Regardless of what happens in the economy, with our finances, or any of the other pressures we have in life, diving into a good book is still one of the best ways to escape and lead another life for a while. Whether you want to follow the story of a secret agent or a school teacher, words written poetically onto a page will be ready to keep us company for a while.
In 2018, we saw some brilliant additions to the world of books and we’re going to list 50 of our favourites below. From novels to non-fiction guides, we’ll have something for everyone!
With rave reviews on Amazon and various book-related websites, the memoirs of the first African-American First Lady of the United States were hotly anticipated…and didn’t disappoint. With interesting stories from her childhood in Chicago and her time alongside President Barack Obama in the White House, the book provides an alternative view of the Obama world compared to Barack’s two books. As well as tales of her journey through life, it provides inspiration as she continually defies expectations.
A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel – We all have secrets, and many of us are ashamed of certain things we’ve done. For Erich Ackerman, a Cambridge professor and protagonist of this novel, he quickly shares his past in Hitler’s Germany with a young writer named Maurice. An interesting relationship between mentor and mentee develops, and you won’t want to put this one down as it unravels.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger – In recent times, we’ve seen an outpouring of anger as more women step forward and find the confidence to confront their alleged sexual attackers. In the U.S. and all around the world, there has been interest in the stories filling the news. Thanks to Vivian Cornick, we have a brilliant guide to the historical context of the current circumstances as well as a better understanding of what led to the MeToo movement.
Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs – Famous in Manhattan and across the fashion industry, it’s fair to say Bill Cunningham has a passion for fashion photography. When it comes to capturing the trends that would soon encapsulate the country, Cunningham was at the forefront with photos in the Sunday Styles. In this terrific book, however, we learn more about the man behind the lens and the interesting themes and stories it discovers may just change the way you view the world.
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World – For those who love a good nonfiction political book, this is the one for you. Challenging the global elite’s attempt to ‘change the world’, Giriharadas discusses the balance between public philanthropy and secret tax evasion. Meanwhile, he also breaks down the democratic process and the eroding of public institutions. As well as detailed information, the book provides interviews with those he challenges and the debate is intriguing (to say the least!).
French Exit: A Novel – Did Frances Price find her husband dead and then fail to alert the authorities before travelling to Vail for a skiing trip? That’s the rumour, and she’s pictured in the newspapers as happy as ever the following week. Coupled with Malcolm, her son, they stay in the Four Seasons after their riches seem to fade to nothing. Eventually, they leave for the French capital where the bizarre set of circumstances continue.
Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else– If you’re looking to chuckle while also feeling a sense of solidarity and recognition, the brilliantly clever essays from Maeve Higgins have everything. Although we expected nothing less from a comedian, Higgins believes she has an outside perspective of New York after being born in Ireland. With comical comments and other clever witticisms, you can’t help but appreciate the conclusions she reaches on social, personal, and economic events.
Sexographies – In his hometown of Lima, Peru, Ricardo Badani is a controversial name. Best described as a polygamist sex guru, he has six wives and a lifestyle that many detest. For Gabriela Wiener, a Peruvian journalist, she saw an opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle and took it with both hands. After being invited to spend a couple of nights with Badani and his wives, the result is a collection of essays that wouldn’t be out of place in a strange novel (from Lima to swinger parties in Barcelona!).
There There: A Novel – There There follows twelve different characters as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow; while some attend for money, others attend for a sense of belonging and meaning. As the interesting narratives are expertly interweaved, the characters each have stories that bring them to the event. Heart-breaking at times, this beautifully-written story offers a deep yet somehow brief glimpse into urban Native America.
The Mars Room: A Novel – In a psychological experience (a rollercoaster full of hectic, criss-crossing emotions), this story takes an almost journalistic approach to the women’s penal system in California. These women, though frequently visited and part of the largest women’s prison on the planet, are largely forgotten and excluded from society. Romy, a former stripper in the Mars Room, killed her stalker and her life was about to change forever.
The Pisces: A Novel – There’s no doubt about it, Lucy has reached a stalemate in seemingly every area of her life. After ending a long-term relationship and venturing on some Tinder dates, she’s fallen out of love with life…until Theo comes along. Spending his days as a merman, she feels compelled to join him in the sea but the story is more about the way that love can consume us. Yet, no matter how hard we fall, escaping ourselves is another matter entirely.
Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging – She knows about her mother immigrating from Burma and her father’s roots in Ireland and Luxembourg, but this is just the beginning of Wagner’s family’s secrets. As she keeps uncovering the secrets of her ancestry, we’re sure you’ll keep turning the pages of this exciting book.
The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity – Sally Kohn is known across the U.S as an outspoken liberal commentator who always remains calm and respectful regardless of her fundamental disagreements with conservatives. Yet, in recent years, she’s found herself falling into the anger trap and so decided to research the history of awful acts and prejudices. Alongside the historical stories and overall negative theme, Kohn is still able to inject some laughter in an attempt to remind us that personal opinions are exactly that.
A Long Way from Home: A Novel – As Carey returns to his hometown to address the subject of race in Australia for the first time, a married couple, Titch and Irene, decide to enter a 17-day car race as a promotional tool for their used car business. After choosing their neighbour, Willie, as the navigator, they soon stumble across stories of his heritage and the true treatment of Australia’s Indigenous people is put under the microscope.
Feel Free: Essays – In this collection of essays from the British-born Zadie Smith, we discover this brilliant writer’s musings on everything from social media to the world of rap. Through the intimate thoughts on various subjects, Smith also explores some key themes including the increasing polarization in the United States.
Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang– For Lamont ‘U-God’ Hawkins, death and music almost became synonymous in his early years of adulthood. Raised by a single mother in 1970’s New York and in survival mode from the beginning, Hawkins soon found a way to harness his emotions after meeting others who had been through similar experiences. They would go on to form Wu-Tang Clan, but this story is of the man behind the musician and his tale of survival and pain.
Census – As a dedication to his late brother who was born with Down Syndrome, Ball beautifully tells a story of father and son. After learning he’s dying, the father becomes a census taker and the two have a reason to travel the Northern counties. The father must tattoo the rib of everybody they encounter. Offering an apocalyptic-type setting but with all the familiar themes we know of love, Census is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking.
Back Talk: Stories – In a variety of stories set all around the world, you’ll soon notice the underlying themes of human behaviour that Lazarin manages to explore. Underneath the stories of psychic sisters and the awkward encounters of teenagers, these haunting themes will stay with you long after turning the final page.
An American Marriage: A Novel – During an argument, Roy shouts their safe word ‘November 17’ to prevent things getting personal with his wife, Celestial. Suddenly, safe words are no use though as Roy is wrongly accused of violent crime which sees him given 12 years in prison. Set in the New South, the story is a fantastic look at honouring love through the toughest circumstances yet while also wanting a brighter future.
Creative Guest – Just as they were about to play Radio City Music Hall, the band of Questlove’s parents had an emergency; the drummer was injured. Although only 13, Questlove filled in and the rest, as they say, was history. As well as investigating his own creative process, Questlove assesses the process of others in this brilliant journey. If you want to find your own creativity while also enjoying interesting anecdotes along the way, this is a fantastic option.
Look Alive Out There: Essays – As the third brilliant collection of essays from this particular writer, we join Crosley as she attempts to find the man holding her online domain name hostage while also searching for her adult film star uncle. As well as laughs, you’re likely to nod in appreciation and respect at the more poignant moments too.
Like Brothers – Known for their lack of pretension, the memoirs of these famous siblings take you through the good times (and the bad) that have filled the lives of the Duplass brothers. Whether it’s Jay’s depression or their joint refusal to conform to Hollywood traditions, the story cleverly interweaves stories of compromise where their bromance is sometimes forced to take a back step for the good of their friendship and families.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters – Why do we enjoy spending time with some people and not others? What defines a ‘good time’ with social gatherings? From peace processes in the Arab world to simple meetings between friends, Parker explores the basic human need of relating to others and how we all search for meaningful interactions.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – With a new blood testing machine in tow, Elizabeth Holmes was sure she would make it with Theranos, her biotech company. In fact, experts believed a medical revolution was around the corner and the company was valued at $9 billion during a round of fundraising. However, Carreyrou soon discovered investors were being misled and patients were being put at risk. After Enron, nobody thought Silicon Valley would be deceived again – we were wrong.
A Terrible Country: A Novel – Founder of n+1 magazine, Gessen was born in Russia and provides us all with insights into life under Putin in this stunning novel. As a Russian-American returns home to look after his grandmother, he finds a torn society and soon finds love in a young activist; with two very different societies forming, which side will Andrei choose?