Guardian Readers’ 10 best books of the year (so far)


Guardian readers voted for their favourite books published in the first half of this year. Here is a selection of the most popular books. 


best books 2014

From Galbraith to Piketty … Is your favourite on the list? Photograph: Guardian

The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

silkworm“I was eagerly anticipating it as I enjoyed the first one and this didn’t disappoint. A clever crime novel that left me guessing to the end. Growing up on a diet of Agatha Christie novels means that I usually know ‘whodunnit’ but JK Rowling / Robert Galbraith definitely had me stumped.” sharona31

“Great characters, excellent plot, page turner…JK Rowling is a master story teller.” ID4653164

“This series has legs” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 19 June

Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill

specu“There are sentences in good novels that make you swoon with just how perfect they are at saying something true. This novel is made up almost entirely of sentences like that. It is the portrait of a marriage falling apart and yet so much more than that. Less than 200 pages long but every page sings with something, this is the work of a master writer who took 15 years to publish this, her second novel. It’s worth the wait.” justwilliamsluck

“Dept. of Speculation is a beautifully wrought, captivating bijou novel. The story of an unnamed woman as her marriage dissolves, told in a series of short paragraph-long vignettes which defy conventional plotting, including numerous digressions on disparate topics, from Buddhism to Russian cosmonauts. For all its discursiveness, it is masterfully controlled, as just when we feel we are spinning off course, Offil pulls us back in with a moment of plot or character development, or breathtaking emotion.” NoQuietFind

“Intense vignettes of domestic life” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 6 March

Mrs. Hemingway – Naomi Wood

hemi“Beautifully written, compelling. An insight into Hemingway and the wives who put up with him. Haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.” Dartyand Pike

“The story of how Hemingway moved from mistress to marriage – told by each of his four wives – is as enticing as it is mysterious” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 13 February

Road to Middlemarch – Rebecca Mead

middle“A wonderful blend of memoir, lit crit and biography – reminds you of the powerful place books can take in our lives.” guardian1978

“Rebecca Mead’s stylish and personal meditation on George Eliot’s masterpiece makes Middlemarchers of us all” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 6 March

Capital in the Twenty-First Century – Thomas Pikkety 

capital“Riveting, thought-provoking content and well constructed explanations that have moved readers to purchase this tome of economics in droves. But I admit that first the reader must bring an interest in the subject matter that is more than cursory.” Nohantsister

“This is a VIB – very important book.” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 18 March

Can’t and Won’t – Lydia Davis

Lydia“I’d never really got the point of flash fictionuntil I read this. So many of her phrases sparked off a chain reaction in my head that it
was as if she was reading me.” eletha

“Come to this one-book library for the mercurial gifts of its author; stay because the stories continually renew their invitation to be read inventively” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 3 April

With a Zero at Its Heart – Charles Lambert

zero“Beautifully written and unusually structured, ‘Zero’ is a collection of tightly described significant moments, objects, people, happenings, moods. A unique approach to perception, insight and memory.” Wayne Harper

“This book blew me away. A lifetime tautly captured in 240 themed stories. The tight structure (each story is also 120 words long) seems to have freed, rather constrained, Charles Lambert to write something both highly individual and utterly universal.” japanlistener

“A life in 24 chapters” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 22 May

In the Light of What We Know – Zia Haider Rahman

light“It’s sort of Somerset Maugham for these times – but whilst Maugham wrote about the East from a British perspective, Rahman applies a Bangladeshi frame to Britain and America. And covers NGOs, banks and academia. ” John McMahon

“Expansive, bold, ambitious, and very angry about important things: class, privilege and all kinds of entitlement, both political and personal. It is full of the energy of taking nothing for granted. Also, the plot is entirely retrospective, which I love.” sercambi47

“Zia Haider Rahman’s ‘epic and intensely moving’ debut” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 22 May

Leaving the Sea – Ben Marcus

leaving“Ben Marcus is a genius. This collection of short stories is utterly gripping. It is scintillating in its descriptions and ideas, and has a bucket load of Marcus’s trademark experimentalism. I might even go as far as to say, this is Marcus at his very best.” sdarcy711

“Original and powerful short stories” – Read the Guardian’s review

Published in the UK on 6 March

Any Other Mouth – Anneliese Mackintosh

mouth“It’s a fantastic, cleanly focused book that’s hilarious and heartbreaking. Although billed as a short story collection, due to the fractured narrative it presents, it really felt like a novel to me. I absolutely loved all of it; the pain, the hope, the shame, the redemption, but most of all its coruscating humour and the book’s tender heart.” socratesadams

“Balancing somewhere between fiction & non-fiction, this is a collection of interlinked short stories that will shock and move you to tears. A must read.” Johanna Green

Published in the UK on 16 May



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s