Literature is my subject of study and my medium of choice. I always carry a book with me and as a personal goal I aspire to read a book a week.
In 2018 I read approximately 48 novels, and from those eight stood out by a mile. From my subjective perspective I would of course strongly recommend each and every one of these eight, as I had a marvelous time with all of them – but do read the descriptions, as my taste in literature certainly might not be everybodys cup of tea.
Here are my top 8 of 2018, sorted from least to most exciting.
Heinrich Böll: Ansichten eines Clowns (3,5*)
A classic piece of artistic melancholy, purest in it‘s form, showing how dehumanizing and molding a person into a gearwheel of society culminates in him dehumanizing himself.
Also an intense struggle between deep set hatred of conventional society and the want to be loved like anyone else.
Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Sympathizer (3,5*)
A riveting description of political and ideological motivation leading to betraying oneself, while having the illuson of pure emotions for seemingly innocent human connection. An exiting piece of Vietnamese history, written in a gripping manner.
Maarja Kangro: Klaaslaps (4*)
An intellectual diary style analysis about grieving an aborted child. Kangro deals with a real life in a deeply emotional way but yet such an open mind that every once in a while you almost forget what magnitude of loss she is experiencing every day because her reflections during her travels and the adventurous occupation she has. But at that exact moment the Big Shadow returns.
Leila Slimani: Lullaby (4*)
A seemingly simple psychological thriller with seemingly simple and one-dimensional characters turns into an unexpectedly witty portrait of womanhood, motherhood and how an inner emptiness can have catastrophical conscequences. If Milan Kundera ever wrote a crime novel, this would be it.
Ottessa Moshfegh: Eileen (4*)
An anatomy of the nonbeautiful side of a disturbed female psyche, written refreshingly honestly and somewhat disturbingly, with explicit and unfiltered thoughts.
The protagonists descriptions of herself, regarding the nasty, revolting parts of her mind and body break new ground in the aesthetic of uglyness, juxtapositioned with stigmas and taboos of the female beauty aesthetic. This book in itself is quite the revolution.
„Eileen“ promises to be a story of love and friendship, but somehow turns into something completely different, and with that, manages to disappoint and exceed expectations at the same time. This novel is fresh and brave and just a little nauseating, with an honest female self-aware perspective unlike any other.
Camilo José Cela: The Family of Pascal Duarte (4*)
A ruthless story of a young man and the darkness inside him which leads to the destruction of all hope for a beautiful future. Duartes’ methods for redemption are to say the least unconventional, but somehow his brutality is described so well it still causes empathy.
A horrible, yet wonderful read.
Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance (4*)
An emotional story about the pursuit of happiness and escaping the most unfortunate of conditions and losses, and how a lifetime of tear and toil may lead to one day of bliss, which then is lost in a second. Mistrys characters and stories are so richly layered, each of them could easily be their own novel.
This wonderful, heartbreaking novel and Shantaram should be brothers and read after one another. A fine balance also has one of the most accurately and eloquently put titles I have ever come across.
Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon (5*)
A magical Marquez-esque story about the myths and legends that make a generation, a family, and finally, a man whose obligation it is to carry the secrets and weights of these aspects into his world and onto his children.
Morrisons characters are complex humans, but they are so much more, they are pure magic.
The novel also depicts the humiliation of african americans and the blood on coloured and fair hands resulting from a deep historical hatred, and the struggle to escape both.
All of that topped with that sweet cut-through-your-skin-and-pinch-your-inner-organs kind of Morrisonian Melancholy. What a read!
All in all, Morrisons Song of Solomon was easily the best read of this year, but since Mistry is still fresh on my mind as I read it only a few weeks ago, they are both equally daunting and special for me in regards to last years reading.
Pascal Duarte left a very strong impression, but as it was only a short novel, I still have to comment the other two more, since you can really sink into them for days – if you are that patient, even weeks.
Feel free to leave your opinion about said books in the comment section. If any of those eight gave you an intense reading experience – in a positive or negative way – I’d love to know your thoughts.
If you’re a fellow book lover, I’d love to chat on Goodreads where you’ll find me here, and feel free to browse my bookstagram down below.