My Favourite Reads of 2014

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2014 has been a disappointing year for new books. I normally compile two lists of favourites  – one in which all the books were published in the previous year; the other composed of older books.  This year only four books could be included in the former category so I’ve combined the two to produce a single list of the best books I’ve read in the past 12 months.

Here are my favourites: 

Cold Skin 

Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol 

Dark, gripping and thought provoking. It makes you think about fear and the instinctive behaviour it creates; but also has an important message about Man’s impact on the environment. There are giant toads too – what’s not to love?!

A Sting in the Tale

A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson 

A witty, accessible book that summaries most of what is known about bumblebees today. I’ve been telling my friends facts from it all year!

The Mouseproof Kitchen

The Mouseproof Kitchen by Saira Shah 

Emotional insight into the realities of having a disabled child. It also includes vivid details about living in France, including mouthwatering descriptions of the food.  

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker 

Gripping thriller set in small town America. It isn’t perfect, but the story is so entertaining I didn’t care.

Alive: There Was Only One Way to Survive

Alive by Piers Paul Read 

Alive isn’t for the squeamish, but it shows the strength of human spirit and the importance of keeping hope alive.

 The Moth: This Is a True Story

The Moth: 50 Extraordinary True Stories 

The Moth is a wonderful collection of stories that show people at important junctions in their lives – it’s inspirational!

After the Bombing

After the Bombing by Clare Morrall 

Rich character development and vivid emotions make this one of the best WWII stories I’ve ever read. 

 The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber 

Quirky book that adds aliens and religion to a simple story about the difficulties of a long distance relationship.

 Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage by Rinker Buck 

The true story of two teenage brothers who decide to fly across America on their own. Their youthful enthusiasm was contagious and it has done a lot to alleviate my fear of flying. 

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked by Michael Pollan 

This book changed my life. It probably won’t change yours, but you might look at food in a slightly different way.

My Book of the Year

The Yearling

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 

Vivid story about a family trying to survive in the swamps of Florida. It beautifully describes an almost forgotten way of life and should be more widely known. Read it!

Have you read any of these? 

Did you enjoy them as much as I did?

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas!

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22 Comments

  1. Annabel says:

    Have a super Christmas Jackie. I’ve not read any of your favourites, but do own four of them (Pinol, Faber, The Moth and Harry Quebert) so I know I have some great reading ahead of me already, and some others to look up like The Yearling.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did. Have a great Christmas!

  2. Sandy says:

    I’ve not read any of these! I actually did start The Yearling on audio but it wasn’t well-narrated and I floundered and eventually gave it up. And I have Cooked loaded on my iPod, just need to listen!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I can see why The Yearling wouldn’t work well on audio. I hope you find the time to try the print version and enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. David says:

    I’ve not read any of them either though I do have the Clare Morrall and must get around to it. I’ve been meaning to get a copy of The Yearling since you reviewed it and your naming it your read of the year makes me even more keen to read it. Now then, no ‘All the King’s Men’? Tut, tut. Well, it’s my read of the year anyway.
    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, Sorry I didn’t enjoy ‘All the King’s Men’ – it was too political for me. I hope you get a copy of The Yearling and enjoy it as much as I did. I think you will as it is so well written. Have a great Christmas too!

  4. Sadly, I haven’t read any of the titles on your list (although a few of them, like the Faber, are ones that I had flagged to potentially read at a later date), but I have agree that 2014 has been a disappointing year for new fiction. Even authors that I already love who had new books out this year seemed to fall short! I don’t think I read any new titles this year that really blew me away; if I had to choose, I would say the best new releases I read this year were ASTONISH ME by Maggie Shipstead and STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel. Both were engaging, enjoyable reads, though I wouldn’t say either would go onto my list of all-time favorites.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I’ve seen a lot of people raving about Station 11, but I didn’t enjoy the last book I read by her so haven’t put it to the top of the pile. I may give it a try now you’ve enjoyed it. I haven’t heard anyone mention Astonish Me, but I do have a copy so I will give it a try right now! Let’s hope 2015 is a better year for new books.

      1. David says:

        I thoroughly enjoyed Station Eleven too – one of the most purely pleasurable reading experiences of the year for me. It’s a quiet sort of post-apocalypse that cleverly avoids the violence and drama of the immediate aftermath. The concept isn’t the most original (very similar in places to 70s TV series ‘The Survivors’) and a storyline about a cult leader promises much but fizzles out, but the writing is excellent and the characters are compelling. The subject isn’t normally my cup of tea, but I found I didn’t want the book to end.

        1. Jackie says:

          OK. You’ve persuaded me to give it a try! Will pick up a copy next time I go to the library :-)

  5. Cooked is outstanding – one of my favorites last year! And I *still* have The Mouseproof Kitchen unread on my kindle….

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, Glad to hear you agree with me on Cooked. I hope you enjoy Mouseproof Kitchen as much as I did.

  6. Jeane says:

    Only two! But you name a lot of others I haven’t heard of and they look interesting- more for my own pile, now.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jeane, I hope you enjoy any you decide to try!

  7. I haven’t read any of them either – but have heard of a couple! Does that count! All the best for Xmas and the New Year Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Whispering Gums, It’s a start! :-) Hope you have a wonderful 2015!

  8. I did buy a copy of The Yearling based on your recommendation, but I have not read it yet. I may get to it with the TBR Double Dog Dare and I will get to it eventually.

    Here’s hoping for better reading in 2015.

    1. Jackie says:

      James, I hope that you enjoy The Yearling as much as I did. Have a fantastic 2015!

  9. Care says:

    I read The Yearling, too, this year! And I also read Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma which was fascinating. I am very glad to read both of these. Most of my best-of-the-year books were classics.

    1. Jackie says:

      Care, The Yearling is such an amazing book – I don’t understand why it isn’t more well known. I look forward to reading Pollan’ s back catalogue – he is such an inspiring man :-)

  10. Trish says:

    I love how your book of the year is a bit of a classic! I haven’t read it yet but guess I should. Hope you have a wonderful wonderful new year!

    1. Jackie says:

      Trish, I love the fact I stumbled across it by accident too. It isn’t a book that is well known in the UK, but I hope I’ve persuaded a few people to give it a try. Enjoy!

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