Daily Archives: January 13, 2019

Notable Books of 2018

Here are some notable books I read in 2018 that I didn’t write about on this blog (not ordered in any way).

A Separation (Katie Kitamura)

Wow, how could I not have read this book earlier? This is one of those books that really blew me away. Like Rachel Cusk mixed with Patricia Highsmith and a wee bit of JM Coetzee. Apparently was blurbed by Knausgaard (as a huge K fan, this is a big stamp of approval for me). I’m not going to summarise the plot because I went into reading this book completely blind and I feel like that was a huge benefit. Within the depths of an author-crush obsession, I also read her previous book, Gone to the Forestwhich was also deeply weird and rich and uncompromising. I love discovering books like this because I feel like they offer the kind of blueprint for the kind of career I want to have myself (god willing!).

Resistance (Julián Fuks)

Holy god, did this book make me cry. Again I don’t want to summarize it too much because going into it blind felt like a huge benefit to me. I’m still not even sure if it’s fiction or non-fiction (auto-fiction, maybe? That’s a trendy term, right?). The one thing I’ll say is that I thought this was an extremely powerful examination of sibling relationships, and it made me realize how few books there are out there that examine this. Elena Ferrante made female friendship A Thing To Write About – will sibling relationships be the next big deal?

The other theme in this book that really stuck with me is the parasitic, inherent cruelty of writing about your family. Is changing the truth the only way an author can morally represent challenging material?

Overall, I think this book does a really incredibly job of examining how violent political history affects families and individuals throughout time, in a really unique and brilliant way.

(FYI I got this book via my subscription to Charco Press, my birthday present to myself last year. I can’t tell you how EXCITED I AM that an INDEPENDENT PRESS is PUBLISHING TRANSLATED LATIN AMERICAN FICTION, IN THE UK. It’s like my Christmas dream came true!)

All Grown-Up (Jenni Attenberg)

This book was recommended on the Twitter feed of Lisa Owens (a super funny and skilled writer in her own right! Full disclaimer: we did the same MA degree together, but I am not a biased bitch!). Like Lisa’s writing, this book was hysterically raw and true. I highlighted so many passages. I’m fully over the whole “I liked this book because I related to the narrator” as an appropriate aesthetic judgement (EFF THAT!), but….: I liked this book because I related to the narrator. I’m also sort of over the whole fragmented novel thing (lol), BUT… I thought the fragmented nature of this book (it’s basically linked short stories) worked really well, and cumulated in a particularly powerful way in the final scene, with the narrator’s brother’s baby.

Here’s to not knowing what the eff you’re doing with your life!

Our Dead World (Liliana Colanzi)

This is one of the best short story collections I have ever read, no joke! I loved the Philip K. Dick influences. I’ll keep this brief: if you love short stories, definitely check this out.

The Idiot 

This is one of those books that really stuck with me, that I found myself thinking repeatedly about over the course of the year. And the more I think about it the more impressed by it I am. Basically, this book stands out for how FUNNY it is. Like, CONSISTENTLY. Probably every other sentence is funny! Do you know how hard that is?? Writing humour?? From the very first page, when the narrator holds up an ethernet cable and asks, “What do we do with this, hang ourselves?” – I was hooked. I also loved how, like life, this book has very little plot and no resolution. A must-read for you 90’s kids (you know who you are…).

Books written by people I sort of know IRL that I loved:

Ponti (Sharlene Teo) – I did a creative writing MA the same year as Sharlene but never had a chance to read an excerpt from Ponti. I loved how uncompromising this book was in terms of not offering any resolutions for the characters (just like real life!), and the snarky acerbic tone of the prose. There were so many sentences in this I found absolutely hysterical (the one about “fucking earnestly to Adele” stands out the most).

Demi-Gods (Eliza Robertson) – Besides being a superbly talented writer, Eliza is also an astrologist who read my tarot cards and offered soothingly prescient advice for me when I was basically having a nervous breakdown. THANK YOU, ELIZA! But still, I say this from an unbiased place: Like Ponti, Demi-Gods is ones of those brutally uncompromising books that makes me grateful that weird and uncommercial feminist art can exist in today’s world. I don’t mean to sound like I’m giving an Academy Award speech but I AM SO GRATEFUL I GOT TO STUDY AT AN INSTITUTION W SO MANY TALENTED WOMEN…

The Water Cure (Sophie Macintosh) – This was nominated for the Booker and is fully deserving. I loved the raw achey prose of this. Is it bad if I related to the main character Lila in, like, a really hardcore way? Apparently she has a new book coming out next year too – YASS.

Other books I loved this year, that I did write about:

Clock Dance (Anne Tyler)
The Devil’s Highway (Gregory Norminton)
Sight (Jessie Greengrass)
My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Ottessa Moshfegh)
Things We Lost in the Fire (Mariana Enriquez)
Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mendel)

Book I did not “get” this year:

Asymmetry (Lisa Halliday) – this book got rave reviews in the U.S. but I found it really hard to connect with – is it because I’m not a Philip Roth fan? (I sort of loathe him TBH…) Anyway, if you’ve read this and loved it, would love to hear your thoughts!

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Books of 2018

These are the books I read in 2018. I put an asterisk (*) next to the ones I loved a lot. I read 77 books.

DECEMBER
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling) [reread]
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling) [reread]
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling) [reread]
Gone to the Forest (Katie Kitamura)
*A Separation (Katie Kitamura)
Lullaby (Leïla Slimani)
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
The Chronicles of Prydain #1-#5 (Lloyd Alexander)
Call Me By Your Name (André Aciman)
The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann)

NOVEMBER
Ponti (Sharlene Teo)
The Secret History
 (Donna Tartt)
Standard Deviation (Katherine Heiny)
*Resistance (Julián Fuks)

OCTOBER
The Sword of the Sprits Trilogy (John Christopher) [reread from childhood]
Winter (Ali Smith)
*Clock Dance (Anne Tyler)
Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
Die, My Love (Ariana Harwicz)
*Sight (Jessie Greengrass)
*The Devil’s Highway (Gregory Norminton)

SEPTEMBER
The Iliac Crest (Cristina Rivera Garza)
Snakes and Earrings (Hitomi Kanehara)
Asymmetry (Lisa Halliday)
Devotion (Patti Smith)
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) [reread; childhood fav]
The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry)

AUGUST
Lost Empress (Sergio de la Pava)
Normal People (Sally Rooney)
You Were Never Really Here (Jonathan Ames)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)
Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney)
***Watership Down (Richard Adams) [reread]

JULY
*My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Ottessa Moshfegh)
Convenience Store Women (Sayaka Murata)
Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman) [audiobook]
A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)
*All Grown Up (Jami Attenberg)
Being Dead (Jim Crace)
Born to Die in Medellín (Alonso Salazar)
The Dog Stars (Peter Heller)

JUNE
Missing (Alison Moore)
As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner) [reread]
Madame Zero (Sarah Hall)
Fruit of the Drunken Tree (Ingrid Rojas Contreras)
The Crow Road (Iain Banks)
The Water Cure (Sophie Mackintosh)
Dark Entries (Robert Aickman)
Kitchen (Banana Yoshimoto)

MAY
*Our Dead World (Liliana Colanzi)
*The Idiot (Elif Batuman)
The End (Fernanda Torres)
The Naked Woman (Armonia Somers)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling) [audiobook]
Kensington Gardens (Rodrigo Fresan)

APRIL
Reputations (Juan Gabriel Vasquez)
Kokoro (Natsume Soseki)
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Haruki Murakami)
***The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro) [reread]
The Stone Sky
(N.K. Jemisin)
The Obelisk Gate
(N.K. Jemisin)

MARCH
The Fifth Season (N.K. Jemisin)
Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (Haruki Murakami)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith) [reread]
Our Endless Numbered Days (Claire Fuller)

FEBRUARY
*Things We Lost in the Fire (Mariana Enríquez)
Wishful Drinking (Carrie Fisher) [audiobook]
Devil’s Day (Andrew Michael Hurley)
Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (Patricia Highsmith)
Such Small Hands (Andrés Barba)
Nutcase (Tony Williams)

JANUARY
Now and at the Hour of Our Death (Susana Moreira Marques)
Reservoir 13 (Jon McGregor)
Dying: A Memoir (Cory Taylor)
The Wonder Spot (Melissa Banks) [reread; one of my all-time faves)
The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper) [reread]
*Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mendel)

To see books read from 2009-2018, click here.

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