2018 is about to draw to a close, hence, it is now time to look back to the year that was, at least in terms of reading. After having had a slow year in 2017, I picked up the momentum in 2018. In total, I was able to read 63 books in twelve months. This is in stark comparison to the measly 43 books I had in 2017. Nonetheless, I had a great time in 2017 but even better one in 2018 as I have had many great reads.
This book wrap up is a part of a mini-series which will feature the following:
- My 2018 Eight Not-So Favorite Reads
- My 2018 Top 10 Most Notable Books
- My 2018 18 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part I)
- My 2018 18 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part II)
- My 2019 10 Books I Look Forward To List
I also made a list of 10 books I look forward to in 2018. Unfortunately, I was only able purchase and read five of the ten books in the list. But here I am again, preparing a list of 10 books I am looking forward to in 2019. Hopefully, this time around, I will be able to read all of the.
1. To Keep the Sun Alive, Rabeah Ghaffari
Synopsis: The year is 1979. The Islamic Revolution is just around the corner, as is a massive solar eclipse. In this epic novel set in the small Iranian city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, grow apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, as well as manage several generations of family members. The days here are marked by long, elaborate lunches on the terrace and arguments about the corrupt monarchy in Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. And yet life in the orchard continues. An uncle develops into a powerful cleric. A young nephew goes to university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart. Another nephew surrenders to opium, while his widowed father dreams of a life in the West.
Release date: January 15
Me: Politic unrest. Iran. A bit of history. Intriguing read.
2. 99 Nights in Logar, Jamil Jan Kochai
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in Logar. Eager to find an ally in this place that’s meant to be “home,” Marwand approaches Budabash the way he would any dog on his American suburban block—and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger and Budabash escapes.
The resulting search for the family dog is an expertly told adventure, a ninety-nine-night quest that sends Marwand and his cousins across the landscape of Logar.
Release date: January 15
Me: The premise seems absurd. But in my experience, the most absurd premises tend to give some of the best reading experiences.
3. Bangkok Wakes to Rain, Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Synopsis: A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-WWII society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary future. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the resident spirits. A young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in New Krungthep, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these stories collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself.
Release date: February 19
Me: I tried a Vietnamese author last year, why not a Thai one this time around?
4. The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See
Synopsis: Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.
Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.
Release date: March 5
Me: A historical novel and Jeju Island in one book, I bet it is going to be great!
5. Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi
Synopsis: Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. In fact, the world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval – a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Release date: March 5
Me: An interesting book title. Hmmm. Let’s give this one a try. I heard Oyeyemi is an award-winning author as well.
6. Lost and Wanted, Nell Freudenberger
Synopsis: Helen Clapp is a physics professor. She doesn’t believe in pseudo-science, or time travel and especially not in ghosts. So when she gets a missed call from Charlie, her closest friend from university with whom she hasn’t spoken in over a year, Helen thinks there must be some mistake. Because Charlie died two days ago.
Then when her young son, Jack, claims to have seen Charlie in their house just the other day, Helen begins to have doubts.
Through the grief of the husband and daughter Charlie left behind, Helen is drawn into the orbit of Charlie’s world, slotting in the missing pieces of her friend’s past. And, as she delves into the web of their shared history, Helen finds herself entangled in the forgotten threads of her own life.
Release date: April 2
Me: In a nutshell, I like books about friendship, memories and a bit of sentimentality.
7. A Wonderful Stroke of Luck, Ann Beattie
Synopsis: As a member of the Honor Society at Bailey Academy, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country, Ben falls under the tutelage of Pierre LaVerdere, a brilliant, enigmatic teacher who instructs his charges on how to discuss current events, how to think about art and literature, and how to form opinions for themselves. Ben develops close friendships with LaVerdere’s other disciples, and as the years go by the legacy of their teacher and his words remain strong. As Ben moves on, first to college and then to the turbulence of post-grad life in New York City, he comes to feel the pace of his life accelerating, his relationships a jumble, and his career plans in a constant state of flux. What did Bailey really teach him?
After his father dies, Ben develops a curiously close, yet strained intimacy with his stepmother and tries to salvage what he can of his relationship with his sister. A move upstate offers only temporary respite from his anxieties about work and romance and when LaVerdere returns to Ben’s life, everything Ben once thought he knew about the man – and about himself – is called into question.
Release date: April 2
Me: So many secrets in this book. Curious.
8. Feast Your Eyes, Myla Goldberg
Synopsis: Feast Your Eyes, framed as the catalogue notes from a photography show at the Museum of Modern Art, tells the life story of Lillian Preston: “America’s Worst Mother, America’s Bravest Mother, America’s Worst Photographer, or America’s Greatest Photographer, depending on who was talking.” After discovering photography as a teenager through her high school’s photo club, Lillian rejects her parents’ expectations of college and marriage and moves to New York City in 1955. When a small gallery exhibits partially nude photographs of Lillian and her daughter Samantha, Lillian is arrested, thrust into the national spotlight, and targeted with an obscenity charge. Mother and daughter’s sudden notoriety changes the course of both of their lives and especially Lillian’s career as she continues a life-long quest for artistic legitimacy and recognition.
Release date: April 16
Me: A story of the search for validation is always an interesting subject.
9. Normal People, Sally Rooney
Synopsis: Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.
Release date: April 16
Me: The book has high ratings in Goodreads.
10. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born – a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.
Release date: June 4
Me: I want to read the book for all its sentimental values.
Bonus: The Farm, Joanne Ramos
Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages–and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money–more than you’ve ever dreamed of–to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery–or worse.
Release date: May 7
Me: I included this book because it is in line with one of my reading resolutions which is reading more books written by Filipino authors. Besides, it is interesting to see our view on dystopian societies.
Popular authors Erin Morgenstern, Tea Obreht and Margaret Atwood are also set to publish new books this year. For Morgentstern and Obreht, this will be their first works nearly seven years after their last works. However, I am more particularly keen on Margaret Atwood’s The Testament which is to be published on September 10, 2019. It is a sequel to her widely popular and successful The Handmaid’s Tale.
How about you fellow readers, what books do you look forward to in 2019? Please share them in the comment box or you can do your own list and tag me. It would be a pleasure going through your own lists.
All synopsis were copied from Goodreads.