We asked library staff what their favourite reads of 2014 were, and received a wealth of replies to choose from! Here’s our top 10, in no particular order…
We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
“Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, it begins with a young lady called Rosemary in college who is eager to start out on her own and put to her past her bizarre family life. This starts off as a slow-burner. Suddenly there is a massive shock on page 77 that is like a blow to the stomach, it is that visceral. I read this with a varying range of emotions: happiness, anger, heart-ache and sheer wonder. At its heart it is a great novel about the American family, albeit set in a period of time when liberal academia was king and experimentation on your loved ones was the done thing. This is a tremendous read and will remain with you months after you have read it!”
The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217 by Richard Brooks
“I will start by saying I am no history buff but I found this to be a great read. I knew little about Richard Marshal or this period in history. I found the machinations and bloodthirsty behaviour of medieval society fascinating.
A bit dense in parts, or maybe I’m just a bit dense….Recommended.”
Love Nina by Nina Stibbe
“…is a wonderfully funny and refreshing read that would make a great Christmas present as it is so lighthearted .
In the form of letters written to her sister, Nina writes about working as a au pair in North London for children in the slightly eccentric household of the editor of the London Review of Books. She too , is slightly eccentric – finding herself cooking regular suppers for the likes of next door neighbours , Alan Bennett and Clare Tomalin…..”
Foster by Clare Keegan
“A short but immensely powerful story of a little girl from a hard household, who discovers a new intensity of feeling as she grows in personality under the ‘fostering’ of an aunt and uncle in the Irish countryside.”
Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys boys boys by Viv Albertine
“An ex member of The Raincoats , she writes a really good autobiog that covers british punk 70s and follow-up 80s in a truthful and engaging way….”
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
“2014 was a good year for novels beginning with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, a spectacular return to form (I was one of those readers who never got on with The Little Friend). After so many years since the Secret History it was marvellous to have another immersive narrative from Tartt which took its protagonist from childhood to maturity and from New York to Las Vegas and Belgium.”
Consumed by David Cronenberg
“The Peripheral would have been my book of the year if I hadn’t just read Consumed by David Cronenberg. When a film director turns to writing a novel at the age of 70 you might be expecting a novelty item. I started reading and was pleased to note how skilled he was as a writer (the opening reminded me of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition) but wasn’t expecting anything startling. Then the narrative started to get just like a Cronenberg film and when the weird medical procedures and bizarre sexual encounters really got going I was hooked. So for sheer unexpectedness Consumed is my book of the year.”
KP The Autobiography by Kevin Peiterson
“Few cricketers have divided opinion like Kevin Peiterson. Despite being the highest run scorer in international cricket history with over 8,000 test runs and 23 centuries, he was unceremoniously dumped by the cricket management at the beginning of this year. Capable of flamboyant stroke play and a match winning ability he was able to enthral and entertain like few cricketers could.
This book provides the inside story of the saga of his rather turbulent England playing years and, through a description of a series of colourful accusations and revelations. His grievances, such as when he suggests there was a bullying culture in the dressing room, are well aired in the book and targeted directly at the England captains, the coaches, his fellow players as well as the English management. Throughout, the sheer vanity and egotism of the player is revealed, but even so, there is a surprising vulnerability about the man both on and off the field as a he sets about to defend himself as what he sees as injustices.
Love or hate Peiterson, this book is totally absorbing and his outspoken views on the state of English cricket provide a real insight into the shape of the game. However, if there is one word that for me best describes Peiterson and comes clearly out of reading this book, it is that the man is a troublemaker.”
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
“The one that got away which I’ll be reading as soon as my wife finishes it is Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch, the fifth book in his excellent series about the magical division of the Metropolitan Police. The first book in the series, Rivers of London, is the Cityread book for next year. I hope to meet the author and get some copies signed!”