Thursday, 12 June 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2014

 

Writing this post has made me realise that I'm not actually having the best reading year - I came up with six books for this list and then had to resort to rereads. It's possibly because 12 out of the 45 books I've read so far are rereads, which is a very high amount for me. Other than that, maybe it's just bad luck.

That said, the ones that did make it to this list are of a very high standard so it does kind of balance out. I'd rather read seven amazing books than twenty fairly good books, after all!

In no particular order:

1) Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

This has an odd premise - Hitler somehow ends up transported to modern day Berlin - but it really does work. I didn't find it anywhere near as comical as it's supposed to be (it's actually not funny at all), but it's very very clever.

It raised all kind of questions for me - would we really laugh at a Hitler impersonator? Would we still laugh if we knew it was Hitler? Why have we forgotten how atrocious the war was? Why isn't it okay to remember Hitler to prevent a similar situation from happening again?

A very thorough and thought-proviking read, but one that's very accessible at the same time.

2) The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer 

I bought this on a whim from ASDA and was amazed at how brilliant it turned out to be.

The author is a registered mental health nurse which is demonstrated by the accuracy and emotion with which he describes Matt. It's a very moving book - I didn't actually like any of the characters but I cared so very deeply about what happened to them.

It's fairly clear what the big secret is by the end of the book, but it's probably meant to be. It's the journey that you take with Matt that really hits you.

3) The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
 
Apparently I've been in a bit of a mental health phase.

This book is unbelievable and I've also heard good things about the film, which I haven't seen yet. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are the perfect choices to play the characters in this book, who are both flawed and have their own issues, but nearly always have good intentions.

It's the tone of this book that's perfect - a slightly hesitant yet thorough 'voice' that enables you to learn along with him.

4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller  
  
I'm a little late to the party with this one, but that's alright. I probably wouldn't have read it at all if Charlotte hadn't kept metaphorically poking me with it.

I began not really knowing what it was about and then I was actually slightly disappointed when I realised it was about the Seige of Troy... except it's not, not really.

It's a love story, a character study and an adventure that just happens to take place just outside Troy. I cried real fat tears on a train just outside Leeds. That's what this book does to you.

5) FEED by Mira Grant

Charlotte is actually responsible for this one as well - she bought FEED for me at Christmas when she knew how much I'd loved Parasite. 

While I'd still say I prefer Parasite, that's possibly only because of the more original subject matter. FEED is still an unbelievable book that has more of a slow-build... and then my God, the ending. I finished it in a cafe and then had to sit there, just processing, for twenty minutes afterwards.

6) The Selection and The Elite by Keira Cass

I know. I didn't see this one coming either.

After I finished the first book, I spent a good while in Costa Coffee explaining to Ellie just how badly written The Selection was. I couldn't even decide if I actually liked it or not.

Except then I went right on to read the second book (and I never read series consecutively) and I. Cannot. Get. It. Out. Of. My. Head.

The third one was released last week and I hadn't actually forgotten that I want to read it, another thing that never happens. I'm actually almost desperate for it.

I'm cringing as I write this, but there's no help for it - The Selection got to me (although the second book is much, much better). 

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So those are the new (to me) books that I've loved this year. It initially felt like cheating to include the rereads below, but some of the following affected me more than the books above, even though I'd read them before. So why not?

7) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Of course.

It had actually been five years since my last reread of Pride and Prejudice, although I had read various spin-offs in the meantime - Death Comes to Pemberley and Longbourn, neither of which were literary masterpieces. Clearly it was time to clear the air with the original book and this was the first book I picked up in 2014.

What I love the most about this book is the way it changes with every reread. See my review/discussion linked above for a long ramble about this, but everytime I read it I find something new.

8) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is the book that affected me most this year, even more than Pride and Prejudice. I'd only read it once before, quite a while ago, and I'd forgotten most of it. 

It's just amazing. I don't think I really 'got' it the first time round, because I don't remember feeling anywhere near as shell-shocked as I did when I finished it last week. I noticed the symbolism and the general injustices that angered and frightened me more than ever before.

This book is a masterpiece and everybody should read it.

9) The Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Usually the Discworld books are what I read when I don't really want to read, if that makes any sense. They're my default books when my attention-span is low or I'm not feeling too well. Don't get me wrong, I love them but I've read them too many times to really be surprised by them.

Enter Night Watch. This isn't one of the newer books, but it is one of the newer older batch. It features Samuel Vimes, who's my favourite Discworld character, but for some reason I never usually get this far during rereads.

This book is amazing. It's so much more than his usual novels - it's the only one I've ever been moved by. They're funny, quirky and light, but not usually very deep. Except this. Read this... although don't start with this because part of it's beauty is seeing the previous lives of the characters you already love.

What are your best books (so far) of 2014? 




9 comments:

  1. Don't worry, I really like The Selections books despite all the things wrong. The One is on my buy after ninja book swap list.

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    1. Mine too. I did really like the first two, but I did realise there were a lot of faults with it - never mind, as long as we liked it :)

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  2. 'Shell-shocked' is a good way to describe my reading experience with TKAM too. I love it when a book does that, when you can literally feel yourself reeling afterwards. And YES good choices for the newer reads too - although I must say it made me smile to see that last one, given the whole "It's terrible but I think I like it" inner turmoil you were wrangling with for half of our coffee stop!

    *nods approvingly* Yes. Yes, I like this list. Must read Mira Grant. And Madeline Miller. And the Hitler book. And The Selection, apparently. WHO KNEW, HANNA?

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    1. Exactly - it really knocked me for six (where does that expression come from? Bowling?) when I wasn't expecting it to. It's just so... yeah. I can't really explain it, hence my distinctly unhelpful review.

      Haha, I know. It's the second book that knocked it onto this list - it's still not exactly high literature, but it's very memorable and I ended up caring about the characters. I just hope the last book is good! :)

      Yes. Yes, you must. One day I'm going to come to your house and make a pile of things FOR ELLIE TO READ.

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    2. You can always play in my LT library and email me a list. Y'know, if you can't sleep one night and have exhausted your OWN list-making and library tweaking. Failing that, my new room (and new bookshelves) will be a thing EVENTUALLY. Maybe you could come and help me organise my books or something once I finally get my ass in gear and clear the room so we can paint and get new furniture in!

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  3. Feed is one of my favourite books of all time. Have you read the other two books in the trilogy yet? Especially the second book, Deadline was perfect.

    Hopefully I'll have the time this summer to read Pride & Prejudice. I have read some other Jane Austen novels, but I'm saving the best for last (:

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    1. Not yet, although I do own the second one. I'm a bit hesitant to start it though, because the characters have changed, if you know what I mean. Soon, though!

      Oh please do! It's my favourite one, although I do like Persuasion and Emma quite a lot as well. I probably wouldn't even read classics now if I hadn't picked up Pride and Prejudice when I was 16 or so.

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  4. I keep seeing The Song of Achilles in charity shops and going 'hmm, it's supposed to be really good. But do I REALLY want to read it?' about a hundred times. And I STILL DON'T KNOW. But I will probably buy it for like 50p one of these days because I just can't help myself.

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  5. I love Terry Pratchett and have been meaning to read FEED forever!

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