It's been a stellar year for YA novels in particular, which is reflected in my list. Although I am biased - I love YA! My picture book of the year was Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton. This list is YA and adult novels. Watch out for my favourite children's books of the year in the Irish Independent on Saturday (Dec 13th), along with Robert Dunbar's favourites in the Irish Times. I'll post my round up after Saturday. I read 44 (and counting) adult and YA novels in 2014. I scored each book out of ten. All these books below scored an 8 or higher. As you can see, I read a lot of different genres and age groups. (Children's books are not a genre. Each age group is made up of different genres - yep, even board books and picture books, right up to YA (*see Only Ever Yours below).) Top score went to Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread (out in 2015 - sorry!). I gulped it down. Not the strongest plot, but those characters and her writing . . . bliss.
So in order of scores, here are my top ten novels of 2014. I should point out that I read far more YA and children's novels than adult novels, which is probably reflected in this list.
1/ A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (published 2015) A wonderful family drama set in Baltimore (of course). Pretty much perfect. Thanks to Maria from Dubray Books for the proof copy.
2/ The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (older book)
I listened to this audio book while travelling up and down to West Cork over the summer and fell in love with Jeanette and her family. It's the most compelling memoir I've ever listened to. Her voice is perfect. I highly recommend it in either audio or book form.
3/ The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (published 2014)
In a word, adorable. Quirky tale about a bookseller (like me - why may be why I loved it so much) and a baby girl he finds in his shop. Wise and sweet.
4/ The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz (published 2014)
I loved this clever, beautifully written collection of real life stories about unusual lives. Grotz is a practicing psychoanalyst and he writes with a lightness of touch about his patients.
5/ Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (older book)
Another audio book (I'm passionate about audio books). I'd never read this one and it was such a treat listening to it. Wise, funny, and Blume's voice - is there a better writer for young teens? I think not.
6/ How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston (older book)
I'd never read this (to my shame) stunning novel about two boys - one from a Big House, one from the village (who works for the house) - and their friendship, with a World War I setting. It's beautifully written and so moving. Highly recommended.
7/ We Were Liars by E Lockhart (published 2014)
Wonderful YA book set on a private island in the US. Her writing (and plotting) are mesmerizing.
8/ Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (published 2014)
Stunning YA debut by a young Clonakilty writer. Feminist dystopia - rather terrifying. Well worth reading. (*YA is the age group, feminist dystopia is the genre)
9/ Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (older book)
Picoult is a master story teller and this audio book kept me gripped. Wolves, family problems - what's not to love? I think Picoult is underestimated. One of the hardest working writers around.
10/ Finding a Voice by Kim Hood (published 2014)
Drew a tear many times. Another wonderful YA debut. Hood is Canadian but lives in Ireland. Family tale, with some strong themes. Loved it. Great teen voice.
I also loved (all published 2014 apart from Captive):
Captive by AJ Grainger (YA - kidnapping drama - coming in Jan 2015)
Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent (brilliantly written thriller - with a children's writer as the murderer!)
The Secrets Sisters Keep by Sinead Moriarty (superior popular fiction)
Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (superior Australian popular fiction)
Dear Thing by Julie Cohen (superior UK popular fiction)
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (more brilliant UK popular fiction)
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (great YA family drama)
The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (another brilliant YA novel)
The House Where it Happened by Martina Devlin (compelling ghost story inspired by a real life witch hunt in Northern Ireland in the 18th century)
What were YOUR favourite books of the year?
Yours in books,