I read some wonderful books in 2014 so it was difficult to decide on my top 5. However after much deliberation and indecision, these are them. They weren’t necessarily published in 2014, in fact mostly they weren’t. They were just read by me in 2014 and I loved them all
1. Room by Emma Donoghue
This is probably the novel that ‘affected’ me most this year. The central character 5 year old Jack stayed with my long after I had finished reading. I concluded my review of ‘Room’ by saying “So, there is nothing more I can say other than, if you have never read this book, do so, preferably now. If you have read it, tell anyone else that hasn’t that they should!” I’m still saying that now.
2. Just a Little Run Around The World by Rosie Swale Pope
This is certainly the most inspirational book I have read this year. Rosie Swale Pope is an incredible lady who after her husbands death ran an astonishing solo 20,000 miles around the world to raise money for charity. Her attitude is humbling and her courage and hope in the face of adversity is second to none. I read this when training to trek to Everest Base Camp and during difficult parts of the trek would often think back to Rosie and how she coped in circumstances far beyond anything I was experiencing. Even now when I’m out running and its feeling hard and I’m struggling. I remember what Rosie achieved. Rosie’s website has details of all her adventures and is well worth a visit.
3. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
The reflections and recollections of a neurosurgeon. Henry Marsh is generous in what he shares with the reader and also his observations on his own shortcomings as a doctor and as a man. Despite the potentially grizzly nature of the material, I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a graphic but mostly sensitive insight into a world that few of us will experience.
4. A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Simply because this is unlike anything else I have ever read before. The voice of the central character, the sister, is a unique voice. It’s a voice that was sometimes so loud and penetrative that I could almost feel it inside my head as I was reading. The writing challenges the reader. Words tumble together tripping over one another as the sister’s inner turmoil plays out on the page. Not an easy read but worth the emotional investment.
5. So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
I really struggled to decide on my 5th favourite. I settled on this because it was so much better than I anticipated and its another book that stayed with me long after I finished reading it. This book is about cancer, living with it, dying with it and paying for it; emotionally, physically and financially. It isn’t sentimental and the characters are not even particularly likeable but it was credible, it made me think, a lot, and it got under my skin.