Before we get to the list…
It was a busy year, and maybe not the year I expected, but a good year anyway. LIFE BY COMMITTEE, my second book, came out in May to some great reviews, and was on the Summer 2014 Indie Next list. OCD LOVE STORY came out in paperback, and it’s been fun seeing a new group of readers discover the book!
It has been a year of firsts! I sold my first middle-grade novel, RULES FOR STEALING STARS. I started to learn how to cook (like a real adult!) I started barre, started teaching (which i love!), started writing at home thanks to a new apartment, and started turning OCD LOVE STORY into a play.
I went to the Bahamas. I went to Portugal. I went to Tennessee. I went to a lot of weddings. I said goodbye to my old apartment and a lot of crappy memories, and I read less than I planned to.
2015 is going to be wonderful and insane. That’s my official prediction. I have two books coming out– my third YA novel, MAKING PRETTY (May 2015) and my debut MG novel, RULES FOR STEALING STARS (September 2015). Plus my adaptation of OCD LOVE STORY will be the Fall 2015 play at my old high school outside Boston! I’m looking forward to a very busy year, personally and professionally, a lot of travel, and hopefully lots more reading than I managed this year!
NOW. Top ten books I read this year. This is a list of books I read in 2014, not necessarily ones that came out this year. I include both YA and Adult, and I tried to draw a line and not include books whose authors are super duper close friends, because those books would automatically be at the top of the list and then I would have 12 number one books and nothing in the other slots. Great books by many of my writer friends either came out this year or I read them this year. Do yourself a favor and check out books by Brandy Colbert, Kristen Kittscher, Caela Carter, Amy Ewing, Jess Verdi, Alison Cherry, and Lindsay Ribar.
And here’s the list!
10. CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois: If you are interested in Amanda Knox, this adult novel is for you. It wasn’t perfect, but it was interesting and readable and easy to recommend.
9. ONE MORE THING by BJ Novak: I was so surprised at how smart and wise and arresting these short stories were, along with being funny. A really interesting book/palate cleanser from one of the writers/stars of The Office.
8. BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer. I only liked this book for about 2/3 of the read. Then I fell in love with it. Wolitzer’s a great, confident writer and this book surprised me in the best way. A great contemporary YA that draws from my favorite book as a teen, THE BELL JAR.
7. KISS KILL VANISH by Jessica Martinez: One of the most beautifully written YAs ever, in my opinion. This is a thriller with a focus on setting. I blurbed this one, so you can see what I thought of it on the book, but I think it’s incredibly unique and thrilling and special. A good one for literary fiction readers who don’t yet know they could love YA.
6. ALTHEA AND OLIVER by Cristina Moracho: Similarly to KISS KILL VANISH, this is a YA novel with exceptional writing. The characters are what make the novel truly stand out, and their relationship is so complicated and so honest and dangerous and loving and raw. Male-female friendships are rare in YA and this one is twisty and close and overwhelming. A great, complex contemporary YA novel.
5. FICTION RUINED MY FAMILY by Jeanne Darst: This memoir about a family with a few too many writers in it blew me away. At once painful and funny, it covers family dynamics, addiction, mental health, and NYC. Absolutely one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read, my experience reading it was a lot like that of reading one of my top five books of allllll time, THE LIAR’S CLUB.
4. THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE by Leslie Connor. I discovered Leslie Connor last year when reading her incredible MG, WAITING FOR NORMAL, and was so pleased to discover her YA is just as special. Lyrical writing, a culturally rich family life, a true-feeling narrator and a heartwrenching love story, this should be at the top of your YA reading list.
3. THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu: I read this book in one sitting, which is rare for me. This YA book is about the complex ways stories about sexual abuse get distorted, retold, and misunderstood. I think it’s an important book for readers of every age, especially at this moment in time. This is a truly masterful novel.
2. LIKE NO OTHER by Una LaMarche: A Hassidic girl and a black boy from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn meet and fall in love. I love the cultural complexities in this YA novel, the powerful, clear writing, and that it didn’t remind me of any other book. I felt like I learned, was moved, and invested my whole heart in this story.
1. GOD SHAPED HOLE by Tiffanie DeBartolo: Over a year ago I asked for book recs of “epic love stories” and one of my favorite bloggers, Estelle at Rather Be Reading, recommended this one. I’d never heard of it, and it took me forever to get to it, but when I did I knew it would be my favorite of the year. I loved the LA setting, the sometimes sparse, always specific, uber-relateable writing and the balance of ugliness and beauty in a relationship. Even writing about it makes me desperate to live in the world of this exceptional adult novel again. It’s not a Big book, it’s a small story about two people finding and losing their way together, and it tells it like it IS, such a rarity in books about love. Please read this gorgeous novel.