My 2014 Reading Recap!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2014 has finally come to an end, and I’ve read some great books in the process! To recap, I have completed 20 books, totaling over 6,877 pages! Eight of these were audiobooks, which goes to show how valuable my commute is in staying on track to meet my quota.

The video above discusses my top five books in detail, but below is the full list from best to worst. 2014 was all about comedic memoirs and chick-lit, with a few YA fantasies and works of literary fiction in the mix. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the new year!

Rating: 5 out of 5
1. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (2014)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
2. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan (2014)
3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (2014)

Rating: 4 out of 5
4. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan (2013)
5. Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella (2013)
6. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (2014)
7. When We Were Orphans – Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)
8. A Well-Tempered Heart – Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014)
9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (2012)
10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han (2014)
11. My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler (2004)
12. A Lot Like Love – Julie James (2011)
13. About That Night – Julie James (2012)
14. Love Irresistibly – Julie James (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5
15. I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Samantha Bee (2011)
16. The Bedwetter – Sarah Silverman (2010)
17. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (2014)
18. Deeply, Desperately – Heather Webber (2010)
19. Absolutely, Positively – Heather Webber (2011)

Rating: 2 out of 5
20. Reached – Ally Condie (2012)

So have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? And what were your top five books of 2014?

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2014 Reading Challenges!

If you’re on Twitter, follow @readwomen2014!

Last week I read an interesting article on The Toast by Lilit Marcus, a woman who made a resolution to only read books written by women in 2013. She published her experience on Flavorwire, and since then it has received a fair amount of interest.

In fact, The Guardian was inspired by her challenge and created the #readwomen2014 project, to shed more light on altering our reading habits to be more inclusive of female authors.

This got me thinking about my own reading choices. Of the 60 books that I have read between 2011 and 2013, 38 were written by women. Chick-lit and romance are two of my favorite genres, so it makes sense that many of my favorite authors–Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Julie James–are women.

However, it does get me riled that the majority of what is considered to be the Western canon is dominated by men. We’ve overcome a lot of sexism in the publishing industry, but we still have a long way to go in including women in the curricula of literature courses and recognizing their work in mainstream media.

I like the idea of making a personal reading resolution, and although my only resolution this year is to finish all the books currently sitting on my to-read bookshelf without adding too many to the list, I thought that I would add some alternative challenges in case you felt adventurous!

Besides reading only women in 2014, here’s ten other options:

  1. Read only books written by people of color (or to get specific, pick one country of origin).
  2. Read only books written by LGBT authors.
  3. Read only books published in your birth year.
  4. Read only books from or about one time period. It could be a particular decade like the 1920s or a historical event like the Revolutionary War.
  5. Read 26 books, with their titles beginning with one letter of the alphabet (alternative: pick by author’s first or last name instead of titles).
  6. Read only books of a particular holiday theme, like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
  7. Read only books with movie adaptations, then watch the movies afterward.
  8. Read only books from one genre you don’t typically read. 
  9. For American readers, choose book written by an author from each of the 50 states. I recommend John Steinbeck for California!
  10. Listen instead of read by having an audiobook-only year.

These are just some ideas, but let me know of any others you can think of! It’s always nice to expand your horizons, so get creative this year and commit to a reading challenge!

My 2013 Recap!

Well, another year has ended, and I’m always amazed by just how fast time flies by. Although working full-time has slowed my ability to post as regularly as I did when I first started this blog, I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished. I even made the decision to read less books so that I could be involved in NaNoWriMo for the first time, which was a great experience that has encouraged me to devote more time to my writing.

All in all, I read 15 novels, totaling 4,635 pages, ranging from young adult romance to WWII satire to mythological comedy. I’ve ordered them from best to worst, so click on the links for my reviews and add some to your 2014 reading list!

Image via Goodreads

5 out of 5
1. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (2011)
2. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker (2012)

4.5 out of 5
3. Every Day by David Levithan (2013)
4. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2003)
5. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent (2013)

4 out of 5
6. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (2005)

3.5 out of 5
7. Awaken by Meg Cabot (2013)
8. I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman (2013)
9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
10. Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien (2013)

3 out of 5
11. Gilded Age by Claire McMillan (2012)
12. My Nerdy Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson (2007)

2 out of 5
13. Jinx by Meg Cabot (2007)
14. Nerds Like It Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson (2006)
15. Pop Kids by Davey Havok (2013)

I also watched four movies related to books in some way, whether the film adapted the novel or vice versa. There’s many others I missed out on this year, so I foresee a few much-needed movie nights in the new year!

Image via Geek Tyrant

4.5 out of 5
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

4 out of 5
3. The Great Gatsby (2013)
4. Some Like It Hot (1959)

So what were your favorite novels and movies of 2013? And how will you be celebrating NYE…with a bang or just a good book?

15 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2014!

Hi everyone!

It’s been a lazy Sunday for me, after finishing my Christmas shopping and wrapping like a madwoman yesterday. Today, I’m just making some chicken and dumpling soup, organizing my stuff both online and IRL, and preparing for the last work week of the year before celebrating the holidays with family and friends.

I’m also reading my 15th and final book of 2013: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. It’s been an absolutely exquisite read so far, and I can’t wait to see how it all will end. What a fantastic way to close the year!

I also figured that since I’m reading my 15th book on the 15th of December, why not share 15 things I’m looking forward to in 2014? Sure, I could have picked 14 things to coincide with the new year, but I’ve always been a slight overachiever! So here we go!

1.     Celebrating my 25th birthday (on the 15th of September, no less!). One of my best friends is planning a surprise vacation for me, which I’ll find out about when we reunite for Christmas. She’s the perfect party planner, so I’m crazy excited!

2.     Paying off my student loan. My grace period ended last January, but in a year, I’ve managed to put over $3,000 to my student loan thanks to doubling the minimum payments and using my tax refund. I hope to eliminate the remaining balance so I can snowball those payments into my savings!

3.     Reading more books! Waiting for me on my bookshelf right now include Reached by Ally Condie, Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, and When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.

4.     Hollow City. The sequel to Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is finally being released on January 14th! Here’s to more creepy photos!

No shirt, no problem!

5.     The parade of pecs…I mean, of Greek myth movies. The Legend of Hercules (Jan. 10), Pompeii (Feb. 21), 300: Rise of an Empire (Mar. 7), and Hercules (Jul 25). Sure, they’ll probably hack the history, but hooray for chiseled chests and six-pack abs!

6.     The Hobbit: There and Back Again. I’m waiting to see The Desolation of Smaug with my family next weekend, but I’m pretty confident I will love it and this finale.

My Spidey sense is tingling 😉

7.     The Amazing Spiderman 2. Ok, last movie-related one, I promise. But it’s Andrew Garfield–’nuff said!

8.     The return of Community. Despite the drama off-screen, including Donald Glover’s early departure, I’m crossing my fingers for #SixSeasonsAndAMovie Cool cool cool!

9.     Game of Thrones, season 4. I realize that I’m wasting most of my bullets on the things I watch, but oh well! How could Peter Dinklage NOT make my list?

Blackjacks FTW!

10.     K-pop comebacks. Rumors are circulating that Korean girl bands 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation are planning to release albums early next year, and many more groups will be revealing new songs and videos. If you don’t know k-pop besides “Gangnam Style,” you’re missing out!

11.     Traveling to new places. I better boost my vacation fund, because the world is too big to sit in one spot for long!

Yummmm….

12.     Trying out new recipes. My “Nom Noms” board on Pinterest has a bunch of untested meals, and I’d like to get my cook on! I’m partial to anything with Nutella as an ingredient!

13.     Reaching 40,000 total blog views. And based on my stats, I should reach this milestone in a few months!

14.     Renewing my domain. I can’t believe I’ve been using bookclubbabe.net for almost a year! It’s been a wild ride!

15.      And of course, blogging! 2013 has been an incredible journey, and I know it’s only going to get better next year!

So what are you looking forward to in 2014? Let’s raise our glasses to another 365 days of awesomeness!