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Reading was a big luxury for me this year. Escaping into a book has always been relaxing but this year more than ever I have found myself says things like “Once I finish my essay I can start that new novel” and “Tonight I will work twice as hard so that I can spend all tomorrow reading”.

I tried to be a big reader this year. By that I mean I tried to be diverse and give different books a go. I also enjoyed our Ballymena bookclub which came up with some unexpected choices and the Beautiful Mess bookclub which is online here. Take a look at all the books I read here.

However, with greater choice comes greater disappointment, and I definitely felt that some big titles this year were a big letdown. “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington wasn’t the thrilling biography that I wanted it to be (my fault), Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the Bottom of the Lane” left me cold and I couldn’t wait to get finished with “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp (I know – I am the only one who didn’t fall in love with this book – What’s wrong with me!!)

On the other hand I started books and literally couldn’t put them down. Here are my favourite books of 2014;

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1/ “Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik – Wow, so this year I loved this non-fiction, pop science title – who would have guessed that? This book talks about all the materials which are around us everyday, concrete, glass, stainless steel, etc. I know it doesn’t sound thrilling but I really enjoyed it, think a biography of materials rather than textbook and if you don’t fancy reading it look out for the accompanying TV series which was shown on BBC 4 earlier this year or watch here.

2/ “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt – It was great, and not at all what I expected. A linear novel with no jumping around or flitting between character, “The Goldfinch” was an example of good old fashioned storytelling. The only downside is that it is long, maybe a little longer than it needs to be, but it is worth getting right to the end.

3/ “The Letter for the King” by Tonke Dragt. I picked this up after hearing about the publisher “Puskin Press” who basically sit around all day reading novels in french, swedish, chinese and a myriad of other languages looking for books that are crying out to be translated into english. This is a children’s book (10 upwards) first published in 1962 in the Netherlands and follows a young squire who has put his knighthood on the line to help a stranger in need. Why did I love it? Because there are no dragons, magic spells, rings, little people, wizards or any silly nonsense distracting from the noble adventure. I read this after having struggled through a few disappointing reads and it got me back on track.

Here are some notable runners up;

  • Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Sci-fi classic.
  • Night Film by Marisha Pess – Twisted thriller.
  • Popular by Maya Van Wagenen – Super cute teenage biography.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Gritty emotional and physical journey.
  • God Knows your Name by Catherine Campbell – Encouraging and thought provoking.
  • Running like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley – Made me start running like a girl
  • We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – I had no idea what the twist was before we were told.
  • Enough by Helen Roseveare – Thoughts from a missionary on how Christ is enough.