Our Favorite Reads: Tom, Lilia, Barry

It’s time for this blog’s favorite posts of the year: the ABC Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2014! We hope these books, magazines, games, and more will help you start your new literary year with a bang.

We want to know about YOUR favorite reads, too. They don’t have to be books published in 2014, just read in 2014.  Please mail your Top 5 reads, and your reasons for enjoying them so much, to social@abc.nl by Christmas Day.  Your favorites will kick off the new year for this blog, as they have done for the past 7 years, and you will receive a € 7,50 ABC Gift Certificate as a thank you!


The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

This is the best English-language fiction book that I have read this year. It slowly caught me. The main character, a middle-aged man, is looking back – for the first time – on the life that the he has lead. But how adequate works one’s memory?

Het rookoffer – Tessa de Loo

This was the best Dutch fiction book I have read this year. It was the ‘Boekenweekgeschenk‘ (Dutch Book Week Gift) in 1987. I found it in my mum’s estate. The book is actually a novella. You can tell that this is a very good author by her tone and literary style, which results in austere, precise sentences.

Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

I took this guide with me to the Baltic on my visit to Latvia and Lithuania. As always, this Lonely Planet was a great guide book that helped me to find the most interesting places in these two countries.

BBC Music magazine

I have always liked listening to classical music, and this genre of music has been getting more important for me over the years. I find that it even gets more interesting if you read some background information and analyses of classical works. This must be one of the best classical music magazines, with all its reviews of new CDs that make you want to buy them all.

BBC Good Food magazine

I frequently read cooking magazines and I think this is definitely one of the best. Great recipes that really work.

More of Tom’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Tom.

Ebook available for The Sense of an Ending, Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

This is a well-written fantasy about a young woman’s coming of age. Kelsea needs to be a tough cookie while learning to become a queen in a world where so many want her dead. Her mother was an empty-headed beauty, so she needs to prove her value as a true queen – while not being a beauty herself – and at the same time try to make the right choices AND not losing herself in the process.

I’m really looking forward to the second installment, The Invasion of the Tearling, to be released June 2015.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

A haunting tale of love and death. Funny, sad without being soppy, it’s a must-read for people young at heart and open to life.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

Beautiful and sad at the same time, it was actually recommended to me by a young customer who read it in her 3rd grade class. I’m reading it in English while my daughter Jasmijn is reading it in Dutch, and we’re both loving it. While it’s shelved with the Young Adult books, it’s actually more a 9-12 book.

August has never been to school until his 10th birthday – because he was born with a disfiguration that obliged him to have many operations and stay at home for a long time – and now he’s going. How to deal with it all? And how will everybody react to his “not normal” face? How will he like school and the other kids?

Valour and Vanity – Mary Robinette Kowal

The 4th installment of The Glamourist Histories. How would Jane Austen write a book in a world where magic does exist? Starting with Shades of Milk and Honey, this whole series is beautifully written and quite entrancing, romantic without being sugary, and worth reading. I REALLY love it to bits.

Across the Universe Trilogy (Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and Shades of Earth) – Beth Revis

An interesting read, even with a few clichés in the plot. A generation ship trilogy, it tells us the story of two teenagers: a girl (Amy) who has been hibernating for a couple of centuries, and a boy (Elder) born in the ship to become the leader. Amy is woken up ahead of her time by mistake and will have to learn to deal with being different from everybody else. Elder starts discovering that nothing is what it seems and that he will soon have to act in some way…

More of Lília’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Lília.

Ebook available for The Queen of the Tearling, The Fault in Our Stars, Wonder, Valour and Vanity, Across the Universe, A Million Suns and Shades of Earth.


My Promised Land – Ari Shavit

The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Michael Booth

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell! – Chas Smith

Little Failure – Gary Shteyngart

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

More of Barry’s favorite reads can be found on Staff Choice: Barry.

Ebook available for The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell!, Little Failure and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.