My Books of 2018

My name is Katy and I am a book addict. This is not an addiction I wish to address in any way however, despite the fact that one day I will be able to move into a house constructed entirely out of books just on my to read pile. I will build a garden wall out of the books I have read, or possibly community housing.

Sometimes a woman has to know her limits, and sometimes a woman has to embrace something that has saved her sanity and her life on more than one occasion and keep at it like it’s going out of fashion.

Although happily I read an article over the last week that says that book sales are up and more independent bookshops are opening all the time. Hooray.

It is time for my books what I have read in 2018 Top Ten round up malarkey.

Reading has been slower this year. Post menopause my brain got a bit wonky in terms of concentration and I have only just found my reading groove again. Usually I read around 150 books in a year and this year I managed 100. My Good Reads list says 101 but that’s because I accidentally logged one twice, and don’t know how to take it off.

There might have been less books, but the ones I read were largely absolute belters and it was difficult to choose my favourites this year. There is no particular order to these by the way. That would be way too hard.

  1. Notes To Self by Emilie Pine – This is a series of essays by Pine about difficult things, like growing up as the child of separated parents, like dealing with her aged father’s alcoholism, like coming to terms with childlessness. It is, on a larger scale about speaking out as a woman, about finding the space to talk about what is labelled shameful or forbidden or something that we should be quiet about. It’s not an easy read, but it is brilliant. I got a copy from Net Galley for the Kindle edition which is being released at the end of January, but it is already available on Amazon in a different format and that’s the link I’ve provided in case you can’t wait.
  2. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaranovitch – This is the seventh book in the Rivers of London series, and if you haven’t read the previous six it will make literally no sense to you at all, and if you have read the previous six it will come as no surprise that this is on my top ten reads of the year. I love Aaranovitch and I love this series. I found this extremely satisfying and am only sad that I read it so fast. If you haven’t read the series and you like police procedurals set in London with a fantasy edge which is not twee and is extremely funny and clever, you should read it.  It’s like Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman but with more car chases.
  3. Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Staying Alive For by Ella Risbridger – I have been following Ella Risbridger for a long time on Twitter, through her blog and through her amazing articles for The Pool. I got a preview copy of this book from Net Galley and after reading it I immediately ordered two hard copies of it for when it is released on the 10th January. It is entirely possible I will order more copies. It is one of those books that is absolutely perfect and which I will rave about for years to come, and have small stashes of about the house so that I can press it into the hands of reluctant visitors so that they too can own and read something so very, very perfect. Risbridger writes like an angel and she writes in that way that is like chatting to someone who you have known for a very, very long time even if you’ve only just met them. Her recipes are all delicious sounding, even the ones for things I don’t actually like, and she scatters reading references around like stars. I love anyone who can write about pies whilst referencing Danny Champion of the World.
  4. Bookworm by Lucy Mangan – This was another Net Galley treasure that was delivered to my Kindle by a beneficent technological wizard. Mangan writes about her childhood reading and it is just an absolute delight. We are, to all intents and purposes, twinned through books. So many of the books that shaped her childhood and adolescence shaped my own. I identified so strongly with this book it almost made me cry at times, although it is not sad at all. It was another book I finished and immediately ordered in hard copy and pressed upon people. I press it upon you, too. It is wonderfully nostalgic.
  5. How To Be Famous by Caitlin Moran – This is the long awaited sequel to the brilliant How to Build A Girl.  I have to say that I loved the sequel harder than the first book and I loved the first book pretty hard.  You do really need to read them in order to get the full experience, and I will just say that I really, really wish this book had been around when I was growing up.
  6. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith – I am so late to the party with falling in love with J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series. I have to thank my mum for giving me The Cuckoo’s Calling and ordering me to read it so that she could talk to me about it, earlier this year. The books are so, so good and this latest is my favourite by a country mile. If you haven’t read them, do!
  7. Theft By Finding: Diaries Volume One by David Sedaris – If you’ve never come across Sedaris before, you’d be better starting with one of his volumes of essays. All of them are joyful. Strange, surreal, funny, sad and brilliant. I think the first book of his I ever read was Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was hooked. He’s kind of like the fucked up, American version of Alan Bennett.
  8. Slow Horses by Mick Herron – This is the first in a series about a bunch of failed spies all grouped together in a dingy establishment called Slough House, being overseen by the infamous Jackson Lamb, a hero of the cold war, now supposedly very much washed up. Until things kick off, of course. These are like Le Carre updated for the cyber generation and I love them. I got the set from Net Galley to read and absolutely ate them up.
  9. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz – This is the first in a new series by Horowitz. I got given The Sentence is Death by Net Galley and loved it so much I went back and bought the first one as a Christmas treat.
  10. Transcription by Kate Atkinson – I was in on the Kate Atkinson thing from the start. I loved her. Then, for reasons which are now unclear to me, I went off her a bit, and then last year I read Life After Life and wondered what madness had possessed me to go off her. Now I am a devoted fan again. This is fantastic. Clever, brutal, funny and really twisty. I read a lot of crime fiction and sometimes I find myself bored because I can already guess what’s coming.  Everything I have recommended this year by way of thrills, has been clever and unexpected and really, properly intriguing.

Honourable mentions this year go to:

Mr Godley’s Phantom by Mal Peet – A perfect creepy tale.

In A House of Lies by Ian Rankin – Rebus forever. Although I feel after 22 outings, Rankin might be planning his demise soon.

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans – A beautifully written prequel to one of my favourites of previous years, Crooked Heart.

The Lark by E. Nesbit – Absolute, romantic nonsense. I love Nesbit, and I am always struck by how modern she is in her style. Readable, gorgeous, silly and perfect.




5 responses to “My Books of 2018

  1. Dear Katy
    Thank you for this. I haven’t read any of these books and I’d like to think I will change this status, at least partially, in 2019. By the way, I love reading your blog as so many aspects of your life and views resonate. Look forward to more insights in 2019 (my 50th year on this planet). Happy New Year! Kate

  2. Katy I have to thank you for all of your wonderful book recommendations that made 2018 a much better place to be in. Wishing you and your family all the best for 2019, with the hope that the triumphs outweigh the tribulations for you all. xxx

  3. I am so with you on “Lies Sleeping”. I’ve actually just gone back to “Rivers of London” to do a complete re-read because I too got through “Lies…” way too fast. The last author I compulsively re-read is Terry Pratchett. I also love Kate Atkinson, and so must check out some of your other recommendations.

  4. I wasn’t in ‘in’ on Kate Atkinson from the off, although having discovered her recently I’m working my way (and thoroughly enjoying) everything she’s written… and not just because we share a surname!

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