2014 was not as good a reading year as 2013, even though it began with the Goldfinch which I loved. In chronological order, I also read:
- Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. I just finished this a few days ago. This is probably my favourite from the year. It was a birthday gift from my parents and to be honest I wasn’t sure about it as it was about an orphan in mid-19th century London and that’s not exactly my favourite starting point for novels. But it was a fantastic story beautifully written, the kind of book I looked forward to picking up every night and wanted to read for hours (but couldn’t because I’m a tired pregnant lady). It was great to finally be on holidays and be able to finish it off in great big chunks. Even better, it’s not her first novel so I have lots more of her writing to enjoy.
- Breath, by Tim Winton. I usually enjoy Winton’s writing and this one was no different even though I only realised after I started that it’s been called a “meditation on surfing”, which like the London orphan is also not my favourite starting point.
- The Blood Countess, by Tara Moss. I like crime novels and have been meaning to try one of Tara Moss’s, so I picked this up at the Lifeline Book Fair. It was terrible. I didn’t realise when I got it but it’s not one of her crime novels, it was the beginning of a series about vampires. I think. I’ve mostly blocked it from my mind. I’m embarrassed to even put it on here.
- The Smallest Things, by Angela Mollard. I’d not heard of Angela Mollard because I don’t watch commercial breakfast TV and I don’t read the Murdoch press, but apparently she’s pretty well known and has been around a long time. I don’t usually read parenting books but this one was given to me and I decided to give it a go. She had some good ideas and some silly ones, and I appreciated the overall philosophy, but the overwhelming stench of privilege was pretty hard to get past. Also she seems to have forgotten what it’s like to have babies and young toddlers, which as far as I can tell is a pretty different kettle of fish to pre-schoolers and older kids in terms of what’s possible and what counts as a ‘small thing’.
- Emma, by Jane Austen. When Emma was born a couple of people asked if it was because of this book and I had to admit I’d never read it. Since you can now get it for free on Kindle I decided to give it a go. I’m not very good at reading old books (I find the language difficult and my mind wanders) but I enjoyed this, of course, and am pleased at Emma’s namesake even if it wasn’t a conscious choice.
- Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan. I usually like McEwan’s stuff and I enjoyed this.
- On Love, by Alain de Botton. I’ve read a few of de Botton’s philosophy books but this was the first novel I’d tried (or is it his first novel? I’m not sure). Anyway, I liked it.
- A Question of Love, by Ian Rankin. I hadn’t read a Rebus book in a while and I’m not sure what made me pick this one up. But I enjoyed it, I like them even more now after our stint in Edinburgh and they are always a good read.
- Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan. I didn’t realise I’d read two McEwans this year. This was a very different story but again I enjoyed it.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. This was a great read with lots of interesting characters set in a place I didn’t know anything about.
- Eyrie, by Tim Winton. Hmm two McEwans and two Wintons this year. I enjoyed this one more than Breath – it probably helped that it wasn’t a meditation on surfing.
So there were no total duds this year (although I firmly believe life is too short so if I do find myself reading a dud I usually stop) but the only true stand-out was Fingersmith which I highly recommend.