In 2014, I accomplished my soft goal of averaging reading a book a week for a year. That’s 52 books – 18,354 pages of wildly varying quality – over the course of the year. I’ve always wanted to do it, and now that I have, I probably never will again.

Limiting this list to my favorite 10 books was nearly impossible.  Most of the books that made it to the list were published last year, but they didn’t have to be. The books on the list might not even be the best-written or most critically acclaimed, but they’re the 10 books that stuck with me most. Memorable and moving were the only metrics I used to compile my favorites.

Before the list though, I should let you know that you’d be very well served to read any of the books that just missed my list. So, please go read: A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Tampa by Alissa Nutting, Bark (and, really, anything else) by Lorrie Moore, Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.  Any of these will make you better person, more handsome and empathetic than before you read it.

My list, in no particular order:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel- I put off reading this book for the longest time because it purported to be about a travelling band of actors who put on shows after 90% of the world’s population is wiped out by an incurable flu. But it’s about so much more than that. The book paints a horrifyingly plausible picture of human frailty in the face of disaster and asks whether survival alone is sufficient for the living. It tempers its own bleakness with wit and fullness of characters’ lives.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber- A devoted pastor is called to explain evangelical Christianity to an alien race on a newly discovered planet, leaving his young wife behind on Earth. While he’s gone and seemingly succeeding in his mission, he begins to receive word from home that a horrible series of events had begun to unfold on Earth. This is a book about faith – in self, marriage, relationships, religion, and humanity. Don’t be turned off by religious themes. It’s an incredibly moving book, and I’ve thought about it every single day since I read it months ago.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- This book is an unflinchingly honest look at being an immigrant in America that is at once hilarious and alarming. The book unpacks a great deal about racial and class tensions while telling a love story of immigrants who long for better opportunities but can’t quite ever leave home behind. It’s an easy book to get lost in and not want to end.  If you’re looking to read more books from the perspective of people from other lands, start here.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson- Fraternal twins, a girl and boy, take turns narrating their lives through high school from their inseparable beginning to events that tear them apart. They try to repair their relationship while coming of age in very different ways. Each of them has half the story, and they have to figure out how to put it all together. It’s an incredibly special book with an accurate depiction of coming out and a meditation on teenage angst that’s not obnoxious.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia- One of the funniest books I read this year, it’s another book that features a set of twins, both musical prodigies who are selected for their State Music Festival. The festival takes place at the site of a murder/suicide that happened 15 years earlier, and events start to take place that indicate that history may be repeating itself. It’s a dark comedy and murder mystery, chock full of pop culture references, that hits somewhere between Glee, Heathers, and The Shining.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell- This book follows the life of a young rebellious girl through her elderly years, except she also happens to be the lightning rod for strange psychic phenomena and may also be the central figure in a war between different factions of time travelers in spirit form. Does that sound weird? It is! Six novellas linked together, some work better than others. The whole book is worth a read, but the last section alone is worth the time it takes to get there.

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee- This gorgeous book about ugly subject matter was written years ago but just fell into my hands this year. When a choir student survives sexual abuse at the hand of his conductor and his colleagues don’t, he’s left to deal with the memories as he grows up and handles students of his own. The book feels like a dream state, part nightmare and part memoir of a childhood taken away too early.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart- A rich family annually summers on their private island. Our privileged protagonist knows something significant and awful has happened to her as she recovers from an accident, but she doesn’t have the capacity to piece her memories together. The less I tell you about this poetic book, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami- Murakami usually reads cold and clinical to me, so I was happily surprised by how moving and entertaining I found this book. When a man finds himself unable to engage in relationships in a meaningful way after the trauma of his four best high school friends suddenly excluding him from their lives without explanation, he goes on a pilgrimage years later to try to find out why. His search for closure yields unexpected results.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng- The book opens “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.” The rest of the book traces the steps of what led to Lydia’s death and details the haunting drama of multiracial family dynamics, the challenges of parenthood, and the ramifications of sacrificing your own goals for the happiness of children.

Happy reading in 2015!