Monday, December 29, 2014

My 2014 Favorites: Fiction

What an unusual year 2014 has been! Long-term readers of Lakeside Musing  know I'm usually a classics and backlist kind of reader, but this year I embraced new releases like never before. After good luck with a few new and debut novels last winter, I requested a couple more from Netgalley and borrowed many, many others from the library. Several appear below and you'll see others on my list of audio favorites.

So these are my fiction favorites of 2014, listed in the order I read them. Of course, not all of these books were published this year.






The Gravity of Birds
by Tracy Guzeman






The Interestings
by Meg Wolitzer



The Vacationers 
by Emma Straub



We Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas



An American Tragedy
by Theodore Dreiser



Florence Gordon
by Brian Morton


Be sure to check back tomorrow for my favorites in audiobook fiction. Wednesday I will post my list of nonfiction favorites.


53 comments:

  1. A lot of good reads in 2014. I hope to read a lot of those in 2015.

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    1. Linda - Hope you like them all, too! I've been adding a lot of books to my 2015 list this week :)

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  2. I too really liked The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress. I wish I read Florence Gordon instead of listened to it, but I can see why it was a favorite. I still need to read The Vactioners!

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    1. Beth F - Too bad the audio of Florence Gordon wasn't great. If I had to select one favorite in print, that would be the one.

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  3. I read 5/8 of those from your list and really enjoyed: The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, Florence Gordon and We Are Not Ourselves.

    Happy Reading in 2015

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    1. Diane - Can't wait to see your list... I always end up adding the ones I haven't read to my list!

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  4. I love that you found something new in your reading ... and as I look at these lists among our reading friends, I also love that our lists of favorites are all so different, considering that we're kindred spirits. :) Happy new year, JoAnn! I wish you lots of happy reading (and a return trip to the Mount....)

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    1. Audrey - Reading so many new releases certainly was not a planned move, but it did work out well this year. Will head to backlist and classics again in 2015. I'd love a return trip to the Mount :)

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  5. Those are some great books in your list this yeat! Glad that you tried something new and it worked out for you so well. I haven't read any of those books but many of them are in my wishlist so I hope to get to them soon.

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    1. Athira - I'm hoping to focus more on the books I already own this year... both on my kindle and on my shelf.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your list JoAnn. I've read two on your list, but would like to read others.

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    1. Pat - These lists always have me adding books to my wish list!

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  7. Great books! I think I've added pretty much all of them to my TBR - several because of your reviews! It's been a fun reading year. I've been reading way outside my usual and have discovered some great books because of it.

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    1. Katherine - It's good to set aside our normal patterns very once in a while... this certainly was one of those years for me!

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  8. I thought I would enjoy We Are Not Ourselves more. The writing was indeed beautiful, and the story relevant, but somehow it didn't capture me as others did in 2014. Thanks for sharing your favorites, though, and as always being my blogging friend. xo

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    1. Bellezza - We Are Not Ourselves was the book that had the most profound effect on me this year. Wouldn't this be a boring community if we all loved the same books? Thank you for another year of blogging friendship.

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  9. I really loved The Interestings and The Vacationers.

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    1. Ti - I'll be reading more by Meg Wolitzer in 2015.

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  10. Great list! Wife, Maid, Mistress was on my overall Best of 2014 list and We Are Not Ourselves was on my Best Debuts list. The Interestings was on my overall list last year - AND I just read The Wife and absolutely adored it...maybe even more than The Interestings (and that's saying a lot). I think I have The Girl You Left Behind on my Kindle - I should read it! Sadly, The Vacationers was one of my bombs this year...very high expectations and just turned out kind of blah for me. Looking forward to the rest of your lists.

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    1. Sarah - I cannot wait to read The Wife!!

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  11. I love these year-end lists and am compiling mine to share later this week.

    I wish I could agree with you on The Interestings (tried twice but finally called it quits) and The Girl You Left Behind (not nearly as good as Me Before You or The Last Letter from Your Lover), but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll agree on Florence Gordon. I gave a copy to my mom this Christmas and hope to borrow it once she's finished.

    Looking forward to your audio list. I can't get over how many audio books I listened to this year!

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    1. Les - It took me two tries with The Interestings, but I ended up loving it... not sure why it spoke to me. Even though I didn't like the characters, I loved the concept of the group of friends/what constitutes success, etc.

      I haven't read The Last Letter From Your Lover yet, but my mother and sister both liked The Girl You Left Behind more than Me Before You, too. I'm sure in my case reading it on a beach last winter helped ;-)

      I'm not sure if you'll like Florence Gordon or not... there is very little action and the main character is not especially likable, but the writing is the best I've read this year. Will be curious to hear what you think.

      Audio list went up today :)

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  12. Great list! I haven't read any of these, though I've been meaning to read An American Tragedy for years.

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    1. Irene - I'm so happy to finally read An American Tragedy! I have been lugging that book around with me since high school. Now I want to read Sister Carrie, too.

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  13. That is an interesting list including my favorite stylistically challenged writer - Dreiser. A co-worker gave me a copy of The Vacationers and your rec definitely pushes me closer to reading it soon. But I do share Bellezza's thoughts on We Are Not Ourselves. Appreciated many things about it but just could not connect. Happy reading into the new year!

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    1. Frances - It's good to see you! I really loved An American Tragedy... a book I'd been moving from dorm to apartment to various homes for the past 30+ years. I'm planning to read Sister Carrie in 2015.

      I had a near perfect reading experience with The Vacationers last summer. Read it one weekend one the boat, by the pool, etc... bliss.

      It's been a long time since a book effected me as profoundly as We Are Not Ourselves... almost felt as if I'd been punched in the stomach at the end. Can't wait to see what Thomas writes next!

      Happy New Year and happy reading!

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  14. Loved the Meg Wolitzer. I believe she has a new YA novel out. One of the highlights of 2014. Happy New Year

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    1. Nicola - Belzhar nearly made my list! I don't read much YA and avoid magical realism, but loved that novel.... so strange.

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  15. I haven't read any of these, but I hope to get to a few of them next year. Happy New Year!

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    1. Vasilly - These year-end lists always add to my tbr pile. Happy New Year to you, too :)

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  16. I haven't read any of these and haven't even heard of some of them - so many good books for me to get to!

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    1. Aarti - Year-end lists always have me adding books to my wish list. So many great books out there.

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  17. I've seen Jojo Moyes pop up on several favorites lists. I need to read her in 2015!

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    1. Diana - I also read Ship of Brides from Jojo Moyes' backlist this year... all her books are excellent!

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  18. Wife, Maid & Mistress and We Are Not Ourselves made my list too. I did not get to three of these books, but plan to in 2015. Happy New Year.

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    1. Nise' - Weren't those great books? Even more impressive because they were both debuts.

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    1. Deb Nance - She's something, isn't she? ;-)

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  20. Yay! The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress made my top 5 too (posting tomorrow).

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    1. Stacy - My mother and sister both loved that one, too!

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  21. Fantastic list JoAnn! The first three you list I really loved as well. It's so hard to pick favorites. I liked so many more than my list reflected. Have you read Belzhar by Wolitzer? I listened to it on audio and it was awesome. I haven't listened to The Interestings yet but my library has it so hopefully this year.

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    1. Darlene - Your review convinced me to finally read The Gravity of Birds, so thank you! I loved Belzhar, too... it was on my original list and then I decided to shorten it. Still kind of wish I included it, or at least gave it an honorable mention.

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  22. I am SO looking forward to Florence Gordon.

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    1. Nan - You are in for a treat! Florence Gordon is the most beautifully written book I read in 2014.... she's a very memorable character, too.

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    2. My mom is really enjoying it, so I can't wait to get to it!

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  23. The Interestings and An American Tragedy are on my lists for best of 2014 too. So glad your review of Tragedy prompted me to finally pick it up!

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    1. Melissa - And I'm so glad you ended up liking it! I would have felt guilty otherwise ;-)

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  24. I have several of these still in my TBR stack!

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    1. Holly - Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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  25. I think The Interestings might be next up for me!

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    1. Lisa - I loved Wolitzer's Belzhar, too. The Wife is a must read for 2015.

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  26. I also chose We Are Not Ourselves for my best of 2014 list, and I simply must read Florence Gordon.

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    1. Diane - I can't wait to see what Matthew Thomas will write next! Florence Gordon is the most beautifully written book I read in 2014... hope you love it, too.

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