Summer Reading – Recommend Your ‘Best Reads’ of 2014


Some are good, some are purely clickbait and some should never have been.

Some readers hate them, thinking that it’s the last resort of indentured keyboard slaves with page view KPI’s, while other people love them for jogging their memories, or inspiring them to discover something new.

From ‘who wore it better’ to cinema, music and sport, lists are everywhere at this time of the year.

Well aware of the subjectivity of ‘best of’ lists, we’d love to hear what you thought were among the best things you read in 2014.

Don’t like lists? Fair enough – think of it as providing a community service for people who might be about to embark on the time-honoured Australian tradition of the Summer Holiday (feriae aestate) who might be looking for something to read while the days are long and the nights are warm (these suggestions could also spark a gift idea, but you’ve already ordered a copy of the 2014 Footy Almanac for family and friends, right? Of course you have).




If you’re inclined to share some of your great reads with us, please don’t feel limited to books alone. Feel free to include newspaper or magazine articles you came across, fiction, and/or non-fiction – it’s totally up to you.

Happy listing!



  1. Top 7 reads of 2014 for me:
    1. The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty – Sebastian Barry
    2. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
    3. The 39-storey treehouse – Andy Griffiths
    4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan
    5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
    6. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
    7. The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

  2. Re-reading Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon at the moment – a wonderful rhythm. His Mrs, Ayelet Waldman published this year,too – Love & Treasure – another good yarn.

  3. Loved Helen Garner’s ‘The First Stone’ and Peter Barry’s ‘I hate Martin Amis et al.’ Started a lot of books I didn’t finish and ended up re-reading a great many old faves by George Orwell, David Sedaris, John Kennedy Toole, Bill Bryson, John Steinbeck and many many more. Now reading Fever Pitch, but not enjoying as much as High Fidelity.

  4. Bob Speechley says

    I can’t go past Richard Flanagan’s masterpiece – The Narrow Road to the Deep North – a must read IMHO.

    Another worth encountering is – The Incorrigible Optimists Club by Jean-Michel Guenassa. A bit of a French version of Catcher in The Rye.

    Alexander McCall-Smith produced – What W H Auden Can Do For You. Great insight into Auden!

    Poet Jennifer Maiden is worth looking at. Her poem Canberra’s Most Wanted in the volume Pirate Rain (Giramondo Poets) 2010.

    Peter Carey’s Amnesia is terrific and extremely topical given the recent passing of Gough Whitlam.

  5. The People's Elbow says

  6. Some great suggestions here.

    Of the books I’ve read this year:

    High Stakes: The Rise of the Waterhouse Dynasty – Paul Kennedy
    See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody – Bob Mould
    To Live is To Die: The Life and Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton – Joel McIver
    Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica – Joel McIver
    Easy Riders, Raging Bulls – Peter Biskind.

    See A Little Light and Easy Riders, Raging Bulls went straight into my Hall of Fame, on first ballot.

  7. Neil Anderson says

    Only nine pages into The Narrow Road To The Deep North but will go early and call it a classic. At least I can see already it’s my kind of book about my favorite time in history.
    Usually I go for bios including sporting bios. Read ‘Lethal’ and learned a lot more about Leigh Mathews.
    The Stephen Fry bio was good, not surprisingly by such a word-smith.
    Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup didn’t disappoint after the movie.
    Also about to read Margaret and Gough which I received as an early Christmas present.
    The best of last year’s reading was 11.22.63 by Stephen King. The story of someone going back in time to find Lee Harvey Oswald and prevent the assassination of JFK.
    For a Jennifer Byrne Book Club holiday read, the William McInnes book which just happens to be called ‘Holidays’, is light and amusing.

  8. I spent the year happily lurching through a succession of middle age crises. Tim Winton’s Eyrie to the Frank Bascombe trilogy (about to tackle the fourth novel) but the clear highlight was American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

    I’d finished Bill Bryson’s One Summer on Koh Samui and had a look at the resort’s book exchange which seemed to be all German translations. Save for Roth’s novel. I’d heard it was excellent so picked it up. An astonishing, sweeping American saga like Don DeLilio and Jonathan Franzen, but probably better.

    As we’ll be in Europe for the next few weeks, I’ll be reading lots of pub menus. I reckon they’ll be good.

  9. Almanacker Tony Birch’s “The Promise” is a short story collection – so easy summer reading in 30-60 minute chunks (my attention span). All stories about blokes (from kids to “grown ups”) struggling with relationships, grog and identity. Always accessible, thought provoking and often pisstakingly funny.
    ‘Eleven Rings’ by NBA master coach Phil Jackson was my favourite sports book read this year -, because it is about psychology, motivation and strategy. Not about famous games, players and tactics except to illustrate a thematic point.

  10. Luke Carter says

    I was given a copy of Footy Town in March and ripped through it. I really enjoyed the mix of football stories. Highly recommended.
    I also finally got around to reading When Pride Still Mattered, the acclaimed biography of Vince Lombardi… easy to see why it’s a classic.
    Thanks for all the great reading throughout the year.

  11. Luke Carter says

    Will also mention Fabulous Fred, The Strife and Times of Fred Cook, a biography of the former Port Melbourne champion, and Stop the Presses, about the fall of Fairfax. Cheers

  12. I concur with Peter_B on Tony Birch. I read ‘Shadowboxing’ earlier this year and thought it was great. As the son of an immigrant who grew up in inner city Melbourne, this book of interwoven short stories gave me a feel for my father’s world in the 50s and 60s – a world surrounded by poverty and family upheaval and yet where the triumph of love always shines through. The writing is simply beautiful and it’s hard got to get emotionally involved.

  13. Mixed bag for me,

    I am always annoyed that I don’t get as much reading done as I’d like to. So earlier this year, I vowed to try and read one book per week, and keep a record. Anyway, I’ve just checked my ‘have read’ list at the back of my diary (a real paper one) to find only a meagre scattering of entries.

    Didn’t finish…..Karl Ove Knausgard, my struggle…yep a struggle to read to its end
    Indifferent………..The Rosie Project
    Loved………………………The Stranger (Camus); Madame Bovary (gustave Flaubert (had planned to read more classics but didn’t get around to it)) and Call The Midwife (didn’t watch it on TV ; off you go blokes!! )….and Claire Wrights Rebels of Eureka
    Devoured……………………….Rob Mundle’s Cook…, From Sailor to Legend.
    Top of the Bedside Stack…………….. The Fatal Shore; Robert Hughes

    So many stories out there, but not enough time to get through them all.

  14. The best book I read in 2014 was “The Forgotten Rebels Of Eureka” by Clare Wright.

  15. Warwick Nolan says

    Hard to go past . . . Warwick Todd Goes the Tonk!

  16. The People’s Elbow’s list includes The Last Pulse. I have just posted a video of the launch of The Last Pulse which includes an overview of this terrific novel.

  17. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says


    Ashes to Ashes – Gideon Haigh
    Open – Andre Agassi
    Autobiography – Morrissey (fans only)
    anything by Peter Goldsworthy

    Op Shop Finds:

    King Cricket – Garry Sobers
    The Life and Death of Sandy Stone – Barry Humphries

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