Myra, Iphigene, and Fats here.
GatheringBooks officially greets you a Happy 2015!! Sparkles, glitters, and starshine, people!
For the past two years, it has been our tradition to join the End of Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner. Since there are three of us answering the book survey, we thought it best to color code our responses, as per usual.
Purple for Myra
Blue for Iphigene
Orange for Fats
Number Of Books You Read
One of our personal challenges here in GatheringBooks is to read 365 books every year across all three of us. I am glad to share that we have collectively read an astounding total of 640 books – our best record yet! We also have bimonthly reading themes throughout the year and so we try to tailor-fit our reading based on what our themes are.
- January-February: 124
- March-April: 87
- May-June: 57
- July-August: 95
- September-October: 52
- November-December: 14
- Total: 429 books – technically not the same as the number in Goodreads, primarily because of my re-reads, plus a few books that Fats read in previous years which are already found in Goodreads but which I have only read this year.
Breakdown of books read across genre:
- January-February: 14
- March-April: 11
- May-June: 12
- July-August: 8
- September-October: 7
- November-December: 6
- Total: 58
The personal challenge I set for myself was the 2014 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. My goal was 150, and I was able to read 160 books total. Yay!
- January-February: 20
- March-April: 35
- May-June: 15
- July-August: 63
- September-October: 12
- November-December: 8
- Total Books Read: 153
Number of Re-Reads
Myra: I re-read Clive Barker’s Abarat and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry – both books I read aloud to my daughter.
I also re-read My Name is Mina by David Almond for our GatheringReaders book club at the Jurong West Public Library. And Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs for our War and Poetry reading theme.
I have a feeling I’d be doing more of that in 2015, particularly as it relates to our reading theme for January-February.
Fats: Number of Re-reads – five books
Genre You Read The Most From
Myra: Picturebooks! I am in LOVE with picturebooks. I can NOT get enough of picturebooks. Ok, ’nuff said.
Fats: Fiction – Children’s literature – Fantasy/Science Fiction
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Iphigene: This is hard. This year, while I read less, I felt there were quite a few books that hit me hard, profoundly. So let me cheat:
Best YA: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire-Saenz
Best Graphic Novel: Are you my mother? By Alison Bechdel
Best Science Fiction: Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
Best Non-Fiction: The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
I couldn’t decide on a single book so I included the following titles (in no particular order):
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, Habibi by Craig Thompson, Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander, The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found by Sophie Blackall, Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartlan, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Best in Picture Books: Dust by Colin Thompson
Best YA: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Best Graphic Novel: Palestine by Joe Sacco
Best Picture Book Biography: The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Best Professional Development Text: Multicultural Children’s Literature: A Critical Issues Approach by Ambika Gopalakrishnan
Best Adult Novel: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Myra: The three books by Morris Gleitzman that I have been hearing so much about: Once, Then, and Now. I suppose I was expecting much from the trilogy but I was left feeling disappointed and befuddled.
Iphigene: Lolita by Nabokov. I couldn’t even finish it. Somewhere in between I wanted to throw it out
Fats: There are actually two books from my list that I found rather… meh. The first was William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher. I thought the concept was cool. I love the color and design of the cover. Halfway through, however, I found the book to be alright. I’ve read Shakespeare in high school and I enjoyed it, yet I didn’t find Doescher’s work appealing. When the book was nominated for the 2013 CYBILS – YA speculative fiction category – I thought some of the other books in the shortlist had more potential. I wasn’t too thrilled about it.
The other book was Marjane Satrapi’s The Sigh. I love, love, love Persepolis, so when I found out she wrote other books (for children and young adult), I thought that I would love them just the same. Eh, not really. The Sigh did not leave an impression on my mind. I honestly think she could have done better.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Myra: I was really taken by The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. I also enjoyed reading Keren David’s Salvage – I normally do not read contemporary realistic YA fiction, but this one I enjoyed reading a lot.
Iphigene: As I lay Dying by William Faulkner. It’s been a while since I have read the ‘heavier’ stuff. For a long time now I have been reading contemporary fiction, then a friend sent me an audio version of this book and that was enough for me to jump ahead and read it.
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Myra: I remembered asking Iphigene to read Saenz’s Last Night I Sang to the Monster and I am glad that it moved her as much as I thought it would.
I also can not stop talking about The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo which I practically pushed to the hands of friends – and so we are reading Shadow and Bone for my adult book club (Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks) in February of 2015!
Iphigene: I think it was Aristotle and Dante.
5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Myra: I don’t mind being repetitive. It still is The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.
Best series I started: The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix, The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, and The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.
Best sequel of 2014: Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi and Taran Wanderer of Lloyd Alexander (technically the fourth book in the series).
Best series ender of 2014: The High King by Lloyd Alexander. I didn’t read a lot of series last year. The Chronicles of Prydain was a most excellent read.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Myra: That would be Joe Sacco for me and Leigh Bardugo.
Iphigene: Michael Barakiva. His debut novel One Man Guy was interesting enough for me to finish it and want to see what else he has to offer.
Fats: It’s impossible to only have ONE. So, here they are:
Marjane Satrapi (I’ve seen Persepolis a couple of years ago but never really got the chance to read it.)
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (He writes so beautifully.)
Roz Chast (She is hilarious. I love her!)
Sophie Blackall (I fell in love with her lyrical words and gorgeous illustrations.)
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Myra: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. I have not read much science fiction, not out of a lack of predilection, but maybe accessibility? Or the fact that science fiction requires you to invest a great deal of time and energy in the reading? This irreverent novel, however, just made me laugh out loud.
Iphigene: Hands down its Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness. I don’t read Sci-fi and this book just introduced me to the genre. It managed to show that somewhere in those books of alien existence is a gem.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Iphigene: It’s a toss between Alison Bechdel’s books or Last Night I sang to the Monster by Alire-Saenz.
Myra: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. As thick as this novel was, I finished it in one day. I was also driven by the intention of finishing it within that week for a supposed-virtual book discussion with friends, but that didn’t pan out, sadly.
9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Myra: I am currently reading Shadow and Bone to my 13 year old girl, and I have every intention of re-reading the entire trilogy just to see whether it would have the same impact as the first time I read it. So far, I’m still getting the chills as we read it together.
Iphigene: I want to get a physical copy of Last Night I sang to the Monster. If I do get it next year, i’ll most likely re-read it.
Fats: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I want (and hope) to feature Chast’s graphic memoir because I have so much love for it. Gah!
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Myra: That would be The Fairyland Series by Catherynne M. Valente and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.
Fats: FArTHER by Grahame Baker-Smith, Migrant by Maxine Trottier and Isabelle Arsenault, Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin and David Shannon, Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.
11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Myra: Theo and Boris from The Goldfinch by Donna Tart. And Sturmhond from The Grisha Trilogy.
Iphigene: I like to say it’s Dmitri Karamazov (but I haven’t finished the book) so I’ll just say Estraven from Left Hand of Darkness.
Fats: Again, not limiting to only one – Taran and Princess Eilonwy (The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander), Ari and Dante (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz), Willow Chance (Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi), Roz Chast and her parents, George and Elizabeth (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast)
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Myra: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Iphigene: Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin.
Fats: I included three, actually – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Habibi by Craig Thompson, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Myra: This would be Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco and Overcoming Speechlessness by Alice Walker.
Iphigene: Last Night I sang to the Monsters by Alire-Saenz.
Fats: Well, here’s one – Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. As much as I want to expound on this, I want to save my thoughts about this book for later.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Myra: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
Iphigene: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.
Fats: Books. Plural.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961) – I know, right?
The Chronicles of Prydain (1964-1968) – Like, seriously, Fats.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000) – That long, huh?
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
Iphigene: “By the experience of active love. Try to love your neighbor actively and tirelessly. The more you succeed in loving, the more you’ll be convinced of the existence of God and the immortality of your soul. And if you reach complete selflessness in the love of your neighbor, then undoubtedly you will believe, and no doubt will even be able to enter your soul. This has been tested. It is certain. ” -F. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Myra: “And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.
And – I would argue as well – all love. Or, perhaps more accurately, this middle zone illustrates the fundamental discrepancy of love. Viewed close: a freckled hand against a black coat, an origami frog tipped over on its side. Step away, and the illusion snaps in again: life-more-than-life, never-dying. Pippa herself is the play between those things, both love and not-love, there and not-there. Photographs on the wall, a balled-up sock under the sofa. The moment where I reached to brush a piece of fluff from her hair and she laughed and ducked at my touch. And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky – so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.” – Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Iphigene: Shortest is a picture book called The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett. The Longest would be Blankets by Craig Thompson in terms of pages. Apart from graphic novels, it probably would be Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness.
Myra: Not sure about the shortest since I read quite a lot of picturebooks (over 300 if I am not mistaken), so let me just share the longest book I read which took me three months I believe to finish: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Myra: This would be Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco.
Iphigene: As I lay Dying by William Faulkner.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Myra: Aristotle and Dante from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Mal and Alina from The Grisha Trilogy..
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Myra: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. I mean, come on, how unique could a relationship between a girl and a squirrel get?
Iphigene: Estraven and Genly Ai. Profound journey of trust, reliance and love.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Myra: Last year I fell in love with Margaret Wild’s and Ron Brooks’ Fox. This year, I am again entranced by their partnership in The Dream of the Thylacine.
Let me add Neil Gaiman’s The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains illustrated by Eddie Campbell. Disturbing and magical.
21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Iphigene: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It was recommended by Myra.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Myra: Sturmhond or Nikolai Lantsov from The Grisha Trilogy. I don’t normally have fictional crushes – not quite me. But I was just taken by the character of Nikolai, I had to make an exception. Gansey of The Raven Boys is just so predictable as another choice.
Iphigene: Estraven. His/her principles just blew me away.
23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Myra: I was really pleasantly surprised by Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic. There is just something about the interweaving of nostalgia and magic and family and being lost and found that simply appealed to me.
Iphigene: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Myra: Again, it would be The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. But allow me to give some love to her first novel in the series: Shadow and Bone. I was hooked to this series because the very first novel was well-crafted and thoughtfully-imagined.
Iphigene: Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Myra: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I practically forced my friends to read this book and I simply did not want it to end.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Myra: Quite a lot, but I think it’s really The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that takes the tear-cake here. The picture is proof of that.
Iphigene: Last Night I sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire-Saenz.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Myra: Again this would be The Grisha Trilogy and Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Myra: It’s a toss between Alice Walker’s Overcoming Speechlessness that simply left me reeling and Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza.
Iphigene: Last Night I sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire-Saenz
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Myra: Oh this would be Missed Connections: Love, Lost, and Found by Sophie Blackall.
Iphigene: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Iphigene: Lolita by Nabokov.
New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
Myra: This would be brainpickings.org and biblioklept.org
Iphigene: Some Books You Haven’t Read
Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
Myra: I have reviewed so many books this year, that I honestly can not choose one in particular.
Iphigene: Hard and Vulnerable Discovering the Universe of Aristotle and Dante.
Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Myra: It would still be the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore. 🙂
Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Myra: The publication of my edited book One Big Story: Delving Deeper into Asian Children’s Literature
Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Iphigene: I would say it would be my review of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and my recent post Three Reasons why Books on Marginalized Communities Matter.
Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Iphigene: Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. It’s ongoing.
Fats: The Best Bad Luck I’ve Ever Had by Kristin Levine. I’ve had that book for more than a month, and I still have not read it. I really need to get to it before I return it back to the library. I am really, really intrigued by that book.
One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Myra: Read more novels written for adults.
Iphigene: For reading, I’d like to continue what I have started in 2014 which is to read more of the ‘heavier’ almost intimidating authors and books. I hope to read Camus, Dostoevsky, Bellows, etc. I want to go back to the reading i used to enjoy.
In blogging, I hope to be more present. 2014 was a tough year so I’m hoping i could get back on the blogging-horse.
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015
Myra: I’ve been reading so many great things about Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo so I look forward to reading that in 2015.
Myra: And yes, I just found out about Margarita Engle’s verse memoir which is coming out this 2015. This one I am definitely looking out for. I love everything that Margarita writes. And just look at that gorgeous book cover.
Fats: Oooh. That would have to be The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry. A friend of mine recommended the book to me a while back. I decided to include this in my reading list for Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print! It is expected to be released on April 2015. Must. Get. It.
2015 debut you are most anticipating?
Fats: Probably The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. Originally, it was George R.R. Martin’s Winds of Winter but I haven’t even started the series yet! LOL.