I wanted to read the story of a genius comedian and her rise through the ranks of - and struggles in - a male-dominated field. I did not want to read strange little essays, how she wasn't going to share personal details about her life in a memoir or her surface-deep musings masquerading as life advice. Amy Poehler is a brilliant comedian and actor and sketch writer. I just don't think she wrote a very good book.
- GONE: Cluttered and unsatisfying. Like one of those KFC bowls.
- THE MAZE RUNNER: The story of a kid thrown into a confusing world where nobody explains anything to him and he's fine with that.
- ALLEGIANT: I don't know what happened here. But it was a bummer.
- THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN - Haven't finished this one yet. So I don't know where it will ultimately land. It's well-written with a page-turning plot and interesting world, but it's also about vampires. So...