Our Favorite Reads: Simone, Jesse, Karin

It’s time for this blog’s favorite posts of the year: the ABC Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2014! We hope these books, magazines, games, and more will help you start your new literary year with a bang.  Let’s get started, shall we?

We want to know about YOUR favorite reads, too.  They don’t have to be books published in 2014, just read in 2014.  Please mail your Top 5 reads, and your reasons for enjoying them so much, to social@abc.nl by Christmas Day.  Your favorites will kick off the new year for this blog, as they have done for the past 7 years, and you will receive a € 7,50 ABC Gift Certificate as a thank you!


Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas
The story of a boy who might just become an Olympic swimmer.  He has everything going for him, but then things don’t go the way they should.  A raw book full of pain, anger and disappointment. The underlying storyline is all about the relationship between father and son. An impressive book!

Us – David Nicholls
A man and woman are about to go on a European trip with their teenage son, when she drops the bomb of possibly wanting a divorce.  Going back and forth from the present to the time when they first met, the novel is seamless in putting these two time frames together. What a great style of writing: such full and funny words and sentences. Can’t wait to try another one of his novels.

Birds of America – Lorrie Moore
Another wonderful collection of stories, with Lorrie Moore’s unique voice.  She is able to show you so many details of someone’s world in a few pages, and she makes all the characters so full and realistic that you just can’t forget about them.  If you want to start reading Moore, Birds of America is the one for you.

Blood Work – Michael Connelly
Besides the well-known Harry Bosch novels, Connelly has a few other characters in his pen as well.  This novel features investigator Terry McTaleb, who is confronted with the possible murder of the woman whose heart he received during a transplant. Since they ‘share’ a heart, McTaleb cannot resist pursuing this investigation.  An intriguing crime novel!

Windfallen (a.k.a. Foreign Fruit) – Jojo Moyes
Two girls are introduced to an ‘artistic’ group, in the 1940’s, and their interaction is frowned upon.  However, connections are made that will last a lifetime. A great story of youth and middle age.

More of Simone’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Simone.

Ebook available for Barracuda, Us, Blood Work, and Windfallen.


We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Shirley Jackson
This year I discovered the stories of Shirley Jackson, who wrote many haunting novels mid-20th century. I went ahead and read a few of them (Hangsaman, The Lottery and Other Stories) because I loved We’ve Always Lived In The Castle so much.  It is definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Issun Boshi: The One-Inch Boy – Icinori
Gestalten Verlag made a great move this year by launching their children’s books imprint, Little Gestalten.  The titles they have released so far are beautifully designed, illustrated and are printed in high quality. Even though they are children’s books, they are probably just as appealing to adults as they are to kids.  One of their first titles released is Issun Boshi; The One-Inch Boy, which is based on a Japanese folktale. The story tells the tale of Issun Boshi who is so tiny, he fits in a rice bowl in which he travels the world. The book is beautifully illustrated and designed by Icirino.

TextielLab Yearbook 2013 – TextielMuseum
The TextielMuseum in Tilburg annually self-publish a catalogue of innovative and experimental projects realized in their textile laboratory: TextielLab.  ‘Weaving Music’ was one of those projects; studio Glithero researched the punch cards of jaqcuard looms and those of barrel-organs. The textile they ended up with is the result of feeding the weaving loom with musical notes.

The Believer: the Music Issue 2014 (#109)
The Believer always includes a special mixtape of one medium or another with their annual Music Issue. This year it was a 7” record with music by artist Marcel Dzama (who also did the artwork for this issue) and members of the Arcade Fire. The music is the soundtrack for Dzama’s film Une Danse du Bouffons, which was shown at the David Zwirner gallery last September.

Kenzine Issue 1 & Issue 2
Toilet Paper‘s Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari collaborated with Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim to make Kenzo’s Fall ’13 and Spring ’14 campaigns. Published in the same format as Toilet Paper, the collection of surrealistic photographs is called Kenzine. I’ll be looking forward to Kenzine Issue 3, which will be published in March 2015.

More of Jesse’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Jesse.

Ebook available for We Have Always Lived in the Castle.


Loving Frank – Nancy Horan
Loving Frank was not so much one of the best books I read this year, but this fictional account of the scandalous affair – with a tragic finale – between Mama Cheney and architect Frank Lloyd Wright did end up to be one of the best book group discussions I had in a long time. We talked about women’s rights, architecture, adultery, passion. We went online to look up the facts and marveled about the wonderful buildings Frank Lloyd Wright designed. I was utterly dissapointed when I was not able to go to see Taliesin West (see picture on the right) when visiting Scottsdale, Arizona this summer.

The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
This was a gift suggestion, and my colleague in the Hague, JeroenW, has probably also put it on his list. I wrote a review in February, just after finishing the book. I read quite a few great stories after this scary, lovely tale, but it still remains one of my favorites for 2014.

Son – Lois Lowry
I bought a 2nd-hand copy (in hardcover) of this book on my way to Vegas at Main Street Books in Cedar City, Utah. I did not really need another book (while traveling) but the owner, Megan, was so nice, I just had to buy a book from her. I already read the first 3 books in this quartet for “teenagers” and wondered what the 4th installment could possibly add to the overall story. Lowry never disappoints me.  I am almost 3×15 but this series is classic for the young at heart! ;o)

Before The Pass Away – Jimmy Nelson
I bought this book for Christmas last year and I put it, open, on a table in my living room, inviting my family and visitors to turn the pages. I personally change the scenery at least once a week. It’s a book, it’s art, it’s dreaming about exotic places and people, and hoping that in a 100 years from now we can look at these pictures and say nothing much has changed. One of my favorite books and also one my favorite things of 2014.

We Are Our Brains (Wij zijn ons brein) – Dick Swaab
OK, I did not read this book in 2014, but in 2013, but it is now translated in English (paperback expected in January). This Dutch bestseller is one of the best books I ever read about what makes us human: our brains. There were AHA! – and several I-wish-I-had-known-this-before – moments, there were “Are you kidding me?” moments, and also some boring parts, but overall a very well-written and enjoyable book.

More of Karin’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Karin.

Ebook available for The Girl With All The Gifts and Son.