Best books from 2014

If you’re in need of books to start off your New Year, Kanta Dihal picks some of her favourite books from 2014 that you might have missed first time around.

Laline Paull – The Bees

This is one book that will be too harshly judged by its cover. If the title will not make people frown, its blurb most certainly will: yes, the protagonist of this book is an actual bee, and no, it is not a children’s book. Too many people will put the book away sniggering. Don’t – the novel is an extremely imaginative and knowledgeable debut, and effectively communicates humanity’s destructive impact on bees and nature at large.

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Jean-Paul Didierlaurent – The Reader of the 6:27 (Le Liseur du 6h27)

Didierlaurent’s debut novel has not appeared in English yet – it will likely be published in 2015 by Macmillan – but it is one to look out for. His protagonist is a bibliophile who works at a book recycling firm: Didierlaurent makes it appear that a bleaker situation is hardly imaginable, which makes the romantic quest that appears halfway through the book quite acceptable.

Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life

The impossible has happened: someone wrote a young adult trilogy about vampires that is actually readable and doesn’t contain any porn. The books are especially amusing for Oxford students as the main vampire is a fellow of All Souls. In The Book of Life, the final instalment in this trilogy, someone lets loose a dragon in the Bodleian.

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Peter F. Hamilton – The Abyss Beyond Dreams

Science fiction mastermind Peter F. Hamilton announced this novel, the first half of a two-part prequel to his Void Trilogy, two years ago. Fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the 650-page tome Hamilton published this year, in which he majestically combines SF, fantasy and political intrigue.

Amanda Gefter – Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn

Perhaps the best popular science book that has appeared this year, Gefter shows the reader how much someone can learn about physics without ever having taken a single university class on the topic. Written in an at times staggeringly colloquial tone – the F-word pops up frequently – Gefter still manages to trigger that sense of awe that seems indispensable in popular physics writing.


A.N. Ryst – De harpij

A Dutch children’s book author was not being taken seriously when he wrote his first novel for adults, so he pulled a reverse Robert Galbraith and published an amazing epic under a pseudonym. An English translation is not currently planned yet; we can only hope that this will change soon.

K. Dihal

We are on Twitter @Oxford_Culture, and on Facebook


One comment

  1. Reblogged this on MsKanta and commented:
    I chose not to write an overview of 2014 for my own blog, and instead give you a list of books I am going to read. However, the Oxford Culture Review did want to present a 2014 overview, so here are the five books, published in 2014, that I think people should read.

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