My Year in Books (2018).

Whimsicella best reads of last year best books on 2018

Is it too late in the month to still be doing these 2018 round-up posts? Well, tough, because I’m doing one anyway, even if I am late to the game.

Last year started with the ambitious desire to read 26 books by December 31st. A book a fortnight, it’ll be a doddle! I thought. Sure, I was in the middle of a Master’s degree, but seeing as I was studying Creative Writing, which also involves a lot of reading, I thought it wouldn’t be too much trouble.

Cue: lots of travel and socialising, new job with new responsibilities, racing to finish my dissertation, and a few personal crises thrown in for good measure. By November, around 17 books in, I realised that I would not get to my goal of 26 books, and sheepishly lowered my target on Goodreads. I was sad to do it, but knew I had to be realistic. And I was right to do so, seeing as I finished the twentieth and final book in my reading challenge by the skin of my teeth on New Year’s Eve.

As is the tradition, I thought I would share with you some highlights.

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE

Are you really surprised? Every millennial woman has been talking about this book for the entirety of 2018, and the paperback coming out in February (with a new, bonus chapter, Everything I know at 30), we haven’t heard the last of it just yet.

Dolly Alderton is a really fantastic writer – she’s to the point and unpatronising. Even though Dolly is a little older than me, I found myself whole-heartedly relating to many of the experiences in her book, from flirting with boys over MSN you wouldn’t dare talk to in school, to connecting with someone so deeply that you met on a dating app, to ending up on an expensive taxi journey to a different part of the country after a night out (although I never ended up in Birmingham, the furthest I’ve made it is Hertfordshire).

She also writes very poignantly about therapy, losing yourself in a relationship, body image issues, and the thrill and heartache that comes with very close female friendships.

PLACES I STOPPED ON THE WAY HOME

Another memoir for the millennial woman, but with a difference. Meg Fee is such a beautiful and poetic writer, I really got lost in it and felt like I was right next to her in the bustling streets of New York. As well as a tale of past loves, this book is very much a love letter to New York, and to herself.

I was fortunate enough to meet Meg shortly after Place I Stopped… was published at an event in Standfords, where she was interviewed by Laura Jane Williams and signed books at the end. You can tell that Meg really cares about her readers, as she took the time to have a little chat with every person waiting in line. She wrote the loveliest words inside my copy, after telling her I’m working a book myself, that I’ll treasure forever.

HEARTBURN

“I wanted a man with long legs and a small ass and laugh wrinkles around the eyes.”

Another book I got a pencil out for and underlined passages that resonated or tickled me. It really does baffle me that it took me until last year to read this beauty, especially when I’m obsessed with pretty much every Nora Ephron film ever made. Such a small book but packed full of heart (if you’ll pardon the pun), intercepted with the occasional recipe that sounded delicious. This was always gonna be a hit with me, no matter what.

NORMAL PEOPLE

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Well, I said I probably wouldn’t pick this up for a while, but when I saw it on one of the front displays at Waterstone’s, I couldn’t resist. Normal People is a supercut of two people’s most life defining moments. It’s about two people — Connell and Marianne — who grew up in the same small town in Ireland, but grew into so much more. It explores class, family, power, mental health, sex, love (but it’s far from a romance) with such precision, it cuts like a knife. Sally Rooney is such a great writer, it’s a JOKE. Her style is so straightforward and to the point, she manages to take mundane quirks and mannerisms and amplify them into what she’s really trying to say. She can convey moods and tensions from a simple shrug or wringing of a sponge. This is all to say: I loved it. SO much. Ack. 🍀 14/20

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Believe the hype. Sally Rooney took the world by storm with her first novel, Conversations with Friends, which I read and enjoyed over the course of a couple of months in the summer. Normal People, however, I dusted off within a few days, and it has stayed with me long since turning the final page.

I don’t really know what else to say about it without spoiling or giving anything away, and I want everyone in the world to read this book. I guess all I have to say is that Sally Rooney blows me away, writing in a way i very much wish I could, and she’s pretty much my age?! It’s remarkable.

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

I’ve never been a huge fan of Lily Allen – I enjoyed her first two albums, but my interest in her soon dropped off after that. I knew she led a very crazy and interesting showbiz life, and experienced some tradegy and loss along the way, but i never really cared to look into the specifics.

When an article was published in The Guardian to anticipate the releas of her memoir, I thought it was outstanding. The piece itself was very well written, and I though Lily was very candid in the way she responded to the interviewer. It compelled me to buy her book when it was released.

It was a real eye-opener, reading about what her life was actually like, compared to the media circus often represented in the media (‘Cartoon Lily’ is how she referred to the version of herself that she read in the tabloids). Lily is very self-aware and open about her flaws, and again it’s her candour that I really admired. She doesn’t claim to be perfect, but she’s always trying to be the best version of herself in spite of it all.

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What’s in store for me reading-wise in 2019? As well as finding lots of gorgeous new books to read, I also want to endeavour to finish all the books I started last year, but put and didn’t pick up again for one reason or another.

I’ve also upped my goal to a modest 21 books. I’ve purposefully lowballed myself so that if I do exceed this target, I’ll be very proud of myself. There was no point in aiming for 25 or 26 books again (especially since one of the books I plan on reading is around 700 pages long). Considering that I only just managed 20 books last year, adding just one more book to the list still feels like enough of a challenge.

Stay tuned as I have another post coming out soon where I list some of my favourite films of 2018.

What were your favourite reads of last year?

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3 thoughts on “My Year in Books (2018).

  1. Great article! I only managed to read 5 books last year, so you did way better than me, LoL. I did like all the books I read, so that was good at least. My favorite book read of 2018 was YOU by Caroline Kepnes. A definite recommend if you like really good thrillers.

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      1. Yup, that’s the one. The 1st Season was on Lifetime. Then I’m not sure what happened but shortly after the season was over on there it was announced that the 2nd Season would go to Netflix. The book was so good! Definitely one of the craziest books I’ve ever read, LoL, but it was like you couldn’t stop reading it.

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