I’m an avid reader (although there’s NEVER enough time to read all the books on my tbr pile) and my taste is not restricted to any particular genre. I recently blogged about my unconscious preference for female writers and one of the comments on the post was how many books Louise Walters (a writing friend from Twitter who’s debut is well worth a read) had read in 2104 and the breakdown of male/female writers. It made me look up the back pages of my 2014 diary where for the first time ever, I’d kept a record of the books I’ve read (or started to read) in 2014. Interesting (to me anyway) there was indeed a gender bias with 15/43 on my list being male writers.
Also, a surprise to me was I hadn’t read as many books as I thought as I’d assumed that I read roughly a book a week. But when life gets in the way of reading (I might’ve read more on holiday if I’d been lying on a beach but in Switzerland & Norway I was too busy then too tired to read much) that wasn’t the case (I blame Shantaram for taking up 3 weeks of my reading life and not being worth the investment!) With hunners of new books released daily (not to mention all the millions of books already out there) I always find it fascinating to see each week what the folk on Twitter mention on #FridayReads. When the book choice is tweeted from someone whose opinion I respect I often seek out the book and also follow excellent review blogs such as On the Literary Sofa, The Writes of Woman and A Life in Books.
However, I’m a lover of charity shops and often can’t resist a gamble on a book for 50p. So between, Twitter, random charity shop purchases, a list of ‘must read’ books and a desire to support contemporary Scottish fiction (my thinking is that if that’s what you write, that’s what you should read) I’d say that my reading choices are quite diverse (albeit with 66% written by women) and although my gender bias might’ve been unconscious, I do deliberately vary my reading. If I’ve read something very dark, I pick something a lot lighter in tone next and if I’ve read something set in Scotland, I choose a book set in a different country to follow.
Another issue I’ve blogged about is my reluctance to write reviews but I’m happy to highlight the books which really stood out from my eclectic 2014 reading list with an * (the list is in order of reading, not ranking). If I had to pick out my favourite book of the year it would be The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. They’re all worth a read for different reasons but I now apply the 50 page rule and if I haven’t engaged with the book by then, it’s off to the charity shop with it.
The best book I read in 2014.
- The Emergence of Judy Taylor by Angela Jackson
- Damian and Me by Damian Barr *
- The Guts by Roddy Doyle
- She Left Me the Gun by Emma Brocke
- The Book Thief by Markas Zusak
- The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker
- The Railway Man by Eric Lomax (memoir)
- Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
- And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson *
- The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh *
- All The Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell
- The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
- The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer *
- Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (abandoned after 50 pages – life’s too short to keep reading a book you HATE.)
- The Crow Road by Iain Banks
- All the Little Guns Went Bang Bang Bang by Neil Mackay *
- Americannah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
- Baggage by Janet Street Porter (memoir)
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
- We Can’t Be Strangers by Isabel Costello (as YET unpublished) *
- Thirst by Kerry Hudson *
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler *
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker *
- Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell
- A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bradley *
- Dear Allies by Margaret Henderson (non-fiction research for WIP)
- Nella Last’s Diary (non-fiction research for WIP)
- Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe
- All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld *
- The Gori’s Daughter by Shazia Hobbs
- Resistance by Anita Shreve (abandoned after applying the 50 page rule – just couldn’t get into it at all)
- Fall Out by Janet Street Porter (memoir)
- The Birds That Never Flew by Margot McCuaig *
- Solar by Ian McEwan
- Tiger,Tiger by Margaux Fargoso (memoir)
- The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark
- Glue by Irvine Welsh
- Refrigerator Cake by Dickson Telfer (short story collection)
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
- Glaswegian Dialect by Kate Sanderson (non-fiction research for editing)
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce*
What was your top read of 2014? How many books did you manage to read this year?