40 books fell prone to my reading sword this year, and the most valiant beast, the best book I read in 2014, goes to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. There wasn’t even a dispute, the race was clear-cut. RP1 was amazing.
It’s the story of a massive treasure hunt that captivates the entire world and causes a resurgence of the pop culture and video games found in the 1980s. People wear bell-bottoms again, coin-operated arcade games are all the craze, and the main character Parzival has mastered them all. He’s watched every movie and TV show the 80s ever produced. He knows the lyrics to every song. He studies and studies again everything 80s. All of this just to have a chance at finding the first clue in the treasure hunt where the winner will inherit a vast fortune and gain ownership to the Oasis, a massively multiplayer online second life computer game that the world now lives within.
Ready Player One appealed to all of my gamer loves and ticks and even though I didn’t grow up in the 80s, reading about the culture and interests spawned respect for everything the author cared about and what he obviously wanted his readers to reminisce upon and re-live. In some ways I think I liked it more because everything was new, but I would love to read it for the first time again only as myself 10 years older and a boy that grew up in the 80s just to see and feel the nostalgia first hand. It was an excellent, fast, fun read – hands down the best book I read this year.
2014 also marks the momentous event of a series of books rising to the top to be crowned my Favorite Series of All Time. This title was previously held by The Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind. Since high school I’ve read them three times. I even have a tattoo of the sword on my calf, but there’s a new champ – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
With 15 books competed and another 8 planned, this series is enormous, and I can’t wait to read every one of them. Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the yellow pages. He’s a consultant for the Chicago Police Department and a real practitioner of magic. These books are a rip roaring detective adventure through the seedy underbelly of Chicago and the magical realms found in all myth and fantasy. There are vampires, werewolves, faeries, thugs with guns, demons, angels, zombies, ghosts, Santa… everything fantasy you can ever think of wrapped up neatly in truly believable novels. They flow from one to the other. The characters and side characters grow and evolve as the story progresses. They gain new powers and trinkets and lose them three books later, but grow out of the whole experience. This series is so good that with all the books on my current need to read list, and my voracious want to consume all literature, I just picked up book one again to start them anew.
It’s been a great year and I’m excited to compile next year’s list.