There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
Lots of people seem to be looking back at 2013 and making “best of” lists. There’s nothing wrong with that, loads of really great books came out this year. If you want some recommendations, you’re welcome to search my 5/5 tag.
On a personal level, though, 2013 was a difficult year. I’m ready for it to be over. Bring on 2014!
With that in mind, instead of looking back, I’m going to look forward. Here (in no particular order) are 10 books from the pile (some that are new & some that have been there a while) that I am definitely going to read next year. They deserve to be read and I am excited to get started. 2014 is going to be awesome, you guys.
1) Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
I loved, loved, loved The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and have been waiting impatiently for her next book so I was super excited to get an advance copy. Bellman & Black sounds enjoyably gothic and magical realism-y. From what I can glean from the blurb, it tells the story of a boy who kills a rook and the man he grows into. There is a mysterious shop, a mourning emporium, and William Bellman may, or may not, get what’s coming to him. It actually came out in hardback for Halloween so if you’d like to add it to your 2014 pile, you can get a copy from your local bookshop now. The cover does not look like this picture – maybe ask a bookseller if you have trouble finding it.
2) Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
I read and loved and couldn’t find the words to review Helen Oyeyemi’s last book Mr. Fox (you can read what I did write here but it is sadly inadequate to express how strongly I’d recommend it) so I was very, very happy when Pan Macmillan offered reading copies of Boy, Snow, Bird to interested booksellers. Which I am. Helen Oyeyemi is a beautiful writer. Every sentence of Mr. Fox was necessary and perfect and almost like poetry. The plot was also incredible. I can’t sum up what Boy, Snow, Bird is about but on the back of my copy it says “a dazzling novel about three women and the strange connection between them”, which will have to do. Trust me, if you’re a fan of A Hundred Years of Solitude or anything by Alice Hoffman or Haruki Murakami, you need to try this book. It will be published as a small hardback in February 2014.
3) Babayaga by Toby Barlow
First of all, I can’t see the title of this book without thinking of Kenzi from Lost Girl freaking out. If you haven’t watched Lost Girl and the thought of a show about a bisexual succubus private investigator (that doesn’t slut shame her about her appetite) doesn’t completely freak you out, you should try watching it in 2014. Would recommend.
I’ve never read anything by Toby Barlow before (although I know that his previous book, Sharp Teeth, has been hugely praised and recommended) but I was sent this by the very lovely Sara Veal of Corvus and Atlantic Books. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet. It’s also recommended on the front by Robin Sloan, author of Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which I really loved, and described by New York Magazine as “Tolkien meets Graham Greene meets Anne Rice”. SOLD. This one is also out in February.
4) Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
Early this year, I read Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. I’d never heard of her before but I thought it was brilliant. Seriously, read it. It’s just come into paperback. Anyway, for my birthday I took a trip to the big Waterstones at Piccadilly (clutching gift cards) and came away with Belinda Bauer’s debut novel Blacklands, the story of a 12 year-old boy who writes to a serial killer to ask where his uncle’s body is buried. I can’t wait to read it. It sounds creepy and brilliant; I fully expect that it will have me on the edge of my seat and jumping at shadows. This one is available now if it sounds like your kind of thing.
5) Finder by Greg Rucka
I read the first book in this series, Keeper, a little while ago. I had pretty mixed feelings about it but overall, I thought it was worth reading and wanted to find out what happens to Atticus Kodiak (which continues to be a completely ridiculous name) next. This book isn’t currently available in the UK, which sucks. My girlfriend, Erica, shipped me a copy from Seattle (quick shout out to Seattle Mystery Bookstore – shop there Seattlites, it’s awesome). I’m really excited about this one. Atticus thought he’d retired from being a bodyguard but he finds himself drawn back into protecting people again in this story, which promises to be twisty, turny and full of action and testosterone. Yay!
6) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
If you’ve been following the blog, you probably know that I am a big Neil Gaiman fan; lots of us booksellers are. When The Ocean at the End of the Lane (I’m just going to call it Ocean from now on, that title is too much like hard work to type!) came out, I begged and whined and made sad faces at Bill (that’s my husband) until he gave in and gifted me with a copy. It’s been sat on the pile ever since. In a way, it’s a back-up plan. I’ve been keeping it for when I really needed it. But I’ve been a little afraid that I’ll really need something good and then not like it. I don’t think that’s likely, but it’s not impossible, so the book has just stayed sitting on the pile, unloved and alone. Well, not anymore. In 2014, I’m going to read it! Ocean is fable about childhood, apparently, but it’s Gaiman so it’s guaranteed to be so much more than that. I’m sure that I’ll soon be telling you all how much I loved it.
7) Heap House by Edward Carey
I’ve told you guys about my love affair with Hot Key Books, right? This is another one of theirs. Have you seen this book? It is beautiful and beautifully produced and has been recommended by Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, and Eleanor Catton, winner of this year’s Man Booker prize. The breakdown on the back (the Hot Key ring) describes the contents as “outsiders”, “gothic”, “revenge” and “escape”. It tells the story of Clod Iremonger in a strange Victorian-ish London where everyone has a “birth object”. I’m hoping for something a little like Joan Aiken, whose books I completely loved when I was growing up. Everyone I’ve spoken to about this book has told me that I have to read it. 2014 is its year.
8) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
I’ve heard a lot about Ruta Sepetys’ first book, Between Shades of Grey, but it didn’t really appeal to me. This story, however, is set in 1950s New Orleans and sounds right up my street. The main character is the teenage daughter of a prostitute who longs to escape the New Orleans underworld and start a new life at a respectable college. This isn’t as easy as she hopes. I first picked this one up because I loved the cover and I think it’s going to be fab.
9) Every Day by David Levithan
(Forgot to take a photo of this one – stole a cover image from the internet. Sorry!)
This book is appearing on a lot of “Best of 2013” lists but I didn’t get around to it (I could almost hear the horrified gasps of my bookseller friends as I wrote that!). It’s supposed to be the kind of book that completely changes the way you think about things and tells the story of a genderless, incorporeal being who exists by inhabiting others’ bodies. A new body every day. What happens when a being like that falls in love with a human girl? I don’t know but I’m going to read the book and find out. Also I met David Levithan (who was lovely) at a party this year and I now feel weird about not having read his book.
10) Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
This one is a little bit of a cheat because it’s not on the pile yet. I mean, theoretically it’s been on the pile ever since I finished Way of Kings, but I don’t actually have a copy yet. It’s not out until March and I couldn’t secure an advance copy so I have to wait like a normal non-bookseller person. I am SO EXCITED that this is coming out in 2014. SO EXCITED. I loved Way of Kings and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
What are you excited to read in 2014?