Usually, when looking back on a year of reading, I always have a book that stands out as the best, and it usually stands out by a mile. That book for 2014 was Richard Russo’s Straight Man. This was completely unexpected. I read about it online, in an obscure comment on novels set on university campuses. I took a gamble because I’d only read one of Russo’s books before — That Old Cape Magic — and thought it only average. I found Straight Man second hand, bought it, and am SO glad I did because I absolutely loved it. The only word to describe it it HILARIOUS (“uproarious” is in the Goodreads description and is bang on). My sister has read it and I currently have my dad onto it as well. If you are in the mood for a funny novel, give it a go: Russo nails it.
The best historical fiction I read this year was An Officer and a Spy. Excellent storytelling. Life after Life was good too, and I was a bit skeptical starting it as I am not really into novels that have anything to do with fantasy.
Unfortunately I didn’t read as much Canadian fiction as I’d have liked; however the one that stands out of the few I did read is an older, lesser-known novel called No Beautiful Shore.
Crime fiction for me rarely stands out when looking back throughout the year — some I enjoy, some I don’t, but rarely does something make me step back and think. Into the Darkest Corner and Apple Tree Yard came the closest for me this year. The best true crime I read was The Monster of Florence. Well-researched and chilling.
Biggest disappointment: The Flamethrowers, followed by The Signature of All Things. Neither (in my very humble opinion!) lived up to any of their hype. The Goldfinch was another one that, for me, just fell short. It was only okay.
The common denominator in all of these books (that I only just realized): humour.