I read a lot of good books in 2018 and it was tough choosing my favourites reads, but here they are in order in which I read them. I hope they might inspire you to read them or to choose not to.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A literary fiction book that sets in the 1950s, the ’60s and ’70s mostly in Belgian Congo during a time of upheaval. It follows an Evangelical Baptist family who moves to Belgian Congo to a tiny village to turn them all into Christianity. The story is told from the first-person perspective by the women of the family, who describe the events, other people and their thoughts in the own unique ways.
I really enjoyed the plot, the way the author handled the history and the situation of the country, and how she explored the colonialism and white man’s way of doing things their own way which to them is the only way of doing it right. It is interesting to see the cultural differences and how they bump into each other and the patience of human’s in difficult situations.
The book has quite a dark and melancholy feel to it but is dripped with funny events that feel natural to the storyline.
A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
The book is a beautiful reflection of clashing cultural differences between east and west. It discusses it from the point of view of lovers, although other relationships do come along occasionally as well. It discusses the English language and the meaning of words and how they can be interpreted in different ways by a different culture. Or how different the expectations are of the relationship by people from different cultures and the different needs of people from different cultures.
The book is about a young Chinese girl Z who comes to the UK to study English. She falls in love with a man and she discovers her sexuality and self-identity through travels in Europe and the rocky relationship.
It is fairly easy to read and it has great insight into the western culture from an easterners perspective. It is fresh and beautiful!
Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Ruby tells a story about a black girl who suffers her whole life from the hands of one man who takes advantage of her innocence and fright. The story is mainly concentrated in a small town in East Texas in a black community where everybody knows each other as they do in small towns. Ephram is a reverends son who is in love with Ruby who is considered to be a crazy person and a whore. The story is haunting, aggravating, depressing and beautiful. It tells perfectly how other people can influence your own perception of yourself in bad as well as good, and how difficult it is to get rid of that bad. It tells how love sees into the soul through all the fences and it shows how the minds of a group of people can be manipulated by a strong voice and how any bad action, in a person’s mind, can be turned into a good deed.
Ruby is definitely not for the light-hearted, but it discusses many problems we face in feminism, racism and religion very well. I was so surprised by the story, with its hint of fantasy, and it stayed with me for a long time.
Pirate Women by Laura Sook Duncombe
Pirate Women was a very fascinating book which told the fictional and nonfictional stories of the most famous female pirates of the world from ancient Greece to the modern day cinema heroes. It portrays and discusses the female characters who are moved by not only love, but by revenge and joy as well, and is supported by historical and cultural events. It tells stories of strong women who I wouldn’t have probably heard of from anywhere else.
The book is well researched, very sophisticated and critical, but still easy to read and really interesting. It has a strong feminist voice without having to put men down, but with criticism and speculation for culture and women’s position in that culture. If you want to read about several strong women who took their lives into their own hands, this is an excellent read!
Bear and Nightingale, and Girl In the Tower by Katherine Arden
I was so surprised by how much I liked the two books from the Winternight trilogy and can’t wait to read the next and last part of the trilogy. The fairytale trilogy follows a young woman Vasilisa or Vasya in Russia at a time when a woman had her place in the house making children. When Russian wasn’t yet one big country, but rather where Tatars were controlling all the groups of people around Russian territory including Muscovites.
The books discuss the old faiths and how they along with old cultures are wiped to give room for Christianity. It discusses a woman’s place and how Vasya is trying to challenge what it should be. And it is all wrapped in a historic Rus during the winter. The books are fast paced, filled with mystery and intrigue, and will make you want to keep turning pages. It is easy to read and one of my new favourite fantasy series! I read them as ebooks, but now I really want to get the actual books maybe even hardcovers as I liked them so much!
An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney
A book that I couldn’t put down! This is a story about Tully who decides to be a whore to keep her independence and who is a seer. Her husband is adamant on kidnapping her even though she doesn’t know why and she has to rely on the kindness of her gallants and her friends. The book is erotic with a touch of supernatural, of great friendships, love, mischief and mystery. It’s excellently written and not too obvious.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
This is definitely one of the most important books to read in one’s life. Not only is it very informative, but it raises important questions about racism in our society and about class and equality in our society. It delves into the truths that you might not have heard of because they are purposefully hidden to drive you to think in a certain way. This book is eye-opening to the problems people of different colours and cultures face and to the white privilege. It makes me want to know more and investigate what else is hidden from us by those with power or what is fed to make the class distinction stronger. Read this book before you talk about it!
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
This is a book that still makes me go aww, it was so beautiful! It is a very unusual story of how life can take its hope from stories or books, in this instance Great Expectations. It tells how sinking into the imaginary world can keep people sane or hopeful when the situation is far from it. I read from the back of the book that the story is beautiful, surprising, charming, heart-breaking and has some horror. While that is all true it made me surprised when the tone of the book, throughout, was melancholy and starts with childish innocence.
It tells how different cultures have to live together and how they accept each other, however, I hoped to read more on that. It is surprising in many ways. And it will make you cry and be horrified by people’s cruelty, but still being very honest at the same time.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
A lovely collection of thoughtful, strong and feminist poems. Very thought provoking and often relevant to each woman’s life. I will be coming back to it over and over again!
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
A really interesting biography of the life of a mixed raced boy in South Africa at the end of apartheid and time after it. Trevor writes in an entertaining but also informative way with his young naive thoughts and his adult views on the events. It tells about the different cultures in South Africa that he experienced and about his bond and relationship with his mother, which is really special and wonderful to read about. This book made me laugh out loud and cry. It gives you glimpse into another culture and how people survive in it. It also provides you with a different view on crime and what is right or wrong.
I did finish 36 books, most of which I like, but these were my favourites. Reflecting on this list I realise I didn’t read any books on ethics or sustainability, which I need to change for this year. Also, it looks like I’m reading mainly female authors, but actually the list is more balanced there were just more books by male authors, that I read in 2018, which I didn’t like. We’ll see what the list is going to look like in 2019. Some of the books that I am excited to read this year are Villette, The Bees, Running with Scissors, The Winter of the witch, Spinning silver, Nevermoor, the Immortal life of Henrietta Jacks and a few books on fashion and ethics which I still need to choose.
What were your favourite books you read in 2018? And what you looking forward to reading in 2019?