It’s difficult to compile a list of top books for one year because liking or disliking a book is very subjective.

Instead of doing qualitative reviews with my own opinions, I turned to Google and carried out a search of the top 5 books of 2014 based on quantitative feedback from those most frequently mentioned on the web. The books were chosen based on a ranking of 3.8/5 or higher, along with summary and reader feedback.

After going through the summaries and averaging out the rankings from Goodreads,, and Barnes and Nobel, below is a summary of the top 5 books of 2014 based on quantitative feedback of top mentioned books on the web.

5. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Average: 4.1/5
Page count: 336
Summary (based on one provided by

The Sixth Extinction - Amazon.caA look at the past five mass extinctions and pulling from research from different scientists in the fields of geology, botanists and marine biologists on the probable sixth extinction, which is predicted to be humans. Kolbert discusses many species that have either become extinct or are near extinction, the progression of extinction and the historical discussion from Georges Cuvier to our knowledge today. “The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human” (

4. Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir – Roz Chast
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Average: 4.2/5
Page count: 240
Summary (based on one provided by

Can't We Talk about Something more Pleasant - Google BooksRoz Chast’s debut memoir explores the last few years of her elderly parents’ life through cartoons, family photos and documents. summary states:

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

It’s a look at the aging of parents and the role reversal of child-to-parent using a seemingly witty and heartbreaking perspective.

3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Average: 4.3/5
Page count: 396
Summary (based on one provided by

From the author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Hollow City - Amazon.cacomes a second novel which is as unique and eccentric as the first.

A sequel to the first, Jacob and the other characters escapes the island where Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where they need to get to a London of the 1940s. As described on, “[a]long the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises”.

Riggs uses antique and strange photographs to accompany this “peculiar” and adventurous novel.

2. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Anthony Doerr
Average: 4.4/5
Page count: 496
Summary (based on one provided by

All the Light We Cannot See - Amazon.caThe story of how a blind French girl and German boy’s lives cross during World War II.

Living in Paris with her father, Marie-Laure goes blind at the age of six. Living near the Museum of Natural History, Marie-Laure’s father works as the master of locks. In order to teach her to feel and navigate her way through the neighbourhood, he builds her a miniature model of the area so she is able to make it home. Six years later, the Nazis storm Paris and both Marie-Laure and her father flee to her great-uncle’s house. They also carry with them the most valuable jewel from the museum.

Werner, an orphan growing up with his sister from a German mining town becomes an expert and making and fixing basic radios after initially discovering one and becoming captivated by it. From this expertise, he is placed in an academy for Hitler Youth, which takes him through the war to eventually meet Marie-Laure.

“Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times)” (

1. The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses – Kevin Birmingham
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Average: 4.7/5
Page count: 432
Summary (based on one provided by

The Most Dangerous Book - Amazon.caKevin Birmingham researches the history behind the book Ulysses by James Joyce and how it was illegal to have or purchase, sell or advertise and the struggle to make it legal within the English speaking word.

As described by

James Joyce’s big blue book, Ulysses, ushered in the modernist era and changed the novel for all time. But the genius of Ulysses was also its danger: it omitted absolutely nothing. All of the minutiae of Leopold Bloom’s day, including its unspeakable details, unfold with careful precision in its pages. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice immediately banned the novel as “obscene, lewd, and lascivious.” Joyce, along with some of the most important publishers and writers of his era, had to fight for years to win the freedom to publish it. The Most Dangerous Book tells the remarkable story surrounding Ulysses, from the first stirrings of Joyce’s inspiration in 1904 to its landmark federal obscenity trial in 1933.

From being banned due to its content, to being considered one of the most important English novels of all time, Birmingham provides a historical account of the trials and tribulations to earn the right to publish one of the most brilliant pieces.

While the top 5 novels have been based on research rather than personal opinion, each novel has been proven to be unique and cover a broad range of topics and interests. Here’s to seeing what 2015 has to offer!