It wasn’t difficult coming up with this list. These are my Books of the Month as designated in each monthly wrap-up of 2018, and I wouldn’t swap any of them. Now to to give them their individual Book of the Year sashes..
The Most Patient Book of the Year: Jude Morgan’s The Taste of Sorrow sat for a decade on the TBR!
Mega-selling Bestseller of the Year: Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has outstripped all opposition in the UK selling over 350,000 titles more than its nearest competior!
Misanthropic Book of the Year: Shaun Bythell in The Diary of A Bookseller is not quite as misanthropic as Dylan Moran’s Bernard Black, but comes pretty close.
Baltic Book of the Year: Brecht At Night – Mati Unt It was the year of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) at the London Book Fair and this was the best I read for that event. Another patient book having been in the TBR almost, but not quite as long as the Jude Morgan. Translated from Estonian by Eric Dickens.
Prizewinner of the Year: To Be A Machine – Mark O’Connell Winner of the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize. Mind-boggling non-fiction. Still can’t believe that all of this is true!
The One Shedding The Tears of A Very Funny Clown: How To Be A Public Author– Francis Plug Laugh-out funny and yet undertones don’t get more serious than this.
Travelling Companion of the Year: The Inner Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben So good that I bought the new illustrated edition, full of beautiful photography, to bring back my memories and the atmosphere of reading the paperback whilst wandering in the Black Forest. Translated from German by Jane Billinghurst
Best Debut, Historical Fiction of the Year, The Best Read for #edbookfest 2018 Only Killers and Thieves – Paul Howarth I read 20 books for this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival. This punched its weight above all the rest.
The Most Intertextual Novel and The One The Author had Most Fun Writing: Transcription – Kate Atkinson Oops – I haven’t reviewed thIs. I read it in a delighted flurry as soon as it was published. You really can see that Atkinson was enjoying herself writing this tale of spies in the 1950s. Will reread and review if longlisted for next year’s Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
The One I Should Have Read Earlier Keep Her Safe At Home – Stephen Benatar Absolutely everything all those blogger and online forum recommendations promised it would be.
Graphic and Most Beautiful Book of the Year: Heimat – Nora Krug A German’s personal story of coming to terms with her family’s past.
Chunkster and Pageturner of the Year: A Winter’s Promise – Christelle Davos Full review to follow but I read this 491-page YA fantasy, the first in a quartet, in just 3 sittings! Translated from French by Hildegard Serle.
The key question is whether I feel this list is complete. Not entirely. The process of picking a book of the month can be quite brutal particularly when I don’t allow the accolade to be shared. That has led to many close run contests with some excellent books missing out by a hair’s breadth. Here are three such:
German Noir Novel of the Year: Fade to Black – Zoë Beck The best of the 8 2018 German Noir Releases I read this year. Very zeitgeisty and a perfect companion for Kamila Shamsie’s better known Home Fire. Translated from German by Rachel Hildebrandt.
Literary Homage and Best Metaphor of the Year: Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi A reincarnation of Mary Shelley’s novel to depict the horrific impact of the past couple of decades on the population of Baghdad. Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
Impulse Buy of the Year: Poems to Live Your Life By – edited and illustrated by Chris Riddell. I was at a personal crossroads when last I browsed in Waterstones Sauciehall St. Attracted by the cover (gilding gets me every time), seduced by Riddell’s illustrations, and soothed by the words I read, I had found a new friend. This was the only volume of poetry I read in 2019, and it’s one I’ll return to again and again.
All that remains is to determine my Book of The Year. You’d think from the number of sashes awarded above that this was Paul Howarth’s for the taking, especially when I also add Novel of the Year to his tally.
However, there’s a book coming up on the outside about to snatch the title on the finishing line; the one I bought two editions of, both of which I’m keeping.
Lizzy’s 2019 Book of the Year is *** drumroll please *****