My favourite books of 2018

books-of-the-yearSo, another year draws to a close, which means it’s time to sum up my reading over the past 12 months.

I read 68 books, quite a bit down on previous years, but I read a higher percentage of women (62 per cent) than ever before.

Over the course of the year I gave myself a few projects, with mixed results.

On first impressions, I’d say it was a relatively mediocre reading year for me, and going back through my reviews I can see that it was a definite year of two halves, with the first being particularly strong and the second being much weaker.

So here’s my list — a mix of old and new, heavily weighted towards Australian novels with a handful by authors from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and South Africa  The books have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname. Hyperlinks will take you to my full review.

The sound of my voice

The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin (1987)
The day-to-day struggles of a biscuit factory executive who is also a high-functioning alcoholic.

The Sinners' Bell by Kevin Casey

The Sinners’ Bell by Kevin Casey (1968)
A heart-rending portrait of a doomed marriage set in small town Ireland.

The Quarry by Damon Galgut

The Quarry by Damon Galgut (1995)
Suspenseful South African novella in which a man on the run from the law switches identity with the priest he murders.

the well

The Well by Elizabeth Jolley (1986)
Slightly disturbing Australian classic about an eccentric woman who invites a teenage orphan to live with her on a remote farm — with unforeseen consequences.

Fairyland by Sumner Locke Eliott

Fairyland by Sumner Lock Elliott (1990)
Thinly veiled memoir about a gay man hiding his real self from the world in 1930s/40s Sydney.

Storyland by Catherine McKinnon

Storyland by Catherine McKinnon (2017)
Thought-provoking tale that weaves together five interlinking stories set on one tract of land to show the environmental impact over four centuries.

The Passage of Love

The Passage of Love by Alex Miller (2018)
Fictionalised account of the author’s own life trying to pursue a writing career at the expense of his marriage and financial security.

Soon

Soon by Lois Murphy (2018)
Deliciously creepy novel, part horror, part dystopian, set in a country town threatened by an unexplained mist.

Travelling in a strange land

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park (2018)
Beautifully evoked portrayal of a father’s grief masquerading as a treacherous road journey across a snowy British landscape.

The shepherd's hut by Tim Winton

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton (2018)
Fast-paced tale about a teenage boy on the run through some of the outback’s most inhospitable territory.

Hope you’ve had an exciting reading year. Have you read any from this list? Or has it encouraged you to try one or two? What were your favourite reads of 2018?

Please note that you can see my favourite books of all the years between 2006 and 2018 by visiting my Books of the Year page.

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14 thoughts on “My favourite books of 2018

  1. Hi Kim, happy new year!
    I’m so pleased to see Storyland in your list. It’s been a bit of a bridesmaid, appearing in many shortlists but not quite carrying off the prize. But I think it will be a stayer, a book that outlasts the first flush of reviews and goes on to be a book that lasts a long time.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your reviews this year, but for now what impresses me most is the way you can sum up a book in a single sentence. I wish I could do that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lisa, and a happy new year to you, too. I think Storyland is an amazing accomplishment, but I really wish it was published outside of Australia. It deserves a wider audience, me feels.

      As for the one-sentence summary, that comes from years of sub editing articles and has got much easier with time!

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  2. I do too Lisa!! I guess that’s the journalist’s skill but how I’d love it too. I try to do it in my little db but with little success.

    Enjoyed your post Kim. I’ve read a couple there – Jolley and McKinnon – but not this year. I feel I should read Winton. Others there interest me too, but …

    Thanks, again, for your contribution to the AWW Challenge. And congrats on reading ALL the Miles Franklin.

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    • Cheers, Sue. The Winton is a good ‘un, but I realised after I’d published this list that I left out de Kretser and that was such a great read it deserves a place here, too; the problem is which book do I swap out? 🤔😱

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  3. Happy New Year, Kim. I always love your lists. Storyland sounds like a book I would love but there are more. I had a feeling of a mediocre reading year too.

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    • Thanks, Caroline. Sadly, Storyland isn’t available outside of Australia, which is such a shame because its themes would apply to a broad universal audience. Funny how we both felt our reading years were mediocre… I read a lot of books that were good but very few stood out as brilliant. Looking back on what I read it seems that older books (“modern classics” for want of a better word) appeal to me more these days than brand new shiny ones, so I think 2019 is going to be focussed on reading these kinds of books, many of which are already sitting on my shelves!

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      • It’s not the first Australian novel I wasn’t able to get. I used to always try out new authors but now I feel I should rather revisit those I know I love. Modern classics mostly. And my shelves offer a lot of those too.

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  4. Happy New Year, Kim! ‘Soon’ and ‘The Well’ sound the most intriguing to me from your list. I’ll have to see if my local bookstore can source copies for me when I’m back in town next week. (Trying to wean myself off Amazon, although it’s hard to do so when it comes to sourcing non-American lit.)

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    • Happy New Year to you too! I suspect your bookstore will have problems sourcing both The Well (which is out of print) and Soon, which has only been published in Australia. A second-hand online store, such as Abebooks, might be able to help, or check bookfinder.com

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  5. I’m intrigued by Travelling in a Strange Land and happy to hear you enjoyed it.
    I’m with you on reading from the shelves, not that I read too many newly published books, but there are so many excellent, underrated novels that’s it become easier to source and get opinions on from readers and bloggers that I feel inclined to halt the temptation of shiny new things and go more for that which seems likely to resonate with my particular reading inclination.
    Happy New Year Kim and Joyful Reading 2019!

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    • Oh, Travelling in a Strange Land has a really lovely, atmospheric quality to it… it’s ripe with metaphors about photography too as the narrator is an unsatisfied wedding photographer… I totally adored it.

      I read a lot from my shelves this year and I’ve realised that I appreciate older books — modern classics for want of a better description — than the shiny and the new, and this year I really do want to read much more from my TBR and to focus on all those lovely books that have been sitting here unread for years and years!

      Happy New Year to you, too, Claire — hope it’s a lovely book-filled one for you x

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