I can’t believe this year has gone so quickly and that we’re two days before Christmas already. On the bright side, I’ve read some amazing books this year so it wasn’t hard at all the pick out the ten best ones.
As always, I’m talking about the books I read this year, not necessarily books that were published this year. I doubt I read enough 2014 releases to make up even half a list, so why bother?
6) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This list isn’t in any particular order, but it it was, The Song of Achilles would be very, very close to the top. Second place, perhaps. I barely knew what this was about, just that Charlotte was about to throttle me if I didn’t read it soon, and that worked out well as I don’t think I’d have read it at all if I’d have known.
I cried on a train. It’s beautiful and moving and sad and lovely and… argh.
‘I don’t think this review has actually helped much as I’d have achieved much the same thing by posting a picture of myself with a pathetic expression and a wad of tissue. If you take one thing away from this though, let it be that The Song of Achilles is far more than a dusty retelling of the Trojan War – it’s a beautiful and realistic story about a demi-god and a human, and their everlasting love.’
7) The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
I’m including this series somewhat grudgingly as I finished the final book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, and was quite disappointed and annoyed. That said, I fell in love with the first two books, so here it stays. I suppose.
I still recommend reading this series though. It’s a completely unique concept and Laini Taylor writes with such poetry that I’m glad I picked it up.
‘It’s obvious to me that what really makes Daughter of Smoke and Bone so great is the world-building. I was hooked before I’d even finished reading two pages just because I was desperate to know what the teeth were used for, how the chimaera came to exist and what those strange handprints were. It’s clear than an awful lot of effort and planning went into creating this level of detail, as it was completely engrossing and somehow real.’
8) HHhH by Laurent Bisset
This is a rather odd non-fiction about about the Czech and Slovakian parachutists responsible for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. It has a really casual, chatty tone and the author talks to you about how he’s writing the book, as he’s telling you about the Nazis. It just… works, somehow.
‘What I liked most about HHhH is that it’s a non-fiction book, but told by a person rather than a historian. It really helps you to understand the atrocities committed because you’re not being lectured on it by an expert who’s taught 57,000 other people and has become inured to it – instead, Laurent Binet is as shocked about it as you are.‘
9) Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes
Crappy title, great book. You do need a certain amount of German political knowledge (past and present) to understand every nuance of this book, but it’s perfectly put together regardless. It’s completely believable and the tone is perfect.
‘I was hooked on Look Who’s Back by the end of the third page. Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern-day Berlin and is surprised to discover that his last order, to raze the city to the ground, wasn’t carried out. By his reckoning, Germany shouldn’t exist at all and he’s a little annoyed that it does, actually.’
10) Lady Chatterley’s Trial by Penguin Books
This is an example that didn’t make the list because of the words, but because of how it made me feel and what it made me think about.
It’s purely just extracts from R v Penguin Books Ltd, the censorship trial in 1960, and it’s published by Penguin themselves so it’s likely going to be a tad biased. However, it goes into the history of Penguin – how they didn’t believe classic novels just be only for the middle classes, so they began publishing cheap copies for the price of a packet of cigarettes.
It’s a very tiny book that you can read in a few hours, but it prompted a lot of conversation with different people about how lucky we are to live in an age where censorship isn’t really an issue (however you may feel about 50 Shades of Grey) and where we can actually get hundreds of classic books for free. Very thought-provoking.