In no particular order, here are my top 10 favourite reads for 2014.
1. The Children Act by Ian McEwan (2014)
This novel follows a High Court judge as she presides over cases in the family court in London. Her professional successes contrast with a domestic crisis and the lingering regret of never having children. As with all Ian McEwan novels, the writing is beautiful and the characters believable. I rambled though this one with mild interest until suddenly I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Overall left me feeling quite moved and thoughtful.
2. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (2014)
Told from the perspective of Maud, an 82-year-old with failing memory, this clever and moving mystery will both haunt and amuse you. Part mystery, part drama, this novel is an unsettling and compelling debut from Emma Healey that I highly recommend. “How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?”
3. The Quiet American by Graham Green (1955)
A beautiful piece of fiction, short but sweet with not a single word out-of-place. If you have never read any Graham Green before then this is a great place to start. “It might be nearly 60 years since The Quiet American was first published, but it still evokes the exotic promise of the Orient, and the troubled relationship Vietnam has with the West” (Wanderlust)
4. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (2001)
I’ve had something of an Alice Munro year and could probably have listed any of the 5 books I have read from her over the last 12 months. She is the master of contemporary short stories and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. Always with a sense of regret and nostalgia, she captures a glimpse of life that is deeper than most full-length novels.
5. Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1960)
Set in 1959, this novel is told from the perspective of a high school sports star whose post school life is going nowhere. Married to an alcoholic who is pregnant with his second child and stuck in a job selling utensils to housewives, 26-year-old Rabbit decides to flee from his family in an attempt to escape his mediocre existence. This is not a nice book. I did not like the main character and the ending is horrifying, but ultimately it’s a brilliant novel and deservedly a top book for the year, even though I didn’t enjoy the taste much.
Tom Ripley is leading a strained existence in New York. Sick of his friends and bored of the city, he has a lucky break when the father of an acquaintance offers to send him to Italy, in an attempt to persuade their son to come home to America. Once in Italy though, Tom’s jealousies and paranoia get the better of him and the tension begins to build.
Read my full review of this book here.
7. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (2005)
This novel centers around intertwining lives of three people who together witness an event that will dictated the path of not only the rest of their lives, but the fate of everyone on earth. The astronomical changes of that day in October set course for a time-altering event that means the sun will be extinguished in the next forty years. This October Event wasnt naturally occurring phenomena, so what set it in motion and why? How do you go about living in a dying world and how do you plan for a future that might not exist?
I wrote a longer post about this novel here.
8. The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion (2013)
Don Tillman is a Professor of Genetics living in Melbourne, he finds most social situations awkward and has never been on a second date. Pushing 40, he knows that statistically there should be someone out there for him and so he embarks on “The Wife Project”, a lengthy and comprehensive questionnaire aimed at finding the perfect match. Much amusement ensues and the naivety in which Don views the world makes for a very charming and quirky adventure.
Read my earlier review here.
9. Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (1982)
There are no loveable characters in this novel, but there is no need for them. The story will pull you along through all the dysfunction, bitterness and misplaced pride until you wind up enjoying to hate them all. “Excellently done; the minutiae of domestic landscapes, the lunatic irrationality of family quarrels, the torments of sibling rivalry” (Sunday Telegraph)
10. An Artist of the Floating World by
Set in Japan in 1948, this quiet and reflective novel follows celebrated artist Masuji Ono into his retirement. Rather than a time of tranquility though, his later years are haunted by dark memories until guilt and regret ultimately begin to shadow his days. A fascinating and slow-paced novel from
Have you read any of these novels? What books did you enjoy reading in 2014?