Never Mind the Bollocks – Here are Andrew’s Favourite Books of 2014

Favourite BooksThe downside of working in such an exciting place that is growing faster than rhubarb in the dark (look it up, it’s a thing) is that because you’re always on your toes, always being presented with new challenges…

…you’re always trying to find the precious time to read.

But never fear. I’ve managed to squeeze in some fantastic books this year, and I think I’d share my 10 favourite ones with you.

So here they are.


loyal-creaturesLoyal Creatures

by Morris Gleitzman

I read Loyal Creatures the night before interviewing Morris Gleitzman for Booktopia TV. I was terrified at the prospect of grilling one of my childhood heroes. Within a few pages I completely lost myself in the book.

It’s a gorgeous read, another incredible effort from Gleitzman, and I genuinely had to hold back tears at the end of the book.

Click here for more about Loyal Creatures


the-sex-lives-of-siamese-twinsThe Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

by Irvine Welsh

You really should find time to read this caustic gem from Irvine Welsh, although perhaps not at the gym, or an organic cafe, or while watching The Biggest Loser. I say that because Welsh shines his light on the world of militant self-improvement and you may not recover in time.

If you’ve read Welsh, you know what to expect and won’t be disappointed. The only surprise will be just how much he’s matured as a writer, how adept he’s become at taking on the voice of his characters. Sometimes it only takes a mirror to see just how bizarre the world is becoming.

Click here for more about The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins


your-fathers-where-are-they-and-the-prophets-do-they-live-forever-Your Fathers, Where are They?

by Dave Eggers

The full name of Dave Eggers’ work is Your Fathers, Where are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? Such is his sense of humour I suspect he’s put together this ridiculously long title just to make end of year lists awkward. In fact I’m sure that’s why, and I love him all the more for it.

Made up entirely of dialogue, Your Fathers shines a light in uncomfortable corners while being raucously funny in many places. It’s an easy read in a sense, the real work comes from the time you have to yourself after reading it, reflecting on the world Eggers toys with. If you watch the news and don’t know whether to laugh or cry, this is the book for you.

Click here for more about Your Fathers, Where are They?


a-little-historyA Little History

by Bleddyn Butcher

If the inclusion of this in my ‘best of’ list wasn’t a big enough clue, I’m a pretty gigantic Nick Cave fan. A Little History is an intimate look at the career of Cave and his closest collaborators over the years.

It’s easy to forget how long Nick Cave has been on the scene, his music has always been so innovative and relevant throughout the years. This is a must have for all Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, and Grinderman fans. Cavesters will know what I’m talking about.

Click here for more about A Little History


colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimageColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

by Haruki Murakami

I include this in my list with a caveat. You see I was not, as so many others professed to being, disappointed by Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage. The reason is simple, if a little bit of a backhand to Murakami.

I don’t consider him to be a truly great writer.

I think he’s good, very good in fact. Norwegian Wood is one of my favourite books. I don’t, however, think he’s an immortal of the craft. If you are expecting Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to be one of the one of the finest works of literature created, it’s not. That work only happens once in a generation.

Books are best enjoyed if you’re able to separate the work from the creator, unburden yourself from the shackles of expectation and enjoy the book purely for what is between the covers. If you do that, I’ve no doubt you’ll love Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage, the themes of loneliness and belonging that it ponders, and agree with me that it is comfortably one of the best books of 2014.

Click here for more about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki


foreign-soilForeign Soil

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

I was privileged to have had the opportunity to not just meet Maxine Beneba Clarke, but interview her for Booktopia TV. It was in the middle of a busy Sydney Writer’s Festival but her energy and enthusiasm for the craft of writing was amazing. I’ve read many short story collections this year, but Foreign Soil was my favourite.

Putting aside just how wonderful her prose is, how seamless her transition between characters and voices is, so much of Beneba Clarke’s stories are for the voiceless and the downtrodden. I’ve no doubt she will fast become one of Australia’s most influential and important writers. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Click here for more about Foreign Soil


lists-of-noteLists of Note

by Shaun Usher

In case you forgot, what you are reading is a list. In all likelihood only my mother and my year 7 English teacher thinks it is of note.

I love lists, I adore High Fidelity almost entirely for the constant lists. I can’t get enough of them, and it seems some of history’s most important figures feel the same way. If there was a museum dedicated to lists (if there isn’t already) this book would be the guidebook. I lost myself for hours in this incredible collection, dedicated entirely to the list.

There’s a list of ‘available names’ Charles Dickens compiled for possible characters in his fiction, Galileo’s list of parts needed to build his telescope, a list of dream lovers a pre-fame Marilyn Monroe wrote with a friend. Quite literally, the lists go on. I absolutely adore this unique collection.

Click here for more about Lists of Note


my-salinger-yearMy Salinger Year

by Joanna Rakoff

For me, my love of books expands far beyond the reading and writing. I’m intrigued by every aspect of their creation. The life of a writer, the printing process, the cover design, the editing process, acquisition meetings…

…and of course, the literary agency responsible for making and breaking so many writers.

This is a beautiful, funny, and at times melancholy look into the world of a New York literary agency in the early 90s, desperately trying to hold onto the ideals of the past. There are long lunches, huge slush piles and not a computer in sight. Oh, and did I mention J.D. Salinger rings occasionally? One for the real booklovers.

Click here for more about My Salinger Year


not-that-kind-of-girlNot That Kind of Girl

by Lena Dunham

How did she do it? How can Lena Dunham have all those expectations and all that money thrown at her (a rumoured advance of over $4mil), and somehow manage to write a brilliantly raw and honest memoir before she’s even turned 30?

I loved Not That Kind of Girl. It reminded me of how important brutal honesty is in any kind of writing, let alone memoirs. It establishes a theme and, despite what seems like endless digressions, never loses its footing. It’s an amazing piece of work. Shockingly funny like few books I’ve read. Incredible stuff.

Click here for more about Not That Kind of Girl


golden-boysGolden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Golden Boys is the best novel I’ve read in 2014. There, I said it. I admired Sonya Hartnett’s writing before, now I idolise it. A tender, and at times savage, exploration of lost innocence, told from the eyes of a small group of children in the suburbs of Australia.

Please, I’m begging you, grab a copy of this book and read it. It’s extraordinary. Don’t be put off by the tough subject matter, this is what fiction is for. Exploring worlds we dare not explore ourselves, hearing stories we’d usually shield our ears from. Last year I called The Narrow Road to the Deep North the best novel I’d read for the year, and I’m doing the same for Golden Boys in 2014. A remarkable book.

Click here for more about Golden Boys

The Hercule Poirot Boxset – A must for every fan!

Agatha Christie’s lovable creation Hercule Poirot is one of crime fiction’s most memorable characters. Methodical and meticulous, he has inspired countless imitators in books and on screen. The Hercule Poirot Boxed Set brings together some of Christie’s most iconic Poirot cases as he utilises his “little grey cells” to find the culprit.

PS: We ran a Facebook competition recently to find the biggest Poirot fan out there, congrats to  Trudy Schmitzer on being a winner! Trudy, please email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your details.

1402_A G O T_PBb.inddHercule Poirot Boxed Set

Seven Classic Hercule Poirot Mysteries

by Agatha Christie

A new paperback slipcase featuring seven of Hercule Poirot’s very best cases. ‘My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.’

This new boxed set of paperbacks collects seven of Hercule Poirot’s most famous and best-loved cases, perfect for readers who who would like to be introduced – or introduce their friends – to some of the twentieth century’s most iconic murder books.

Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders, Five Little Pigs and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas are accompanied by the book that started it all, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which is published for the first time complete with its original courtroom ending, and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, in which Poirot and Hastings are reunited for a final time in the house where they solved their first case together.

Grab your Hercule Poirot Boxed Set here

Janella Purcell visits Booktopia – Signed copies available!

Janella Purcell lives the life we all want to lead. Healthy, happy and full of food!

She made a special trip from the Mid-North Coast to Booktopia to sign some copies of her bestselling new book Janella’s Super Natural Foods and teach our Incompetent Cook a thing or two about the most important meal of the day, Breakfast!

Janella is all about making food that is healthy AND easy, with over 150 recipes and countless variations for vegetarians, vegans and even plain old omnivores.

Kickstart your New Year with Janella’s Super Natural Foods, we certainly will be!


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janella-s-super-natural-foods-signed-copies-available-Janella’s Super Natural Foods

Keeping it deliciously simple is Janella’s healthy food philosophy. Using many superfoods and grains, she has created over 150 fantastic recipes that the whole family will love.

Superfoods. Food as medicine. Supergrains. Fermented foods. Wholefoods. Keep it simple.

In Janella’s Super Natural Foods every recipe will help you to achieve better health and beauty.

With over 150 delicious recipes for healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, snacks, drinks and sauces, Janella uses wholefoods to satisfy everyone. A dynamic mix of superfoods and a good old-fashioned plant-based diet, Janella’s philosophy of using food as medicine is simple and easy to follow.

Many of the recipes have been influenced by Janella’s travels to Italy, Japan, India, the Middle East and South East Asia – healthy food has never been so tantalising nor so easy to create in your kitchen. Clearly marked throughout with symbols for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, raw, soy-free, nut-free or grain-free, each recipe also contains alternative ingredient suggestions to please all your friends and family.

As a talented naturopath, nutritionist, wellness coach, herbalist and environmentalist, Janella Purcell is eager to share her wealth of knowledge and experience. Her passion for cooking and keeping things simple means that staying healthy has never been easier.

Grab your copy of Janella’s Super Natural Foods here

THE 2014 BOOKTOPIA BOOKS OF THE YEAR

the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-north2014 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.

LITERATURE

LILA
by Marilynne Robinson

A triumph from one of the world’s finest writers, Robinson returns to Gilead, Iowa, the scene of her acclaimed novels Gilead and Home in this incredible story of human frailty and redemption.

Click here for more details


GOLDEN BOYS
by Sonya Hartnett

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.

Click here for more details


AMNESIA
by Peter Carey
Continue reading

A Glimpse Inside The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

We wanted to give you a glimpse inside the genius that is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul!

But first, a big congrats to the winners of our Diary of a Wimpy Kid Facebook Competition winners. They are: Lynn Donges, Kristen Gislason Callow, Nicole Campbell, Nat Langfeldt, Lily Cunningham!

Winners, please email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your details!

Check out some pages of the mega bestseller in the slideshow below. We LOVE it!

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the-long-haulThe Long Haul

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book 9

A family road trip is supposed to be a lot of fun . . . unless, of course, you’re the Heffleys. The journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig—not exactly Greg Heffley’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure—and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget.

The Diary of Wimpy Kid series of books, by best-selling author Jeff Kinney, charts the highs and lows of our middle school hero, Greg, as he stumbles and fumbles from childhood to teenhood via school-hood. Sometimes helped by his friends and family, often not helped by himself!

Grab a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul here

Ordering books for Christmas? Place your orders by midnight tonight for In Stock titles

Santa finding out where Alice Springs is

Santa finds out where Alice Springs is

Santa may not be great at giving books (the coal always seems to smudge) but you have to admire his efficient delivery.

Unfortunately we don’t have magical reindeer to help us deliver presents this Christmas. We have Australia Post who, while being absolutely wonderful, do get incredibly busy this time of year.

So, if you’re ordering for Christmas, we strongly recommend placing your order for In Stock titles by midnight tonight. There’s nothing worse than not getting your gift in time for Christmas.

This Christmas, think of the children.

Place your orders tonight, or there will quite possibly be No Ho Ho.

53-christmas-gift-guide

2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners announced – Flanagan and Carroll take out Fiction Award

FlanoRichard Flanagan continued his award winning efforts as he was announced co-winner of the Fiction Award ay the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards last night.

Flanagan promptly announced he would would donating his $40,000 winning to the Indigenous Literacy Fund, while winner of the Children’s Fiction Award Bob Graham said he would be giving $10,000 to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Read our review of Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker Prize, and now Prime Minister’s Literary Award, winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North here.

Fiction—joint winners

A World of Other People, Steven Carroll
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan

Poetry

Drag Down to Unlock or Place an Emergency Call, Melinda Smith

Non-fiction—joint winners

Moving Among Strangers, Gabrielle Carey
Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John, Helen Trinca

Prize for Australian history—joint winners

Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War, Joan Beaumont
Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II, Hal G.P. Colebatch

Young adult fiction

The Incredible Here and Now, Felicity Castagna

Children’s fiction

Silver Buttons, Bob Graham


The 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists:

Fiction 
A World of Other People by Steven Carroll
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
Coal Creek by Alex Miller
Belomor by Nicolas Rothwell


Moving Among StrangersNon-fiction 
Moving Among Strangers by Gabrielle Carey
The Lucky Culture by Nick Cater
Citizen Emperor by Philip Dwyer
Rendezvous with Destiny by Michael Fullilove
Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca


broken-nationPrize for Australian History 
Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War by Joan Beaumont
First Victory 1914  by Mike Carlton
Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II by Hal G.P. Colebatch
Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy by Michael Pembroke
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright


Young adult fiction 
The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna
Pureheart by Cassandra Golds
Girl Detective by Simmone Howell
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
The First Third by Will Kostakis


Children’s fiction 
Silver Buttons by Bob Graham
Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt
My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

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