Best of 2014 and a few things to look forward to

The Christmas tree hasn’t yet gone out, which means there’s just about enough time for the obligatory end of year round-up and looking ahead to what 2015 has to offer.

A few things I loved this year which I’d thoroughly recommend (note – not necessarily published in 2014, but from this year’s reading) –  some I’ve written about previously but their merits are well worth reiterating.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
With its innovative approach to the time travel narrative and clever use of format echoing theme, this was a fantastic read, intricately plotted, with a proper punch of an ending.

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
A brilliantly-realized near future setting in India/Ethiopia, combined with a sharp, vibrant voice and nods to mythology made this one of my favourite reads of the year.

The Race by Nina Allan
With its beautifully crafted, intertwining narratives, an evocative sense of place and dreamlike playfulness with reality, I would love to see both this and the Byrne on some awards list later this year.

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
The story of how Macdonald trained a goshawk in the months following her father’s death, and the story of the troubled writer T.H. White. A gorgeous, deeply empathetic memoir.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
I adored Oryx and Crake, but was less enamoured with The Year of the Flood. I was delighted to enjoy the conclusion to the trilogy as much as I did the first volume – Atwood never fails to surprise and delight with her inventiveness and style.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
Engaging and ever-so-slightly unnerving story of a novice writer who finds herself embroiled in the dubious clique of the eponymous literature society, this is a marvellous read.

A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
I enjoyed The Violent Century but this is much closer to the territory of Tidhar’s Osama – intelligent, troubling, funny, at times harrowing, an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.

And a few things I’m looking forward to in 2015, in no particular order:

Company Town by Madeleine Ashby, Persona by Genevieve Valentin, The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

Next on the reading list is Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which I’ve been looking forward to for ages, and I’m just waiting for the paperback editions of Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone and Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World.

Plenty to look forward to in 2015.

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