Best and Not Best Books of 2014

In 2014 I met my goal of reading 65 books.  (I always join the Goodreads Reading Challenge.) Some were really exceptional and some were pretty bad. I also re-read about a dozen books; they are not included on this list.

Favorite Books of 2014

Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Wonder – R.J. Palacio
Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

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Best and Not Best Books of 2013

My overall total number of books read in 2013 was down considerably this year. I spent 2013 reading a lot about technology and web development, most of which didn’t come in between two covers. I managed 38 books this year and it was totally the year of the series. Almost everything I read was part of a series of books, some of which I only read because I felt committed to following through with the storyline. (I should revisit that policy in 2014.) I also re-read some favorites (shout out Harry Potter) and I’m leaving those books off this year’s list. I think this is the first time the Not Best books have outnumbered the Best books. I just wasn’t very impressed this year. As always, my list is completely subjective and in no particular order.

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NaNoWriMo 2007

It seems like yesterday that NaNoWriMo was just a weird word. Now, it feels like something I’ve been a part of my whole life. That’s what happens when you join the horde of freakish maniacs trying to write a novel in one month.

Yes, indeed, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, celebrated (if you want to call it that) annually from November 1 – 30. The goal is to write 50,000 words–a novella-length work of fiction–in thirty days. I’ll do the math for you. That’s 1,667 words a day. Seem impossible? Yes and no.

It’s like running along a road that goes up and down, up and down. One day you know there is no way you can squeeze 1,667 words out of your brain. The next day, more than 3,000 pour out of you effortlessly. It’s kind of weird. Of course, if you’re an official entrant signed up at the NaNoWriMo website, you can commiserate with tens of thousands of other would-be novelists. Some are breezing right along and finish in a week; others struggle and still only have 500 words at the end of the month. But hey, you’re all in it together.

NaNoWriMo is organized by the Office of Letters and Light in San Francisco and is largely run by volunteers. Additionally, there are volunteers across the country (and the world) that are known as MLs. Municipal liasons. Those are the people that are the go-betweens between the national office and the local writers. A lot of them schedule “write ins” for their local people. That’s where you can get together with people from your city or region and write for a specified length of time. Some of them are actually a full 24 hours! There was a write-in here, but I missed it because I couldn’t figure out how to affiliate with my region. Live and learn.

If you finish in time, and have your wordcount validated by the snazzy NaNoWriMo wordcount validator, you get one of these:


You also get a certificate that you can print out and hang on your wall. It’s pretty nifty.
Yep, I finished. I adopted NaNoWriMo as a little project for when my husband was working. Thanksgiving meant he was off for a few days and my word count dipped. I was even halfway afraid I might not finish. But I did, and with time to spare! I’ve long said I wanted to write a book, be a writer, etc. NaNoWriMo showed me that it is possible to write everyday–or nearly everyday. It gave me a taste of what it would be like to have to create day after day, even when I didn’t feel like it. I’m already looking forward to next year, but in the meantime, I think I’ve gotten a little bit of inspiration from the exercise. Hopefully I can start and finish a couple of other projects between now and then.

If you’re an aspiring writer, or just crazy, block off next November on your calendar and join us for NaNoWriMo 2008. (If you want to write screenplays, check out Script Frenzy in April!)