It is mid-March now, so I know this is a little late, but I did not want to ruin Julia’s and my tradition to share our favourite books from the previous year. This is our third year in a row, and are our past favourites can be found here:
- Erin’s favourite books in 2013
- Erin’s favourite books in 2012
- Julia’s favourite books in 2014
- Julia’s favourite books in 2013
- Julia’s favourite books in 2012
So in 2014 I was on maternity leave for 10 months of the year, so I was a little pre-occupied much of the time. However, I still managed to read 41 books! Many of them were YA fiction, because they were easier to follow on very little sleep and with constant interruptions. Here are the five that I enjoyed the most:
For fans of The Hunger Games, I strongly recommend this trilogy. The story is set in a dystopian future after the world was basically destroyed and left a wasteland by a devastating world war. Each year 20 students are chosen to attend University to be the leaders of the future and help rebuild the world. To get to University, however, they must go through a testing process that is not what it seems – which is what the first book focuses on. The second two books follow the same group characters (at least those who made it) through University and real world placements – as well as their struggle to end the Testing. I thoroughly enjoyed the books; almost more than The Hunger Games!
The Bluest Eye was Toni Morrison’s first novel about a young, black girl, Pecola Breedlove, who wishes for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful as the blond, blue-eyed children in her town. Set in the 1940s in Ohio, Pecola’s life is far from easy – it is painful and devastating – even more difficult than that of most black children considering the prevalence of racism at that time. The story is about fear and loneliness and yearning to fit in. I found The Bluest Eye powerful, despite the sometimes disturbing content. It was one of those novels you think about for weeks after you finish.
I was in Grade 10 when the events at Columbine High School occurred, and the events of April 20, 1999 affected me profusely as a high school student and as one who was certainly not going to be voted most popular. There were many myths and untruths that were reported in the days, months and years after Columbine and many are still believed today by a significant portion of the population. Acknowledged as an “expert” on the Columbine events, Cullen speaks to almost everyone who had any involvement in that day – he talks to the untruths spread by the media, the real motivations of the two boys who carried out this horrific crime, and the aftermath on the town and school. I found this book to be incredibly insightful, objective and informative, as well as well written and engaging.
Ragged company follows the lives of four chronically homeless people–Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger. The foursome seek refuge in a warm movie theatre when a severe cold front hits their city and ultimately they fall in love with the movies. During one of their trips, they meet Granite, a lonely journalist who also uses movies as an escape, and begin an unlikely friendship. After finding a winning $13.5-million lottery ticket, it seems their fortunes have changed, however each struggles with their past, present and future in different ways. The book is emotional – devastating and hopeful all at the same time. I loved that you learned the background of each character and how it affected their lives both past and present. The book touches on various social problems – homelessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty – and sheds
some light on the many shades of gray involved. Nothing is
black and white.
“For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life” (from the back of the book). I really enjoy books set during World War 2 and find those set from the perspective of Germans very interesting – as I believe that we often forget they suffered too and that the majority were not Nazis. This particular novel was well-written and focused on the things humans are willing to endure to survive and the legacy those choices leave.