9) The Narrow Road To The Deep North – Richard Flanagan
Dorrigo Evans is a courageous Australian doctor, who was held by Japanese captors during the second World War. The story unveils a long love story between Dorrigo, a national hero, and a small framed, gleamy eyed woman named Amy, who is his uncle’s wife. Taking it’s title from the great haiku poet Basho’s famed book, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is based around one of Japan’s most infamous events, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway.
As he is trying to save his men from starvation, cholera and ruthless beatings, and haunted by his love affair, Dorrigo receives a letter that will change his life forever.
8) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate – Naomi Klein
Weighing the influence capitalism plays on one of today’s greatest ecological threats, climate change, Naomi Klein, exposes the myths that are clouding it’s global debate. She explores and presents solutions to these critical issues, such as containing corporate power, rebuilding local economies and reclaiming democracies. This fight for a new economy, which should seek to solve the main problems being climate change, relieving the system of greed and the addiction to profit.
The No Logo and The Shock Doctrine author, has once again, written a provoking book with an optimistic tone, bringing science, psychology, geopolitics, economics, ethics and activism together, reshaping the climate change dialogue.
7) The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks follows the curious events of Holly Sykes’ life in 1984, a teenage runaway looking for self-exile in the English countryside. As she decides to return home, upon hearing that her brother has gone missing, the book’s storyline and writing style shift to different narratives, which are, or somehow will become, connected to Holly Sykes not so far out of the ordinary life, her flashes of precognition, and visits from people who emerge from nowhere.
David Mitchell’s intricate plot goes beyond Holly’s path, touching on the life of a Cambridge scholar, a conflicted father reporting from Iraq and a middle-aged writer who’s career path is being mourned. The book then makes it’s way back to the book’s initial figure, and her association to each of the characters and the affairs involved in each of their lives.
6) All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Marie Laure Le-Blanc is a young french girl who looses her sight at the age of 6. Her father, a talented lock-smith, is the key keeper for the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, who is trusted with the Sea of Flame, a big blue gem which is thought to cause suffering. Set during the second World War, Maria Le-Blanc’s character is developed in parallel with a young German orphan, Werner Pfennig, who is sent to a brutal academy of hitlerian youth, which trains the talented boy to become a radio tracker.
The characters’ paths cross in Brittany, where Marie and her family have taken refuge after the German occupation of Paris, as Werner is on a mission to find the Sea of Flame and return it to his superiors. Doerr’s sharp sentences, combined with his soaring imagination, deliver a true page-turner, and a definite recommended read.
5) We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
Narrated by the Cooke family’s youngest daughter, Rosemary, “We are All Completely Besides Ourselves” resonates the grief she feels after mysteriously loosing her sister Fran at the tender age of 5, and now the loss of her older brother, who is a fugitive from the FBI.
The story, filled with unexpected events and book-gripping twists, makes interesting use of scientific studies, while subtly tackling moral issues.
4) The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
Over a decade since The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber’s new novel tells the story of an evangelical Christian pastor, Peter, who is sent on a mission to a planet in a neighbouring galaxy under the command of USIC.
Set in a near-future, Peter finds himself affected by the conditions he lives in on his new planet of Oasis, with communication between him and his beloved life Bea deteriorating. As his home planet becomes plagued with horrific natural disasters and crumbling governments, Peter and Bea’s love and faith are put to thorough testing.
This emotionally complex novel, written with incredible precision in a brave storytelling fashion, has become an international success, making fourth place on this years list.
3) Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s debut novel, draws upon the story of Maud, an ageing grandmother who is loosing her memory to Alzheimer’s, and her search for her best friend, Elizabeth. As she loses grip of her everyday life, making it harder for those around her refuse to acknowledge her concerns, Maud, decides to leave on her own to try and discover the truth and save her beloved friend.
As she leaves herself hand written notes, Maud’s obsession builds a foundation for her rapidly deteriorating reality and state-of-mind, which then takes her deep into past and the loss of her sister, Sukey. Overwhelmed with vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred many years before, Maud finds strength to continue her journey in each for Elizabeth.
Emma’s incredible intricacy used to describe the most specific of details and emotions, her hybrid mix of crime novel and literary fiction is highly praised and valued. Leaving readers astonished with the quality of language and content found in this novel, Elizabeth is Missing, has landed in third place in The Guardian’s readers Best Book of 2014 list.
2) Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery – Henry Marsh
In Do No Harm (an aphorism taught to medical students attributed to one of medicine’s most important figures, Hippocrates), Dr. Henry Marsh, explores the complications of being a practitioner of his field of expertise, neurosurgery. Written in the style of a memoir, it looks upon the moving stories lived and felt by brain surgeons, such as himself, and the tremendously difficult decisions and risks they have to take, day-in and day-out, along with the responsibility and weight they must bare throughout their careers and their life’s.
This book offers the reader unique insight into real-life occurrences and stories of prosperous patients, as well as unsuccessful procedures and their consequences. It’s Do No Harm’s honest approach, as well Dr. Marsh’s concise and clear writing that made it an incredibly good read, making second on the list.
1) The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
Set in the 1920s, Sarah Water’s novel is based in London, where an incredibly tough period is being lived after the first world war. The Paying Guests unravels when Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, take Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern day clerk-class couple, into her South London villa, where she once lived with her brothers, husband and servants. Revolutionising the house’s routines, the new tenants will be playing an important role in altering the course of France’s life.
This operatic crime thriller is described as a subtle inquiry into shifting class and gender relations, in a period of tremendous change and social development, and was the most voted book of 2014 by The Guardian’s readers.