Home > Personal Posts > My best reading memories of 2014.

My best reading memories of 2014.

December 30, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Hello everyone,

2014 is almost over and it’s time to go back to my reading year and do the best-of-the-year exercise.

Gary_LecturesFirst, 2014 has been special for me because it was the centenary of the birth of Romain Gary. I’ve been posting a quote by him every Wednesday from January to May. (Find them all in the Wednesdays with Romain Gary category) and I’ve re-read Lady L and Chien Blanc. Both are worth reading. Fellow book bloggers have been reading Romain Gary along with me and Vishy is probably the one who enjoyed his Gary the most: he read Promise at Dawn. Find all the billets about this event and some more on the Reading Romain Gary page.

For the rest of my favourite 2014 reads, I created personal categories, I hope you’ll have fun.

Best Off-the-wall book: Midnight Examiner by William Kotzwinkle

It’s crime fiction, it’s funny, it’s crazy and the billet’s title says it all: They Read That Post And Rush To The Nearest Bookstore To Buy The Book.


Best Humbook: The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth

For new visitors, a Humbook is a virtual Christmas gift and by extension a book offered by another book blogger. Scott from Seraillon picked The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth for me and it was deep, poetic, fantastic about San Francisco, sad, tought-provoking. Bref, amazing. The title of the billet is two verses

In San Francisco’s snowless winter

The gray weeks rinse themselves away.

Ah, yes, I forgot to tell you: it’s a novel written in verses. Thanks again, Scott.

Best PhD-material book: The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

It’s a tremendous novel, complex, rich. The characters are deep and rather mysterious is their motivations, the narrator is unreliable and the style is breathtaking.


Best city Book : Manhattan Transfer by John dos Passos

In his song C’est quand qu’on va où, the French singer Renaud sings:

L’essentiel à nous apprendreC’est l’amour des livres qui fait

Qu’tu peux voyager d’ta chambre

Autour de l’humanité,

The most important thing to learnIs the love of books that

Makes you travel from your bedroom

Around humanity

It’s never been as true as in Manhattan transfer. You read Dos Passos and you’re in New York, New York.


Best please-translate-me-into-English book: Eveils by Gaito Gazdanov

Among the books I’ve read this year that are not available in English, there was this little gem by Gazdanov. Please NYRB or Pushkin Press or Pereine bring The Awakenings to English readers.


Best Beach & Public Transport Book: God and I Broke Up by Katarina Mazetti

Beach and Public Transport Books are good but easy reads. Precious books that transform your journeys into a literary feast. Billet can be found under The Linnea trilogy.

I’m sorry to report to fans of books filed under Sugar Without Cellulite that I didn’t read any of those in 2014.


Best LOL Books: How to Be Good by Nick Hornby, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and Straight Man by Richard Russo.

I couldn’t choose only one of them and it’s interesting to read Straight Man not long after Lucky Jim. Find my billets here:

Thanks again Guy for picking Straight Man as my Humbook in 2013 and recommending the other two.


Best classic: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I started to read it when we were driving through Oklahoma. Books have a different flavor when you read them and you’re there, where the action is. The Reasons of wrath is my billet.


Best haunting book: Run River by Joan Didion.

The end of the California of pioneers and the destruction of a marriage, all wrapped in an incisive and beautiful prose.


Thank you for reading my billets, putting up with my mistakes in English, making time to comment, leaving all kinds of recommendations. If one of my billets helped you discover a new author this year, then all this writing was worth doing.

More fun to come in 2015…

A bientôt


Categories: Personal Posts Tags:
  1. December 30, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Happy New Year, Emma, and thank you for the book recommendations! I have Lady L, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I read Midnight Examiner and totally agree with you. What a crazy and fun book.


    • January 1, 2015 at 9:06 pm


      Did you find Lady L in English? That’s cool, it’s out-of-print. It’s a good one, I hope you’ll like it.

      I looked for your review of Midnight Examiner to add a link to it but I couldn’t find it. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun read. The atmosphere of the newspaper and the characters were hilarious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm

        Yes, I was lucky enough to find a used paperback of Lady L. It must have come out in conjunction with the movie since it has Sophia Loren on the cover.

        I fear I don’t do many reviews, hardly any actually. Midnight Examiner was highlighted in one of my Teaser Tuesdays, but only with a teaser quote and a blurb about it. http://wp.me/pZnGI-eS


        • January 2, 2015 at 10:52 pm

          I hope you’ll leave a comment on my billet about Lady L when you’ve read it. I’ll be happy to know what you thought about it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. December 31, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Great selection of books emma happy new year


    • January 1, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Happy New Year to you too, Stu.
      Looking forward to your 2015 reading year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. December 31, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Happy New Year, Emma. Great selection of books – I think The Good Soldier will make my end-of-year list too (whenever I get around to putting it together). Run River is the one I’m looking forward to reading, and I hope the Gazdanov gets translated at some point. I loved The Spectre of Alexander Wolf – I can’t recall if you’ve read that one.


    • January 1, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      The Good Soldier was a fantastic read. It will stay with me.
      I want to read An Evening With Claire by Gazdanov.


  4. December 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Happy New Year, Emma.
    I need to read Lady L. Someone I know read it and said she reminded him of me.


    • January 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Now I’m totally looking forward to reading your review of Lady L. I hope you’ll read it soon. I wonder how you’ll react to the comment your acquaintance made. I don’t know if you should take it as an insult or a compliment. Either way, she’s a hell of a woman.


      • January 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

        I gathered that it could be taken both ways. 🙂


        • January 2, 2015 at 10:53 pm

          Well, take it the best way: she’s passionate, beautiful and strong.


  5. December 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I have The Midnight Examiner and the Didion bought thanks to your recommendations. I wish someone would translate that Gazdanov too, but he seems to be getting a bit of attention these days so perhaps it will happen. I can recommend Gazdanov’s An Evening with Claire and The Spectre of Alexander Wolf.


    • January 1, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      I think you’ll like both The Midnight Examiner and the Didion. Since reading Kotzwinkle, any time I see a newspaper with Examiner in its title, I can’t help chuckling.

      An Evening With Claire is also available in French. I’m sure I’ll like it. Eveils was so sensitive.


  6. January 4, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Wonderful favourites list, Emma! My favourite category (because of its name) is ‘Beach and Public Transport Read’ 🙂 I love all the category names you have given – they are so unique! Thanks for hosting Romain Gary month. I really loved ‘Promise at Dawn’. I hope to read more of Gary’s books this year. I loved the lyrics of Renaud’s song that you have quoted. I want to read Joan Didion’s book. I loved her book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ – she is a really special author.

    I will look forward to reading your book-ish thoughts and following your reading journey this year. Happy reading in 2015, Emma!


    • January 4, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      I had fun imagining the categories (although Beach and Public Transport is an actual category on the blog)

      I was happy to share about my favourite writer this year.

      I love the singer Renaud; his lyrics are fantastic.

      I think you’ll like the Didion. It will stay with me, the characters and the story are powerful.

      I also wish you a wonderful reading year for 2015.


      • Vishy
        January 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

        Thanks Emma. I will search for Renaud’s music in Youtube. Thanks for writing about him. I will look for Didion’s book. This year I am planning to read more French literature 🙂


        • January 8, 2015 at 11:05 pm

          Hmm. I think Renaud is easier to read than to listen to. I recommend reading the lyrics. (plus his voice is not the best)

          I’ll be curious to see your reading plans for French lit.


  7. January 29, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    I’m delighted you liked the dos Passos enough for it to make your list.

    The Seth I definitely plan to pick up, it looks absolutely great.The Didion too but I figured that would be great, without you I wouldn’t even know about the Seth.

    I’d completely forgotten the Kotzwinkle and Russo reviews, so I’ll reread those. Guy of course presses the Russo too, and I did like Nate in Venice, but the Kotzwinkle just sounds delightful (it’s really hard to find a copy in English unfortunately, translated into French is easy though).


    • January 29, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      The Dos Passos is fantastic.

      You’d love the Seth, I can imagine you reading it.
      I think this Didion is less difficult than Play It As It Lays.

      You’d have a lot of fun with the Kotzwinkle and I’m sure you’d enjoy the Russo.


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