"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Read This Year (So Far)

This week on Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), the top is the top 10 books we've read this year.  2014 hasn't been the best year for many reasons, but at least I've read some great books.  Apparently it's easier to fit reading into your day when you have roughly 87 doctor's and ultrasound appointments...  Anyway, here are my top books for the year:

1.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen:  I read this in high school and didn't like it as much as Austen's other books, but reading it again recently, I realized just how funny it is.  I didn't appreciate the satirical elements when I was 15.  I will definitely be reading this again one day.

2.  Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell:  I didn't like it as much as North and South, but a great read, with interesting characters and a story that drew me in.

3.  The Giver by Lois Lowry:  Don't know how I missed this growing up, but what a great book!  Given the prevalence of "dystopian" YA fiction, I've appreciated reading some older dystopians as comparison, and The Giver is definitely a must-read.

4.  Kindred by Octavia E. Butler:  I love time travel, and this one was recommended by a good friend.  WOW!  A time travel story involving an African American woman who is unable to keep from slipping between the 1970s and the Antebellum South.  Gripping and well-written.

5.  Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill:  So apparently, I've read a lot about slavery recently... This book tells the fascinating story of Aminata, a young girl from Africa who is captured and sold into slavery.  Her tenacity and intelligence lead her from the South, to New York, to Nova Scotia, and back to Africa.  A fantastic book.

6.  The Reader by Bernard Schlink:  From slavery to post-WWII Germany, I'm a barrel of laughs today.  This book isn't for everyone, but it's a really thought-provoking read about a teenage and his much-older lover, as well as a metaphor for dealing with the legacy of WWII.

7.  The Secret History by Donna Tartt:  The disturbing tale of a group of undergraduate students and their odd Greek professor, and how their relationship turned from friendship to betrayal. 

8.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  Yep, I did read at least one happier book.  The story of Cath, moving out to go to college and adjusting to her new roommate, the strained turn in her relationship with her twin sister, and her obsession with writing Simon Snow fan fiction.  I loved this book.

9.  Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin:  I mentioned this recently, but Team of Rivals ranks as one of my favourite biographies of all time.  I raced through this because I found Lincoln and his companions so interesting.

10.  Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum:  I've had this on my shelves for a couple of years, and only now picked it up.  This book chronicling the history of the Soviet GULAG system, as well as what life was like within it, is certainly a heavy read, but it is extremely well-researched, thorough, and interesting. 


  1. I think need to re-read Mary Barton at some point, it's my least favourite Gaskell novel and I feel like I didn't give the novel much of a chance. Yay for Fangirl, The Reader (it raises questions, to say the least), and Northanger Abbey! I have yet to read Applebaum's Gulag: A History; strangely enough despite having written a few papers on the 1930s, I never used it as a reference or read it outside of class...

    My TTT

    1. It took me a while to decide to read Gulag: A History, just because it's such a depressing subject matter, but it is really good. The most surprising thing is that while I was reading it, several people asked what I was reading, and not one of them knew what the Gulag was.

      I definitely didn't enjoy Mary Barton as much as North and South, but it did hold my attention and I liked it.

  2. Ever since I adopted my daughter, who's bi-racial, I've found slavery books to be even more poignant reads for me. I can't read them without thinking about how different life would have been for her had she been born during that period in history. Makes them more disturbing, but also more affecting. I'll definitely put KINDRED and SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME on my TBR list. Thanks for the head's up!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I've just checked out your blog, and I definitely would recommend Octavia Butler. She was one of the first African American sci-fi writers, in a genre that is typically geared towards White men. She has a few dystopian books as well, for example The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents. They aren't cheerful, but they're interesting.