What I Read In 2014: Book & Film Recommendations

Several years ago I started keeping an annual list of what I read (as well as what films & TV shows I watch). I was partly inspired by my friend Don Wenzel’s annual list, since I enjoyed seeing if any our reading overlapped when I looked at his list.

I had also recently been asked on blogs or interviews, two years in a row, to name the best books or films I’d consumed that year… and, being me, I went blank both times and couldn’t remember anything I’d read or seen all year. So I decided I should start keeping a list. This has effectively prevented anyone from asking me again–so it’s working!

And, finally, I found that I was ordering, reserving, buying, opening, and/or starting various books and films twice, and only realizing after a few chapters of reading or twenty minutes of viewing that I’d already read/watched this story–or had already tried it once and hadn’t liked it enough to keep going. This is especially easy to do when you’re on an Agatha Christie binge, as I have been lately, since it’s hard (for me, at least) to remember all the titles.

I didn’t read as many books in 2014 as I had intended (though I almost doubled my “reading” with audiobooks, coming up in a near-future post). Given the size of my To be Read pile, my goal for 2015 is to double my reading.

Anyhow, here’s the list:

  • The Silence, Sarah Rayne (iPad)
  • Fortunately, the Milk [children’s book], Neil Gaiman (iPad)
  • Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman (iPad)
  • Death Ain’t But A Word, Zander Marks (iPad)
  • In and Out of Character, Basil Rathbone
  • The Oldie: Jennifer’s Diary (by One Fat Lady) [collected columns], Jennifer Paterson
  • The Love Talker (re-reading), Elizabeth Peters (iPad)
  • Be the Monkey, Barry Eisler & Joe Konrath (iPad)
  • “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” [novella], Ted Chiang* (iPad)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” [novella], Ted Chiang (Subterranean online)
  • “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” [novella] Ted Chiang* (Subterranean online)
  • The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon, and the Big Six Publishers Changed the E-Book Business Overnight [Kindle Single], Andrew Richard Albanese (iPad)
  • “What the Hell Is Going On With The Debt Ceiling?” [Kindle Single], Stephen Dove (iPad)
  • “Wakulla Springs” [novella], Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (iPad)
  • The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, Matt Baglio
  • The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine Warren, Gerald Brittle (iPad)
  • “India Dishonoured: Behind A Nation’s War On Women” [Kindle Singles], Sunny Hundal (iPad)
  • Ghost Song, Sarah Rayne
  • The Dark On the Other Side (re-reading), Barbara Michaels (iPad)
  • Death Comes As the End, Agatha Christie (iPad)
  • Here I Stay, Barbara Michaels (re-reading)
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie (iPad)
  • Agatha Christie’s The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah (iPad)
  • This Is My Letter To the World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle One [short stories], Catherynne M. Valente (iPad)
  • Break In, Dick Francis (iPad)
  • The Hollow, Agatha Christie
  • Hickory Dickory Dock, Agatha Christie
  • “The Three Monarchs: A Sherlock Holmes Short Story,” Anthony Horowitz (iPad)
  • “A Plague of Zombies” [novella], Diana Gabaldon (iPad)
  • The Honey Month, Amal El-Mohtar (iPad)
  • The Day Diana Died, Christopher Anderson
  • Third Girl, Agatha Christie (iPad)

This year was the first time I ever read Ted Chiang, and now I understand why he appears on awards ballots almost every time he releases a story. His “Lifecycle of Software Objects,” in particular, has really stayed with me.

My mom recommended Sarah Rayne’s Ghost Song to me, which I really enjoyed when I got around to it. Since I happened to come across a copy of The Silence first, I read that initially. I enjoyed it, but would agree that Ghost Song is the better novel and the one I really recommend: A surveyor in contemporary London starts uncovering a dark and complex mystery when evaluating an old music hall that’s been boarded up for nearly a century.

I’m a huge fan of a writer and Egyptologist named Barbara Mertz, who wrote bestselling fiction under the pen names Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, and it’s my habit to re-read a few of her novels almost every year. The Dark On The Other Side is one of my very favorite Michaels novels and I’ve re-read it a number of times.

Thanks to getting an iPad last year, I’ve started reading Kindle Singles, a “curated” program (meaning, there’s an editor) which has become a new home for long form journalism. I highly recommend “The Battle of $9.99” to anyone who wants a better or more informed understanding of the collusive price-fixing scheme for which the Department of Justice filed antitrust charges against Apple and five major publishers. I also found “India Dishonoured” shocking and eye-opening.

I started reading Agatha Christie a couple of years ago, an author I had tried and not particularly liked when I was younger. For whatever reason, that has changed with time and now I’m really enjoying her books. I found Death Comes As the End memorable, since it’s set in ancient Egypt, whereas everything else she wrote was set in the era she was writing it (which means her fictional world covers more than fifty years of the 20th century).  Anyhow, between print and audio, I think I’m about halfway through Christie’s body of work, and I intend to keep going and read it all.

So what were some of your favorite reads during 2014?

2 thoughts on “What I Read In 2014: Book & Film Recommendations

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