Best Reads for 2014 + 2015 Reading Plans and Blogging Goals

Hello and welcome to my first post for the year! :)

image from We Heart It

Like so many other readers, I have come up with my short list of best reads for 2014 - I had to limit the list to just 5 titles because if I didn't, I would end up merely listing down half of the books I finished reading last year. Yes, I did read a lot of very good books last year, and it was difficult narrowing them down. But I did it, and here they are, without further ado:
1. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - 6/5 stars. Enough said.
2. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - Not his best, but I love it nonetheless.
3. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - What a good mindfuck.
4. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - What is the meaning of life?
5. The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman - Found the retelling to rival my favorite Snow, Glass, Apples also by Neil Gaiman.

I must also mention China Mieville's The City and The City and Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities by way of runners-up. They are also two of the best books I've read last year, and incidentally, they are both our book club's books for the month. What can I say, we read the most awesome books. ;)

2015 Reading Plans

Sometime during the middle of last year, I made a list of books (on Max, my iPhone) that I promised myself I’d read within the year; I called the books my “Must-reads for 2014.” In order to ensure self-compliance, I assigned each title to a particular reading month, taking into consideration the length of the book vis-à-vis the book club’s book for the month, which is mandatory reading. After
finishing each book, I would update the list with my personal rating.

While the list contained only 18 books, which included my Dare Reads for the book club (Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson), I wasn’t able to finish reading all of it. As of this writing, this is how the list looks like (I have deleted the months I assigned to each book
when I realized how futile my exercise already was):

True, I managed to read some of the titles, but I’m still a bit miffed at myself because, well, isn’t that the whole point of them being “must-reads”? That I be able to read them within the time allotted?

So, this year, I’m making a similar list of “must-read” books and carrying over those that I failed to read last year. As a goal, I’ll prioritize reading these books over others – excluding the book club’s monthly books, of course, and new titles from auto-buy/favorite authors (i.e., The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman, to name a couple).

2015 Must-Read Books

Carried over from 2014:
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Atonement by Ian McEwan
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastards #1) by Scott Lynch
Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

New additions:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
How to be both by Ali Smith
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

By way of motivation, I’ll put the list up in a separate page to keep tabs on my progress as the weeks pass. As additional motivation, I shall buy myself a cupcake after each book is crossed off from the list. Wish me luck? :)

Blogging Goals

Before the end of 2014, I promised myself I'd catch up with my write-up backlog, which, as of this writing, added up to 8 novels, 2 short stories/retellings, and 7 graphic novels. For reasons I can no longer recall, I was unable to write down my thoughts about a particular book immediately after (or, at the very least, just a few days after) reading it, causing the pile-up. Unfortunately, too many things happened all at once and there just wasn't a lot of time left for writing stuff over the holidays. And so the backlog is now carried over to the new year.

Still, I'm not giving up. I'll endeavor to conquer the backlog before January is over, and will try my best to write down my thoughts about books right after reading them, to whittle down the backlog further. Again, wish me luck? :)

This year, I'm also giving another look to my pet project, The Spark Project, through this lovely new banner courtesy of my gorgeous soon-to-be-mommy book club friend, Janus of The Blair Book Project:

Pretty, right? I love all the blues and silvers. Thank you, Janus! Now I'm looking forward to writing the first feature for the year. Speaking of which, do you wish to be featured in the Project? Please do drop me a line at monique1125[at]gmail[dot]com!

During the previous years, I enjoyed picking books to be read for a particular month, which began when I participated in my friend's Required Reading meme in her book blog. Even when she temporarily took a break from book blogging, I continued making my reading lists for specific months. This year, I'll carry on doing the reading lists at the beginning of the month because I find it fun, especially the photo-ops part. :D For my January reading list, stay tuned for a separate post for that.

That's it for now. How about you? What are your best reads last year? Any specific books/titles you wish to finish
within the year?


Louize DG said…
Yeee! I have almost everything in your 2015 reading list, too. And since I had a great time buddy reading with you last year...Do you mind buddy reading 'When We Were Orphans' by Kazuo Ishiguro with me?

I understand we have Perdido Street Station pa with Melissa and Aaron (who else?) early this year, right?
Anonymous said…
I am wishing you luck in your goals, Monique! And I am cheering you for Atonement.

Also, please, let's read Perdido Street Station with Mommy Louize, Aaron, Tin and Lynai. :)
Tin said…
Oi Perdido! Sige!

The Luminaries 6 stars out of 5! Na curious ako! The Sleeper and the Spindle rivals Snow, Glass, Apples! Na curious ako! Haha. At meron siyang bago? Trigger Warnings? Will note that one down.

And yes to keeping The Spark Project going! I had a blast being part of it last year. :)

Have a great 2015 Monique! (Also that's a lotta cupcakes. Haha.)
Monique said…
MOMMY L: Sure! Buddy, Beejay and I were supposed to read one Ishi late last year, but it never pushed through. Can we read it around April, though? :)

MELIZA: Yes, my copy is ready! We talked about reading Perdido around Feb, right? :)

TIN: Yes, it's Gaiman's newest book! Coming out this Feb. ;) Happy new year to you, too! :)
Angus Miranda said…
So many things to say! First, please read Atonement and The Known World this year! Atonement's popularity is directly proportional to its greatness, yes, but the less popular The (un)Known World is just as compelling.

Second, there's a spunky sparkly banner! Love it!

Third, Happy New Year! I still haven't made my reading goals and resolutions and best/worst this year. Will try to do these tonight. :)
Louize DG said…
Yes. Ishiguro on April and Perdido on February. Thank you!
Lynai said…
I think my comment yesterday got lost somewhere haha.

Anyway, yay to Atonement. And also, watch the movie if you haven't yet.

I am looking forward to reading Perdido Station with you. And, can I join you on We Were Orphans? I have my copy for many years already and this will be the perfect opportunity to read it. :)

Happy new year, Monique! Cheering you on your goals, especially the blogging part. :D
Monique said…
BUDDY: Consider it done! ;) Yay for the new banner, so gorgeous right? :D

MOMMY L: Got it. :D

LYNAI: Absolutely! Perdido on Feb and Orphans on April! It's a date! :)

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