Best Books of 2014

I thought I’d read quite a few books this year, and a lot of newly-published ones, too, and yet the best-of lists remain full of titles I haven’t got around to, or have never even heard of. So while my wish list takes a battering, here’s my chance to return the favour. I know I ought to wait until the end of the month but something about this time of year just provokes the urge to tot up the balance sheet. It’s been an excellent reading year, as what follows will show.


mrs hemmingwayBest literary fiction of 2014

Alice McDermott – Someone

Jill Dawson – The Tell-Tale Heart

Naomi Wood – Mrs Hemingway

Jane Smiley – Some Luck

Heather O’Neill – The Girl who was Saturday Night



sisterlandBest literary fiction of 2013 I only got around to reading in 2014

Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries

Curtis Sittenfeld – Sisterland


Best fiction recommendation I gave Mr Litlove

Monique Roffey – Archipelago


izasBalladBest literary fiction in translation

Magda Szabo – Iza’s Ballad


Best general fiction

Liane Moriarty – Little Lies

Patricia Ferguson – Aren’t We Sisters


Best historical fiction

Laurie Graham – The Grand Duchess of Nowhere

Elizabeth Fremantle – Queen’s Gambit


Best books that made me laugh

Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project

Rebecca Harrington – Penelope


stay up with meBest short stories

Tom Barbash – Stay Up With Me


Best crime fiction

Eva Dolan – Long Way Home

Frances Brody – Death of an Avid Reader


the last asylumBest memoirs of 2014

Joanna Rakoff – My Salinger Year

Barbara Taylor – The Last Asylum


Best memoir of any year

Hilary Mantel – Giving Up the Ghost


Best non-fiction about mental health issues

Christine Montross – Falling into the Fire


RiddleOfThe LabyrinthBest general non-fiction

Richard Benson – The Valley

Margalit Fox – The Riddle of the Labyrinth


What a year for the women! Only two male authors made it onto the list this year. But a formidable year overall. Before Christmas I might mention a few stinkers too, and the books I liked least this year. You have been warned.

19 thoughts on “Best Books of 2014

  1. interested to know what you hated. Whilst I totally agree about The Last Asylum and Falling in the Fire, I loathed Mrs Hemingway – dull, badly written and no image of Hemingway, which may make sense stylistically but means you just CANNOT see why all the women hung around him.

  2. Well, I didn’t make it beyond the first few days of the month as you know. Delighted to see some familiar titles here and even more so to see some to explore. Looking forward to your stinkers!

  3. I really enjoy browsing through these best-of lists. I haven’t read many newly-published books this year, but I must get around to Mrs Hemingway. Your post is a timely reminder.

  4. I haven’t read many of these, though I did enjoy Queen’s Gambit (and Elizabeth Fremantle’s second book, Sisters of Treason). I’m still working on my own list!

  5. I haven’t read any of these, so you know that three went straight onto my wishlist: the Hilary Mantel, Last Asylum and Falling into the Fire. Starting my own journey into psychotherapy has me curious and interested in how the mind works. You read some interesting books this year, and delighted to see that The Luminaries lives up to it’s billing. It is on my radar as one I’d like to read soon.

    Yes I’d like to know the books you didn’t like, too! 🙂
    Susan – You Can Never Have Too Many Books blog

  6. Amazing. I’ve read hardly any of these though I enjoyed The Luminaries and Mrs Hemingway. I’ve read hardly any of anybody else’s Best Books either, which is kind of bizarre as like you I’ve read a great deal this year. Oh well. Just goes to show what a lot of books get published, I suppose — we can’t expect to read them all.

  7. Pingback: On-line “Greatest Books of 2014″ Lists Updates – December eleventh | TiaMart Blog

  8. Wonderful list. 2014 has been a great year for women writers, that or I’ve just made the effort to read more by female authors. Mrs Hemingway is one of my favourite books this year, definitely.

  9. Ah, your list wasn’t so bad for my TBR pile since they were books you’ve read and have talked about already so you’ve already done your damage over time instead of all at once 😉

  10. I so loved “Someone”–the first Alice McDermott book I read that I went to the library and got “Charming Billy.” As wonderful as Someone, if that’s possible.
    also loved Little Lies, also a first for me of a Moriarty book. Have to pick up another. thanks for your list of reminders of good books yet to read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s