Favorite Reads of 2014
A little late this year, but once again the time has come to write up my list of top reads of the year. As always, it is a list of books I read in 2014, not those published this year.
Even more than previous years, the list leans on the personal, as in books that are personally important to me, not those I am arguing should be important to anyone else. The more I do this, the more I have to acknowledge that some books get inside me—I remember them and reread them in large part because they complement and build on the stories that I tell in my own head. Some are beautifully-written books that I’d recommend to anyone. But some of them are very rough, minimally edited or with glaring issues, that for whatever reason just hit a vital chord, emotional or psychological or erotic, and for that reason became permanent fixtures in my brain’s landscape.
No doubt this is all the more obvious because 2014 became the year of fanfiction, specifically Teen Wolf. I’ve read almost nothing else since September. I’ll not bother here to defend it to non-believers, but hopefully over the coming months I’ll post a few reviews that lay out why I think fanfiction itself is important and worthy of respect and attention.
Finally, I have reviewed most of these already on Goodreads. Check my shelf for "Favorite Reads 2014" for the individual titles.
So, drumroll, please. Lilia's Top Reads of 2014.
Top Historical and Most Admired Book:
Think of England by K. J. Charles
Mark Cooper versus America by Lisa Henry and J. A. Rock
Top Read for the Feelz:
Ethan Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless
Invisible Chains and Invisible Hands (Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse) by Andrew Ashling
Seriously the Best Sci-Fi Series Ever and Among my Top Lifetime Reads of Any Genre:
Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold with special mention for the opening book, Shards of Honor
Top Reads for Sheer Porntastic Enjoyment:
Timber Pack Chronicles by Rob Colton
Clan Beginnings Series by Tracy St-John
Stranded by Lies by Finn Marlowe (Based on my prompt!!!)
The Archers of Kynthos by K. M. Harty
Clever Boy by TriggerTinks
Eat, Knot, Love by Pandabomb
Special mention for the works of KhouriArashi and Goldenpetal13’s Dreams and Nightmares series.
Top Read of the Year:
Clever Boy by Triggertinks
No real competition on this one. Of everything I read in the past year, this story left the deepest mark. To quote my lengthy Goodreads review: "I think it's the best Stockholm story I've ever read, disturbing, insightful, at times sexually charged, at times unbearably sad, pulling no punches about the psychic "erosion" taking place, but also never indulging in gratuitous vilification." I wish I could issue a blanket recommendation to read it, but as I note in my review, “the tale of how a sixteen year old comes to bond with his psychopathic kidnapper is not for everyone.”
This was also the story that finally laid to rest my ridiculous prejudices against fanfiction. Far from being stupid or lacking, fanfiction is vital, experimental, crazy, and infinitely variable. Thinking about it, reading it, and finally writing it has deepened my understanding of the changes fiction is undergoing right now. Most of all it's incredibly enjoyable, not least because I have been able to share it with my fellow “Sterek Fanfic Freaks” on Goodreads.
A few final notes:
I did not include any of the fanfictions by authors who had their work pulled from Goodreads, though several of them would probably have made it otherwise. While I am trying to not to be too judgmental about why they felt impelled to take such a step, the bottom line is that their actions hit my particular online community very hard. I personally had more than a dozen reviews deleted, along with my reading logs, favorite quotes and comments on my own and other reader’s reviews. Altogether my friends lost hundreds of reviews and discussions. It sounds trivial to outsiders when I try to explain it, but anyone involved knows that this ended being up an incredibly painful situation for the Goodreads fanfiction community.
The end-of-year wrap up appears to be my time to say a few inadequate thank yous, and once again, I want to express at least a small part of my gratitude to the friends I have made on Goodreads and to the site itself. It has its flaws, but the site does its main job amazingly well: making it possible for people all over the world to come together to celebrate and discuss their reading—any reading that strikes them as worth discussing, whether formally published or not. But the site has always only been as good as its members, dependent on their willingness to spend their time reading, reviewing, recommending and trading opinions about books. Like many of my friends on the site, I have no one in my “real life” who shares my literary obsessions, whether with dark erotica, M/M, or Sterek fanfiction. Without Goodreads, my reading life would be a lonely and impoverished thing, instead of the endlessly fascinating, informative, creative, lunatic, and just plain fun universe it has become. For that I am endlessly grateful.