My GoodReads tells me that I read 71 books in the year 2014, but I know that’s not true. I read 73 books, and why GoodReads has it wrong is because two of these books have been repeatedly read by me in the past few years. (Yes, GoodReads, you need to up your book-recording game) Anywho, since those two books have been read by me a gazillion times and, hence, are obviously favourites, I will not include them in my list of the best books I read in 2014, the year of the horse. So here goes, in no particular order:
The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
Three teenage operatives – sassy, smart, intelligent, and learning – bumble, fumble, and survive their way through ghost-hunting in an alternative, almost present-day London, combined with Stroud’s incredible and delightful writing which I have learnt to always rely on. What else can one ask for?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The tale of four sisters and how they make their way in their lives, with highly endearing supporting characters – this book is called a classic for a reason.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman takes us around an America where the old gods still exist, alongside the new – the new gods of media, internet, and credit cards. Shadow, an ex-convict and now the man in employment of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, must see to it that his employer wins the war between the old and the new gods. Shoot, Mr. Gaiman, this book took my breath away, left me boggled and, somehow, with more faith.
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Gorgeous, gorgeous art, and a beautiful little story with elements of fantasy that will keep you reading till the very end of this somewhat chunky standalone graphic novel. I don’t see anything much wrong with this book.
The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
You would see a pattern forming here, a pattern which shouts out that Stroud is a favourite author of mine. He is. And Bartimaeus, djinni extraordinaire and the sassy protagonist of this book is one of my top 5 favourite fictional characters of all time.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman is a magician, and this middle-grade-trailing-into-teen outing of his is a work of brilliant writing and such necessary characters, my heart was warmed for days after I finished reading this book.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling)
I love me a good murder mystery, and Galbraith’s one-legged, ex-soldier Cormoran Strike is as good a private eye as they come. Along with his ever faithful assistant and sleuth-in-training, Robin Ellacott, Strike had formed a firm place in my heart ever since he first appeared in The Cuckoo’s Calling. He is ever more fascinating in this second adventure of his, when characters become deeper and the mystery gets more boggling!
The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
There aren’t many words that can be used to express the plot of the Sandman comics, or the emotions the reader is awash with once he is done reading them. The Sandman is one of the most epic comic book series of all time, and definitely my favourite – I don’t think I can stress enough how much I revere Gaiman’s imagination, and this series surpasses anything else he has ever done, its scale is that large. Filled with mind-blowing art and characters and settings that drive people to get tattoos of them, the Sandman is a cultural statement and a celebration in itself.
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Of late, I haven’t been entirely sure of long, heavily prose-d, covering entire generations novels, but this one had been on my list for so long, I thought I would take it with me to the Greece and Germany trip that I took with my parents in September, 2014 (from what I could ascertain from the blurb, it had a sea voyage! Yayie!). Boy, did I love it, and boy did it break my heart. (I won’t give out spoilers). Peter Carey’s writing is very close to magical, and this book has made its place into my favourite books of all time. That’s saying something, eh?
A Delicate Truth by John le Carré
Espionage fiction – spy fic – is my favourite genre, alongside crime fiction, and John le Carré is the master of all that is covert, clandestine, secret agent-y, and anti-Bond-y. His latest, published in 2013, is about a covert operation gone wrong, and whistleblowing. What’s there to stop one from grabbing it right off the shelf and devouring it in one go!?
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This book is a paranormal mystery, and it managed to scare me real good! I talk about it in my post about how I need horror in my life. The author uses real web pages and photographs to show how the detective in the book – a defamed journalist – goes about with his investigation, which is freaking’ awesome, specially for a book with 500+ pages. And the person being investigated is a mysterious and reclusive, Stanley Kubrick-y filmmaker! Woot woot!
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is a goddess, my spirit animal, and one of the funniest women on the planet right now. Surely her memoir would be hilarious? Nope, it’s funnier. Fey talks about her life, from early childhood to her time at SNL and 30 Rock, and she accompanies these with hilarious photographs and quirky anecdotes. This is one book everyone should read who has struggled even minimally in their life, or just wants a good, long laugh.
A very, very special mention should go to the five Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley I read in the year (I read the first one a few years ago – I have no idea why I waited for so long to pick the rest of them up) – it is hard to contain the love that comes out of me for this very special character who is so severely underrated, it should be deemed a literary crime.
Flavia is a an 11 year old chemist and a crime solver who lives with her quiet, almost-reclusive father and her two older sisters whose main occupations seem to be to cause Flavia as much trouble as is possible – only Flavia doesn’t hesitate in paying them back. Ever present wherever there is a dead body or two, with her ears always open for all kinds of information that flows through her tiny, 1950s English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia de Luce is one of the most precocious, lovable, and memorable characters of all time.
So, there you have it, the best books I read in 2014. They were all adventures in themselves, and I can’t be more thankful for books of such incredible quality. 2015 has begun with a few brilliant books already, and I hope the rest of my year is full of awesomeness as well! Happy reading, y’all!