The Best Books in 2014 + Five Books I’ll Be Reading in 2015

Although we’re a solid three weeks into January, I am still wrapping up all of my lists for last year. I have a flurry of “Best of” posts waiting to be published, with my top ten list of movies post coming out sometime near the end of this month. I’m still holding out to see Selma and Foxcatcher, although I’m unsure if I’ll be able to make both before I need to publish my list. All of that said, let’s get back to the point of this post.

Here’s my ranking of the best five books I read in 2014:

5. Son (2012)
by Lois Lowry

I really enjoyed Lowry’s YA quartet of stories that all started with The Giver, a book that has inspired countless popular dystopian stories today. While I think all four books are well-written, I enjoyed Son the most out of the three sequels because it concluded the stories and tied together all of the primary characters we got to meet in The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000), and Messenger (2004). Lowry intertwines the overall themes of sacrifice and love, with good overcoming evil in the end. I’m thankful that I didn’t discover the series until last year, because I’m not sure how much I would have wanted to wait 19 years for a conclusion.

4. The Giver (1993)
by Lois Lowry

No doubt The Giver is the strongest, and perhaps most thrilling book in Lois Lowry’s quartet of stories that start with a boy named Jonas. Bestowed upon him at the transitional age of twelve, the title and job of being the Receiver of Memories casts a burden on the shoulders of a boy who starts to question the world in which he lives. An unsuccessful and inferior film based on the book was released in 2014, starring Jeff Bridges and a misplaced Meryl Streep. I’d recommend The Giver because its simple plot keeps you thinking after you’ve read the book. After reading multiple popular dystopian YA books over the past few years, I realized that The Giver stands apart from the mass not only for being published in the early ’90s, but also for its unique position in having inspired so many other stories.

3. Ready Player One (2011)
by Ernest Cline

Given the premise, I originally thought Ernest Cline’s first book would appeal more to gamers than the average person. And I imagine that in some sense, it does. But it’s a fascinating story that takes place in a virtual world, yet asks a deeper question that proves relevant for any person today. If you appreciate the pop culture of the 1980s, then I suggest you read Ready Player One immediately. If the past gets you nostalgic, if you have a soft spot in your heart for the Back to the Future films, or if you have a deep love for RPG games, then Ready Player One is the book for you. If you like adventure stories, underdog tales, superheroes, and squeal when the smart guy gets the girl, then you should probably get your hands on a copy of Ready Player One. If none of those reasons apply to you, and you enjoy a good book, then download Ready Player One on your device and start reading it. Need I give you more reasons?

2. Gone Girl (2012)
by Gillian Flynn

“Thrilling” and “dark”: those are the best two words to describe Gillian Flynn’s novel. Most people are familiar with both the title and the story by now, after the novel was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film last year. Having read the book and then seen the movie, I would no doubt admit what most people would: the book was better. The film was good, yes, but there’s something much creepier when you are alone in discovering the mystery behind Amy Elliott Dunne’s death. While I would have preferred less language, and could easily chalk up Gone Girl to a whodunnit mystery thriller starring Mr. and Mrs. Sociopath, what makes Gone Girl so engaging is the order in which Flynn makes her reveals. Not only are we terrified to find out what happens next as we see what happens through Nick’s eyes, but we also have our belief suspended on Ms. Flynn’s impeccably-written order of events. Thanks to her brilliant timing, as readers we get to experience the rush of solving a mystery, only to nervously proceed to find out what’s happening next. Suffice it to say the movie experience did not compare.

1. Cuckoo’s Calling
by Robert Gailbrath

It is for books like Cuckoo’s Calling that we have a list of inspiring characters and stories to thank, and in this case, I would start with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Multiple adaptations and inspiring and visionary TV shows, films, and characters have been crafted from Conan Doyle’s best known crime solver and detective. Cormoran Strike, the protagonist of Cuckoo’s Calling, is not much like Detective Holmes, but the similarities in both what they do is apparent in reading the first of J.K. Rowling’s crime fiction novel series. As Rowling peels back the layers of the man who is Cormoran Strike, I found myself sympathizing with his personal circumstances and curious about the case surrounding Lula’s death. Rowling has a way of drawing in readers and keeping them compelled the entire time. I haven’t read The Silkworm, the first of multiple sequels in the works, but I’m planning to in 2015. Truly, the credit has to go to the creative mind of the author, because it is with explicit detail that Cuckoo’s Calling is fashioned, and it unfolds much like a TV mini-series would, where you can’t help but watch the entire series in one sitting. Whether or not one is a fan of the Harry Potter series, which made Ms. Rowling a household name not only in her home country, but also across the globe, one who enjoys an intense and thrilling crime mystery would have a hard time putting down Cuckoo’s Calling. Of course, I speak from my own experience. I found Cuckoo’s Calling to be the best book I read in 2014. It stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

A week and a half ago, I wrote a few New Year’s Resolutions posts for 2015, one of which is to read more books. I read only ten books in 2014, so I mentioned how I’d like to improve on that number by reading twenty-five this year. I picked twenty of them, and then I asked the rest of you for suggestions for my last five. Per your recommendations, these are the five I chose:

5. And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

4. The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

3. High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

1. The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

To view my entire reading list for the year (twenty-five books total), or to see an update on where I am in my reading, check out my New Year’s Reading post here.

Stay tuned for the “best of” in music, TV, and movies this week and next. Thanks again to everyone who offered recommendations for my reading list this year! 🙂

What were the best (and worst) books you read in 2014? What are you planning to read this year?

20 thoughts on “The Best Books in 2014 + Five Books I’ll Be Reading in 2015

  1. Thanks for taking my And Then There Were None suggestion and also I’m glad you’re gonna read The Night Circus too.

    If I can suggest one more: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.

    I wanna read the new book, ‘The Girl on the Train’. I hear it’s like a Gone Girl type of a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read a whole lot of Vonnegut last year and the previous year. If you haven’t read any Kurt Vonnegut, I highly recommend you dip your toe into one of his books – they’re insanely short!

    Think my favourite book of last year was Stephen King’s It. It’s a hell of a long book. Worth the read though. Thinking about it just gives me goosebumps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Jaina! Ya know, I haven’t read any Vonnegut. What’s his most well-known book? Perhaps I’ll have to check some of him out if I make it through the rest of the books on my list this year.

      When I think of It, I think of the movie cover. I could never get myself to see the movie because it looked so creepy. I imagine the book is too! I can’t say I’m surprised it’s good, given that it’s written by Stephen King. Thanks for the recommendations!


  3. I read The Fault in Our Stars not really knowing about the John Green hype, and it was so hard not fall in love with it anyways. I hope you enjoy it, and if you see the movie, look forward to reading your thoughts about the adaptation. The Cuckoo’s Calling has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it. I just haven’t had the inclination to really dig into it since I wasn’t crazy about The Casual Vacancy. Maybe I’ll give it a-go sometime this year. Good luck with you reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Katy! Ya know, I don’t know much about the John Green hype either, but I’m really excited to check out the book because I LOVED the movie. I’ll be interested to compare the two mediums for sure, after I’ve finished the book.

      It’s interesting you bring up The Casual Vacancy – I never even bothered checking it out because I heard it was so bad from several people. Cuckoo’s Calling is nothing like it (from what I know), and Rowling goes back to her “Harry Potter” roots in better writing, if you ask me. I’d love to know what you think of it if you read it this year! Thanks for the well wishes – same goes to you too!


  4. The Night Circus is brilliant but I think The Fault in Our Stars is totally overrated and I actually preferred the film. My favourite books of last year would be Gone With the Wind, The Goldfinch, The Tiger’s Wife and Eleanor and Park. I haven’t made my to read list for this year now but I have had Ready Player One on my list for ages so after your review I might start with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Abbi! I’m really looking forward to reading The Night Circus. The plot sounds really interesting.

      Ahhh, oh yeah? I did dig the film, which is a big reason I want to check out the book. I’ll keep that in mind as I read it this year.

      Sounds like you read some great books last year! I’ve been wanting to check out Gone with the Wind, but I know it’s super long, so for now, I’m holding back.

      Ooo, Ready Player One is really a lot of fun, I think. There are times when it gets a little too over-the-top with the references, but it is a thrill ride for sure.


  5. I loved The Night Circus, so good! I actually really enjoyed Ready Player One as well. I’m not really into games and such, so I wasn’t their target audience and I still got a kick out of it. That’s a good recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Jay! Thanks so much for stopping by the site. Wow, there is a lot of love for The Night Circus – I am excited to check it out! I’m glad you enjoyed Ready Player One. It was definitely one of my favorite books I read last year. Thanks!


  6. Hi Kris! Hope you are well. Wish I have time for books these days. Out of the ones you listed here I’m most intrigued by Cuckoo’s Calling. I am making time to read the Good Book this year though, starting w/ Genesis 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Ruth! Apologies for the late response. I feel ya – I am pushing myself this year, so we’ll see how I do. If there were any fictional murder mystery book I’d recommend, it’d be Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s such a great book, I think.

      Aww, that is great! I still need to make up my Bible plan for the year. Good for you!


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