2018; A Reading Year In Review

I’ve barely written here at all in 2018, it’s been the year off blogging I needed, my life had changed and I wasn’t reading like I used to (nor did I have any desire to write in any way). The end of 2018 was quiet and while I am once again ill at least it’s not the glandular fever of 2017/18.  2019 will be my 9th year of blogging, and I hope to write more regularly as long as I have something I want to write about. 

I’m still trying to relive the heady year of reading that was 2013 when almost every book I read felt like the enlightenment I needed. Not to say I’ve not read some amazing books in 2018, I just still feel I need to read more widely. Each year I say I want to read books by more people of colour, race, country and it never works out to be as balanced as I intend. 

The highlight of my year: The My Brilliant Friend TV adaptation, it brought back the anticipation, anxiety, and craving for more I had when I read the books.

2018

  • 51 books read, 24 fewer than in 2017.
  • 25 5* books. 1 fewer than 2017.
  • 1 2* book. Apologies to anyone who loved Manhatten Beach.

I began the year with Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and ended it with The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (a well selected Christmas present from the BF).

My top 25 books

  1. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  2. The Diary of a Bookseller – Susan Bythell
  3. Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness
  4. Assassin’s Quest – Robin Hobb
  5. Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz
  6. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin,
  7. Naondel – Maria Turtschaninoff
  8. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  9. Edgar and Lucy – Victor Lodato
  10. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
  11. Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie
  12. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
  13. My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
  14. The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
  15. Normal People – Sally Rooney
  16. Lethal White – Robert Galbraith
  17. Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss
  18. My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen
  19. The Corset – Laura Purcell
  20. Fool’s Errand – Robin Hobb
  21. Circe – Madeline Miller
  22. Burma Chronicles – Guy Delisle
  23. Is Gender Fluid?: A Primer for the 21st Century – Sally Hines
  24. The Death of Murat Idrissi – Tommy Wieringa
  25. The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

I had two resolutions for 2018, read everything and no Diet Coke. I definitely could have read more, but I achieved the latter. Which for me is a surprising and welcome achievement, I was a 4-cans-a-day girl. Maybe if I plan to read all the books and cut down on sugar this year I’ll be sugar-free by 2020.

What were your highlights of 2017?
Have you achieved or done anything special?
What was or will be your first book of 2018?

A Shiny Excersion

ofbooks has been a proverbial ghost this year. I have been reading and writing, although not nearly as much as I used to.  Without the affliction of ‘I should’, my reading has become more select and enjoyable. I’m reading for pleasure rather than obligation and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve also been lucky enough to continue writing reviews for Shiny New Books, some reviews of which I wanted to share here.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

“There is never an inclination that the narrator is without fault of selfishness; her situation and mental health deterioration are marred by the knowledge that this is someone of immense privilege, able to take a year away from her life without consequence, but also highlighting how selfish and uncontrollable depression can be. No one chooses to be sad, and the sad without meaning to can be selfish.”

Uncommon Type

“The writing, while not challenging, shows the author’s understanding of what makes a person tick. It’s clear that Hanks’ film experience has made him the master of telling a good story. Each came alive in the telling and I could hear Hanks narrating as I read. They read as though they could be performed, leaving enough room for the imagination to do the legwork.”

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

“At first glance, you may mistake The Trick To Time for your standard supermarket paperback. On closer inspection, de Waal uses a conventional romance to discuss themes such as mental health, prenatal/neonatal care, grief, and the IRA and Hibernophobia[2]. The depth of the story may not be visible at first, but with each new insight into Mona’s life, the more nuanced the novel becomes. These are intricate themes, ingrained into the story for the reader to absorb consciously and unconsciously.”

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

“Time is a constant discussion and experience in the novel. As a reader, you experience time in disorganised chucks. The characters agonise over time. What time means, how quickly it passes and how chaotic it can be. As he slips further into psychosis, Edgar’s father Frank becomes obsessed with time, time is now and so if he is all at once in the past, present and future it doesn’t matter if he and Lucy die – they will always be with Edgar. For Lucy time is something that has slipped by unattended as she has raised a child without Frank, while still trying to cling on to any enjoyment she can squeeze out of her existence. For Florence, time is something that still hurts seven years after her son’s death.”

Oxford

2017; A Reading Year In Review

Another year, another year in review. Due to currently suffering from Glandular Fever (Mono)* 2017’s review comes a little later than usual. The back of my mouth is red raw, my body covered in a rash, my brain is foggy at best, and my organs are swollen and hurt, it’s a miracle I even have the energy to do this. But, as this won’t be going away for a while (thanks, Mono) and I enjoy a self-indulgent moan, here we are. I’ve never felt more appealing.**

2018, other than sucking, is apparently my 7th year of blogging. Which is baffling. Mainly because in 2017 blogging wasn’t really much of what I did. In fact, reading wasn’t much of what I did. I didn’t even hit 80 books in 2017! But, as my last post of 2017 explained a lot of life happened, and at least I didn’t fall down a well of despair.***

2017

  • 75 books read, 5 less than in 2016.
  • 26 5* books. 8 fewer than 2016.
  • 2 1* books. It was a year of lower-than-usual ratings, tough crowd.

I began the year with Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis and ended it with The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox (her best books since The Somnambulist, in my opinion).

 

My top 26 books

  1. Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life – Samantha Ellis
  2. Dune – Frank Herbert
  3. Emily Climbs – L.M. Montgomery
  4. Stay with Me – Ayobami Adebayo
  5. Democracy – ?braham Kawa
  6. A Long Way Home – Saroo Brierley
  7. The True Deceiver – Tove Jansson
  8. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  9. A New Treasury Of Poetry – Neil Philip, Neil
  10. The Dark Circle – Linda Grant
  11. First Love – Gwendoline Riley
  12. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  13. Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
  14. Kafka – David Zane Mairowitz
  15. The Lessons – Naomi Alderman
  16. The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception – Emmanuel Carrère
  17. My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  18. The Haunted Hotel – Wilkie Collins
  19. Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb
  20. Elmet – Fiona Mozley
  21. The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
  22. Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy – Steven Nadler
  23. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
  24. Women and Power: A Manifesto – Mary Beard
  25. The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness
  26. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

A favourite? Hard to choose. First Love and The Trouble With Goats and Sheep both gave me happy feelings when I remembered them. But, Elmet and Do Not Say We Had Nothing were such intense, gratifying novels.

I won’t summarise the year as I usually do, as I’ve already written about change, but once my body stops defying me, I think 2018 will continue to improve on the good things that 2017 brought. I only have two resolutions, read everything and no diet coke. Unsurprisingly (the one thing I can thank you for, mono) I’m only managing the latter.

What were your highlights of 2017?
Have you achieved or done anything special?
What was or will be your first book of 2018?

 

* Nothing will ever be as bad as having this #firstworldproblems
** I really hope the comedic element I have tried to lace into this post shows, otherwise, this is just an unappealing, self-involved rant.
*** There’s still time.