Top Ten of Twenty-Fourteen / by Madeleine

Welcome, Twenty-Fifteen!

Happy New Year and welcome to my Top Ten of 2014 roundup! I rang in 2015 with two of my favorite littles-- we celebrated with movie marathons, homemade pizza nights, and lots of bedtime stories (the best way to start a new year, if you ask me). The first of the year also marked my one year anniversary as the author of Top Shelf Text! I'll be chatting about that and reflecting on the past year early next week, but for now let me say thank you. Thank you to all of the readers who have followed me since the start, who have been patient when final exams and real life took precedence over the blog, and who have given me feedback. Needless to say, I love having conversations about literature with all of you!

I read a total of 56 books in 2014, and I loved most of them, so picking just ten to top my list was a tricky task, but without further ado, here are some of my favorite books from this year (in no particular order)...

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Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle

 If you've been a reader of Top Shelf Text for any amount of time, you'll know that I love books with strong female characters. Add that to a historical setting in which men ruled? Just perfect, if you ask me. I read a few historical fiction novels that were of similar vein to this story over the past year, and this was my favorite by far. You can read my review here. I'll be adding Freemantle's second novel to my list of books to read in 2015-- she'll definitely be on my list of authors to follow in historical fiction. 

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

 If you haven't read this book yet, you are missing out. Besides the fact that it has the best cover design ever, it was a hilarious story and if I could sum up the moral in one word, it would be...relax. Great for bookclubs, for vacations, for any day of the year. You can read me gush about it more here.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

This was the first year I tried out audiobooks with the Audible app. The monthly subscription was a little too pricey for me to keep up with, but I loved listening to this book. I'm a fan of Tina Fey in any setting (sidenote: have you seen This is Where I Leave You yet? If not, put that on your list-- she kills it.) and listening to her narrate her own hilarious memories made the book even better. I had already read the book, but this was so good I listened to it twice.

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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

I'd recommend this book to any parent, teacher, or anyone interested in children and education. This was the first that I read outside of a syllabus, and although it was slower-moving for me than a normal book (we all know I'm not one for nonfiction reads), I found it to be thought-provoking; sometimes  I agreed wholeheartedly, sometimes I found myself shaking my head, but either way I found it was a great conversation base. 

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Euphoria by Lily King

 I loved how complicated the relationships in this book were. It was an easy, fast, and completely enthralling read. You can read my review of it here.

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The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

A standout from this year. Whimsical, eccentric, and the characters are just charming. I also loved the second in the trilogy and have the third pre-ordered for its release in July of this year. You can read about my adoration for this series here.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Bittersweet, because as much as I loved reading this book, it marked the end of one of my new favorite trilogies. I may just have to re-read the whole thing this year.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This was my year for classics to have second chances, and although last year this book was one that I wish I liked more, I tried it for my classics challenge this year and read it in a whole new light. A changed perspective can really have an impact on my interpretation of a book. I'll be looking to read other books by Fitzgerald this year.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

No one was more surprised than me when I got hooked by this book. I've been an avid reader my whole life, and I admitted last year that I felt a little embarrassed that I had never finished a novel by Jane Austen. I ended up loving this story and hope to read at least one more Austen novel this year. 

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Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

This is one of those rare favorites in that every time I read it, it gets even better. You know a book is good when it pulls you out of a book rut, and when it connects readers who rarely enjoy the same books. It's just plain fascinating.


Bonus! My Top Two Children's Picks

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (Series) by Maryrose Wood

I've only read the first three books in the series so far, but this is one of the best children's series that I have ever read. Ever. You can read my reviews here: one & two. I'll continue to review the entire series as I read it, so keep an eye out for a review of the third one soon. I've been waiting to buy the fourth because I wanted to find it in paperback (anyone else obsessive about having an entire series in paperback or hardcover but never a mix of the two?? It just looks wrong on my shelf), and the fifth will be released this year.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Series) by Trenton Lee Stewart

I read this series for the second time last year and loved it even more than the first time I read it. You can read my reviews of the first and second, and trust me that the rest of the series is just as good. I love these books because they're quirky, and because the characters are each intelligent in a unique way, which I think is important for young readers to see modeled in characters that they admire. 

Thanks for following along with me this year-- I can't wait to see what 2015 holds!