1. Best book you read in 2014? (You can break it down by genre if you want) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was a great start to the year and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber was another highlight. For non-fiction, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald really stood out for its original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? As with The Rehearsal, the overly complex structure of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton prevented me from enjoying it as much as I had hoped.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014? It’s a very intense read but The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud was a pleasant surprise as I didn’t really get on with The Last Life at all last year.
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2014? Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey has been one of the most talked about debut novels of the year and deservedly so.
5. Best series you discovered in 2014? The My Struggle cycle of books by Karl Ove Knausgaard is excellent and I read the first two parts of the series this year – A Death in the Family and A Man in Love. I am hoping to read ‘Boyhood Island’ next year and the fourth instalment is soon to follow.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? I wouldn’t say it’s out of my comfort zone but I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection of letters before but Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe was excellent.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014? The courtroom scenes in Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty were truly gripping.
9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to reread next year: I haven’t reread anything for a few years now so it is very unlikely that I would revisit anything from this year so soon.
10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014? The hardback cover design of the UK edition of Big Brother by Lionel Shriver and the photograph on the cover of Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami are both very striking.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014? The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber was really thought-provoking for reasons I still can’t really articulate properly.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2014 to finally read? It took me a long time to read Haruki Murakami’s short story collections The Elephant Vanishes and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman but they were worth the wait. Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is another classic I neglected for far too long.
15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read In 2014? The best opening line must surely go to Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh who begins with a rather disconcerting admission: “I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing.” My favourite quote about books is “I often carry things to read so that I will not have to look at the people” – I don’t know if Charles Bukowski ever had a long commute to work like I do but this quote sums up a key reason why I read so much.
16.Shortest and longest book you read in 2014? The shortest book was The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke at just over 100 pages and the longest book was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton clocking in at 832 pages.
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? Lionel Shriver always writes good endings for her novels and Big Brother and The Post-Birthday World were no exception.
18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2014 (be it romantic, friendship, etc). The working/personal relationship between Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott has been developing nicely in The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this progresses in the rest of the series. The father/son relationship between Douglas and Albie in Us by David Nicholls was also very affecting.
19. Favourite book you read in 2014 from an author you read previously There have been many. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami was excellent as was Fallout by Sadie Jones. I would also like to have seen Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie win this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction but in the end, it wasn’t to be.
20. Best book you read that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else: I discover most books through recommendations from others but I doubt I would have discovered Decoded by Mai Jia had it not been for positive reviews.
Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2014
1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2014? I enjoy receiving newsletters from the team at Shiny New Books.
2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2014? I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoy writing negative reviews but The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker was a nice change in some ways.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog? The The reaction to Penguin’s “creepy” cover of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and the “revelation” that Zoe Sugg’s ‘Girl Online’ was ghostwritten was also very interesting.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? The Man Booker Prize longlist always generates a good discussion – many thought it was a bit lacklustre compared to previous years and this post by Naomi at The Writes of Woman sums up why.
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? I enjoyed the Folio Society Spring Titles launch at the British Library and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist readings at the Southbank Centre. Attending a special preview screening of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was another highlight and I also went to my first book launch this year for Of Bodies Changed by Cliff James in Cambridge.
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2014? I don’t think there has been a particular moment this year but in general, it’s nice that my stats still seem to be going up even though I post less frequently than I used to when I was still a student.
7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? The Goldfinch has been the review which has received the most views although this is also because I posted it at the beginning of January.
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? The Bloomsbury Book Club events in London were a great discovery.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I don’t really do challenges or goals other than trying my best to be consistent with blogging and publish one or two posts every week.
1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015? I still haven’t read a number of books which have been on my TBR list for ages. ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins is the next classic novel on my list to read.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015? Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Atkinson both have new novels coming out next year and I hope the third instalment of Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series is released too although there has been no official word about this yet.
3. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2015? Make some more progress with getting through the books I already have on my shelves – The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller has been very inspiring. I have done fairly well this year in that I think my TBR list may actually be a little bit shorter than it was at the beginning of the year.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all wherever you are and whatever you’re doing…. here’s to a bookish 2015!