YOUR Favorite Reads of 2014

HAPPY 2015!

ABC's Favorite Reads 2014I hope you all have an amazing year, filled with health, happiness, and interesting times books. 😉

A *LOT* of you responded to our request for your Top 5s, so this first blog post of the new year is a lengthy one.  I thought long and hard about splitting it up into various parts, but in the end I’ve kept you all together.  You all deserve a lengthy spotlight, and this way you’ll be top post for at least two weeks.

Your € 7,50 voucher will be sent to you this month.  If you haven’t already mailed us your home address, please do so via social@abc.nl!

Thanks a million to everyone who sent in a Top 5, and thanks also for reading this blog, ABC’s Facebook/Twitter/Mailings and visiting our stores. We wouldn’t enjoy our jobs half so much without so many great customers to share our literary passions with!

And now, below this amazing gallery of all of you who mailed us, YOUR favorite reads of 2014!

Shelley Anderson, Samir Rawas Sarayji, Keefe Cordeiro, Maria Dicieanu

Renée Korver-MichanCharlotte de HeerEsmée de HeerRebecca van der Elst

Desi Boesveld

Patty FriedrichsGhizlan El HachimiLobke OkkesDesi Boesveld

Carola van der DriftTed HilliardDebby KasbergenMartijn Form

Laura BaaijensRobbert CoenmansSara Raap

Natalie Gerritsen, Laura Baaijens, Robbert CoenmansSara Raap

Daphne BosDidi Groenhoff 2013Patricia Kooyman 2014Darice de Cuba

Daphne Bos, Didi Groenhoff, Patricia Kooyman, Darice de Cuba

Marjolein Balm 2012Gabriëlle Linger 2014Marjolein de VosKris Stomphorst

Marjolein Balm, Gabriëlle Linger, Marjolein de Vos, Kris Stomphorst

Oona JuutinenLieke BannenbergFemke

Oona Juutinen, Lieke BannenbergFemke

Shelley Anderson

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

This book follows the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze, two middle-class Nigerians. Ifemelu leaves to study in the US, where she writes a biting blog on race. Obinze struggles as an illegal immigrant in the UK. They finally meet again in Lagos. Well-written and intelligent, this novel was my top read of 2014.

Liza’s England – Pat Barker

Barker’s World War I trilogy Regeneration is mentioned a lot these days, and deservedly so. This is an earlier novel about the life of a working class English woman, born at the beginning of the 20th century. The characters and their lives are vivid and gripping.

The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson

The story of how the orphan Pak Jun Do survives to woo the beautiful actress Sun-Moon is funny and touching. Set in modern North Korea under the Dear Leader, this novel won the US Pulitizer Prize for fiction in 2013.

We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

Set in a modern-day slum in Zimbabwe, this tells the story of a spirited girl named Darling as she migrates to the US and struggles to build her identity.

MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood

A dystopian, but all too possible, near future where genetic engineering has gone haywire. Full of memorable characters and Atwood’s characteristic humor, it leaves the reader both satisfied and thinking.

Ebook available for Americanah, The Orphan Master’s Son and MaddAddam.

Samir Rawas Sarayji

Samir is an editor at Cecile’s Writers Magazine, a digital publication aimed at promoting intercultural writers.

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

This is my fifth reading of this amazing book! There’s always something new to discover with Okonkwo’s turmoil as he strives to be respected like the elders of the village and as he battles the coming of the white man with their strange faith. Set in precolonial Nigeria, this tale of an Igbo village is a wonderful window into another culture, and Achebe’s simple and beautiful prose is the sugar topping.

Dubliners – James Joyce

This is the art of writing! Joyce’s modernist techniques focus purely on the characters, resulting in a collection of short stories that are layered and subtle. I read the collection twice in a row to appreciate it fully, and I have to say the second time round was much sweeter. Oh, and the dialogue is really good.

Collected Stories – Katherine Mansfield

Another modernist writer who doesn’t shy away from purely character-driven stories. Her technique of free indirect discourse (in many of the stories) takes some getting used to, but then it’s sweet sailing. The stories seem almost frivolous on the surface, but dig a little deeper and this is very far from the truth. They are as complex and thought-provoking as all good literature ought to be.

To Have and Have Not – Ernest Hemingway

Yes, I do love his writing. The no-nonsense, strip-down-to-the-basics-and-cut-all-the-bull***t writing is what makes up for his machisimo and misogynist attitude. Ultimately, he writes good books. This one has more physical action than any other Hemingway I’ve read, and I love the changing point of views of narrators in different chapters. A good blend of style and plot.

Hopes and Impediments – Chinua Achebe

Thought-provoking collection of essays from Eurocentrism to Conrad being a racist, thoughts about the novel about writing, and reviews of fellow Nigerian writers like Tutuola and Okigbo. Achebe uses clear and concise language to impart his thoughts and criticisms on various subjects. Great collection for anyone interested in African literature.

Other notables include The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney, Prufrock and Other Observations by T. S. Eliot and Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel.

Ebook available for Things Fall Apart, Dubliners, Collected Stories, To Have and Have Not, The Spirit Level, Prufrock and Other Observations and Dancing at Lughnasa.

Keefe Cordeiro

Cold Fusion (The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance) – Doris and Benny Haggis-on-Whey

Great stuff – for weird+wonderful aficionados.

Chineasy – Hsueh Shao Lan

Good fun, educational, and a great visual introduction to the intricacies of writing Chinese

The Circle – Dave Eggers

Really, really, really scary how much of it mirrors our seemingly innocuous relationship with the digital world.

Granta magazine, issue 127

This was a totally unexpected (impulse) buy and the it was a conceptual, photographic and poetic journey through Japan.

Ebook available for The Circle.

Maria Dicieanu

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Loved its simplicity and open ending. Though part of me wanted to believe everything would be ok, I guess in my heart I knew it would not, which I thought was quite brave for a YA book.

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Some people have called the book racist and perhaps it even was. For me though, the actual love story, the way it was built, the hesitations and in the end, the emotions, was more important.

Die Dienstagsfrauen – Monika Peetz (no English translation available – yet – but there is a Dutch version)

A German version of Sex and The City but with a slightly more serious touch. A beautiful book about the friendship of women surviving all the troubles life throws at them.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

A real page-turner with a rather brave though dark ending. Loved the perspectives, loved the sick protagonists and yes, I also believe love stories can go terribly wrong.

French Parents Don’t Give in: Practical Tips for Raising Your Child the French Way – Pamela Druckerman

Not the best book for young, not-so-experienced parents, definitely a NO NO in the world of serious parenting books, but Oh So Funny! And sometimes a laugh is very much needed when trying to survive all the contradictory info parents are bombarded with nowadays.

Ebook available for The Giver, Eleanor & Park, Gone Girl and French Parents Don’t Give In.

Renée Korver-Michan

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

I really liked the sense of humor in this book (and the two following parts of the series). Making a professional torturer into a likeable character is not an easy task, yet it is accomplished with ease by Abercrombie.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

“It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence in three parts.” This book had me spellbound from the prologue. It is the first part of the Kingkiller Chronicles. A beautifully written fantasy novel about the man behind the legendary hero Kvothe. The only drawback in the series is that the third installment has not been written yet.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss

A novella about the mysterious character Auri from the Kingkiller Chronicles. Rothfuss warns the reader right away: “I think it’s only fair to warn you that this is a bit of a strange story” – and he is correct in the sense that the novella does not contain what you would call your average story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It doesn’t matter though, since that is not the point of the story. The point is to look into the Underthing from Auri’s perspective, which is strange and different and wonderful. LOVED it!

Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson

Well, what to say about book II of the Stormlight Archives… I waited a long, long time for this one, and it did not disappoint. For those of you who are into the fantasy genre and have not read Brandon Sanderson yet (and I am not sure if there is anyone fitting this description): stop reading this, go to the ABC and buy one of his books. Now.

Comfort Food – Jamie Oliver

Does this count? Just to break away from what you might have noticed is my favorite genre: a cookbook. The recipes from Comfort Food which he occasionally posted on Facebook made me hopeful, I wrote it on my wishlist and Sinterklaas was kind enough to give it to me. I love it.

I was afraid that I would have to look for a new favorite after his book 15 Minutes (which isn’t that good) and 30 Minutes (which is a bit better than 15 Minutes). The recipes I have tried from it so far are great, and the rest looks very promising… I mean, a Marshmellow Pavlova? Dang!

Ebook available for The Blade Itself, The Name of the Wind, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Words of Radiance.

Charlotte de Heer

Charlotte, together with Esmée de Heer, runs the Bored to Death Book Club.

Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill

One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. This novel doesn’t have a lot of words but all the words in it have depth.

The Martian – Andy Weir

Definitely the most funny read of this year. The main character is such a lovely person.

American Dream Machine – Matthew Specktor

A beautiful story about the relationship between father and son. Heartbreaking and warm at the same time.

All Russians Love Birch Trees – Olga Grjasnowa

The book is about grief, uncertainty and starting over again and again. The book reads like a dream and I absolutely loved how the girl keeps on going even though everything is falling apart.

Tenth of December – George Saunders

A recommendation from Dave Eggers so it must me a good one, right? It definitely was! Al the stories are beautifully written. I especially loved the dark story “Escape from Spiderhead”, about a boy in a really weird prison.

Ebook available for Dept. of Speculation, The Martian, All Russians Love Birch Trees and Tenth of December.

Esmée de Heer

Esmée, together with Charlotte de Heer, runs the Bored to Death Book Club.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

It was almost getting embarrassing that I hadn’t read this famous classic yet. Harper Lee spins such an amazing coming-of-age tale about a young girl growing up in the US. The book is filled with strong, complex characters, and every message that the book entails still rings true today.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Although I don’t specifically belong to a fanbase myself it was very easy to relate to Cath’s first year away from home. Getting used to the exciting life of college can be overwhelming and finding solace in books is right up my alley. Also, Carry On Simon will be turned into a stand-alone novel and I couldn’t be more excited!

The Martian – Andy Weir

Hands down the funniest book I’ve ever read (listened to). The audiobook of this one is amazing. The dry humor or Mark Watney while being essentially doomed on Mars had me laughing out loud.

Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill

If The Martian is the funniest book I’ve read, Dept. of Speculation is by far the most emotional. The book is written in small fragments and wry observations that really hit home. This book is great to read in one sitting, but also amazing to linger over again and again. I still want to quote this book to everyone I meet.

The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer

This book is a coming-of-age story and then some more. It follows a group of friends throughout their lives, from when they are youngsters at camp to being old and withered. It captures the idea of belonging and friendship and the trials that come with it so well. It’s quite a long book, but still too short for the lifetimes it tries to span.

Ebook available for To Kill a Mockingbird, FangirlThe MartianDept. of Speculation and The Interestings.

Rebecca van der Elst

This Star Won’t Go Out – Esther Grace Earl

This book reminded me of how real everything can be and how some people have gone through too much yet still continue to go on. To me, it’s really inspirational and it shows how someone with so much pain can still have fun and good moments in an life that someone else would describe as “bad”.

Staying Strong – Demi Lovato

With one quote, a bit of text and a goal for every day, Staying Strong has inspired me and reminded me of how lucky I am. I’m a big fan of Demi Lovato and when I heard she wrote a book, I needed it for 2014. My mom gave it to me on Christmas in 2013 and I struggled trying not to read it before January 1st. Even when I finally could starty reading, it was hard not to read it all at once.

The Complete Book of Dragons – Cressida Cowell

Being a big fan of the How to Train Your Dragon movies, my hands have been itching to buy this book for months. I finally bought it when I didn’t have any money and I don’t regret this decision. Reading all about the dragons and everything else that has to do with the stories of the little viking Hiccup has made me smile so much that I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in one evening outside the store when I bought it!

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

One out of many books that now has become a big movie. I love how the author has described the characters in the book. I love how I can first think of how someone is or what he/she looks like and then see the movie after I’ve read the book.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

Having read all the other books of John Green (except for Let It Snow, which will change in 2015!) I needed to read this one as well. Someone gave me the entire boxset as a present and I couldn’t be happier. I had already read Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars then but I didn’t have them on my bookshelf yet. When I started reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson I got a little confused because of the seperate storylines but I loved how they interfered with each other and the way they were both so interesting. I definitely recommend this book to basically everyone.

Ebook available for This Star Won’t Go Out, Staying Strong, The Maze Runner and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Patty Friedrichs

The Grantchester Mysteries – James Runcie (starts with Sidney Chamber and the Shadow of Death)

Started reading because of the ITV adaptation of the first book. Devoured the three-part series in about two days. Can’t wait for the next installment. It’s Father Brown seen through the eyes of modern social mores and attitudes. Perfect for fans of the Golden Age of crime fiction writing.

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

A new Sarah Waters novel is always a treat. This one is a pastiche of post Great War female authors, occupied with class, social standing, the dawn of a new world and keeping the stairwell looking spotless. Oh, and there’s a murder! And, of course, lesbians! Hurrah!

The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah

Worthy of Agatha Christie. The plot is suitably preposterous but the characters a little more fleshed out than in the classic Christie whodunnits.

Amsterdam – Russell Shorto

Fascinating book. Will teach some Dutch history to the Dutch themselves. This book is peppered with little tidbits of Dutch life that are in equal measure embarrassing, uplifting and very very true.

Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix

Worth the cost for its cover alone. Designed to look like an IKEA catalogue and therefore reassuringly familiar, it quickly becomes a supernatural horror story in which the design of the “catalogue” plays a sinister part.

Ebook available for Grantchester 1: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, The Paying Guests, The Monogram Murders and Amsterdam.

Ghizlan El Hachimi

It was hard for me to choose 5 favorite books but I did it! I enjoyed reading all these books:

A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

I’ve been a fan of the TV show since 2012 but I never dared to read the books. Not because I didn’t think they were good books, but because I didn’t want to mess up the TV show for myself. One of my friends reassured me that the show stays very true to the books so I wouldn’t stumble on any big surprises. I’m very glad I ended up reading it. It’s nicely written and makes the world of Westeros a little more real.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

After reading A Game of Thrones I decided I wanted to get into fantasy again. I looked around on Goodreads and stumbled on this amazing book. The Name of the Wind had very high ratings but reading the comments made me realize people either love it, or hate it. I picked it up anyway and read it within a week. I loved it. The writing is fantastic, the story is brilliant, and the main character charmed me from te beginning. If I had to pick a favorite book for 2014 it would be this one. I URGED everyone to put this on their reading list.

The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker (a.k.a. The Golem and the Djinni)

This book is the perfect example of how history and fantasy should be combined. Wecker is an excellent writer. This book was so well written and thought through that I could hardly believe it was her debut novel. She used the folklore of 2 different cultures beautifully to illustrate the immigrant experience in 1899, New York.

Stormbird – Conn Iggulden

I enjoy historical novels a lot, and this is a good one. A historical novel is supposed to entertain and inform. Stormbird certainly does both. It sheds light on Henry VI’s reign in 1437 and makes for a good read. You don’t need to know much about the time period, the story explains itself nicely.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

This book looks a little odd in this list of books. I usually read sci-fi, fantasy, and historical fiction. I remember when the trailer for the movie came out. The internet flipped. I decided to read this book out of curiosity. I didn’t expect much of it. I mean, how entertaining can a teenage love story be? I ended up crying my eyes out. I’m going to be very honest. This book didn’t make me want to buy more of John Green’s books. It didn’t magically make me a romance fan. But it did move me. This is one of those books that will hit you right in the heart, or “in the feels” as the internet likes to call it. This book was well written. The dialoge was great. The story was moving. I wouldn’t call this my favorite book ever, like I wouldn’t call Titanic my favorite film, but I do think everyone should at least give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ebook available for A Games of Thrones, The Name of the Wind, The Golem and the Djinni, Stormbird, and The Fault in Our Stars.

Lobke Okkes

Divergent – Veronica Roth

It’s just how Veronica writes the story. I was swept away when I read it. Tris is an awesome character and in a couple of days I read the whole book. Now I bought a box with all the books in it and it’s so beautiful.

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

I love John Green! This book made me tear up and I couldn’t stop crying at the end of the book. It was so sad, but funny at the same time. John Green is an amazing writer. This book made me laugh so hard, but I also cried a lot. I bought all of his books and they’re all as good as The Fault In Our Stars.

Wither – Lauren DeStefano

When I began to read this book, it was a bit difficult to get into it. But after a couple of chapters, I really loved it. I’m now reading the second one of the trilogy, Fever, and the story’s just getting better and better.

Boy 7 – Mirjam Mous

This is a Dutch book. I wanted to read this for so long, and it didn’t let me down. The story is weird, but so good! I just can’t believe that people can come up with these kind of stories. In a week I read the whole book, because it’s so mysterious.

Starters – Lissa Price

This book looks a little bit like Wither, and it’s just as good. I can’t tell which book I liked better, because they’re both so good. I really liked the story and the main character.

Ebook available for DivergentThe Fault in Our Stars, Wither, and Starters.

Desi BoesveldDesi Boesveld

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life – Todd Oldham

Charlie Harper’s illustrations always make me smile. Especially his bird paintings, which are wondrously simple, yet they capture the essence of the birds perfectly. This is a really good compilation of Harper’s work that really shows his craftmanship.

Of Love and Other Demons – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In my opinion, we lost the world’s greatest author this year and this is one of his best (though less famous) books. The story is magical and sad and full of beautiful sentences in Marquez’s unique style.

Maus – Art Spiegelman

An amazing piece of art and a compelling story of his own father’s survival during WW2. I have to reread it from time to time and each time I am bewildered by the details in the drawings and the cleverness with which Spiegelman tells the tale. A comic book that even the most avid dislikers of comic books will probably love.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

A young adult book that can be picked up by adults with no shame whatsoever: it is fast-paced, unputdownable and thought provoking. I just wished they made books like this when I was a teenager.

And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

Truth be told, I am only half way through it and one of the reasons for that is that I don’t want it to end! Hosseini builds a tiny, beautiful, but hard world with characters you love instantly and that you don’t want to see hurt. But you just know that they inevitably will…

Ebook available for Of Love and Other Demons, Mockingjay and And the Mountains Echoed.

Carola van der Drift

I read so many amazing books in 2014 and it was hard to pick a top 5! But here it is:

China Mountain Zhang – Maureen F. McHugh

A touching sci-fi/dystopia novel made up not of a straightforward story but rather fragments of different characters’ lives. Beautifully put together, and the ending was perfect.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor

This was the first book series in a long time that I actually finished in a row because I couldn’t stop reading and had to know how it would end. Laini Taylor is a magician with words. Also beautiful world building, characters…

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

It’s David Mitchell and you’ll be impressed or unimpressed, but this was definitely one of my favourite books published in 2014. Would especially recommend this if you’ve read more by Mitchell as there are some very clever bits that link back to his other books…

Revenge – Yoko Ogawa

Made up of eleven seemingly unrelated stories with unrelated casts, but by the end of the book you wonder what the hell you’ve been reading and how it all fits together. Subtle but dark and kind of twisted.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Captivating. A must-read. Don’t let it’s initial slowness hold you back!

And an honourable mention to the Harry Potter series, which I started rereading this month for the umpteenth time and will never ever get tired of.

Ebook available for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Bone Clocks, Revenge and Rebecca.

Ted Hilliard

I just read Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler. The title story is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at the local school. He organizes a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. The collection also includes four other stories including travelling through a winter blizzard, a lady dealing with rowdy people at a party, immigrants coping with the holiday season, and a stolen Christmas tree. It was a fun read.

Debby Kasbergen

Debby has reviews of all of these titles (and more) up on her blog, snugglyoranges.com.

A Mad, Wicked Folly – Sharon Biggs Waller

This is is just a beautifully written story about the suffragette movement in England in the early 1900s. There’s a strong and inspiring feminist message brought forth by an artistically gifted and endearing main character, and an absolutely beautiful romance. I read this at the beginning of the year, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

This is an incredibly creative mash up of Greek mythology and the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The world building is so richly detailed, and the characters are intriguing, mysterious, and flawed. The story had me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t read it fast enough. Simply addictive!

The Falconer – Elizabeth May

This steampunk faerie-hunting novel is absolutely intense! The main character, Aileanna, is fierce and wonderful. There’s so much action, invention, and creative creatures. It’s one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read, and I couldn’t put it down.

Hook’s Revenge – Heidi Schulz

This is technically a middle grade novel, but even as a young adult, I found it absolutely WONDERFUL. The narrator is hilariously sarcastic, the main character is stubborn and brave, and the world building fits perfectly within the Peter Pan universe. There’s even a mini hint at romance that is just completely adorable. I can’t praise this book enough – I truly think it’s a wonderful adventure for readers at any age.

Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins

Fans of romance absolutely have to read this one. Stephanie Perkins writes romance like no other. The chemistry drips off the page, and the characters are so endearing and lovely. It’s fluffy and cute as they fall in love, then there’s some spectacular pain as well, but all in all it’s a romance to root for and one you can’t let go of.

Ebook available for Cruel Beauty and The Falconer.

Martijn Form

Martijn also has his own website, full of all of his artistic endeavors: martijnform.com.

Always hard to make a top list, but I love to dive in my bookshelves to see what I liked and loved:

Paris Sketchbook – Jason Brooks

Bought this book at ABC, bargain-priced, and although I’m not into fashion, I just love Mr. Brooks’s sketches. I get a lot of inspiration from this book for my own art. And love to see his collection of old postcards of the Eiffel Tower.

The Orchardist – Amanda Coplin

I picked this up because I loved the cover and the rugged paper of the book. It’s a somber tale set in the twentieth century, about a gentle man, a orchardist of apricot trees, and his struggle when two teenage girls appear, who he tries to protect and save. I think this book is overlooked by European critics and reviewers.

Economics: The User’s Guide – Ha-Joon Chang

Brilliant move to resurrect the Pelican books imprint. So far I have bought/read Human Evolution by Robin Dunbar, Greek and Roman Political Ideas by Melissa Lane and this great humorous book about Economics. Very easy to read and insightful about the how and why of human behavior with money.

The Christmas Kid – Pete Hamill

I enjoyed these Brooklyn short stories a lot. The way he writes and paints a picture reminds me a lot of the movie Smoke.

Quiet – Susan Cain

I have read it twice this year. It sounds strange, but this has been such an eye-opener for me. It could have saved me money on a coach/therapist who kept telling me that I was shy and should try to overcome that. Well I’m not shy! I’m an introvert, I like quiet things and doing things by myself, and that also explains why I love being an Artist. 🙂 So I can work by myself. Great book that sometimes emphasises the work situation too much, and can be a bit American-one-liner reading, but if you are a bit shy…sorry, introverted, it’s a good book to read and learn and develop yourself.

Ebook available for The Orchardist, Economics: The User’s Guide and Quiet.

Natalie Gerritsen

Joseph Anton: A Memoir – Salman Rushdie

When the Iranian Ayatollah issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, he had to hide for thirteen years and live with an assumed name: Joseph Anton. This memoir of those years is impressive and heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and funny.

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

This year was the first time I read this fantasy classic, but it can’t be the last time. Every page is a treat and I think I’ll find new things to love every time I re-read it.

NOS4A2 – Joe Hill (a.k.a. NOS4R2)

Normally I don’t like scary books, but I just can’t resist Joe Hill. This book, about a vampire-like old man who kidnaps children to his creepy Christmasland had me so scared at times that I forgot to breathe, but I just couldn’t put it down.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

This magical book is so dreamy and so well written, that I was actually sad when I finished it. Every page was just beautiful.

The Final Testament – James Frey

The Final Testament is hard to describe. It’s about a modern day messiah and the effect he has on his followers, and from beginning to end it’s just really smart and impressive.

Ebook available for Joseph Anton, Good Omens, NOS4A2, The Night Circus and The Final Testament.

Laura BaaijensLaura Baaijens

The Willoughbys – Lois Lowry

A classics-inspired children’s book almost exclusively about truly awful people (horrible parents that want to get rid of their kids, who just so happen to want their parents gone, too), but somehow it’s a really fun and light read that leaves you with a smile on your face! It pleasantly surprised me and I find myself recommending it (to adults even) all the time.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple

I’ll be honest and say up front that this is a book you’ll either love or hate. After the first chapters I expected to fall into the latter category, but it turned out to be an amazing story. It is very quirky, and partly told through emails and letters, but the characters turn out to have a lot more depth than you might think at first.

Entropia – Christian Lorenz Scheurer

This book manages to sketch a very interesting new world just by showing off a fictitious stamp-collection. There’s not a real plot, because there is no main character, and every stamp only gets a little article, but as you read on and piece everything together, you find yourself learning a lot about the world that is Entropia, as well as its history. Also, it made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

This book got a lot of hype this year, which made me sceptical. But I gave it a go and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a fun story that anyone could enjoy, because the characters are all so different from one another. There really is something for everyone in here.

A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E. – Penny Dolan

A coming-of-age adventure story that switches perspectives between a boy-protagonist, his evil uncle and a few other stray characters. There are actually two storylines going on at the same time. Eventually everything comes together, of course, but you’re left wondering exactly how it’ll turn out until the very end. Anyway, a children’s book with a lot of character development. It takes a while before it takes off, but when you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a fantasic story.

Ebook available for Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, The Rosie Project and A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E..

The Willoughbys - Lois LowryWhere'd You Go, Bernadette? - Maria SempleEntropia - Christian Lorenz ScheurerThe Rosie Project - Graeme SimsionA Boy Called M.O.U.S.E. - Penny Dolan

Robbert CoenmansRobbert Coenmans

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora is one great glorious bastard of a novel. It’s intricately plotted, has dialogue that pops off the page, and – most importantly – it might just be the greatest thing ever to have been set down on paper. It could be described as Ocean’s Eleven set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Venice. But that wouldn’t do it justice. It’s grand. And quite possibly the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

The Strangled Queen (The Accursed Kings # 2) – Maurice Druon

I spent an inordinate amount of time in the republished versions of Maurice Druon’s grand historical novels, which describe the events in medieval France and England leading up to the Hundred Year War. The historical accuracy is amazing. But first and foremost it’s the sheer quality of the writing that places it in my top 5. The characters are larger than life, with villains you’ll root for and heroes you’ll detest. I love the entire series, but the closing chapters of this book really set it apart. Especially the last ruminations of Enguerrand de Maringy, the former Rector of the Kingdom, are nothing short of transcendental.

Fortune’s Favourites (Masters of Rome #3) – Colleen McCoullough

I am a huge geek when it comes to the late Roman Republic. I like to read everything and anything about it. And as such, I have a rather complex relationship with novels which deal with the period. I really want to read them, but I keep spotting historical inaccuracies which break my flow and piss me off. At least, that used to be the case, and then I discovered the Masters of Rome series. The scholarship of McCoullough is impeccable. And they are just a joy to read. I like Fortune’s Favourites especially because that’s where the two great generals Marius and Sulla, whom you’ll alternate between loving and detesting, finally come to heads. Especially Sulla is a magnificent character; he just might be one of the best-written sociopaths out there.

The Coldest War (Bitter Seeds #2) – Ian Tregellis

I basically started the Bitter Seeds series because it was a Staff Recommendation at the ABC. And the premise of Nazi X-men versus British Warlocks (not kidding) seemed like a fun thing to read. The first book wasn’t great, but nice enough for me to leave me wanting more. It was the sequel, however, that blew me away. Gone was the slightly whimsical tone of the original. This was bleak and depressing and as such utterly wonderful. And when the incredible ending rolls by you realize that you have just been the victim of some of the greatest plotting this side of Christopher Nolan.

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

The premise of an artificial intelligence that wants revenge on its former masters really didn’t do much for me. So I skipped Ancillary Justice at first. And then the awards started rolling in. When science fiction manages to bag both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, as Ancillary Justice did, I really have to read it. I did, and it was marvellous. This is Science Fiction as it ought to be. It follows the footsteps of former greats like Asimov and Phillip K. Dick. Not necessarily with regard to the themes, but with regard to the daring nature and at times mind-boggling complexity of the subject matter. This book deals with issues such as the nature of artificial intelligence, what it is like to be one consciousness controlling thousands of bodies (written in first person) and toys with some quite interesting issues regarding gender and language in one fell swoop. Ancillary Justice is fascinating.

Ebook available for The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Strangled Queen, Fortune’s Favourites, The Coldest War and Ancillary Justice.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Strangled Queen - Maurice Druon (coming in Sept. 2013)Fortune's Favourites - Colleen McCulloughThe Coldest War - Ian TregillisAncillary Justice - Ann Leckie

Sara RaapSara Raap

Blackout and All Clear – Connie Willis

The time-travelling historians from 2060 travel to, and get stuck in, London during the Blitz. Connie Willis’s descriptions of “normal” life during the Blitz were extremely well done and very touching. The books were extra special because I visited St. Paul’s in London a few weeks later and could recognize a lot of what was described in the books.

The Machine – James Smythe

Ever since reading The Explorer I am a huge fan of the subtly weird SF that James Smythe writes. The Machine is a great, creepy book set in a bleak future England.

The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance) – Jeff VanderMeer

And speaking of weird, The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer is very weird (it reminded me of Lovecraft). I can’t say much more, it is that weird. Just know that Area X just appeared one day, and everything that happens inside is Weird. If you like weird, horror and/or science fiction, this might be something fun to read.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Fun is definitely how I remember Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. An old-fashioned bookstore that is always open, and has a secret stock only accessed by very strange customers. Slowly the mystery unfolds and the true story of Mr. Penumbra is told. I can’t say much more without giving it away, but trust me, it was fun, and I am glad there is another Mr. Penumbra book waiting for me.

The Chosen – Chaim Potok

This is an oldie, but as fas as I am concerned, a goody. I picked it up because it was once nominated for a National Book Award. This is a gem, a book about a friendship between two Jewish boys in New York, one raised in the orthodox Hasidic tradition, and one a lot more modern. Heartbreaking, beautiful and certainly a book that stays with you for a long time.

Ebook available for Blackout, All Clear, The Machine, Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Blackout - Connie WillisAll Clear - Connie WillisThe Machine - James SmytheAnnihilation - Jeff VanderMeerMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin SloanThe Chosen - Chaim Potok

Daphne BosDaphne Bos

City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare

This is the last book in the Mortal Instruments series and it was great! There was romance, action, character development, awesome stuff, more awesome stuff and so many pages to cherish! A satisfying ending.

The Selection – Kiera Cass

The first thing that comes in mind when hearing about this book is The Bachelor TV show, but it is so much better! At least it was for me, because I read it in one go.

The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead

I read the Vampire Academy series and the Bloodlines series this year and I can now say that Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors. This book is the third book from the Bloodlines series. Sydney (who I like a little bit better than Rose) rocks in this one!

Silber – Kerstin Gier (Dutch)(no English translation available yet)

Kerstin Gier always knows how to make me laugh out loud. I love her humour! This series is about a sort of dreamwalking and the mystery behind it.

Ouran High School Host Club – Bisco Hatori

My first manga! I saw the anime first and I loved it. So, I decided to start my manga-reading with this series. I’m now reading volume 5 and so far I really enjoyed reading the series.

Ebook available for City of Heavenly Fire, The Selection, and The Indigo Spell.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Cassandra ClareThe Selection - Kiera CassThe Indigo Spell - Richelle MeadSilber - Kerstin GierOuran High School Host Club, vol. 1 - Bisco Hatori

Didi Groenhoff 2013Didi Groenhoff

Fourth of July Creek – Smith Henderson

Excellently written book that touches big American themes like Freedom, Religion and Federal Politics through a catching story about a Montana social worker and his interesting clients. Smith Henderson’s style is can make any writer jealous. See my You Review here.

Congo – David van Reybrouck

Nominated for the Cundill Prize in History 2014, this is truly one of the best historical works I’ve ever read. Van Reybrouck brings history to life by marvellously weaving the bigger picture of Congo’s history with personal stories he learned while traveling, showing how political and sociological developments influence individual lives. His style of thinking and writing is refreshing, and he even manages to be funny without losing credibility. There is no need to actually be interested in Congo to enjoy this amazing accomplishment.

The Twin / Boven is het stil – Gerbrand Bakker

Somehow this international prize-winning book never really made it in its homeland Holland. An unbelievably enchanting book about family, obligations, relations and solitude. And a valuable life lesson: never try to save a sheep from a canal on your own.

Limonov – Emmanuel Carrère

In for meeting a bizarre person? Meet Limonov, provocateur pur sang. This is the real story of a avant-garde writer and enfant terrible that fled from communist Russia to capitalist USA and returns home via Paris and the Yugoslav war. Emmanuel Carrere follows the lovely French habit of placing the writer in the book, combining reality and fiction.

My War Gone By, I Miss It So – Anthony Loyd

Anthony Loyd, British army veteran and war-journalist, introduces us to the reality of war. Why is it so attractive and even addictive? How can terror suddenly become normal and how do people function in such trying circumstances? Sharing his experience covering the Yugoslav war, Loyd manages to hold the objective and distant view needed to answer the big questions without ignoring the atrocious reality of individual lives lost and personal tragedies. Showing humanity at its worst and best, this book is not for the faint-hearted: war is gruesome.

Ebook available for Fourth of July Creek, Congo, The Twin, and Limonov.

Fourth of July Creek - Smith HendersonCongo - David van ReybrouckThe Twin (Boven is het stil) - Gerbrand BakkerLimonov - Emmanuel CarrèreMy War Gone By, I Miss It So - Anthony Loyd

Patricia Kooyman 2014Patricia Kooyman

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Superb descriptions of the US and the UK from African immigrants’ points of view, one of them illegal. The love story isn’t bad either.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice – Alix Christie

I was given this book to review for ABC, and loved every letter of it. Amazing inside-view historical novel of the development of movable type and all the politics and religious turmoil surrounding it.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières

This one had been on my “must read soon” list for quite a while, and yes, it IS as good as everybody says.

Shogun – James Clavell

I read this classic while on my way to and around Japan. Though it was not my first visit to Japan and I already loved that country, reading this historical novel with its marvellous descriptions of 1600s Japan through the eyes of a shipwrecked British skipper definitely enriched my journey. Imagine visiting some of the castles a lot of the action is situated in while you’re in the middle of the book!

Too Much Information – Dave Gorman

As usual, Dave Gorman seems to be a light and entertaining read, but there’s so much truth behind his hilarious writing that he does make you think.

Ebook available for Americanah, Gutenberg’s Apprentice, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Shogun and Too Much Information.

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieGutenberg's Apprentice (US cover) - Alix ChristieCaptain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de BernièresShogun - James ClavellToo Much Information - Dave Gorman

Darice de CubaDarice de Cuba

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

As a website developer and book lover I loved this book. The kind of book that after you finish you need to totally get out of your system before you can appreciate other books.
Clay Jannon loses his job at a start-up and ends up working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, a very uncommon bookstore. The different clientele that visits the bookstore reminds me of the characters we come across in Harry Potter. The book has a great combo of technology, old books, mystery and a film noir feel, plus a dab of romance. Great for a rainy week-end read.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman

This book is a fresh breath from all other books out there insisting the way to happiness is being positive and cheerful all the time. Each chapter covers different thinking, arguments and philosophy. A little bit of Buddhism, Stoicism and Eckhart Tolle amongst other.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Teenagers consider it as the Titanic love story of their time. There was Romeo and Juliet, Rose and Jack, and now Hazel and Augustus. A solid book. But for me it wasn’t only the love story, it was the way John Green created this realistic, terminally ill character. A lot of cancer patients were unhappy with the feel-good parts of the book, because there is nothing good about being very sick.
I think a lot of people oversaw the small, but so true and poignant, scenes in the book. Like Hazel having dinner with her parents on a normal night at home and eating too fast, hence feeling out of breath and starting to worry that her lungs might be filling with water.
If you get this scene you see the other side of this book other than the grand romance.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Don Tilmann is a professor of genetics and totally social awkward. You will love Don Tillman. Don wants a normal life with a wife and kid. He’s handsome, smart and has a good job. Yet he never went on a second date. Don comes up with The Wife Project, which is based on a questionnaire that he believes will help him find his ideal wife. If you are familiar with the the character Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory, you’ll have a good idea of who Don Tillman is. Until Rosie came along.
The book will have you laughing at Don’s adventures, and break your heart a bit. A book to read in one sitting.

Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations – Jules Evans (currently reading and so far so good)

Once you start dipping into philosophy you’ll find out how usable and unmissable it is to have it in your life. Even though the University of Amsterdam and Erasmus University think differently. The author of this book suffered from anxiety in his younger years and learned to deal with it with the wisdom of ancient philosophers and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, from Socrates and Epictetus to Pythagoras and Seneca. The book reads easily and gives clear explanation of the ideas and arguments of ancient Philosophy and how they still hold true today. The author wrote an article in The Times about this book. It might help decide if this book is for you.

Ebook available for Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, The Antidote, The Fault in Our Stars, The Rosie Project and Philosophy for Life.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin SloanThe Antidote - Oliver BurkemanThe Fault in Our Stars - John GreenThe Rosie Project - Graeme SimsionPhilosophy for Life - Jules Evans

Marjolein Balm 2012Marjolein Balm

Marjolein has a long-running blog full of book reviews and author interviews over at Marjolein Reads.

The Separation – Dinah Jefferies

I love books set in Asia, and this book was sent to me for review. There are so many secrets and lies in the family the book is about that is is almost unbelievable. Also you keep wondering if things will turn out for the better in the end.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things To Mend – Katie Finn

I have never read such an FUN, laugh out loud book!!! This is by far one of the best written plots I have read in a while. A fast-paced story about how friendship can take a very sour turn, but told in a very spunky and hilarious way.

A Fall Of Marigolds – Susan Meissner

What I liked about this book was how a scarf can connect two women, living in different time periods, together. What they don’t know about each other is that they both owned the scarf, and share some other similarities. A breathtaking story that is both historical and contemporary.

The Great Christmas Knit Off – Alexandra Brown

I was complety blown away by the story of The Great Christmas Knit Off! It was so much fun to read all the brilliant turns and twists this story took. The cast of characters was stunning and soooo good! Altough this book has Christmas in its title, there isn’t that much Christmas in the story, so it can also be read before or after the holiday season as well.

Mambo in Chinatown – Jean Kwok

I loved Jean’s book Girl in Translation and with Mambo in Chinatown it is just the same. It is a beautiful coming-of-age story of a young woman who works as a dishwasher in her father’s noodleshop in New York’s Chinatown. She gets a job as a secretary in a ballroom studio in Manhattan, and there she finds her true talent. This turns her world completely upside down. Just as in Girl in Translation, the books gives a good view how things work and are done in the closed community of Chinatown and its traditions, and how Charlie is living between two cultures. I also loved the romance part and the ballroom dancing that danced as a red line through the story!

Ebook available for The Separation.

The Separation - Dinah JefferiesBroken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend - Katie FinnA Fall of Marigolds - Susan MeissnerThe Great Christmas Knit Off - Alexandra BrownMambo in Chinatown - Jean Kwok

Gabriëlle Linger 2014Gabriëlle Linger

Burn For Me – Ilona Andrews

I was a bit wary when I first saw this book, mainly due to the cover. But while the cover would better fit a romance novel, this book is definitely Urban Fantasy, and it’s good. The main characters are fascinating, as is the world the story takes place in. As a series opening this book was great, and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

Magic Breaks – Ilona Andrews

I love the Kate Daniels series, and this installment did not disappoint.  In Magic Breaks we finally get several moments that have been foreshadowed since the beginning of the series, and those scenes were definitely worth waiting for. Now if only the authors could write faster, so I can find out what happens next.

The Selection – Kiera Cass

Light-hearted, charming and romantic, this novel was the perfect read to lighten up gloomy and rainy days.

Quiet – Susan Caine

As in introvert I found this book both inspiring and helpful. While reading I felt like I was learning more and more about myself, and how to navigate my interactions with those both more and those less introverted than I am.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Caroll

Every few years I reread this book and each time I do I’m amazed at how much fun and how clever this book is. The silly poetry, the crazy characters, all make for a happy visit to Wonderland and are the reasons why it is once again of the best things I’ve read this year.

Ebook available for Burn for Me, The Selection, Quiet and Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Burn for Me - Ilona AndrewsMagic Breaks - Ilona AndrewsThe Selection - Kiera CassQuiet - Susan CainAlice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

Marjolein de VosMarjolein de Vos

The Book of Life – Deborah Harkness

I just love this trilogy so much. For me it’s a perfect combination of so many things that I love: a bit paranormal with history, romance and action.

The Miniaturist – Jesse Burton

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s something unlike what I usually read. I’ve never before read a novel set in seventeenth-century Netherlands. Usually I only read non-fiction about this subject. In my opinion this book is very original and creates a very nice story around the actually-existing dollhouse.

Shadowfever – Karen Marie Moning

One of my most favourite book series is the Fever series by this author. Although this book was darker than the others in the series I love it nonetheless.

The Secret Countess – Eva Ibbotson

Simple guilty-pleasure romance read. Predictable, but sometimes you just feel like reading a book like this.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

A very original post-apocalyptic read. I also like this because of the way all the life stories are connected together.

Ebook available for The Book of Life, The Miniaturist, Shadowfever, The Secret Countess and Station Eleven.

The Book of Life - Deborah HarknessThe Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonShadowfever - Karen Marie MoningThe Secret Countess - Eva IbbotsonStation Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

Kris StomphorstKris Stomphorst

The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien

A golden oldie. I’ve read this one before but I read it again this year to freshen up on my Tolkien knowledge. Also it’s the first time I’ve read it in English. Loved it as ever, a must-read for every Tolkien fan. Because basically, if you can power through this, the whole picture sketched in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit becomes much clearer.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

This book was pressed into my hands during the second week of January. I read through it in a couple of days and demanded part 2. It’s a very refreshing fantasy novel which comes across as a diary written by the main character. The story kinda reminded me of the world sketched by G.R.R. Martin, where death and poverty have as big a role as magic and might. Now I’ll just have to wait for part 3.

Arthas – Christie Golden

The biography of one of my favourite characters from the Warcraft universe. The thing that’s great about this book is that it’s good and very comprehensible on its own, but it also adds a layer of depth to a character that some of us geeks only know from video games. The story is very loaded at times and drags the reader, along with Arthas, through a number of hardships. Very nostalgic trip for me as the last time I played the game that tells this story was around 10 years ago.

The Centurion Method – Craig Fraser (sadly not available through us at the moment, not even through our supplier of second-hand books)

Also pressed into my hands sometime early 2014. It’s not really a novel but it’s one of the books that changed my outlook on life this year. It’s a different view on the human body and how to train it to its full potential. This is one of those training books that has you up and motivated by the time you’re 10 pages into the prologue.

Legenden van de Alfen: De vergeten geschriften – Markus Heitz (no English translation of this part of The Legends of the Alfar available yet, although the first book, Righteous Fury, is out)

I’ve rather enjoyed the Dwarves and the Alfar by Markus Heitz so naturally I purchased the final chapter of the Alves as soon as it hit the stores. I’m sad to say it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations but it still deserves an honorable mention in 5th place. It’s essentially a compendium of all different loose ends that were left open after the 7-part saga that came before it. Definitely a nice pick up for someone that liked the Alfar but don’t expect the same kind of epic story as parts 1 and 2.

Ebook available for The Name of the Wind.

The Silmarillion - J. R. R. TolkienThe Name of The Wind by Patrick RothfussArthas - Christie GoldenThe Centurion Method Training Manual - Craig and Lucy FraserLegenden van de Alfen: Vergeten Geschriften - Markus Heitz

Oona JuutinenOona Juutinen

Saga – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga is a truly unique graphic novel: it’s about parenting, and families and love, and about being warriors on the run. Then there’s also a cat that can tell if you are lying, a babysitter who is a ghost and a tree-shaped space ship that uses secrets as fuel. Oh yeah, and some steamy sex. And it’s visually stunning!

The Massive – Brian Wood

The Massive is a political graphic novel about an apocalypse and a group of environmentalists struggling with some pretty big questions. Such as: How do you save a world that has gone to shit in an epic sort of way? How do you negotiate a tight moral code in a “post-everything world”? I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second volume of the series.

A Country of Ghosts – Margaret Killjoy (although we can’t order a copy through our regular suppliers, there’s a copy available through our supplier of second-hand books)

A journalist is sent to report on a war and, upon meeting a group of anarchists, slowly awakens to view the world in a completely different way. The book explores anarchist thinking and mixes grand action with its politics, and while at times sad and horrific (it is about war, after all), A Country of Ghosts is also full of hope and ideas on how anarchy could actually work. It actually brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.

Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler

This is the first Octavia E. Butler book I ever read and it just blew me away! Butler is just as good as everyone always says she is, if not better. A beautiful and heart-wrenching dystopia about survival and hope and destiny and many other massive themes, this book was so impressive that I wasn’t even finished with it when I already had to go and buy the sequel.

The Girl with All the Gifts – M.R. Carey

This one is almost boring to mention, as pretty much half of the ABC staff have already included it on their own lists… But whatever: this book looked at zombies in a new way, delivered some hard emotional punches, and had the kind of an ending you did not see coming.

Ebook available for Parable of the Sower and The Girl with All the Gifts.

Saga volume 1 - Brian Vaughan & Fiona StaplesThe Massive - Brian Wood et alA Country of Ghosts - Margaret KilljoyParable of the Sower - Octavia E. ButlerThe Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey

Lieke Bannenberg

A Tale for the Time Being – Roth Ozeki

Nominated for the Man Booker prize 2013, a very original and intriguing story playing on both sides of the Pacific and in different time periods. It makes you think about the possible evils of internet, but also about how to find peace in one self.

Americanah – Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

About a Nigerian woman who moves to the US – and back. As a white Dutch woman I thought it very interesting to learn about the experiences of an African woman, who moves from a country where being black is no issue to the US with its race issues, even between African-Americans and American-Africans. But also about life in Nigeria, before and after her move.

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

Having discovered Adichie, I found out that she wrote a book about the Biafran war. I remember very clearly, when I was much younger, the outcry in the Western world about this war and especially the resulting famine. This book tells the story of this war and has widened my view on the world.

De ontdekking van de curryworst (Die Entdeckung der Currywurst, English title: The Invention of Curried Sausage) – Uwe Timm

Through one of my sisters I get advised about pearls of German literature. This is one and I can highly recommend it. The story is set at the end of WW2 in Hamburg. So far I haven’t read many stories about common people in Germany during the war and how they often had to struggle to survive.

Het verlies (Der Verlust) – Siegfried Lenz (not translated into English)

Having discovered Lenz last year (one of the German pearls), I read a few more of his books. This one is about a man who, for his work, is very dependent on telling stories. Through a stroke he loses his ability to talk and express himself. This affects his relationship with his lady friend. Lenz’s use of language is just very beautiful, a joy to read.

Ebook available for A Tale for the Time Being, Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun.

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth OzekiAmericanah - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieHalf of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Invention of Curried Sausage - Uwe TimmHet Verlies - Siegfried Lenz

Femke

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

If you don’t mind philosophical ramblings, this is the book for you. I enjoyed every page of this book. Don’t let the Goodreads reviews mislead you, I thought that the characters were very much alive. However, sometimes they tend to think in paragraph-long sentences, which can be daunting, but the Dutch translation managed to keep everything crisp and clear.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

Apparently I really love time travel stories. I devoured The Time Traveller’s Wife and I loved this book as well. It’s not a happy love story, but the story is equally fascinating, I couldn’t put it down.

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

Reading this book should be mandatory for everyone who works with animals in research. I was really touched by the fate of Algernon (the mouse) in the story. And the first chapters of the book are really supposed to be almost illegible, it’s not an uncorrected proof copy or something like that… 🙂

Interviewing for Solutions – Insoo Kim Berg and Peter de Jong

This should be mandatory reading for everyone who works in health care, not just psychologists. During my primary care rotation I shadowed a primary care mental health worker and she used the methodology outlined in this book. It (the miracle question, the rating system etc) may seem very artificial, but in practice it’s not. It’s a way to focus on the positive side, the things that do work, instead of creating a spiral of negativity. Digging in someone’s past isn’t always necessary to help them with mental health problems. I’ve succesfully implemented some strategies in clinical care.

Miracles – C. S. Lewis

This book was written way before the ‘We are our brain‘ hype started, but I think its message is still very relevant and can offer an interesting perspective on materialism. This is definitely not a proselytizing book, by the way, one thing I really like about C. S. Lewis.

Ebook available for The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Flowers for Algernon and Miracles.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel BarberyThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (UK cover) - Claire NorthFlowers for Algernon - Daniel KeyesInterviewing for Solutions - Insoo Kim Berg and Peter de JongMiracles - C. S. Lewis