It is mad that it’s already January 12th – I feel like New Year’s Eve was only yesterday, and I was planning to write about the books I read in December not that long ago. Yet, here we are, and I’m left having to do a great 2-in-1 deal of a post. First up: what I read in the month of December.
I read 4 books in December, which meant that I ended the year on 44 books out of my 45 goal – which I’m really happy about. I read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, a book that I felt was so poignant for the world we’re living in at the moment in terms of the attitudes that we have and that need to be changed, that I ended up buying it as a Christmas present for someone. A very quick read, you could definitely finish this one in a couple of sittings.
Then I read what ended up being my (spoiler) favourite book of 2018, which was Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. This is a non-fiction memoir all about love, be that romantic love or familial or the love between friends. Dolly is an incredible writer, and managed to capture the atmosphere of the places she is in so well. In the opening chapters where she talks about relationships as a young girl, chatting on MSN and characteristics of her friends, had me laughing after only a few minutes reading. She writes with the relatable flair that feels like she’s talking directly to you, and it’s so easy to sink into her narrative. There are moments of harsh reality, devastating moments of pain and anguish alongside memories filled with laughter and fun. It’s a book I feel that I’ll need to reread over the years, and I desperately hope she writes more in the future.
Following this non-fiction marvel, I read the acclaimed, Waterstones book of the year Normal People by Sally Rooney. This is a book that I have seen everywhere, and have had friends raving about it. I struggle with books that are considered to be ‘literary’, especially when authors have an aversion to using speech marks. Rooney, however, has made me see that you don’t need to have a PhD to enjoy a book such as hers. It charts the relationship between two young people from very different backgrounds who grew up in the same town, and dip in and out of each other’s lives for various reasons. I definitely had a lot to say about this book, from some of its infuriating characters to scenes that really affected me. A great modern day classic.
The final book I read in 2018 was The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke. This is a fantasy that follows a group of girls who are paid to end the lives of those suffering, be it from incurable diseases to old age. It’s a reimagining of Beowulf, with the girls hearing about a monster plaguing lands, so they decide to go on a quest to fight the beast. On the way they meet witches and all manners of marvels. I enjoyed the novel, and thought the pace of the book worked well. It wasn’t my absolute favourite book, but I by no means disliked it. I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t a behemoth, and plays around with characters and setting.
And so, this leads me to my favourite books of 2018. I decided to go for my favourite five, as it seems silly to list almost a quarter of the books I read in a Top 10.
As we know, Everything I Know About Love was my ultimate, but the others are in no particular order – and, no surprises here, they are all fantasy books.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor has to make the list. Laini’s imagination is unrivalled, and her stories never fail to fill me with awe and wonder. You could describe each of them as fun and fantastical, but at the same also heart-wrenching with moments of real poignancy. It’s everything I love about fantasy, and Muse of Nightmares was no different. Muse was one of my most anticipated sequels, with Strange the Dreamer one of my favourite books from previous years. I can only hope that one day I will have half the creative talent that Laini does.
Next up is of course The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, which publishes February 2019. This beast of a book has plenty of elements that I knew I was going to adore: strong leading female characters, retellings of legends (in this case of George and the Dragon) and, of course, dragons. A standalone fantasy, it’s no shock that this book is a giant, and I truly adored the escapism and sweeping epic of a tale it was.
There was also another book by one of my favourite authors, which ended up as a true favourite of 2018: Vengeful by V E Schwab. Another author I can only dream of emulating, Schwab has a way with words that is just unbeatable. Her characters all feel like they could have books just about them, and her plots are intricate, twisting, and perfect in every way. She has also written middle grade, along with adult fantasy and YA, and at this rate I think I just need to read everything she has ever written.
Finally, it’s Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This. Book. I truly think Tomi has opened up fantasy to a whole new generation of readers, and simply from using characters that aren’t white – this shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it is and I love her for it. This fast-paced, action-packed book had me turning pages so quickly that my hands ached by the end of it. She manages to have not one story climax, but five or more, so you’re never certain that there is ever a moment of calm in the story. She puts her characters through the hell, and her imagination and little details are wonderful. I cannot wait for the sequel, also out in 2019, to see what happens next.
And those are my favourite books of 2018. Do let me know what you read and loved last year, and especially what you’re looking forward to reading in 2019.