READING LIST: a christmas book club (2014 favourites)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Are you mad at me for even mentioning it? I'm trying to get everything done early this year so I can just enjoy the few weeks before Christmas, so I thought I'd post this earlier rather than later.

I love giving books because they make such thoughtful presents - they could be your favourites, ones you know they'll love, bestsellers, classics - and it's easy to keep a stash of your favourite tomes for those gifting moments when you're caught unexpectedly unprepared. For my brother's birthday last year, I gave him a 'book subscription' and chose a book that I would post to him at the beginning of each month for the next six months. I liked doing it so much, I thought I would share the 12 books I read this year that I think would make perfect gifts this Christmas.

1. Sharks Fin & Sichua Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop - this still remains one of my very favourite, and most read books of all time. Dunlop has such a knack for describing (sometimes exceedingly odd) Chinese delicacies in a way that is utterly mouth-watering; a wonderful gift for enthusiastic foodies and travellers alike.

2. The Dinner by Herman Koch - I'm a total sucker for novels with a twist, especially when there is a big build up. In the case of this book, the suspense captivates you nearly until the end of the book, hinting at the climax. The whole story unwinds over a single evening meal, which makes for some seriously impressive writing!

3. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert - this book is a really interesting study into marriage and commitment across the world by the writer of Eat, Pray, Love. I love reading non-fiction, but this still manages to feel like a story and, despite the empirical subject matter, it's far from dry.

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - I have to admit, I bought this for my work book club and I still haven't read it! But I included it in this list because it's a huge bestseller and I'm planning to read it over the Christmas break - who wants to discuss?

5. The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley + Hemsley - despite setting myself a cookbook challenge and promising not to buy anymore cookbooks until I'd cooked at least a recipe from each of the ones I already had, there was so much publicity around these sisters, and I've loved their recipes online, that I just had to get this. I love their principal of a healthy diet that doesn't restrict animal proteins and is pretty liberal with the fats (hooray for butter!)

6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - this is probably one of the biggest books of the year. I've seen it read everywhere from train platforms to Indonesian beaches and I loved it. It's an easy read with a somewhat predictable storyline, but sometimes that's just what you need!

7. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman - after devouring both seasons back-to-back on Netflix I had to read Piper's real-life memoir. They've changed so much for the tv show so it was interesting to see how the two compared.

8. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - oh this book! It has completely divided opinion but I LOVED it. The author cleverly weaves together both present and past in a captivating story that encompasses the past 100 years of modern history. It had me constantly googling to see if the main character was actually real!

9. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes - I only took thrillers on holiday with me this year. I started this before we went away but it was so slow to start with I gave up on it until we were 5000 miles away and I didn't have a choice. I hope they make this into a movie - it's insane! There's espionage, terrorist plots and chemical warfare all bound up into one very complex plot.

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - have you read Gone Girl? Of course you have! Well this doesn't quite compare - what can!? - but Flynn just comes up with amazing story lines and after I devoured this in a day, I picked up her other book, Sharp Objects, too.

11. Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl - I love the blog Green Kitchen Stories so it was only natural that this cookbook would also flout the conditions of my cookbook challenge! I love everything about this book, and I really recommend it for veggies and non-veggies alike.

12. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - for the past few years I've stopped reading during my commute, just picking up the free paper in the morning instead, but this book has reignited my love of reading on-the-go. I don't want to give too much away, but a big twist comes right at the beginning and the rest of the book tries to explain the story behind it, mixing historical fact with pure, raw emotion. Please go buy this!

What were your favourite books you read this year? Please let me know in the comments so I can start my 2015 Amazon wish list!


  1. Good luck with The Goldfinch, I spent months struggling through it (and I loved The Secret Histories).

    The book subscription thing is a great idea for a present!

  2. wow,lucky me for reading your post. you gave me ideas for christmas's presents. thanks girl!!

    xo josephine c.

  3. I LOVED the Goldfinch! But some of the other girls in my book club didn't think it was wonderful - which I just can't understand! Let me know how you get on with it :)