My Top Ten Fiction Reads of 2018

I really have no strategy for making these top fiction lists beyond that I enjoyed each of these works of fiction immensely. However the lists are far from just pure entertainment lists as two of the qualities in writers I enjoy most are their insights into human nature and their subtle intelligence.

You can see my original reviews for each of these books by clicking either on the picture or the bold-faced title and author.

So here are my this year’s selections, starting with my favorite fiction of the year and proceeding in order from there.

 

‘The House of Broken Angels’ by Luis Alberto Urrea – This novel gets family life right in a humorous yet loving way. Old man Big Angel will have one last big Mexican-American birthday party before he dies with the whole extended family there.

 

‘Dear Mrs. Bird’ by A. J. Pearce – Here is a lively moving novel of the terrible Blitz in London in 1940. With all the death and destruction around them, living well is even more precious for young Emmy and her friend Bunty.

 

‘West’ by Carys DaviesPennsylvania settler and farmer John Cyrus Bellman heads out west in the United States in 1815 in search of giant dinosaurs which he figures must still be roaming around out there. Along the way he picks up an Indian scout named Looks Like A Woman From Afar. This is an entertaining story.

 

‘Modern Gods’ by Nick Laird – ‘Modern Gods’ is a rich Northern Ireland family story that tackles the thorny issue of religion both in their hometown of Ballyglass in Ulster and in the far reaches of New Guinea. Laird, a poet, really gets inside the heads of his characters to convey precisely what they are thinking and feeling.

 

‘Those Who Knew’ by Idra Novey´Those Who Knew’ is a modern political drama about the never-ending liberal struggle against homegrown fascism, racism, and oppression. Novey uses diverse means to convey her story.

 

‘Reservoir 13’ by Jon McGregor – Thirteen year old Rebecca Shaw disappears from a small northern English village. Jon McGregor views the people of this rural village with the same calm steady keenly observant attitude with which he observes the trees, the birds, the fish, and the other animals. His view appears to be that we humans are as much a part of nature as everything else.  After you read ‘Reservoir 13’ , you might also want to read the related work ‘The Reservoir Tapes’.  

 

‘Warlight’ by Michael OndaatjeOndaatje’s main achievement in ‘Warlight’ is capturing the ambiance and atmosphere of bombed-out England after the war and the mystery and excitement and color of these people waking up and resuming their peacetime lives.

 

‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer – Here is a gay guy novel even a non-gay guy can appreciate. That is because it is one of the most humorous novels I have read, and Greer’s type of humor is universal, a guy laughing at himself and those around him as they sometimes make utter fools of themselves with their outrageous behavior.

 

‘Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata – This is a well-done enjoyable novella about someone who doesn’t usually get the credit she deserves, an upbeat efficient convenience store woman.

 

‘Happiness’ by Aminatta Forna – Now that England has banned fox hunting, there are many urban foxes in London where our main character has come to study them. The foxes are frequently found prowling the garbage for food. By capturing more than just what is happening on the surface, Aminatta Forna achieves a depth that is missing from many novels.

 

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Well, I was expecting to have read some of these because I’ve read more than a few of your recommendations this year, but no, the only one I’ve read is Reservoir 13 though I do have Warlight on the TBR. So now *wags finger* I have even more books on my wishlist!
    I suppose I’ll have to get cracking on my Best-Of before long…

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    • Hi Lisa,
      It is always a problem figuring out when to publish these Best Of lists. The newspapers figure Thanksgiving is the end of the book year. Christmas and New Years are somewhat slow times in the blogging world. After New Years, who cares what I read in that old year 2018? So I figure around December 10 is best.

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      • Well, I know that people looking for Christmas presents like a reminder of what’s been good during the year, but then, what about the ones not read until December? It’s very difficult.

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        • My year runs from Dec. 10 to Dec 9, so the ones I read after Dec 9 are included in next year’s consideration.

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          • I should probably do something like that. I never have though, because when I was working it was all just too frantic at school leading up to the end of term, especially when it was really close to Christmas Eve. All the reports, proof reading reports, library stocktake, forward planning for the next year, I look back on it now and wonder how I ever had time to do any blogging at all in December!

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  2. A great list Tony… so many books for me to get stuck into at some point! I generally publish my list on 31st December but might have to do it earlier this year as I have family coming over at Christmas and I just won’t have the time.

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    • Hi Kim,
      Whatever blogging problems I have, I blame them on you as you got me interested in blogging in the first place. 🙂 Those were the days when Asylum, Reading Matters, Lizzie, Kevin From Canada, A Common Reader, and a very English woman whose blog name I forget but was very influential.

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  3. I’m keeping my eyes open for these in case any come back as e-books on sale before New Year’s Eve. Sometimes that happens. My husband loves the Jon Macgregor.

    On Sat, Dec 8, 2018 at 3:11 PM Tony’s Book World wrote:

    > Anokatony posted: “I really have no strategy for making these top fiction > lists beyond that I enjoyed each of these works of fiction immensely. > However the lists are far from just pure entertainment lists as two of the > qualities in writers I enjoy most are their insights in” >

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    • Hi Kat,
      I find that I still gravitate toward British Isles fiction despite all the new US authors. Besides Jon MacGregor of England I’ve also really enjoyed these two Northern Ireland novels, ‘Modern Gods’ by Nick Laird and ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns. A review of Milkman will be appearing here soon.

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      • I know you raved about Nick Laird. And I do want to read “Milkman”–I’ve read good and bad about it, but it sounds fascinating and worth the work.

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  4. A really interesting list, Tony. The only one I’ve experienced in person is Reservoir 13, which I listened to via Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime a few months ago – a story that really got under my skin. Looking at the others on your list, I’m intrigued by Convenience Store Woman – it’s been picking up a lot of positive reviews over here, so I might give it a go in the New Year.

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  5. Hi Jacqui,
    ‘Convenience Store Woman’ is the perfect way to ease into Japanese literature. I listened to that one, and it is a good one for listening because it is easy to follow. Come to think of it, I also listened to Reservoir 13 despite that most of the books I read.

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  6. West and Reservoir 13 are both very much already on my list, in the case of West very much thanks to your previous review.

    Happiness sounds interesting too. I’ll leave a query I have on your review of that.

    Great list, and happy New Year!

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    • Happy New Year, Max.
      I didn’t realize how heavily weighted toward British writers my list is until now, especially if you include Nick Laird from Northern Ireland. It will be interesting to see what McGregor comes up with for his next book.

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