One more post to go in my week of bookish 2014 wrap-ups, and then we’ll really be done and on our way to 2015 reading! Coming up with book superlatives is always one of my favorite yearly wrap-up posts. Anyone else’s high school yearbook do “senior superlatives?” I actually won one – “shortest” – sigh. But even though my superlative was a bit of a disappointment (I was going for “Teacher’s Pet”) I still love doling out the awards to the books I read each year. So here we go, the bookish class of 2014…
Brainiest – This year’s Valedictorian is The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, for shedding light on an aspect of World War II history of which I was completely unaware. I was hooked from the first page, and I learned a lot.
Best Looking – With the whimsical illustrations and the gorgeous reprints of letters handwritten by J.R.R. Tolkein himself, Letters from Father Christmas is a shoo-in for this one. Tolkien’s children were lucky indeed, to get these beautiful missives every Christmas.
Best Friends – I wish I could have lived at Patty’s Place with Anne, Priscilla, Stella and Phil during their years at Redmond College. Whenever I need a dose of cozy girlfriend chatter, I know I can find it between the pages of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island.
Class Clown – This would have to be The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting, written under the supervision of Bunmi Laditan. I’m a huge fan of HT (as anyone who follows me on Twitter will be sure to know – sorry for all the retweets, but I can’t help myself!) and here my second-favorite toddler has written a parenting guide full of LOLs. I was rolling on the floor as I read it.
Biggest Jock – Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – And Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, is my pick for biggest jock. I can always count on SBS and Dimity for a dose of motherly encouragement in running, parenting and life. I bought their second Another Mother Runner book in hopes that they’d get me across the finish line of my first marathon. Pregnancy intervened, but I’ll be looking to my favorite #motherrunner duo for plenty of inspiration in 2015.
Teacher’s Pet – Hmmmm, this was a tough category to award this year. I usually have quite a few books in school settings, but not for 2014. So, the superlative goes to Laura Ingalls Wilder, circa These Happy Golden Years, in which Laura tries her hand at teaching to help support her family and save money for her sister Mary to go away to a college for the blind. Teaching is not Laura’s passion, to say the least, but she does her best, and for that she’s Teacher’s Pet this year.
Biggest Nerd – This year’s award goes to a book nerd – a lady after my own heart! Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch will speak to any bookworm who has read her way through the same favorite classic, to the point where it becomes part of her life story. (That’d be Jane Eyre for me, but I certainly know what Mead is talking about.)
Most Creative – I read a lot of creative books this year, but The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker, takes the prize. Wecker merges two cultural traditions, and two mythical beings, into a rich tapestry of a story in which 1890s New York City is another living, breathing character. I hung on every word and didn’t want the book to end, ever.
Most Opinionated – God is an Astronaut, by Alyson Foster, might seem like an odd choice for this superlative, but stick with me here. Reading between the lines of the story, which describes the crumbling marriage of a botany professor and her husband, an executive in a private space travel company weathering a major catastrophe, there’s a lot here about science and ethics.
Most Likely to End Up in Hollywood – Let me preface this by saying that if this book does end up in Hollywood, I won’t be going to see the movie. I’m not a horror fan in general, and while I did frantically turn pages to see what would happen in M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, and while I think it would make an incredibly gripping movie… it’s just way too scary for me!
Biggest Rebel – Is there a rebel more rebellious than Flavia de Luce? I read four of her adventures this year – A Red Herring Without Mustard, I am Half Sick of Shadows, Speaking from Among the Bones, and The Dead in their Vaulted Arches – and loved every moment of watching my favorite diabolical chemist break all the rules, solve murders and torment her two obnoxious older sisters.
Biggest Loner – Amy Gallup, from Jincy Willet’s The Writing Class and Amy Falls Down, wins this category, hands-down. All Amy wants is to hole up in her house with her resentful Basset hound, Alphonse, and write her blog “GO AWAY.” But the outside world keeps intruding on Amy – first in the form of a murderous writing student, and then later in the form of unexpected career success. What’s a washed-up recluse to do? (Read these books, please. They’re terrific!)
Cutest Couple – I read so many books with fantastic romantic plots this year, but the 2014 superlative just has to go to Laura and Almanzo Wilder, from the Little House books. I mean, Almanzo sensing Laura’s homesickness and arriving every Friday on his sleigh to bring her home from her teaching job? And still showing up even after she told him she was basically just using him for the ride? Swoon.
Most Likely to Succeed – Marcus Samuelsson is a true success story, as his memoir Yes, Chef perfectly illustrates. Born into poverty in Ethiopia and adopted, along with his sister, by a Swedish family, Marcus cultivates a love for cooking and follows his passion all the way to the top rung of the foodie career ladder – winning “Top Chef,” cooking for President Obama, and opening his own restaurant in Harlem. He doesn’t gloss over his mistakes and failures, but you’ll cheer for him all the way.
And that wraps up my look back at bookish (or not-so-bookish) 2014! How was your year in reading? What book was your valedictorian, and who was your prom queen?