Thursday, 15 January 2015

My Favourite Books of 2014

I know I'm a little bit late in the game to be talking about last year's 'favourites', but I couldn't leave 2014 behind without flicking through my book diary and typing up a list of my most treasured reads from the year.

Looking back, I read a total of 35 books, which I'm quite happy about. I'm not someone who can skip through a list of books at a mile a minute, but I'm hoping this year to meet the 50 mark... we shall see!

Anyway, without further ado, here are my top ten reads of 2014:

1) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides is such an escapist book to read in a way and really captures the hazy, magical, boredom-filled days of teenage-hood. 

2) On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
This is a very short novel about a young couple in the run up to their marriage. Their miscommunications and naivety, along with the pressures put upon them by their families mean that their relationship is put a risk.

3) For Esme with Love and Squalor by J.D. Salinger
This is one of Salinger's short story collections. The title story is my favourite. It's about a young girl's correspondence with a soldier during the war. Their relationship is both charming and heart-breaking. 

4) A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
This book won the Bailey's prize for women's fiction last year and deservedly so. It is written in a stream of consciousness style and so takes a while to get into but the effort is so worth it. Its a story of a girl growing up in desperate circumstances, her brother is ill, she falls in with the wrong people, she spirals into a never-ending cycle of self-destruction and depression. It's not a cheery read but is a book that stays with you.

5) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
There was such a buzz around Chimamanda last year and I hope to get round to reading all her books in the future. This book opened my eyes to feminism from a Nigerian woman's perspective and made me think about attitudes to race in both America and the UK that I had never even considered before.

6) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
My first Angela Carter! Unlike anything I have read before this is a magical, disturbing and unsettling modern 'fairytale'. Her writing is incredible and conjures up vivid images, of white wedding dresses, macabre toys, unconventional families, but is ultimately about a girl Melanie who trying to come into her own against this incredibly backdrop of Grimm fairytale, Greek tragedy and British folklore.

7) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I loved the nostalgic atmosphere that this creates, of the country house of Brideshead, of roaming through the colleges of Oxford university, and of course Charles's obsession with Sebastian and his family. It's perfect summer reading.

8) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The hype surrounding The Goldfinch has been everywhere. I tried to avoid it seeing as it's such a long book but eventually gave it a go and am so glad I did! It involves art, secrets, mystery, friendships and beautifully created scenes set in New York and Vegas.

9) Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
I went to Lena's book talk in November where she was interviewed by Caitlin Moran and was completely blown away by her. She is so open with her experiences and I was often found thinking that her experiences were nothing out of the ordinary, similar things have happened to me, and yet that's what's so important about her work. She is making women's experiences important through writing about every aspect of a girl growing up and I'm excited to see what she does next.

10) Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
This both enraged and motivated me. I don't think anyone could read this without feeling an overwhelming sense of anger but this isn't a book that rants or preaches, Laura explores the power of educating girls and boys in schools and using people power to change things, creating a network of women who are in solidarity with each other.

So that's my top ten books of the year! I'd love to know what yours are in the comments. Here's to lots more reading in 2015.

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