I’ve read 65 books this year, better than 2013 (54), which was Baby Year, but nothing like the 80-something of Pre-Baby Years. Curious to see when I’ll be able to get back to that level (college?).

The nine books that got a 5-star:


A Morgadinha dos Canaviais by Julio Dinis (re-read)

A Portuguese classic that completely won my heart. When I first read it at 16 I focused on the romantic part and thought: meh. This time it was the social commentary and the strong female lead that made a difference. I’m noticing big changes of heart in my recent re-reads (like Mansfield Park below).

Chroniques de Jérusalem by Guy Delisle

One of my goals for 2014 was to try non-fiction graphic novels for the first time. Only read one, but it turned out rather well.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (re-read)

Another book age taught me to appreciate better. In my early 20s it was my least favorite Austen, even behind Northanger Abbey. After P&P, S&S, Emma and Persuasion I had great expectations about the romance – big mistake! How did I not realize how interesting Mary Crawford is or Edmund’s douchiness? Mansfield Park is not romantic, but it’s an amazing work, full of depth and perfect for a book club discussion. Also, I highly recommend Ron Lit’s videos about it – Mansfield ParkWhat’s Up With Fanny Price? and the hilarious Mansfield Park’s Hero Sucks:


NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

If you’re into Malcolm Gladwell and “popular science” in general, you have to try this one, regardless of whether you have kids. It’s the Freakonomics of education. The chapters about race, intelligence and language were amazing and I often mention this book in conversation.

The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth von Arnim

How come the world forgot about Elizabeth von Arnim?! I’m determined to read everything she ever wrote, since she seems to write just for me. The Pastor’s Wife amazed me by its subtlety. It’s often witty, but it still managed to point the finger (without preaching) on the devastating effect the inequalities of the late 19th century had on women’s lives.

The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin #4) by Patrick O’Brien

What’s one of my end-year lists without a Aubrey/Maturin? Jack is made Commodore and has to coordinate several captains, British army forces and local militia to regain the islands of Mauritius and La Réunion from France. Shenanigans ensue.


Caprice and Rondo (The House of Niccolo, #7) by Dorothy Dunnett

Together with Patrick O’Brien, my list wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory Dorothy Dunnett. What will happen to my life when I’m done with Gemini and King Hereafter?

Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10) by Dorothy L. Sayers

If you twisted my arm and asked me to choose just one 2014 favorite, I’d have to go with this.

Washington Square by Henry James

The big surprise of the year. Was expecting something dense and moralistic and found a light and funny novel. It was a (guilty) pleasure to watch James take apart his own characters.