Read in 2014
These are all the books I read during my honours year, 2014. (Currently only starting from late July, because I still need to upload all my reviews from before that.)
Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut (22–28 Jul 2014)
★★★★ American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty?
The Devil’s Mixtape – Mary Borsellino (29 Jul–4 Aug 2014)
★★ An ambitious book dealing with Christianity, evil, murder, etc. but it fell flat for me. Full review »
Holes – Louis Sachar (5–6 Aug 2014)
★★★½ Stanley Yelnats is unjustly sent to a juvenile detention centre, where he must dig a lot of holes. Full review »
Where Earth Meets Water – Pia Padukone (11–13 Aug 2014)
★★★★ Karom has survived two disasters he shouldn’t have – 9/11 and the devastating 2004 tsunami – and struggles with guilt. He flies back from NYC to India, hoping to find some peace.
Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas (25 Aug–3 Sep 2014)
★★★ The sad story of a good kid who goes to private school and becomes an asshole.
The Sound of Things Falling – Juan Gabriel Vásquez (4–15 Sep 2014)
★★★ A novel set in Colombia during the 1990s, with an infuriating protagonist. Full review »
Safe House – Chris Ewan (15–23 Sep 2014)
★★ This has been marketed as a thriller, but it really lacks the compelling, page-turning quality that “thriller” implies. It has, however, also been marketed as a mystery, which I think is the accurate label.
It’s an alright book. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been cheap in the Kindle Store!
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut (14–27 Oct 2014)
★★ There’s usually a comforting kind of consistency with Kurt Vonnegut’s books – they’re never my favourites, with the characterisation being too shallow for that – but they’re witty, left-wing, and usually just kinda fun.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find this one as fun. I kept getting the characters mixed up and then it all got a bit silly at the end.
Blood Of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War – Ronald Fraser (22 Apr–31 Oct 2014)
This oral history was, like, the secondary source that I used to guide my honours thesis-writing.
The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring – Alastair Puddick (29 Oct–3 Nov 2014)
★★★★★ A hilarious romp that speaks to the alienation of the average office worker. Full review »
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) – Robert Galbraith (25 Sep–12 Nov 2014)
★★★½ It was an intriguing mystery, but a little slow and I seriously hate this author’s habit of writing “phonetically” the dialogue of characters who are lower-class. It’s just so patronising, even though I’m sure that’s not the intent.
Secret Son – Laila Lalami (12–14 Nov 2014)
★★★★ A young man living in a poor suburb of Casablanca finds out his father is not in fact dead, but wealthy and eager to get to know him. So begins a story about identity and Morocco’s class divisions in the aftermath of colonialism.
Out of It – Selma Dabbagh (14–18 Nov 2014)
★★ A novel following three siblings in Gaza during an Israeli bombing campaign. Full review »
Broken Bulbs – Eddie Wright (20 Nov 2014)
★ I think I’ve actually read this novella before, because parts of it gave me some strong déjà vu. Evidently I forgot I’d read it, probably because I didn’t think it was very good. It reminded me a bit of “Donnie Darko”, although I don’t remember that very well so take that comparison with a grain of salt.
Mostly I didn’t get what the point of this book was. It didn’t tell an interesting story, but it didn’t seem to have any other point. Let’s hope I don’t inadvertently start reading it a third time!
Pink Carbide – E.S. Wynn (24 Nov 2014)
★★ A cyberpunk novel set in 22nd-century Los Angeles. Full review »
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) – Robert Galbraith (3–15 Dec 2014)
★★★★ A detective novel about a missing novelist, by the same author as the Harry Potter series.
The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri (16–18 Dec 2014)
★★★★★ Probably the best novel I’ve read all year.
A Land Without Jasmine – Wajdi Al-Ahdal (19 Dec 2014)
★★★ A Yemeni novella about the disappearance of a young woman, and also a critique of Yemeni society. Full review »
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler (21–24 Dec 2014)
★★★★★ The light-hearted, cheerful tone of this book belies the content, which is (in many parts) very dark. It deals with the serious issue of how our society treats animals; it also has a lot of comic relief that prevents this book becoming simply depressing. Overall, I thought it was brilliant, although if you don’t care about animals then the entire point of the book will be lost on you.
Touch – Adania Shibli (28 Dec 2014)
★★ A novella about a Palestinian girl.