Following on from my theatre favourites, I thought my favourite books for 2018 would be a walk in the park. I wrote the title, and then looked back at my first half of 2018 and panicked.
It’s fair to say it really has been a year of two halves. Firmly delineated by the decision to leave university. Accentuated by a work project coming to fruition and a holiday.
Deciding on a top 10, because I’m continuing in my Bruno Brookes aspiration, was a bit tougher. But easier because there’s a few with final chapters to finish (disingenuous to include at this stage), and a few, whilst good, which I haven’t been able to commit to completing.
So, by hook or crook, I’ve found a top 10, which I’ve read from cover to cover. In reverse order of course:
10. The Muse
I’m so glad the follow up to The Miniaturist was as successful. The juggling of two narratives creates an added beauty to two stories.
9. Small Great Things
I loved Jodi Picoult. Years ago I used to buy every book, eagerly absorbing and awaiting the release date for the next. But then it seemed to feel like her formula was too obvious, the stories felt predictable. I fell out of love.
Years later, I picked up Small Great Things, and I’m so pleased that the break had done me good. I was intrigued by this story, told through the perspectives of three narrators. Small Great Things takes forward the complexity of race relations in the US. Whilst it felt like stereotyping remained at play in the characters, and the character of Kennedy was strongest- when surely it should have been Ruth?- it was great to fall for the writing of Jodi Picoult again.
8. Still Me
It’s impossible not to devour a Jojo Moyes book. I’m sure. The story of Louisa Clark does as much to inspire as to create the underpinning tale of romance. In Still Me Lou takes the journey to New York, breaking free of so much, and carving a future as a creative in the process. What’s not to love?
7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz
In school, I was intrigued by Nazi Germany. It was the subject which kept me interested enough at GCSE to encourage me to go forward into A-level. And so there was no way The Tattooist ofAuschwitz wasn’t going to end up in my shopping basket at some point.
It was fascinating from an historical perspective yet, as always, it is the questions over the human element which keep this rolling over in my mind. What is the price of life? And what of love?
6. 13 Reasons to Die
This was so far from what I expected. I had read it in a list of recommendations amongst those of many others I had read this year.
For some reason, after reading the premise, I thought it would come from the premise of suicide from a different perspective. As I read the book I realised this is a novel aimed at young adults, coming predominately from the perspective of someone affected. So, there is nothing to take away from this book. It’s a page turner and provokes so many thoughts.
It wasn’t ‘young’ in how I’ve found other books this year. It’s young in every emotion and feeling of high school is there. More boldly, with more than experienced, but there.
5. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
I followed a herd, and a herd followed me.
If my social media feed is to go by, this is the book of 2018. And like everyone else, I devoured it.
Through this book I appreciated so much, I loved so much, I laughed at so much. I don’t feel so odd, whilst feeling happy with me.
4. This is Going to Hurt
This is a book where I inadvertently followed the herd. I had only just started sharing book recommendations with colleagues at work, when a new colleague shared a book which found her laughing out loud on the tube. And I think we’ll all agree this is strictly frowned upon.
I loved this book. I loved it for all of the feelings. The laugh out loud and the tears of the heart.
I will never stop loving the NHS. I will have my moments of disdain (and I really didn’t want to be having mine the week before Christmas) but they are ridiculously, ridiculously few.
This book brings everything home.
3. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
I would credit this book with changing so much of my thinking, whilst appreciating it is far from enough. This year, has taught me so much. Initially with a team member leaving, and her reality hitting home. And then this book.
A reality appreciated. A future direction, with no sense of being close to enough.
2. The Power
I don’t know where to start or finish with this book. It is everything. Every time someone tells me they have started it, I stop myself from telling them to stop. That it is too mind bending. Because it is mind binding. But that should not be a reason not to read it. And in every way it bends your mind is the reason it should be read.
1. Conversations with Friends
I finished the year with a book I couldn’t put down. Which is such a good sign. For the many books I’ve read, it was a joy to discover Sally Rooney. It is a joy to discover another dimension to storytelling.
I preferred Conversations with Friends and could easily believe why someone would prefer Normal People. I am grateful for a beautiful read, a wonderful escape.