Reading List 2014 / Books Of The Year

It has been a year of much reading and writing, but then it usually is. 2014 feels like it has been a very strong year for fiction, though only half or less of what I read is actually new. You’ve got dig into the classics. They’re classics for a reason.

My own writing year has been productive….I think. The first part of the year was spent re-drafting a novel that I began in late 2011. That was entitled New Novel Edit #5. In the spring I found myself endlessly re-reading edits of Beastings in readiness of its publication in July – I even re-wrote the final pages just days before it went to print. The published version is Beastings Edit #8.

Then in late summer I completed and published my poetry collection Heathcliff Adrift, which was the product of about 18 months of sporadic writing, and also appeared as an exhibition, In September I had a meltdown and took to my bed.

In autumn I started writing a new novel, the foundations of which were laid while in Scotland in October for four weeks, and which I had been taking notes and researching for several months before that. Upon my return I did one more edit of the aforementioned novel. New Novel Edit #6. I handed it into my agent. That’s hopefully my next published book. But who can really say?

Winter has been spent working on a new novel. So that’s New New Novel Edit #1. I’ve also contributed to a variety of magazines and websites along the way,  and as such am halfway to making minimum wage. Again.

This is a long-winded way of saying that inevitably I have ended up reading a lot of my own work back, and that’s both time-consuming generally no fun at all. But there has been plenty of time for reading the work of others too. There should always be time for that. Only in the past couple of years have I stopped feeling guilty about reading during the day when I know that real people in the real world are doing real jobs. Reading is one of the most valuable things a person can do.

So here is what I enjoyed in 2014, in chronological order. Some I did not complete and the list omits poetry and/or theory books that I have dipped into. Some books were read for research purposes, others as part of longlist for a prize. Others still for review. I’d recommend any of the following.


As If by Blake Morrison

I Walked By Night by Lilias Rider Haggard

Taipei by Tai Lin

The Rich Pay Late by Simon Raven

The Dig by Cynan Jones

A Death In The Family by Karl Ove Knausgard

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Like A Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson by Jonathan Coe

I Bought A Mountain by Thomas Firbank

Tiepin Eros: New and Selected Poems by Tom Pickard

The Sly And Unseen Day by George Shaw

Clay by Melissa Harrison

Climbers by M John Harrison

The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature by William Atkins

The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z Danielewski

Vulgar Things by Lee Rourke

Only Revolutions by Mark Z Danielewski

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

The Tenants Of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant

My Face For The World To See by Alfred Hayes

The True History of The Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

The Yorkshire Coiners and Notes On Old and Prehistoric Halifax by Henry Ling Roth

Division Street by Helen Mort

Can’t & Won’t by Lydia Davis

My Biggest Lie by Luke Brown

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Marshland: Dreams And Nightmares On The Edge Of London by Gareth E. Rees

Other People’s Countries by Patrick McGuinness

The Kills by Richard House

American Interior by Gruff Rhys

Clip A Bright Guinea by John Marsh

H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

131 by Julian Cope

Firefly by Janette Jenkins

Water & Sky by Neil Sentance

Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author by Paul Ewen

On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe

I’m Jack by Mark Blacklock

All The Days & Nights by Niven Govinden

Folk Opposition by Alex Niven

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys By Viv Albertine

Voices Of The Old Sea by Norman Lewis

Ulverton by Adam Thorpe

Humor by Stanley Donwood

Doppler by Erlend Loe

100 Days On Holy Island: A Writer’s Retreat by Peter Mortimer

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Where Water Comes Together With Other Water by Raymond Carver

Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 7 by Various

Goat Mountain by David Vann

The Last Tape by Alex Niven

Neverland by Simon Crump

Mrs Fox by Sarah Hall

West Yorkshire Folk Tales by John Billingsley

The Last Coiner by Peter M. Kershaw and Vince Danks

Honeysuckle Cottage by PG Wodehouse

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

Real Monsters by Liam Brown

Cragg Vale: A Pennine Valley by Stephen Welsh

The Long Dry by Cynan Jones

The Blue Fox by Sjon

At Rest Among The Mighty Dead: Travels Of A Tramp by Tom Callaghan


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