2014 goodreads challenge

Are you on Goodreads? If you're a book lover, it's the best! Both the website and complementary app are a lot of fun, and quite helpful for both organizing your current reads and discovering new books. At the beginning of last year, I noticed they pose a Reading Challenge to their members, so I decided to join in. It's totally customizable, so you set your own goal in terms of how much you plan to read. Once you've got it set up, you can track your progress and also see what your friends who are participating are reading. It's basically just a good tool to keep you encouraged and organized.

Reading has always been one of my top sources of inspiration and the stories I read always fuel my work. As much as I love television and film, the written word is the medium that engages my spirit the most. Sitting down with a book and a cup of tea or a glass of wine is just heavenly, and I found that pushing myself to read consistently this year made me a more relaxed person overall. When life gets too crazy, taking even 10 minutes to sit and read is my form of meditation. My goal was to read 40 books for the challenge and I ended up reading 41. That's definitely the most I read in a year since grad school and it was glorious!

Here is everything I read, ranked in order. If you love to read, I hope you'll check out some of these gems yourself. Anything in the 4-5 stars range is truly exceptional, and many of the three stars books are worth reading too. I'd love to know if any of you have read anything on my list and what your favourites were. And if you're into being book nerd friends, here's my Goodreads profile.

Rating System:

***** Took my breath away and/or broke my heart
****   Excellent stories that I could read again and again
***    Solid, satisfying/fun reads
**      Left much to be desired
*       Definitely worth skipping

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer
The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Nose by James Conaway
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfiled
Hello New York: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Boroughs by Julia Rothman
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard
The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Percy Jackson and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Complexion Perfection by Kate Somerville
The Venetian Years by Giacomo Casanova
The Innocent by David Baldacci
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
Annie Leibovitz at Work by Annie Leibovitz

The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

I'm doing the challenge again this year, but this time around I'll do two things differently. Whereas last year I just kind of read anything I stumbled upon or whatever people lent to me, this year I'm really going to choose my books thoughtfully and focus on stuff I've been meaning to read forever or new stories that I'm really excited about. I also want to read more books about business, marketing, personal finance and creativity rather than just fiction. In fact, it's always nice to read fiction and non-fiction concurrently. If you've got any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. Happy reading!