With the madness of Christmas receding a little, I thought I’d catch my blogging breath and try to put together a post on my favourite books of the year. It’s a hard thing to do, as looking back over the list I’ve kept of this year’s reading, there are so many wonderful volumes I’ve enjoyed. So I’ll probably summarise a little, but here are my thoughts about my favourite literary bits of 2014!

The Russians

russian lit week

No reading year of mine would be complete without some of my favourite Russian authors, and 2014 was a bumper one! As well as Dostoevsky’s long and involving “The Idiot“, I also lost myself in Bely’s “Petersburg”, a huge, impressionistic masterpiece. But there were also shorter works – newly translated gems from Teffi and Gaito Gazdanov, as well as previously unavailable treats from old favour Bulgakov and newer favourite Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. I have plenty more Russians on Mount TBR – in fact, I could probably spend a good few years of the rest of my life reading only them! 🙂

European authors


I spent time with a good number of European authors this year, including several from Germany. Christa Wolf, a Virago author long on my must-read list, was a revelation when I finally encountered her “The Quest For Christa T.” Timur Vermes shocked and impressed with “Look Who’s Back” and Laurent Binet’s unusual take on the historical novel, “HHhH”, was very special. I read more of the wonderful Stefan Zweig and also discovered Antal Szerb‘s very individual, quirky storytelling. And of course I made my first inroads into Proust, making my way through the first two volumes of his mammoth sequence.

Georges Perec


I guess Perec might well be my favourite discovery of the year. His writing is individual, brilliant, thought-provoking and very, very special. After being knocked out by “Life: A User’s Manual” early in the year, I went on to read several more of his books. All are different, all are excellent and none have disappointed me. I wish I’d discovered Perec earlier…

The North by Paul Morley


Another chunkster – a huge, personal, absorbing and idiosyncratic book about what the north is and what it means to be a northerner by one of my favourite ever writers, Paul Morley. I guess you’d class it as non-fiction – I didn’t read a lot of that genre this year, but The North was probably enough on its own!

Rediscovering my Roots


Well, sort of. “Lanark” by Alasdair Gray is a very Scottish book and its epic, inventive and unconventional narrative really hooked me. One of those reads I couldn’t put down!

A Special Mention

The authors looking very cool!

“Where There’s Love, There’s Hate” by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo was a short but exceptionally entertaining read, parodying the classic crime genre beautifully but with hidden depths. I wish the authors had written more in this vein!

I could go on and on – looking back I’ve been lucky enough to read some *amazing* books this year – but these are the ones that stand out and strike me most. Let’s hope 2015’s reading is just as wonderful! 🙂