Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?

by Sonali Deraniyagala

This question was posted on Twitter and 14 different authors responded. I had not read any of their books, so I pulled out my two journals from this year and looked at the list of books I read. I keep track because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes I can remember the contents but not the author or title. It is my cheat sheet.

I read many memoirs. I read my favorite of the year in January. Sonali Deraniyagala's account of the tsunami that took her family earned these comments: "WOW! Such courage." The book is Wave and it is a relatively quick read. Today is the 10 anniversary of the Asian tsunami, so go to your local independent bookstore and buy it and read. It will also clarify what is important in your life before 2015.

Best fiction novel was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was a book I traded for on my Tour de France adventure. I loved it and passed it on to Grace Julie. When the ebola crisis hit I felt a connection to the people suffering in Africa that I might not have felt except for reading this novel. This may sound silly unless you are an avid novel reader. A good novel creates sympathies where none existed before--for me an interest and care for the people of Nigeria.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was the best older book I have read this year and part of my reading list for the World War I anniversary. Every time there is a news story on the anniversary I think about this book. It is so profound and so beautifully written. What is friendship? Why war? What does it mean to be an adult?

What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?

Trading Books along Le Tour


I am following the Tour de France and blogging about it on Adventures of American Julie. I brought a couple of books to read during the down times on trains and planes and while waiting for the racers. I reread The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz on the plane from LA to London. So Trek Travel guide Sam was willing to trade me his copy of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  

It is a heavy book for traveling and I just started it. I am already addicted. The writing is so compelling, like this passage: "She did not tell him this, because it would hurt him to know she had felt that way for a while, that her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out."

I also like that this particular book has history. There is a signature from the original owner, Sam's train ticket, and now I will add something before trading with someone else for a new book.