So I’m not getting this post up quite as soon as I would have liked, but it’s still one that I was determined to do. I love seeing or hearing what people’s best books of the year were, often discovering many new reads that immediately make their way to my TBR. Knowing that they’ve stood the test of time against many other books always reassures me that there must be something worth discovering inside their pages. Plus its always very refreshing and exciting at the start of a new year to reflect back upon the reading year as a whole.
With all of the above in mind, I’m really excited today to be able to share my top ten books that I read in 2018! Narrowing it down is always hard, but I’m confident that the books I’ve selected are all worthy contenders that I not only thoroughly enjoyed reading, but have also stayed firmly in my mind months after finishing them! I also want to stress that these are placed in the order that I originally read them in, as having to further rank these ten was just too difficult of a task!
- The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements – This book really took me by surprise with just how atmospheric and unsettling it is. If you’re after a book that you can get more and more immersed in, with great characters and an eerie, slightly ambiguous plot, than this could be a winner! It’s described as a ghost story, but it is also so much more than that! It’s set in Scarcross Hall, a house on the old coffin path that winds from the village to the moors. Whilst the locals are too scared to go there, certain that something evil exists, Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. She has lived there all her life, able to navigate the moors and the house with no fear. But things are beginning to change, small details at first which refuse to be explained. As Mercy delves deeper into the history of the house and her family, the terror increases, leaving us with a novel that is as terrifying as it is addictive.
- The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson – The Sealwoman’s Gift is actually inspired by a true event, and I have to say that the writing and the overall execution of this novel blew me away. In 1627 Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people who were to be sold into slavery. Over half of these were from a tiny island off the mainland, including the pastor, his wife and their children. Despite the raid being documented, little is known of what happened to the women and children. In this novel the author explores exactly that, giving us her version of what might have taken place. Although there are awful, gut wrenching moments in this, it is also a beautiful book about resilience and love, with special attention paid to the power of storytelling.
- Elenaor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – I almost feel like everyone in the whole world has read this book by now, but if for some reason you still haven’t devoured it then I would most definitely recommend! Eleanor Olephant does the same thing day in day out, her life stuck in an isolated routine that even dictates the same two bottles of vodka she buys and drinks each weekend. Her life is meticulously timetabled down to the last detail. Yet when she is forced to help an elderly man who has collapsed Eleanor’s walls come crushing down. Not only is she thrown into a world she has never known how to navigate, Eleanor must also face the dark secrets of her past. This book is truthful and funny, with a main character you’re not always going to like, but the way in which the author is able to attach us so fiercely to Eleanor is a testament to the pairing of her great writing and shocking plot.
- The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – I absolutely love historical fiction, so as soon as I realised that not only did this book has a simply gorgeous cover, it was also set in the 1800’s, I was sold! Never mind the mention of a mermaid! The book tells the story of the merchant Jonah Hancock and how his life is changed irrevocable when he acquires a ‘mermaid’. Thrown from his everyday existence into high society he soon comes face to face with Angelica Neal, the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but also a skillful courtesan. As their paths collide the pair will come to learn the true price of ambition, as well as the power the mermaid seems to hold.
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio – I’m pretty sure most of you would have already either read this book or watched the film adaptation, and for good reason. This is a highly emotive and quite often heartbreaking children’s novel which follows the life of young August Pullman. August has a sever facial deformity and this novel shows us not only the ugliness and prejudice of humanity, but also the beauty and hope that can be found from the most unlikely places. Despite all of the challenges he faces, August only ever sees himself as a normal boy, and in this book I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from this.
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – I’m actually not sure if I would have picked this book up naturally, but it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and I always try and read my way throughout the shortlist. I am so thankful to Prize’s such as this for highlighting such brilliant books that I might otherwise have neglected. Sing, Unburied, Sing is a poignant and deeply character led story following a young boy named Jojo and his extremely turbulent family life in Mississippi. It also interconnects the present day very strongly with the past, significantly in terms of American history in regards to race. It’s an incredibly powerful and actually beautiful book despite the often harrowing scenes, and I would recommend it to anyone!
- Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb – This was the year I finally finished the last book in the Robin Hobb Farseer Triology. I won’t say much here as I don’t want to give anything away to potential new readers, but suffice to say that this conclusion was every bit as thrilling, maddening and satisfying as I could have hoped for. Robin Hobb is the Queen of brilliantly characterised fantasies, uniquely blending together a perfect harmony of engaging plot lines and expert literary writing. If you’re a fantasy lover please give her a try!
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – I’d put off reading this book for so long because of its sheer size. Coming in at over 800 pages it is a beast of a book, but the recent ITV adaptation prompted me into finally picking it up. To put it simply, this book was a brilliant and perfect example of what I want out of a classic. It has an engaging and often shocking plot, with rich characters that you can’t help but detest at times! It’s a literary dream, with many themes to examine including wealth, crime, social mobility, love, prejudices and much, much more. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens I would wholly recommend investing the time in this incredibly rewarding read.
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – I don’t often read too much sci-fi but I absolutely loved this book (as well as its sequel!) It follows the ship called The Wayfarer and its multi-species crew after they accept a rewarding but deadly new job. Not only does it have an incredibly colourful and well formed world where alien races and humans intermingle, it also has superb characterisation. I found myself caring deeply for these characters, following each plot point with bated breath! A real treat of a novel where the fast moving still allows for detailed characters.
- Heimat by Nora Krug – This is the only book on this list that isn’t fiction. Heimat is a non-fiction graphic memoir which tells the story of the author herself, Nora Krug. Growing up in Germany the author was forced to live with the heavy weight of an infamous past she did not choose. This stunning and incredibly moving book using a plethora of different multimedia techniques to show us the journey Nora has been on to accept not only her countries past, but also that of herself and her family.
And there we have it; these are the ten best books that I read in 2018! Have you read any of the above books? What did you think?