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.
- Jitse: Amsterdam’s Manga, Graphic Novels, Fantasy Art, Merchandise, Games, Animation and Holland buyer.
- Jouke: The Hague’s Mysteries & Thrillers, Early History, Law, Film & TV and Games buyer.
- JeroenW: The Hague’s Science Fiction & Fantasy, Film & TV Tie-Ins and Graphic Novels buyer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Pretty Deadly Volume 1: The Shrike – Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire
Pretty Deadly is, in my opinion, the best graphic novel that came out this year. It’s written and drawn by an all-female team of Eisner award-nominated artistis. A Western, and a Horror story, drawing heavily on aspects of folklore and mythology. The protagonist is Death’s daughter, she rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. This is a tale of retribution as beautiful and lush as it is unflinchingly savage.
Hellboy in Hell, Volume 1: The Descent – Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart
Mike Mignola returns to Hellboy! After several years away, Mignola has taken up his pen and pencil to write and draw Hellboy again. When battling a dragon, Hellboy dies and is sent into Hell. Roaming around he gets to explore his past and the legacy he inherits.
Noah – Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, Niko Henrichon
Noah is Aronofsky’s interpretation of the flood story in Genesis. Lavishly illustrated and expanding on many of the stories that are only hinted at in the Bible, this graphic novel was the basis for the film Noah that came out in cinemas this year.
The Oldest Living Things in the World – Rachel Sussman
Sussman travelled the world to capture the oldest living things in the world, some of them the last of their kind, from a predatory fungus in Oregon, to Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet – and what we stand to lose in the future.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is an expert on tidying, so much so that in Japan she is famous for it and her agenda is always full. This book explains her method. When you need to clean up and declutter your house you take on everything in one fell swoop, sorting by catagory rather than space. For every item you own you ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” – if not, you toss it. Her book is light, very accesible and inspirational. I started cleaning up my house right after I read it with awesome results.
Jitse’s favorite reads can also be found on Staff Choice: Jitse.
Ebook available for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
More of Jouke’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Jouke.
The Circle – Dave Eggers
Every year there are at least a few books which are said to be ‘a modern 1984‘, only to be promptly forgotten. I believe this book should be an exception to that rule, because every time I read about new technology that further compromises our privacy, it reminds me of The Circle. This is an incredibly scary book that everyone should read, not for the story but for its message. It kept me off Facebook for quite some time.
Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
I remember really liking this book. It’s so crammed with characters and plot, however, that I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it’s about anymore, except in broad terms: it’s about people, the things people do, the USA and the twentieth century. Mind you, I don’t mean it just features all those things, it’s about all those things. That’s why it’s such a long book.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell
This is by far my favourite read of the year. It took some time before I got into it (there’s a lot of Japanese and Dutch names you have to remember to keep track of the plot, and even for a genuine kaaskop like myself that’s no easy task), but when the story got going, I was hooked. A fantastic book that anyone with the least interest in Japanese and/or Dutch history should read. And everyone else as well.
Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer
I was home alone on the evening that I decided to read this book, and I’m glad I was. This is an unsettling read, best enjoyed when no-one can bother you, and in one sitting. It’s not since The Road that I felt so sincerely zonked by a book.
The Broken Empire Trilogy (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns) – Mark Lawrence
This trilogy can best be described as this: our young hero, a ruthless prince with a powerful urge to become emperor, finds himself in a predicament that seems hopeless, only to find a way out of said predicament. Rinse, repeat. His solutions are always unexpected, though, and that’s what makes this series so much fun.
More of JeroenW’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: JeroenW.