8 January 2015

Best Endeavour Book Club: Favourite Reads of 2014

I know, I know; who do I think I am publishing a 2014 round up post over a week into the new year? Well,  lucky bookworms often receive books tokens for Christmas so I thought my recommendations might give you some ideas of what you could spend your vouchers on if you're struggling through these January days.

These aren't in any particular order but, of the 30 books I read in 2014, these are the ones I keep thinking about, talking about and recommending.

The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filer: I did a full review of this so I'll try to keep the gushing to a minimum, but it's hard with a book as wonderful as this. Struggling with mental illness and memories of his brother who died in childhood, Matthew Homes' distinctive voice permeates this novel on love, grief and mental health. Each of the characters is rendered so wonderfully and realistically that I could see glimpses of my own relatives in them. The writing is so beautiful and at times almost painful that there were moments where I was close to tears without being sure why. The Shock of the Fall is truly wonderful and I urge you to read it.

The Girl With all the Gifts- M.R. Carey: Another one that I've reviewed in full. I'm not one for horror really, being a huge wimp, but this is so much more than that.  A fungus has infected the human race, turning people into 'hungries'. 10 year old Melanie lives on a military base with survivors of the infection, but it's apparent that she's not like other children.
Part post-apocalyptic survival story, part road movie and full of ideas of redemption, sacrifice and humanity, The Girl With All the Gifts is a fresh take on horror fiction.
In my full review I mentioned I'd love to see it on screen and M.R. Carey is currently working on the screenplay! With him adapting it my hopes for a faithful take are high and I'll be running to the cinema as if there's a hungry behind me when it's released. (p.s. If you're involved in making the film and somehow reading this, make my dream come true and cast George Mackay as Private Gallagher!)

Bastard out of Carolina- Dorothy Allison: A genre I really love is Southern Gothic and novels of the American South. One of my favourite Booktubers, Mercedes, did a series on Southern literature and raved about Bastard out of Carolina so I knew I'd have to give it a try
Ruth Anne 'Bone' Boatwright is the titular bastard, whose relationship with her beloved mother crumbles when Glen Waddell enters their lives. Waddell is angry, violent and abusive and intent on distancing Bone and her mother from each other.
It's a dark and difficult read at times, especially when coupled with the fact that it's semi-autobiographical, but Allison's writing is brilliant. Bone is an excellent narrator and her large family of aunts, uncles and cousins are all unique and distinct, adding  rich tapestry of characters.
The acts of physical and sexual violence are extreme in some instances so it's not a pleasant read, but it's one that I found extremely powerful.

Honourable Mentions
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • Tampa by Alissa Nutting
  • The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
What were your favourite reads of 2014? Have you read any that I've mentioned above?

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These books are all available on The Book Depository if you want to check them out via my affiliate link.  

1 comment:

  1. Tampa is an interesting one, I was initially disappointed with it and found it lacked depth. But I read Alissa Nutting's short story collection: Unclean jobs for women and girls and really enjoyed it. There was some similarities in the writing between the two books so now it's making me think I was a bit too harsh on Tampa- for all its faults, it is wonderfully twisted and thought provoking.

    Desperately need Bastard out of Carolina in my life but i'm currently not buying books and its not at my library :(