Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My favourite books of 2014

Wow 2014 was big year for reading. It was a year that I intentionally decided to read more books written by women, and a year that I unintentionally read more non-fiction books than I have ever before. It was a year of reading lots of very top-notch books, which made narrowing this list down quite tough (technically I didn't need to narrow it down because there're no rules that say I have to have 5 books on this list; after all, I get to make up the rules. But 5 seems like the right number for this sort of thing, so I'm going to honour that feeling by only listing that number of books). So here's my list, this time in no particular order:

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

This is a book which I haven't fully reviewed on my blog yet, but I will be in the very near future because it was just so magical (I have since reviewed it here). I liken it to Yann Martel's Life of Pi not only because animals feature very heavily in it, but also because it's philosophical, highly imaginative and so beautifully told that it'll just take your breath away. It's a collection of short stories told from the perspective of deceased animals who have had some sort of connection with major historical events in the 20th century. It won the inaugural Readings New Australian Writing award this year and for very good reason. If you think that stories told from animal perspectives aren't for you then think again; this book deserves a chance.

Night Games by Anna Krien 

Another award winner, this time being the 2014 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, Night Games carefully and intelligently follows the rape trial of a young AFL footballer and the politics and issues associated and raised with the trial. It provided me with a new insight to football culture, and while it didn't necessarily make me respect the culture of the game any more than I did previously, it helped me gain a broader perspective of the world that people heavily involved in the AFL come from. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the AFL and how women fit (or more often don't fit) into its culture.

Ducks on the Pond by Anne Summers

While this book's a bit of an oldie, it's definitely a goodie and by far my favourite autobiography I read this year. Reading Summers' autobiography felt like time-travelling to me: back to an Australia that was both full of hope and optimism following the second world war, but one that was also oppressive and sceptical of change. And Summers was right there in the middle of it all, protesting the Vietnam War, opening women's refuges with friends (funds which were raised by selling marijuana mind you - so badass) and fighting for women's rights. It's a captivating Australian story that should be known by many more Australians, so I suggest you go read it now.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimar McBride 

One of the most powerful and challenging fiction books I've read in a long time, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is the compelling story of a sister and brother's relationship and the fractured lives that they lead. Their fractured lives are cleverly reflected in the fragmented and stilted language which McBride uses throughout the story, making it an incredibly unique and remarkable reading experience. This book has won a couple of awards, the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize in 2013 and the 2014 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction.

Bewitched and Bedevilled edited by Samantha Trenoweth

This collection of essays critiques and reflects on Julia Gillard's term as Australia's first female Prime Minister and her treatment by the public, her colleagues and the media. The contributors range from politicians (Tanya Plibersek) to journalists (Tracy Spicer) to some of Australia's finest writers (Clementine Ford, Emma Maguire). When I went to pick it up just now, I couldn't believe how light it was because it has made such a huge and lasting impression on me, thus I was expecting it to be much heavier than it was. It's a must read for anyone interested in current Australian politics and how feminist issues relate to them.

Special mentions

Ok I couldn't quite leave this post without mentioning the following books, if only it's just their titles. After all I don't want a repeat of last year where I didn't mention a book and ended up thinking about adding it to My Favourite Books of 2013 post for a whole year. That was exhausting. So even though these books didn't quite make my top 5, they deserve a special mention because they were particularly great:


  1. Thanks for this, Julia, I will add them to my ever growing list!!

    1. I know what you mean Jodie, I just can't keep up with it all! I almost wish we could have a short period of time where no new books came out so that we could catch up on everything we've been meaning to read undistracted, but that wouldn't be the best for authors so it's a selfish want more than anything else. What were some of your standouts? I remember you mentioning Gone Girl (which is on my to-read list) - any others?


Read more: