2014 Books, 2015 Promises

Happy New Year!

A year ago today, I set out a list of 36 books to read in 2014. Of those titles, I managed to read just over a third with these thirteen:

  1. 179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers by Peter Selgin
  2. Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
  3. Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood: The Good, The Bad, and the Scary by Jill Smokler
  4. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1) by Sophie Kinsella [done]
  5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  6. Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth
  7. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
  8. Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb
  9. Strange Brew by Mary Kay Andrews
  10. The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
  11. The Five Destinies of Carlos Moreno by George Weinstein
  12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  13. Voyager (Outlander, #3) by Diana Gabaldon

I went off-list a good bit this year, too, adding recommendations from friends and going on a bit of a Diana Gabaldon bender (which I blame on both the Starz Outlander TV series and Davina Porter’s unparalleled narration of the audiobooks). Going on a Gabaldon bender means hours and hours of entertainment, but doesn’t do much for the reading list since the Outlander books are all in the 1000-1500 page range (or 55+ hours of listening on audiobook). I will have to throw in some novellas next time to even things out. In addition to Voyager, I added Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and got halfway through A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

I added The Fault in Our Stars, The Husband’s Secret, You Should Have Known, and The Rosie Project on the recommendations of friends. I threw in a few fun reads on my own, too, including The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (I am on a bit of a Sherlock Holmes kick) and a fun little read called Brownies and Broomsticks. I got most of the way into Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and had to stop because it just became too intensely gruesome for my blood (not Game of Thrones gruesome but similarly awful in its own way). I usually have a pretty strong stomach for that kind of stuff, but in this case I just had to take a step back. I haven’t shelved it “Abandoned” yet because it was so well-constructed and interesting, with fascinating — to say the least — characters. I may go back to it one day when I’ve had a chance to shore up my constitution. Sometimes I can’t handle stress in life and stress in books at the same time, you know?

In addition to published books, I was fortunate to be an advanced reader for George Weinstein’s The Caretaker, and for Becky Albertalli’s incredible YA book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (coming in April 2015). On top of that, I got to beta read four other manuscripts for colleagues, which I hope I’ll be able to one day recommend to you as well.

So even though the numbers fell short this year — and I obviously neglected my reading-about-writing a bit — I still feel pretty satisfied with my literary year. If you want to see more about anything I read this year, please visit my 2014 list on Goodreads. I’d love to hear on Goodreads or in the comments if you read a book that changed you in some way this year. I am always looking for great stuff for my to-read list.

Now, onto 2015. I’ve signed up for the Goodreads challenge to read 40 books this year. Forty!?! A bit ambitious considering I did just over half that this year, but I think I can swing it, especially if I can limit my Outlander consumption a little. And rather than making a list of particular books, I’m just going to read as I will and see what happens. There are definitely books on the 2014 list I would still like to read or revisit. If you’re doing the Goodreads challenge, make sure to connect with me there and keep me posted!

Other goals for 2015: finishing my WIP, tentatively titled “Every Other Saturday Night,” the publication of The Marriage Pact with Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, attend at least one professional conference, more freelance work, write a poem every day (why not?), and… you know, lose 50 pounds, contribute meaningfully to society in some way, be a better mom, wife, friend, etc.

Totally manageable. Twenty bucks says they’ll find me sobbing face-down in cookie dough within a week.

Happy new year, happy reading, and may all your unrealistic goals come true. Have a great 2015!


MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction -- her latest, SUGAR STREET released on 8/7/18. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

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