2014 was a year of good books: this time last year I went and bought up a bunch of books at the Yale bookstore and have read them throughout the year! I also nabbed a few more secondhand (including one for $1!) I really loved them all, which is pretty impressive, and I wanted to share with you all here. Since there’s no way I could rank these, I put them in the order I read them for you. 🙂
The Picture of Dorian Gray-Oscar Wilde
This is the first Oscar Wilde piece I’ve read! I was reading this around this time last year. It’s a story about a young man who is given a portrait of himself by his best friend and wishes that he could always stay young and beautiful while the picture ages. And guys-the best friend, Basil, is madly in love with Dorian. This was before homosexuality was acceptable at all in England (Oscar Wilde himself was convicted of “gross indecency with men”), but the chemistry there is really less than subtle. I really love this story, how it wraps up, and how Dorian transforms throughout the novel.
The Gods Themselves-Isaac Asimov
And this is the first Asimov story I’ve read! This one is really cool because all of the science in it is legit. Even how Asimov explains the interactions between scientists is the most accurate I’ve ever seen portrayed (he did have a Ph.D. in biochemistry…). This story deals with energy, politics, and parallel universes. The parallel universe includes some of the most unique aliens I’ve ever seen. I loved this book and have read it more than once this year. This isn’t part of Asimov’s famous Foundation series, but that’s what I need to look into next for sure!
Fahrenheit 451-Ray Bradbury
I don’t know how I JUST read this. I love love LOVE dystopian future novels. It’s about a future where books are banned, so “firefighters” are sent to burn any books that are found. The protagonist, Montag, is a firefighter who starts stealing some of those banned books. This novel follows what happens as Montag’s double life is discovered, and he decides to join a resistance. This is a classic for a reason, and I really loved it.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West-Gregory Maguire
Another one that shouldn’t have taken me so long to pick up. For one, I LOVE The Wizard of Oz. I always have, since I was a little kid (little known fun fact about me!). And for two, my college roommate was OBSESSED with the musical and played the songs all the time (hi, Emily!). I still haven’t seen it and I know most of the songs. Ooops! This story is wonderful, it’s a tragic story about Elphaba’s rise and eventual spiral into madness. This one really enthralled me, I finished it super quick because I couldn’t stop reading it! I was emotionally invested from the beginning for sure.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions-A. Square (Edwin A. Abbott)
This is the one I found for a dollar! It’s short but sweet. This one isn’t just about physics and dimensions, though. What I really loved about this is how the author really nailed the culture of Flatland. About the first half of the story is just explaining what Flatland is like. It explains the social strata, how the inhabitants can differentiate shapes when they can only “see” in two dimensions, and the “chromatic sedition” (a rebellion when some individuals tried to destroy the caste system with color!). The second half then goes into how the narrator envisioned Lineland, was taken to see Spaceland, and tried (and failed) to become a prophet for his people. The second half is still interesting and a little sad. But I really, really liked the portrayal of Flatland in this one. It’s definitely thought-provoking!
Ender’s Game-Orson Scott Card
Full disclosure: I already knew the big twist to the story before I read it. But the ending really threw me for a loop. Like…the very ending. It made me super emotional! I also liked the parts of this that focused on Ender’s siblings, and how they all change the world together, by each using their individual skills. Oh man. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. #nevergonnawatchthemovie #dontwanttoruinit
I still haven’t finished this one…oooooops. I got this in a Secret Santa last year (thanks, John!) and have read little bits and pieces since. Can I just say, I looooove how much Carl Sagan loves his wife. Omg. Such romance. Gaaah. I also love how much he loves science. And I love how conversational his tone is. I want to be able to write like that. You guys, I wanna be Carl Sagan when I grow up.
Luckily for me, I loved everything I read this year. 🙂 Next year I’ll need to finish up Cosmos, then maybe get a book of T.S. Eliot poems maybe. Maybe the Divine Comedy? We’ll see!
Until next time,