My Top Books in 2014

So after my year of reading, here are my favorites:  three fiction, five nonfiction, two children's and my one overall top pick.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The conversations about race and the inclusions of blogs reveal a view of America from a newcomer's perspective. Then, her modern Nigeria feels so distant from the one I read about in Half of a Yellow Sun. Adichie captures the feeling of belonging and not belonging both immigrants and Americans of color experience. 
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai This novel in verse is a beautiful refugee story of escape, family, and locating home. Lai captures a wonderful young female protagonist with all her flaws and keen insights. 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart  Love Lockhart's lyrical phrasing and how the culture of silences veil the truth. She had me turning the pages and this island story has stayed with me long after reading. 


The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward These stories of young men in Mississippi who find death too young felt particularly timely. Ward’s ability to capture place and character leave me in awe. She does fiction and nonfiction equally well.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I devoured Strayed journey and it actually made me want to hike and camp (and I hate camping). Strong CNF storytelling and I will have to revisit it since losing my mom. 

Marbles by Ellen Forney The connections between creativity, artistry, and mood disorders hit home with me as did the graphic novel-ness of it which captures in visuals a complex and inexplicable experience.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson This biography in verse follows Woodson’s early childhood from Ohio, to South Carolina, ending up in Brooklyn. She holds herself up in comparison to her siblings and slowly reveals her gift as a storytelling and writer. 

Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz In the same vein as Lolita, Ortiz explores how her middle school world shifts when her English teacher initiates a relationship with her. With occasional notes on her “excavation” as an adult, we get a break from the intense world of a teenager struggling to make sense of a life where the adults let her down.  

Children's Books:

Almost An Animal Alphabet by Katie Veggers This is my favorite of the many alphabet books Kiara has in her collection. The animals are unique and the drawings are smart and teach me things (like the differences between the Asian and African elephants). 

Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski This beautifully rendered book about a little girl who just isn’t tired and doesn’t want to go to sleep is perfect for Kiara as she transitions to her big girl bed. 

Top Overall Pick:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki I love how this novel alternates povs and how each narrative masterfully unfolds the journeys of the two characters. Ozeki works in all kinds of science and philosophy and this book actually makes me want to meditate and study Japanese again. 


  1. Americanah is high on my list to read. It came highly recommended from a high school friend. I brought it to my book club holiday book exchange. I gave it to my sister for Christmas. I'm looking forward to reading it myself! I enjoyed reading your list.

    1. It always takes me a while to get through her books, but I eventually finish them and find myself thinking about them and the new perspective she provides. She has a blog now with updates from the characters.