I asked 20 bestselling authors to recommend the best books they read in 2014. Here are their favourite reads of the year.
All my Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. This beautiful novel about sisters Elf and Yoli made me laugh and cry, and when it ended I felt bereft.
Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen: such a beautifully nuanced emotional read, with a gripping plot that made it everything I love in a book.
Do No Harm by Henry Marsh: a thrilling, often terrifying, strangely funny memoir by a neurosurgeon about the lives he has saved, and the lives he has irrevocably wrecked--a poignant, thoughtful exploration of the fragility of human life and intellect, and the frailty and miracles of medicine.
You by Caroline Kepnes because it's funny, fresh and deliciously subversive in how it reframes reader sympathy so you end up rooting for the bad guy.
The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. This wonderful, funny, uplifting homage to bookshops is an absolute treat. I've bought it for everyone I know.
Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen. It's a stunningly conceived and written story, both brave and heartbreaking and it's remained with me ever since I read it.
Do No Harm by Henry Marsh: an astonishing, gripping and humane book by an enormously gifted writer who also happens to be an enormously gifted brain-surgeon.
The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas. The writer is a friend but this book gave me so much pleasure - I loved it!
The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin. It was like a visit from a long lost friend so dear that we caught up in seconds.
Nunslinger by Stark Holborn. In spite of the hilarious comic-book title, it's an old-fashioned Western of the best and most classic kind; fast-paced, tightly-plotted and with a suitably complex and morally ambivalent hero - who, in this case, just happens to be a renegade, gun-toting nun. It's marvellous in every way; well-written, visually arresting, occasionally tongue-in-cheek humorous - I loved it.
Barbarians by Tim Glencross. A very funny, clever and keenly observed political (and social) satire.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine. I can't remember the last time I pressed a book on so many people. It's unflinching, inspiring and so, so funny. I didn't want it to end.
Boxer Handsome by Anne Whitwham. A compelling debut novel which beautifully explores the heart, physicality and working-class origins of boxing in East London
The Circle by Dave Eggers. It's a thrilling and disturbing book about how a Google-type company can take over the world, and how social media is affecting our lives in all sorts of ways, for good or otherwise. Anyone who owns a computer should read it!
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer: a tale of struggle and tragedy told with beguiling warmth and humour: a testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit.
The Incarnations by Susan Barker: a cracking read, a spirited history of China told through the many reincarnations of a sorceress - from the dynasties to the Cultural Revolution and beyond.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan: humanity trumps atrocity and the past melts seamlessly into the present; luminous prose.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma. I always try to avoid sad books and films, so it was a huge surprise to find myself loving this undeniably tragic story. I love the child narrator (8 year-old Ajay Mishra) in this immigrant's tale. Amidst the sadness there's humour and real warmth.
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. You'd think a novel about early onset Alzheimers would be miserable and maudlin but this book is beautiful, touching, warm and life-affirming.
The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull: it has such a strong sense of adventure & mystery and is beautifully written.