My Books of 2014

I’ve read a lot of books that came out this year, for the first time in ages. Though, of course, there are still lots more I want to read. Amongst others, I wish I’d got around to Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood, Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and Matt Haig’s The Humans. But, without further delay, here are my favourite books published in 2014:

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – Perhaps because it is fresh in my memory, or perhaps because it is excellent, I think this is my favourite book of the year. I just loved it.

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh – Continuing with non-fiction and top of my personal Guardian First Book Award list, I think this was heartfelt and intelligent. I love learning about the brain and to inform through memoir made this very readable.

How to be Both by Ali Smith – Ali Smith is wonderful. This is still in my head, having finished it about a month ago. It was sensitive and playful and awesome. I admire Smith because she experiments but she never seems to forget that people still want to just read a book when they’re reading a book.

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane – When I finished this I was so annoyed at the ending that I went off it. But the interplay between the two main characters still comes back to me months after I read it. I love the way the reader isn’t sure what is happening; are we taken into the mind of a dementia sufferer or are tricks being played on the protagonist? Definitely one of the best of the year.

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – Having read a few Murakami novels, this felt familiar (an outsider, secrets and weird sex…). But I got through it very quickly. I like Murakami’s realistic but dreamy worlds.

Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan – The only book of short stories on here, even though I read a lot of short stories this year. The imagery is wonderful and the stories are sensitively told from a variety of persepectives, young and old.

Some books I thought would fare better are not listed here, obviously. I felt disappointed by some big names; and I read a lot of debut books. After years of doing a literature degree perhaps I was expecting too much of some of the debut books I read. Writing a book means doing an awful lot of things well.

Also, I read some wonderful books this year that were published prior to 2014. Some of these were Trumpet by Jackie Kay, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. But I’m just doing 2014 today, apparently.

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