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What I Read in 2018

Author: Naomi Liddell

In the summer of last year I wrote this post all about how I (and a few of my friends) set a reading challenge each year for how many books we’d like to read. I also proclaimed that I would have lots of time breastfeeding in 2018 and so ooobbbvviously would be reading more. HA! Hahaha! My, how naive my past self can be. The shift from one to two kids back in July has left me with much less time (who’da thunk it?) and so I didn’t hit my goal of 30 books for 2018. Sigh.

But I did read some absolute gems. So I thought I’d share with you the 19 books I did somehow manage to read last year, and a brief little review of each. 

5 Stars

Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
To me, this book was totally worth the hype. I find Yuval’s writing style so readable and was in awe of how he was able to cover the scale of human evolution.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Technically young adults fiction I believe, it was the most gorgeous story of a girl with an isolating illness and her friendship with the boy next door. The entire book is also printed in such a creative way. I loved everything about it. 
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This has to be *the* book of 2018. Most of my friends and family have read it and the opinions were unanimous. It’s an excellent read. The main character Eleanor’s social awkwardness does a great job of making dark situations hilarious!
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham
More of a text book than anything, I ended up reading this book cover to cover. I found the wealth of knowledge in it fascinating. Perfect for any novice vegetable gardners like me. 

4 Stars

The Power by Naomi Alderman
What if women had more physical power than men? This book certainly made me think. I found the dystopian direction completely fascinating and the characters very intriguing, although it was much darker than I expected.
The Good People by Hannah Kent
A story of a small Irish village, an unwell little boy and ancient folklore. I loved the peek into old pagan rituals and how they bumped up against the new religions. 
The Break by Marian Keyes
When a husband decides he wants 6 months off a marriage to go travel (and have sex with other people) but promises he’ll be back. This was a true Marian Keyes page turner for me. She’s got such a talent for not creating heroes but showing the raw, human side to all her characters. 
Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
I am a huge Tom Hanks fan and I thoroughly enjoyed most of his short stories. They’re all threaded together with the theme of old typewriters and many of them leave you longing for more. 
Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
The premise seems tired: Boy and girl land on desert island… But I really loved this book. I like a cast away story and this one was such a great tale of survival and love with a shocking ending. 
The Organised Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House by Julie Carlson
I will be revisiting this book this year for a good spring clean. The images are beautiful (although they feel rather unattainable when you’ve got kidlets). I find it a highly motivating book with great minimising tips. 

3 Stars

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The story of an unusual mother and daughter who move into a stepford wife-esque community. This was another huge book for 2018 and while I enjoyed reading it and the characters were great, it just didn’t leave me with any real lasting impression. 
Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work by Melissa Gira Grant
While parts of this book gave an interesting insight into the world of the sex worker, it came across as very sterile and defensive, rather than informative. I was hoping for more history and context. 
Stuffocation by James Wallman
If you want a kick up the bum to have a good clear out, this might be it. The only reason I stopped at 3 stars was that I found the writing quite flat and repetitive. But the concept works.
Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
I really like Sara Pascoe and this book is a perfect introduction to her witty and intelligent personality (and sexual experiences). I was a little put off by how self deprecating she was at times, but enjoyed it overall. 
Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy by Tim Harford
I found the first half of this book absolutely fascinating but once I was on thing number 26… I started to feel a bit overwelmed by the wealth of information. It would make an excellent gift for any fact hungry friends. 
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
I love a good time-travel love story. But this one fell a little flat for me. An easy read that was enjoyable at times, but I think this storyline has been done better elsewhere. 
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto
The message in this book about mindfulness is completely simplistic and really quite profound. But it’s unfortunately very repetitive and became annoying in the end. 
Mindfulness for Creativity: Adapt, Create and Thrive in a Frantic World by Danny Penman
If this was the first book on creativity you had ever read, I’m sure it would offer some amazing insights, but because I’ve pretty much read the subject to death, I didn’t really find anything of interest or value in it. 
The Postnatal Depletion Cure: A Complete Guide to Rebuilding Your Health and Reclaiming Your Energy for Mothers of Newborns, Toddlers and Young Children by Oscar Serrallach
I was hoping for so much more from this book and probably unfairly so. I wanted a magic solution to sleep deprivation and burn out… But after reading it, I felt like “Of course I would feel better if I followed your highly prescriptive hormone balancing diet plan, but some Wednesdays I can barely manage a cup of tea and a Hob Nob for breakfast let alone homemade buckwheat and quinoa pancakes.”

And that, my friends is a round of up what I read in 2018. The great, the good and the mediocre. Did our book reading choices cross paths at all? Or have you any good recommendations to sling my way?

Naomi can’t decide which she loves more: adventuring with her boys or being left alone in a luxurious bath with a great book.
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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21 thoughts on “What I Read in 2018

  1. Thank you for this. I joined goodreads after your post earlier this year. As a result I’ve been reading more and have been really enjoying. I add books I come across that look good to my “want to read” shelf so I don’t forget about them!

    1. Ah so glad you’re getting the same benefits from it as me Sarah. I love having a ‘to read’ list!

  2. Naomi, I vowed never to buy Rich a book again because they just pile up unread on his bedside table. However his favourite actor is Tom Hanks so you’ve convinced me that I need to give him one last shot with Tom’s book:)

    I gave up on ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ – I read it straight after ‘‘Everything I Never Told You’ and they were so similar that it just ended up irritating me!

    I’m near the end of The Camomile Lawn after Alice mentioned it in her post and really don’t want it to end! Surely the sign of a good book x

    1. Gavin rarely finishes books either!! Drives me nuts. The Tom Hanks books is a collection of short stories so might be perfect for that!

      I love it when I don’t want a book to end. Must add The Camomile Lawn to the list now! I felt that way about The Stranger by Karen Riordan, just finished it and I miss it already.

  3. Great post Naomi, I’m definitely going to add a few of these to my reading list for the year! The next two books in my pile are Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and The Goldfinch, have been meaning to read for years!
    After the recommendation on here I read The Camomile Lawn and loved it. Also read Sally Rooney Normal People which was very good and I really love the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. They are really absorbing stories about six adopted sisters, each from a different country finding out about their past.
    I saw you mention the post natal depletion book on instagram and wondered if it had a wonder solution to sleep deprivation! I listened to the Motherkind Post with Dr Oscar Serrallach and that was very interesting and informative. Wished I’d heard it in my two under two years! x x

    1. Oh Ella I think we have similar tastes! Chamomile Lawn is, as I have bored everyone with on here, one of my favourites, I adored Reasons To Stay Alive and I’m now about a quarter way through Normal People! (Naomi, I would definitely recommend it, I think Charlotte has read it, too)
      I started The Power but I have to admit that I’m not a massive sci-fi/dystopian fan but I think I should keep persevering!
      Happy New Year! Does anyone else find that they basically read the majority of their books in the first half? I just want to hibernate! x

      1. Yep, I’m way more productive in the first half of a year all round Alice! I think I’ll read Chamomile Lawn next, I’m sure it’s on my to-read list after your last book post. I had such high hopes for How to Stop Time by Matt Haig based on Reasons to Stay Alive!

    2. I’ve added all of these to my To Read list Ella! Thank you!
      Ah I was very frustrated with the section on Sleep in Dr Serrallach’s book. He recommended things like limiting technology before bed, taking a bath etc. But the only mention of the human alarm clock that’s actually disturbing the sleep was to stop breastfeeding. I know plenty of bottle fed non-sleeping babies so it really seemed like a nonesense piece of advice.

  4. This is going to hurt by Adam Kay. Secret Diary of a Junior Doctor (side achingly funny and then you get so angry) He is in Obs and Gynae so trigger warning for those who have experienced pregancy/baby loss

    Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – utterly brilliant and really made me think.

    Buy both at to support your high street!

    1. Claire this is the first I’ve hear of! Thank you!! I’m off to place an order just now. Also, Gavin bought me This is Going to Hurt for Christmas, so it’s in my stack 🙂

      1. Hive is the ultimate way of earning Brownie points for shopping online – it’s on so you get a donation for your chosen charity (at no extra cost to you); your order from Hive comes from an independent high street store and a % of your spend goes to another independent store of your choice (again at no extra cost to you). So it’s fab for anyone wanting to avoid Amazon due to their shocking tax record etc

        1. I’m super guilty of being tethered to Amazon, so this is awesome to know Claire! Thank you so much. I think I’ll pop this onto my resolutions list!

  5. I love all the Camomile Lawn love – it’s definitely one of my gentle read go-to books. Actually, everything by Mary Wesley is, it’s just so evocative of the period they were written in. A bit like Enid Blyton for adults (but with fewer smugglers).

    I managed quite a few books this year and the one which really stood out for me was ‘Vox’, which I think is definitely worth a read. I enjoyed How To Stop Time but I haven’t read any of Matt Haig’s other books to compare it with. I just re-read This Is Going To Hurt and I would also recommend that still – it’s a very interesting, powerful book.

    I have to say though, there was very little that blew me away this year and I really struggled to hit my Goodreads target as I’d basically run out of things I wanted to read (142/150 isn’t bad though, and it was a big ask!). I’ll be following this for recommendations though – particularly for gripping, multi book series!

    1. 142 books?! Holy smokes! How do you find the time?!
      I’m intrigued by this Vox, just looked it up… Is it the one by Nicholson Baker or by Christina Dalcher?
      I quite enjoyed the Outlander Series. I’m in the market for another series though. There’s nothing like the excitment of the end of a book knowing you get to open the next one to find out more. Although most of my series favourites are young adult ones, like His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.

      1. Basically I neglect my children and husband a lot. Plus I’m a very fast reader, and I commute three days a week, all of which gives me a bit more time! Oh, and I read a LOT of highly entertaining rubbish – it’s not the most brain engaging stuff.

        It was the one by Christina Dalcher, I think it was released in the last year. It was just one of very few books which got under my skin and left me thinking about it afterwards.

        I really enjoyed the Outlander series too – the next one of those is due out this year, I think. Plus there’s the series to watch, which has been really good the last couple of weeks. And plenty of Jamie, obvs. I find that I have to be in the right mood for Phillip Pullman, otherwise I really struggle to engage with it.

        If you like YA fiction, I’d strongly recommend the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix – it’s a three book series, and it’s very good.

  6. Great post! You have inspired me to jot down what I read in 2019. If you liked Eleanor Orpheliant I would also recommend Normal People and Coversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Both brilliant.

  7. I read 38 books in 2018 and one of my favourites was I’ll be gone in the dark by Michelle McNamara. It’s true crime about the golden state killer but the authors own story and passion is what grabbed me. Tin Man by Sarah Winman made me cry – in a good way. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult was thought provoking but enjoyable. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr is beautiful and all the chapters are short so it’s ideal if you are pressed for time.

    I’m kicking off 2019 with Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier and really enjoying it so far. I also have the last two books in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths lines up. I never thought I would read ten books in a series in just a few months so I suppose I should recommend these too.

  8. I have enjoyed the Neoplotian Novels by Elena Ferrante this year. I’ve only got through the first two but they are excellent.

  9. Great list of books to try here, thank you! In return, my recommendation for you is ‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish – loads of twists and turns with an excellent premise if, like me, you are hooked on property shows!

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