Why are there so many ‘best books’ lists each year? The easy answer is that we all love a good list and we all love a good book. Sophie Lloyd selects her best ‘best books’ lists from the interwebs.
Readings has compiled its annual best books of 2014 lists in various categories; Avid Reader staff recommend their favourite books of 2014; Pages & Pages booksellers pick their best books of the year; Lindy Jones from Abbey’s Bookshop lists her top five books for 2014 in several categories (serious novels, lighter novels, etc); and The Women’s Bookshop has released its annual faves & raves.
Twenty-five Australian authors have contributed their best books of 2014 for the Age; ABR has published a selection of authors and reviewers’ best books of the year (locked for subscribers); Radio National presenters select their best reads of 2014 (with bonus audio clips); and SMH’s Susan Wyndham has compiled her books of the year.
Publishers Weekly has released its annual best books lists; the Guardian has published writers’ picks of 2014 in two parts; the Telegraph has compiled its best books of 2014; the New York Times Book Review has selected 100 notable books of 2014; and the Washington Post nominates its 10 best books of 2014.
GoodReads has thrown the vote for 2014’s best books to its subscribers; Bill Gates recommends business books and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Effect in his list of best books I read in 2014; Maria Popova from Brainpickings has published an illustrated list of best children’s books of 2014, Book Riot has released a 2014 YA TBR list; Salon has nominated its best graphic novels of 2014; and Buzzfeed has selected 32 of the most beautiful books covers of 2014.
The lives of two very different women intersect in Candice Bruce’s The Longing (Vintage), when Ellis MacRorie is shipped to Victoria in the 1840s from her Scottish homeland and her Aboriginal servant looses her tribe in an act of violence. In Cathy Kelly’s The House on Willow Street (HarperCollins), Jess is happy with her lot: she lives in an idyllic Irish coastal village with her teenage son and works in the local antique shop. Her only regret in life is that everything went horribly wrong with her first love. Chris Flynn’s A Tiger in Eden (Text) is the story of Irish loyalist Billy, on a journey of s-x, drugs and bar-room brawls through mid-1990s Thailand–Media Extra.
Susan Orlean explores the idea of heroism in Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend of the World’s Most Famous Dog (Atlantic Books). Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds (Picador), Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists (Hamish Hamilton) and Peter Twohig’s The Cartographer (Fourth Estate) all returned to the most mentioned chart this week. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Scribe) is Katherine Boo’s work of narrative non-fiction, which tells the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in one of the world’s most treacherous cities–Media Extra.
In Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists (Hamish Hamilton), he argues that the supernatural claims of religion are entirely false, and yet religions still have some very important things to teach the secular world. Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts (A&U) is set on remote Rollrock Island, where the sea-witch Misskaella discovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. In The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live (Profile Books), Roman Krznaric shows what our Victorian forefathers can teach us about life in the 21st century. Peter Twohig’s The Cartographer (Fourth Estate) and Jo Nesbo’s Phantom (Harvill Secker), a follow-up to the thriller The Leopard, also made it onto the most mentioned chart this week–Media Extra.
The bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens is being celebrated around the world with exhibitions, theatre performances, film screenings and more. Charles Dickens’ classics Great Expectations and Oliver Twist (both various imprints) were among the most mentioned books this week. British actress Miriam Margolyes is currently touring Australia and New Zealand with her one-woman show, Dickens’ Women, based on the book of the same name she wrote with Sonia Fraser, published by Hesperus Press UK. Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts (A&U) and Memoirs of a Young Bastard: The Diaries of Tim Burstall ed by Hilary McPhee (MUP) were also among the most mentioned books–Media Extra.
Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds (Picador) is set on the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s. A lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a family of kookaburras that roost in a tree near his house. Rod Usher’s Poor Man’s Wealth (HarperCollins) is part fable, part love story, part comi-tragedy. It is narrated by El Gordo, the mayor of Higot, a dusty village in an unnamed Spanish-speaking country under military rule. Christopher Morgan’s Currawalli Street (A&U) is a story about the secret lives of the generations of families living in an Australian street. Also on the most mentioned chart are Peter Carey’s The Chemistry of Tears (Hamish Hamilton) and Michael Sala’s The Last Thread (Affirm Press)–Media Extra.
For a second week Peter Carey’s The Chemistry of Tears (Hamish Hamilton) has received the most mentions in Media Extra. Author Alain de Botton, who tours Australia in late February, argues that religion still has some very important things to teach the secular world in Religion for Atheists (Hamish Hamilton). In Vanished Kingdoms (Allen Lane), historian Norman Davies asks how many people know that Glasgow was founded by the Welsh in a period when neither England nor Scotland existed? Also on the most mentioned chart were Jojo Moyes’ Me before You (Michael Joseph) and Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America (Penguin)–Media Extra.
Peter Carey’s latest novel The Chemistry of Tears (Hamish Hamilton) received the most mentions in Media Extra this week. In the story, Catherine is the leading lady. When her lover dies suddenly, all Catherine has left is her work at London’s Swinburne Museum. When she finds the diary of a mysterious clockmaker, she becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about his life. Also listed on the most mentioned chart this week were Breakdown by Sara Paretsky (Hodder & Stoughton), A Common Loss by Kirsten Tranter (HarperCollins), The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (Henry Handel Richardson, various imprints) and The Glass Canoe (David Ireland, various imprints)–Media Extra.
Jane Sullivan spoke about literary sexism in several forums during the week and her book Little People (Scribe) has consequently made it to the top of the most mentioned chart. Little People is about an impoverished governess, who rescues what appears to be a child from the Yarra River, but turns out to be General Tom Thumb, star of a celebrated troupe of midgets on their 1870 tour of Australia. Other books on the most mentioned chart, all receiving a couple of mentions this week, include Colin Cotterill’s Slash and Burn (Quercus), Kirsten Tranter’s A Common Loss (HarperCollins), Robert Harris’ The Fear Index (Hutchinson) and Christopher Simon Sykes’ Hockney: A Rake’s Progress (Century)–Media Extra.
Sherlock Holmes expert Anthony Horowitz brings the great man to life for a new generation of readers in The House of Silk (Orion), which sits at first place on the most mentioned chart. The following three titles received equal mentions this week. Peter FitzSimons provides a portrait of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 100 years ago inMawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age (William Heinemann). Cold Light (Vintage) is the final volume of Frank Moorhouse’s ‘Edith Trilogy’ set in 1950s Canberra among the murky politics of multi-national diplomacy. Pride and Prejudice fans should keep an eye out for P D James’ Death Comes to Pemberley (Faber): the year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years, when Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest at their annual ball, arrives screaming that her husband has been murdered–Media Extra.