Reading List 2018

In 2016 I finished my PhD, moved house and renovated the house, got married, and, oh yeah, had a baby. In 2017 I... did none of those things, and yet I only read four more books than in the previous year. I'll blame the baby/toddler for that. (He's pretty decent, though, so we won't bear a grudge.) I have an abysmal track record at keeping resolutions (apart from the year I stuck to my vow of reading one graphic novel a month - that was good, if a little pricey), so I'm not making any grandiose 2018 reading promises, except that: I need to be strict about alternating reading books for review, new/current books, and books that have been lingering on the shelf for years. To that end I've kicked off with a new one (David Keenan - amazing) and I'm following it up with an old one (Ivy Compton-Burnett). Also I found I read more non-fiction than usual last year, and I'd quite like to keep that up too, but we'll see how I get on with the dusty old pile first.

October
53. Ship of Fools, Katherine Anne Porter. Razor-sharp observations and characterisation here. Big thumbs up.

September
52. Alma Cogan, Gordon Burn. Superb. I hadn't enjoyed Fullalove very much but this was amazing.
51. The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood. Disappointing.

August
50. The Uncoupling, Meg Wolitzer. Interesting topic but not a very interesting book.
49. Malarky, Anakana Schofield. Funny but very poignant novel.
48. A Struggle for Fame, Charlotte Riddell. Sounds like publishing hasn't changed too much since the 1850s...
47. Notes To Self, Emilie Pine. Excellent essays.
46. Lake Success, Gary Shteyngart. Entertaining but not his best.
45. Crudo, Olivia Laing. Everyone else loves this but I thought it was pretty slight.
44. The Prestige, Christopher Priest. Saw the movie ears ago but had forgotten the details. Unimpressed at first but liked it a lot by the end. Clever and creepy, if not very feminist.
43. Ironopolis, Glen James Brown. Absolutely brilliant novel set on a soon-to-be-demolished Teesside estate.
42. The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh. Good old feminist rage - can't beat it.
41. Days of Awe, A.M. Homes. Stories. A mixed bag, but the better ones are great.

July
40. His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet. Historical murder story/courtroom drama. Excellent.
39. Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Andrea Dunbar. Playscript. The issue I have (not linked because it's very much out of print) also included The Arbor and Shirley. They're all fantastic, and RS&B is way better than the (very good) film.
38. The Unforeseen, Dorothy Macardle. Loose sequel to The Uninvited, but you wouldn't really need to have read the first. Also brilliant! Tramp Press have played a blinder (as ever) reissuing those two.
37. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland. Holly was my MA classmate and now she's an international bestseller - stay in school, kids! And what an evocation of the Australian landscape.
36. The Uninvited, Dorothy Macardle. Brilliant ghost story set on the Devon coast.
35. Attrib., Eley Williams. Very clever, lovely stories.
34. The Circle, Dave Eggers. A bit worrying close to the bone. Might throw my phone in the bin?!
33. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh. Novel - review coming soon!

June
32. Martin John, Ankana Schofield. Brilliant novel - what a stylist!
31. Aliens & Anorexia, Chris Kraus. Complicated but interesting.
30. Unthology 10. I'm biased because I've got a story in this, but it's a great anthology.
29. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin. Cracy that I've only just read this. Brilliant.

May
28. The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner. Excellent.
27. Shift, Mia Gallagher. Excellent story collection.
26. Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford. Creepy and original.
25. Problems, Jade Sharma. Brilliant novel about addiction.

April
24. Jude: Level 1, Julian Gough. Satirical Irish novel - funny.
23. The Overstory, Richard Powers. Excellent stuff - brings out my inner eco-warrior.
22. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman. Didn't like this much at all.
21. The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann. Very long! Loved parts, found some sections a drag.

March
20. Break.up, Joanna Walsh. Meditation on online relationships.
19. The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer. Another great one, all about friendship and envy.
18. The Vagrants, Yiyun Li. Outstanding novel. I'd enjoyed her short stories before but this was phenomenal.
17. History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund. Didn't get on with this one.
16. Room For a Single Lady, Clare Boylan. Really funny & sharp - if you like Muriel Spark, etc.
15. Anything You Do Say, Gillian McAllister. Crime / guilt / relationship drama; puts you off shoving people down the stairs, that's for sure.

February
14. Sorry To Disturb The Peace, Patty Yumi Cottrell. Odd, funny, bleak: really enjoyed it.
13. Outer Dark, Corman McCarthy.Well, that was bleak as hell. Maybe don't read if you have a little baby?!
12. Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado. Short stories - very thought-provoking.
11. Feel Free, Zadie Smith. Essays and reviews. Pretty long but very good.
10. The Cone Gatherers, Robin Jenkins. Fantastic Scottish novel; gutted I've only come to it now.
9. The Minister and the Murderer, Stuart Kelly. Non-fiction. Review to follow.

January
8. Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith. Essays. Some excellent, some (the film section in particular) not so much.
7. Homesick for Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh. Stories. Very Flannery O'Connor-eqsue.
6. Honoured Guest, Joy Williams. Story collection. Great stuff.  If you like Lorrie Moore, etc.
5. Swing Time, Zadie Smith. Great take on two girls' long friendship (Cats Eye va Elena Ferrante).
4. The Earlie King & the Kid In Yellow, Danny Denton. Debut novel from an Irish writer: totally mad, very exuberant.
3. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes. I appreciate the cultural significance and modernist innovation but I didn't really get much out of it which was a shame (and isn't anything to do with the quality of the book, obviously).
2. Winter Papers, Vol. 3, ed. Kevin Barry & Olivia Smith. Irish arts annual. Favourite bits were stories by Anakana Schofield and CristĂ­n Leach.
1. This Is Memorial Device, David Keenan. Took me a little while to get into it, but then, bloody hell: astounding stuff.