The Artist Librarian's Best Read Books of 2014 - Top Tuesday

According to goodreads, I read 60 books in 2014, surpassing my goal of 50 books! (Not counting comics and graphic novels I need to add.)

For my first Top Tuesday of 2015, I thought I'd do a little recap of some of my favorite reads I encountered in 2014.  Several of my friends have already done so, such as Fernweh's Call. I'd love to know some of your best reads you encountered last year, so be sure to post them in the comments below!

Best "New-to-Me" series of 2014:
It's a tie between The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Picture of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles: As I previously blogged about, fairy tale adaptations with a sci-fi twist.  So far Meyer has done Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.  The Evil Queen and Snow White are coming up: the former in Fairest, arriving later this month on the 27th, and the latter in Winter, coming in late 2015.

Picture of the Hunger Games Trilogy
The Hunger Games: It's a combination of the books and the movies that made me a fan of the series.  But I have to give credit to Aubrey Hansen for getting me to read the books in the first place through her January Dystopian Reading Challenge on Goodreads!  I haven't been able to bring myself to write a complete review yet, but I wrote a brief reflection of my thoughts in my "Ten Books That Have Stayed with You" post.

Best Out-of-Print Finds:
Picture of the Art of Anastasia bookThe Art of Anastasia - Ever since I watched Anastasia, the 1997 animated film, for the first time last year, I've loved this "not Disney!" princess movie. In my local public library system, there was only one copy of this book available to view only in-library, so though I was able to skim through the book once, I was thrilled to find a copy of this out-of-print hardcover at my local thrift store (and yes, I did squeal when I saw it and celebrated with a passerby shopper as well). =)

Picture of Disney's Mulan: Special Collector's EditionMulan: Special Collector's Edition - Found for $7 USD from my favorite used books store!  Since I haven't gotten my own copy of "The Art of Mulan" yet, this is a nice placeholder for my collection.  I've yet to read it through completely, but it appears to be sort of a cross between Disney storybook and a mini "Art of" book, with behind the scenes vignettes on the creation of the film and concept art.

Picture of Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell
Best "Wittiest-Banter-Ever" In a Novel:
The bell sounded again.
I coughed. "Aren't you going to get that?"

Mr. Trimble started. "Get what?"

"The door. It's something I used to do that I'm not to do anymore."

"Surely getting the door won't interfere with your finding a husband."

"It might. I've never sought a husband before, so I'm sure I don't know."
Like a Flower in Bloom - Siri Mitchell

OMGoodness, I was too late to request a physical review copy from Bethany House Publishers, so I dusted off the metaphorical cobwebs off of my NetGalley account to snag an ebook advanced reader's copy and boy, I am so glad I did!  I had a feeling it would be great from the synopsis alone (see below), but the dialogue throughout the novel between the protagonist and her "rival" made me smile so much. (I decided to save my favorite "back-and-forth" for my review.  Definitely one to I have on my list to buy --my review will be coming soon!
"He Stole the Work She Loved.
Will She Let Him Steal Her Heart as Well?

It's all her uncle's fault. For years Charlotte Withersby has been free to pursue her love of plants and flowers by assisting her botanist father. But now that she's reached the old age of twenty-two, an intrusive uncle has convinced her father that Charlotte's future--the only proper future for a woman--is to be a wife and mother, not a scholar.

Her father is so dependent on her assistance that Charlotte believes he'll soon change his mind...and then Edward Trimble shows up. A long-time botany correspondent in the South Pacific, Trimble arrives ready to step in as assistant so that Charlotte can step out into proper society--a world that baffles her with its unwritten rules, inexplicable expectations, and confounding fashion.

Things aren't perfectly smooth between Trimble and her father, so Charlotte hatches a last gasp plan. She'll pretend such an interest in marriage that the thought of losing her will make her father welcome her back. Only things go quickly awry, and she realizes that the one man who recognizes her intelligence is also the person she's most angry with: Edward Trimble, her supposed rival. Suddenly juggling more suitors than she knows what to do with, Charlotte is caught in a trap of her own making. Will she have no choice but to leave her beloved flowers behind?"
Picture of A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Mori KaoruBest Manga:
A Bride's Story, written and illustrated by Kaoru Mori

One of the titles on the reading list of my "Special Topics in Librarianship" class this past semester, A Bride's Story (or Otoyomegatari as it's known in Japan) is a gorgeously illustrated manga (Japanese comic book/graphic novel) set in Central Asia in the late 1800s.  Mori's intricate penwork brings the world of new bride Amir to life with lush, historical details.  There are currently 6 volumes in the series, all which have been translated into English.  If you love historical fiction like I do, you might be interested in checking this one out!

*Content warning: Some language [e.g. bas--rd] and artistically nude/topless images, but most of the situations come across as more innocent rather than hyper-sexualized*

Picture of The Sculpture of Ruth AsawaBest Non-Fiction Read:
A tie between The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air edited by Daniell Cornell
and The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2 by Linda Sunshine.

Ruth Asawa became one of my favorite artists my last year in art school.  Besides her incredible life story, her wire sculptures used a novel technique not seen in American fine art during the mid 20th century and she followed her dream of being an artist while raising five children!  I'm hoping to see some of her work in real life this year, but this book does have wonderful photographs of her art taken during a retrospective at the Fine Arts Museum of San Fransisco and a collection of essays written about her life and work. 

Picture of the Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2Meanwhile, I'm sure you can guess How to Train Your Dragon 2 was my favorite movie I saw in 2014!  *Sheepish smile* I usually read my "Art of [insert film title here]" books through my local public library system ... However, for HTTYD2, I decided to just purchase it since the libraries haven't gotten it yet. (Off topic: I'm currently seriously considering buying The Art of Frozen soon for the same reason.)  Of course, the Berkian (HTTYD fan) in me wishes there was more, but it was a nice mix of behind the scenes snippets of info from artists that worked on the film, concept art, character designs, background scenes, etc.

What were your favorite reads of 2014?
The Artist Librarian's Best Read Books of 2014 - Top Tuesday The Artist Librarian's Best Read Books of 2014 - Top Tuesday Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 1/06/2015 12:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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