It's that time again - my 2014 in the books I read. This year was significantly different in many ways though and I think my reading choices and my reading favorites from the year will show that. As a result, I'm doing this book year in review a little differently.
The Book that Changed My Life in 2014: Court Duel by Sherwood Smith
One-sentence blurb: The politics of overthrowing an evil ruler and replacing him with someone who is good has never been an easy road to tread.
My life: For the last year and a half of graduate school, I had a great patron of the arts who handed over book after book for me to read and I eagerly consumed just about everything that came my way. In fact, I have been so spoiled by her recommendations and our book discussions that I almost feel at a loss here in Boston despite having three library cards. I must confess I started this book slowly until it gripped me and I finished it so quickly that I woke up the next day, excited to keep reading it and realized that the story was already at its end. So I read parts of it again and again and again. And then broke down and read it all over again. And then I still continued reading parts of it. It's like I couldn't get enough of Shevraeth but neither could I figure him out. He confused me and inspired me, a puzzle that I couldn't solve but I wasn't really sure why I had to solve it anyway. I haven't figured him out even now but somehow along the way, Shevraeth became a good friend and is now a permanent part of my reading fall-backs. Some friends are made in the difficult times of our lives and those friends are the ones worth keeping.
Authors that Have Left a Permanent Impression:
Genre: Young Adult and Adult Contemporary (yep, I looked it up)
My life: Although I had a friend who told me about this author, it wasn't until I heard an interview she did on NPR that I started asking questions. I sprinted through Attachments, Fangirl and then Landline. I recommend them all but Landline will leave you breathless in a good way. She explained in the interview that not a lot of books focus on the romance of life after marriage and her book focuses on it in a way that inspired me even though I've never been married and know little about romance in general. Rowell's books remind you that love is about caring deeply and being loyal and how people are worth the sacrifices we make for them and they also leave a strong message that someone somewhere someday will love you for who you are, warts and all. Given the difficulty of my living situation, these books were a message I craved to hear.
Keigo Higashino -
My life: Confession: I've never really been into mysteries. Murder mysteries? I pretty much avoid them as much as possible. I can't really say what possessed me to pick up one of his books from the library or why I continued reading past the first chapter when it was clearly a murder mystery. But keep keep reading I did, and soon enough, I was laughing. Out right and out loud. I wasn't sure if it was a bad translation or just a misunderstanding of Japanese culture but when the wry sense of humor I sensed in one of the characters appeared again and again, I had to believe it was on purpose. I finished the book and spent an entire year looking for ways to get my hands on more. I've now finished three of his books and still clamoring for more. I learned something new about myself: I can enjoy a good mystery.
Genres: Fantasy and Mystery
My life: Armed with a list of my Japanese friend's favorite authors, I went looking for this author. Then, imagine my surprise when I was in the youth section of the library and found a large 800 page book by her. Miyuki created worlds that always had me scratching my head but also left me inspired and thinking about long after the book was closed and the story finished. It was tempting to live in her worlds but the interesting thing is that her worlds always, always asserted that life is better than any fantasy. Live in the present. Your good efforts will not be enough to change the world but somehow they will be enough to change you. Good words to remember as I start to carve out a new life.
Summary of my 2014:
I spent eight and a half months of this year sleeping on the bedroom floor of a friend and six weeks sleeping on the bedroom floor of my sister. I was unemployed for six months and looking for a job for ten. I moved twice. These first twelve months post PhD have been hard, harder than I anticipated. And somehow the wounds from my graduate school are still so gaping and obvious that I bite my tongue to keep back the bitter words and the bitter tears.
In many ways, I am glad that 2014 is behind me. But in some ways, I am shocked to find myself loathe to leave it.
With the stress and uncertainty of 2014, I also found that the loved ones around me are true and faithful and won't let me fall or give up or starve. For that lesson alone, it was all worth it.