10 Jan 2015

Top Seven Books of 2014

I've been seeing a fair amount of "Top 14 Books of 2014" posts around, and I read a quite a bit last year so I actually have some to contribute this time round! Most of the books I read were part of a series or were for uni, so I halved it down to seven books like the mathematical genius I am. I wanted to be sure that everything on this list were things that I really really enjoyed. So here they are, in no particular order:

The Fire Eaters by David Almond

The first young adult book on the list is one that I read for uni (Children's Literature was one of my units of study this year, which would explain the amount of it). It's about a young boy living in a small coastal village in England during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's quite a small read, but it's also captivating, making it very easy to get through. Despite that, there is a great deal handled in this tiny thing, like school life and family struggles, all mixed in with the futility of the Cold War, an obvious bonus for modern history buffs. I was very pleasantly surprised. Thanks, uni.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Another book I ended up reading for uni, which I would have eventually picked up regardless. Even just from this one volume you get a sense of what a phenomenal woman Angelou was, and it only spans her experiences up to age seventeen. Incredible. It's confronting and shocking, but as a white girl living in the early 21st century, it taught me about a level of inequality that I could never experience or properly understand. Maya Angelou inspires so many people, and it's easy to see why. 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is one of those author's whose works I've looked at and thought "yep, I should read those," and damn was I right to. It follows the quest of a young man to retrieve a falling star in order to win the heart of the girl he loves (or at least thinks he loves. Come on, you know how these things work). The prose is beautiful and it pulls you right through the twist of a love story and the growth of the characters in a magical world like that of a fairytale. Everyone and their dog has probably read this, but anyway, I did also and I loved it.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

This is the eighth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, so just view this as a not-so-sneaky way of me trying to get you to read the whole thing. It may be a kid's series, but that shouldn't be a reason for dismissal, what with it being centered around a walking, talking Irish skeleton and his teenage companion and total BFF Valkyrie Cain as they solve magical crimes and try to stop the world from ending about a hundred times. It's witty, there's action and the characters are all works of art in themselves. The series gets darker as it progresses, but only to it's credit. I love these books so much that I'm re-reading them after only a year. I devour these things. As I've been saying for quite a while now: "just trust me and read it".

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Another book I read for class, my first thought was that it didn't look like my cup of tea at all (I mean, look at that cover, it raises some questions). But I got past that and found that it was actually really enjoyable. The concept is that of dystopian 'Municipal Darwinism', where cities, towns and villages are all mechanised post-war and roam around on the land on which they once stood, with the goal of trying to consume each other in order to remain functioning. We follow Tom, a working class boy from London, as he uncovers a conspiracy and ends up questioning the system of living that he once loved so dearly. It's very clever, and also quite funny (the characters repeatedly refer to a CD as a "seedy"). It's the first book of a series, so if you do end up loving it, there's always more.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Another piece of non-fiction, as well as my first foray into feminist literature. Laura Bates has done a stunning job, not only reading through thousands of posts and entries of personal experiences of sexism, but also conducting interviews and adding statistics to make a undeniably convincing point: sexism still exists all around us on a subtle level that most of us don't even question, let alone know is there. Reading it made me angry, but in a good way, a way that hopefully will encourage people to band together and put a stop to the inequality that is still painfully present in our society. It's a great place to start reading about feminism. Lend it to your friends and family, encourage them to educate themselves. After all, as Sarah Brown says in the foreword: "One of the best places any woman," (or man, let's be real here) "who wants to change the world can start is with picking up a book."

Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

This is basically the first comic I ever read in my entire life, and I'm glad of it. For mature readers only (duh), it's about a couple with the ability to stop time when they have sex, and decide to use it by robbing banks for the greater good. It's funny and silly (obviously) and some of the art is just beautiful, and it's all that while pushing taboos and generally being a bit risqué. I've even continued reading it past volume one. This comic, man. This f***ing comic.

Well, there they are. My top seven. Of no particular theme or genre. That's the way I like it.

Let me know if any of these catch your eye, and definitely feel free to leave some of your tops books of 2014 in the comments!


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