2014 will be remembered as the year Australian Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. We’re sure you’ll all recall that Narrow Road featured in our Best Books of 2013 list, along with Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch and Stella Prize winning The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, so we feel very confident proclaiming that somewhere in this list, The 2014 Booktopia Books of the Year, is the winner of next year’s Man Booker. And probably The Stella and The Pulitzer… It makes sense, right?
So what goes into making such a list? Blood, sweat and tears. Firstly, the blood – a paper cut while shuffling the longlists. It hurt. Second, the sweat – wrestling all of our individual long lists into a short list. And lastly, the tears… We’re a passionate lot when it comes to books and each is stubborn in their own way. And we didn’t get our way all the time, hence the tears. But after many a vocal meeting we came to an agreement.
So here it is, the final list: The 2014 Booktopia Books of the Year
These selections are not in order, and while some amazing books have missed out, and such lists make a mockery out of art, we can’t resist a list, so here we are. Hopefully you see some of your favourites too.
Hartnett’s mesmerising tale of blurred lines in working class suburbia struck a chord with all readers, hauntingly told from the eyes of the children involved.
Carey returned with one of his funniest and angriest novels in this intriguing story of espionage, the internet age, and The Dismissal. Watch our interview with Peter here.
In a year dominated by exceptional short story collections (Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil and Christos Tsiolkas’ Merciless Gods in particular), Mantel’s charged collection of short stories further underlined her place as one of literature’s most important figures.
Favell Parrett continues to evolve into one of Australia’s finest writers. We thought it would be impossible to top her exquisite debut Past the Shallows. We were wrong. Watch our interview with Favel here.
Rarely does a debut novel juggle such deep themes and idiosyncratic characters with such effortlessness. See our interview with Brooke here.
A wonderful concept brilliantly explored. Be warned, you will see many friends and family in McInerney’s beautifully drawn-out characters. Watch our interview with Monica here.
To read Terms and Conditions was to love Terms and Conditions. Savagely funny.
Read John’s review > here
One of the biggest books in the US, Liane Moriarty is finally starting to gain some momentum in her native Australia. A beautifully paced novel that may be alarmingly close to home for many suburbanites. Watch our interview with Liane here.
Battling impossibly high expectations after his debut novel The Rosie Project, Simsion throws more curveballs at everyone’s favourite socially challenged genetics professor. Watch our interview with Graeme here
CRIME & THRILLER
Michael Robotham hasn’t just established himself as one of Australia’s finest crime writers, but one of Australia’s finest writers, full stop. Watch our interview with Michael here.
Surely The Silkworm settles this argument once and for all. JK Rowling is a wonderful writer, be it with wizards, small town politics or hard-boiled crime, she’s proven herself. The Silkworm is a crime lover’s smorgasbord.
Like having your head slammed against the wall while being frisked in an episode of The Wire set in LA in the forties. But in a good way.
Sometimes the most chilling stories are those of real, everyday evil, and the very real reasons behind it. As his Australian publishers Hachette say, King for a reason.
A reminder that great crime writers rarely slip up, McDermid’s The Skeleton Road took us on a journey beyond the streets of Edinburgh, into The Balkans and beyond. Watch our interview with Val here.
Rumours circulating connecting Anna Campbell and erotic fiction writer John Purcell are true.
A favourite of the Australian Romance Readers Association, Nalini is a leading light of paranormal romance.
The first of a very successful series which reminds us that before One Direction, rock’n’rollers were actually sex on a stick.
Outback Blaze cemented Rachael John’s reputation as the one to watch in the ever more popular rural romance genre.
Anne Gracie’s The Winter Bride brings wit, history and romance together with such a light touch that you’ll want to enjoy it twice.
Somehow it lived up to our expectations. Lena Dunham’s hilarious and intensely honest memoir blew us away.
Everyone in the book industry fell in love with this little gem. A beautiful story of hanging on to the ideals of the past, while the practicality of the future chips away in the distance.
Thoughtful, funny, and angry without being bitter. Gillard’s My Story showed us what a political memoir can be like if it looks at the bigger picture without trying to settle old scores.
Two extraordinary human beings came together in this warm and searingly honest reflection of life, death and what family means to us.
We did ourselves a favour, and couldn’t put it down. Nuggets of pure gold in this long-awaited memoir from one of Australia’s true showbiz legends.
You’ll never read a newspaper the same way again. An in-depth, considered breakdown of the 4th estate and the patterns they submit to.
Part memoir, part gender study, Moss navigates murky waters with ease in one of the most thought-provoking books of the year. Watch our interview with Tara here.
A beautiful, raw account of the late Australian artist, Adam Cullen. Hopefully we see more books from the talented Mr Jensen. Watch our interview with Erik here.
A glimpse into the Australian family unit by one of Australia’s finest political and social commentators. Crabb’s easy tone and sharp observations make this a winner. Watch our interview with Annabel here.
The sleeper hit of 2014, Tim Low’s riveting history of the Australian songbird had everyone squawking. Watch our interview with Tim here.
Another triumph for Peter FitzSimons, crafting one of the most accessible and thorough books on Gallipoli and WW1. Watch our interview with Peter here.
John Howard always wanted to be a journalist growing up, and perhaps he should have followed through on his early aspirations. A look at one of the most pivotal eras in Australian society. Watch our interview with John here.
Don Watson’s thought provoking examination of ‘The Bush’ is as good as it gets, casting his eye over the past, present and what the future holds for regional Australia. Watch our interview with Don here.
Caroline Overington knocked our socks off with this fascinating account of of Louisa Collins, the last woman hanged in NSW. Watch our interview with Caroline here.
A history of Australians, not necessarily Australia, is the key to appreciating this gem from Thomas Keneally. We enjoyed reading it as much as Tom enjoyed writing it, his love of history radiating from every page. Watch our interview with Tom here.
No gimmicks, just great food. Beautifully shot and undoubtedly the most diverse mix of recipes Jamie has ever showcased.
The iconic Melbourne bakery let fans behind the counter this year with this extraordinary collection of recipes. A must have for amateur bakers.
Perhaps the most beautiful book of the year, the dishes in Sepia are life-changing. Take them on and you’re a winner.
Warning: This book needs to be kept out of sight while not cooking from it, otherwise you will spend every minute of the day cooking from it. The mouth waterer of 2014.
Equal parts food philosophy and cookbook, Mr. Hong is a fitting tribute to one of Australia’s most exciting chefs Dan Hong.
Combining elements of classic noir detective stories and paranormal fantasy, Shiver the Whole Night Through is a haunting and utterly absorbing murder mystery with a supernatural twist.
Made us cry tears of happiness. Are You Seeing Me? explores the nature of love, the burden of grief and the dynamics of family.
A beautifully written, emotionally nuanced novel about a young girl struggling to lead a normal life after years spent on the road with her mentally unbalanced father.
A captivating read full of relatable characters and intriguing moral dilemmas, Two Wolves is an adventure, a mystery and a family drama all rolled into one gripping tale of survival against the odds.
Mean Girls meets Looking for Alibrandi in this witty, highly entertaining coming of age novel dealing with a broad range of issues from depression, bullying and social cliques through to racial stereotyping. Watch our interview with Alice here.
The master storyteller returned in 2014 with one of his best. A must read for anyone trying to teach their children about the ramifications of war. Genuine tearjerker. Watch our interview with Morris here.
The fifth and final book in The Heroes of Olympus series, Rick Riordan owes a lot of Booktopians a lot of sleep. A page-turner to the very end.
Typical of all Graeme Base books, The Last King of Angkor Wat captivated readers of all ages with exquisite illustrations and a beautiful story.
Everyone fell in love with Pig the Pug in 2014. Irresistible cuteness.
Sometimes you need to embrace the childish to enjoy childhood. Farting. Why is it funny? We don’t know, it just is.
The Pigeon returned this year and we couldn’t get enough of him. Full of the cheeky humour you’ve come to expect from superstar Mo Willems.
There’s something about Oliver Jeffers’ childlike illustrations that just warm your heart, a beautiful tribute about the very basis of the English language, the Alphabet.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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