Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Top Ten Books of the Year 2014

Happy new year everyone! Personally, I'm not fussed about new year, it's nice to have the time off work, but I've got a thing about looking at people while counting - I just find it awkward.

Anyway, as promised in my post yesterday I've put together a countdown of my top 10 books of the year. It was so difficult to come up with this list, firstly to cull the list from 103 to 10, then put them in some kind of order. The closer to number one it got, the harder the decision process was, the final 4 are pretty much all on equal billing.

drum roll please......

(read my full review by clicking on the title)

10. Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch 
I'm a huge Tartt fangirl, so she had to make this list. Her writing is just so expressive and lyrical. The narrative maybe slow paced, but with this kind of of writing, it's the journey not the destination that's important.

9. Lionel Shriver, Big Brother 

This novel about obesity wins the award for grossest description about an overflowing toilet I've ever read. The subject often makes uncomfortable reading. Big Brother makes this list as it is provocative,  and prompts discussion.

8. Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests 

Feminist literature is my fav. The end of the of the First World War had dramatically altered British society, the class system became (marginally) less rigid and radical women disrupted the patriarchy and made gains for equality. This period of history has so much potential, and this novel delivers. Frances and Lillian are complex, engaging characters. There is also a plot twist half way through, which I really didn't expect.

7. Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice 
I'm cheating on this one, because I'm including the whole Farseer Trilogy  as one list item. This series helped me delve further in the fantasy genre, something I'd only dipped my toe in before with Game of Thrones. I'd class these novels as easy-reading, perfect for a holiday, or a day of reading in the garden, pure escapism.

6. Elizabeth Haynes, Into the Darkest Corner 

The novel is terrifying. Please don't read it if you are trigged by OCD, rape or domestic abuse. It is one of the most unsettling books I've ever read, but I also found it utterly compelling. I also gained an insight into the effects OCD can have, and the manipulation techniques abusers use.

5. Kate Manning, The Notorious Life of Madame X 

Oooooh I love a bit of historical fiction. This story of a backstreet abortionist is a perfect book club pick, as you can't wait to talk about it with someone. It is character driven and fast paced, and gives a real feel for the historical period.

4. A. S Byatt, Ragnorok 
I developed an interest in Nordic mythology thanks to this novella, and if you also want to know more about Thor, Loki and the death of gods, you have to give this a try. It's just beautiful and poetic, and nothing I can say about it does it justice. Every sentence of Ragnarok is to be savoured.

3. Octavia E. Butler  Kindred

This novel should be taught in schools. It is one of the most powerful and original novels about slavery to be ever written.

2. Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing 

This novel is ridiculously imaginative, and also so simple. Maud the narrator, has dementia, and her personality, confusion and abilities just shine through the story. It is a highly emotive novel, it had me crying my eyes out.

1. Audrey Magee, The Undertaking

 Well done, you've made it to my book of the year 2014 (this post has got v long). This war novel is comparable to All Quiet of the Western Front and is the best contemporary account of the Second World War I have possibly ever read. It left me open mouthed- and I was dwelling on the story for weeks after.

*don't know if anyone noticed - but I got completely ahead of myself, the title of this post was originally 2015!

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