I can’t describe myself as a voracious reader: with a day job and my own writing, there are just never enough hours. But curling up with a great book is still one of my favourite ways to spend a winter’s afternoon: apart from the sheer pleasure it brings, it’s important for a writer to consume a varied diet of words penned by others. I love to listen to audiobooks while I’m driving, and holidays (vacations) provide treasured reading time too.
Only one of these books was actually published during 2014, but I read them all this year and wanted to give special mention to:
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
It’s possible I’m a little influenced by meeting the charming Ms. Divakaruni at the SF Writers Conference earlier this year. I loved the San Francisco setting of One Amazing Thing, although the group of strangers who find themselves trapped after an earthquake could be in any city. Their individual stories (relayed to each other as a morale-boosting distraction) are delightful, subtle and beautifully constructed. Of the three obvious endings for the book, I loved the author’s choice.
Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Yes, I’m aware this was published almost ten years ago. But having found Wedding Night just a little too far-fetched, I decided to sample an earlier Kinsella novel. Can You Keep A Secret is, for me, chick lit at its best: a lovable but flawed heroine, an enigmatic hero, and a worthwhile theme about the dangers of revealing too much, or too little, of ourselves to others. Perfectly executed – although I’m disappointed the dastardly flat-mate Jemima never got her own starring role in a Kinsella sequel. 😉
The Whiskey Tide by M. Ruth Myers
A main character who breaks the law when her family falls on hard times isn’t a unique premise, but the author cleverly chooses an activity (smuggling alcohol) which these days is considered no big deal, and has the pleasing dimension of a woman navigating a man’s world. Add a sparkling cast of secondary characters, careful attention to sub-plots and even a romantic element, and this book stands out as an exceptionally strong indie novel.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
With almost 5,000 Amazon reviews, I won’t claim this is an undiscovered tale. And I admit I wasn’t wild about the ending: it seemed to fizzle and lose its way. But I adored the Saint-Malo setting, the sky-high stakes and the compelling circumstances of Werner and Marie-Laure. I’m pretty sure there’s a movie between these pages.
So… what was your favourite book this year?
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