I’ve read 55 books this year, smashing my goal of 50 in 2018. They’ve been a mixture of novels (mostly), memoir, kids books and non-fiction. It was pretty tough to pick a ‘best of’ list but I’m a sucker for tradition (when it suits me).
I paused at the halfway mark to write up my summary of the 7 Best New Books of 2018 (So Far). I’ve now got another 4 fiction books to add to that list.
It’s clearly been a fabulous year for Australian fiction, with more than half my total list either actually set in Australia and/or written by an Australian writer.
Spanning 6 historical fiction and 4 contemporary fiction, the list includes 3 that could also slot into one my favourite genres – speculative fiction (basically any story that contains unreal elements).
So here you go – my (other) 4 favourite novels of 2018 in reverse chronological order.
1. Lenny’s Book Of Everything
Genre: Historical fiction / Literary fiction
In short: Young girl’s brother suffers rare form of giantism, but mail order encyclopedia offers fabulous distraction.
Lenny’s Book of Everything, by Karen Foxlee, has been categorised by some as young adult / children’s fiction. This had me a little baffled because I didn’t feel that at all when I was reading it. I’d argue firmly for general historical fiction but suitable for young adult readers. Narrated by a child, it was an absolutely gorgeous book. Beautifully written, fabulous characters and heartbreaking circumstances.
2. The Girl on the Page
Genre: Contemporary fiction / Literary fiction
In short: Fast-living editor and best-selling writer Amy is asked to edit the manuscript of a literary icon. The experience makes her question everything she knows.
I loved this one. Somehow John Purcell has managed to write a page-turning fast-paced novel about the publishing industry. I take my hat off to you, Mr Purcell.
I also got quite excited about the themes of the book and wrote a rather long review.
3. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Genre: Crime fiction / Speculative fiction / Historical fiction
In short: Man must re-live the same day in different bodies until he can solve the mystery of who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle.
I am still reeling from this one. It was absolutely spell-binding, fast-paced and completely did my head in. A must-read for Sherlock Holmes fans who don’t mind a bit of Groundhog Day thrown in. (Most people I mention this to have never heard of it, but if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Cube, and enjoyed it, you will love this book).
4. We See The Stars
Genre: Contemporary fiction / Speculative fiction
In short: Traumatised 11-year-old boy navigates life in an Australian country town with his brother and imaginary superhero friend to help him.
The ending of this book still haunts me. It is so beautifully written and reality bleeds into unreality in a way that only childhood or madness can facilitate. Set a few decades ago, before child psychology was well understood, We See The Stars is a lyrical and devastating insight into the mind of a child who has seen what no child should.