Wednesday, December 31, 2014

book list 2014

Just because my blog has been pretty quiet this year doesn't mean you won't get my annual list of books finished for the first time this year! All 78 of them. This year I think I read more non-fiction than usual (and later I might check the stats to see if that's true). There was an interesting selection, with everything from deciphering Linear B, the history of the crossword, pop music in the 20th century, memoirs of people who fled Nazi Germany and books about Sydney (personal and historical). The other theme is really recent books- so many books I read this year seem to have been written in 2013 or 2014. I think I might try to balance that with some older books next year. Other than that, my top picks of the year:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I reviewed in detail earlier, but suffice to say it was one of the first books I read this year and still a favourite. In short: it's a great book about the way the world is today, and race and gender and globalisation and all that stuff that is pretty crucial to who we are.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which I reviewed on another blog was just a beautifully structured and written story. It sucks you in with wanting to know what happened, and then it makes you feel it. Really well worth reading.

Fantasy

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. One of the last books I read this year, and a really terrific one. I'm really loving urban fantasy at the moment, and this is a great example of the genre. Set in a run-down urban suburb of Johannesburg, with a noir feel and magical animals, it was exciting and sad and unputdownable. Highly recommend.

Crime

It's so hard to pick just one- the Robert Galbraith books surprised me a bit by being really good. They have some fun characters and it's nice to see a traditional private eye in a modern setting, somehow that seems rare? But it would be remiss of me not to mention the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters, which I've started reading my way through. Following a female Egyptologist in the late 19th century, who seems to get herself and her family involved in a large number of mysteries that need to be solved, these are just a lot of fun. A bit silly maybe, but definitely fun.

And the full list (linked if I've written about it, short review included for some)...


The Glass God- Kate Griffin I love all Kate Griffin's London urban fantasy books, and this is no exception
The Riddle of the Labyrinth- Margalit Fox Fascinating account of the decoding of Minoan writing
Murder and Mendelssohn- Kerry Greenwood Can't go wrong with a Phryne Fisher, and this one is a bit of a return to form after some less good ones
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared- Jonas Jonasson
Cluetopia- David Astle A book about the crossword and its history by noted crossword maker DA
Paths of Glory- Jeffrey Archer Bought it as sort of a lucky dip, dragged in places- about the climbing of Everest
Travesties- Tom Stoppard
The View from Castle Rock- Alice Munro
Untold- Sarah Rees Brennan Really enjoy this fantasy series
The Enchanted April- Elizabeth von Armin I think Stuck in a Book reviewed this highly- and it is a lovely story about women who holiday in Italy and are deeply affected by it
A Presumption of Death- Jill Paton Walsh A continuation of Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey books
The Attenbury Emeralds- Jill Paton Walsh
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna- Umberto Eco
Salvage- Keren David
Old School- Tobias Wolff
The Man Within- Graham Greene Not Graham Greene's best I think, but apparently his earliest
The Imperfectionists- Tom Rachman
Crocodile on the Sandbank- Elizabeth Peters
The Curse of the Pharaohs- Elizabeth Peters
The Drowner- Robert Drewe Good to read some Australian fiction- I thought this was a bit overwrought in places, perhaps, but overall interesting
All the Birds, Singing- Evie Wyld
Faulks on Fiction- Sebastian Faulks A book of essays on British fiction that I found myself wildly disagreeing with a lot
Jackdaws- Ken Follett Another lucky dip book! About a team of British women sent into occupied France as saboteurs in WWII
The Magic Toyshop- Angela Carter Read for book group. I love Angela Carter but she can be hard, this has all the pain and fairytale magic and darkness you might expect
The Mummy Case- Elizabeth Peters
Skios- Michael Frayn Recovering from some dark reading with something funny, but this also turned out to be a bit dark, or at least somewhat pessimistic about humanity
The Goldfinch- Donna Tartt Read for book group. Enjoyed it, but felt it dragged in the middle.
The Deeds of the Disturber- Elizabeth Peters
Unnatural Causes- PD James
Trafficking in Old Books- Anthony Marshall A collection of columns that makes for a charming memoir of second-hand bookselling in Melbourne
Bluebeard's Egg- Margaret Atwood
The Silkworm- Robert Galbraith
The Diary of Mary Berg- Mary Berg A diary of a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto in WWII
The Last Camel Died at Noon- Elizabeth Peters
Not Meeting Mr Right- Anita Heiss A bit bland for chick-lit I thought- but would still be interested in reading more by her
The Sittaford Mystery-Agatha Christie
Love and Vertigo- Hsu-Ming Teo
The World of Yesterday- Stefan Zweig
Murder on the Eiffel Tower- Claude Izner
The Visitors- Sally Beauman Picked this up because the surname was the same as the book I was looking for. Fitted right in with my Egyptology at the turn of the century reading
Glow- Ned Beauman Really recommend this one- very compelling thriller involving drugs, seperatist groups, evil corporations and non-24 sleep syndrome. And good writing
The Snake, The Crocodile and the DogElizabeth Peters
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop- Bob Stanley To add to my knowledge of pop music after my blog obsession (talked about here)
Questions of Travel- Michelle de Kretser Controversial book group book- I thought it was fine, most hated it
Bone Clocks- David Mitchell I love David Mitchell, and this is perhaps the most David-Mitchell book yet
On Such a Full Sea- Chang-Rae Lee
Razorhurst-  Justine Larbalestier
That Deadman Dance- Kim Scott Well worth reading- Indigenous writer writing about European settlement and first contact in Western Australia
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami
The Secret Place- Tana French
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes- Anita Loos
The Hippopotamus Pool- Elizabeth Peters
Amsterdam- Ian McEwan
The Thin Man- Dashiell Hammett
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Betty Smith
A Tale for the Time Being- Ruth Ozeki
Seeing a Large Cat- Elizabeth Peters
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return- Marjane Satrapi
Seconds- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Rynnosseros- Terry Dowling
Girl Defective- Simmone Howell
The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden- Jonas Jonasson
The Beacon- Susan Hill
Strawberry Hills Forever- Vanessa Berry
It's Not You, Geography, It's Me- Kristy Chambers
Zoo City- Lauren Beukes
The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss
Leviathan- John Birmingham

Happy New Year!