It has to be said that 2018 was a great year for reading and as we read our way through it I made sure to highlight our favourites, so that I could bring you this “Best of the Rest” post. We are in the midst of summer, where it is too hot to do anything other than grab a shady spot in the hammock and read…
This is the year that I realised e-books are just not for me, unless I am scanning for a quick read. Either I fly through them so fast that I never catch up with the story, or I take so long to read them that I never remember what I am reading about. Interestingly enough, I see reading as relaxing and screen time as work… I cannot connect the two easily and find it almost impossible to read an e-book with intention. It is real books for me all the way, except… I also discovered that I absolutely love audible books. They are my happy place and part of the reason why I love my trip to and from gym every morning immensely.
This is a summary post, if you want to go back and read our full review of a particular book, then click on the title and it will take you there. Meanwhile, lets get started:
Our Best Picture Books of 2018
One Day in Wonderland: A Celebration of Lewis Carroll’s Alice: by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Júlia Sardà: We love a fabulous picture book biography and the story of Lewis Carrol, the author behind Alice in Wonderland is just incredible… the illustrations are magical and packed with details for curious readers of any age.
The Best Writing Inspiration in a Picture Book has to be The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin… This book immediately made we want to trawl through some vintage stores looking for an elderly typewriter. It is about a boy who creates stories using words to wrap through his illustrations. Not just for kids, this book is for any homeschooling moms that think that their children might never ever write a sentence, let alone an actual story… this book will inspire you and give you hope.
Most Fantastic Chapter Book
The House With Chicken Legs: For an amazing fantastical journey of friendship. This book is a discovery of all the things that really count. Finding the balance between true friends and popularity, a real issue facing kids today, and the fact is… true friendship wins every single time. This book has an unusual background story, with our main protagonist searching after a “normal” life, while her granny wants her to pursue the family career of transporting people that have died into the next world. It sounds a little macabre… and hence our heroine’s strong wish to “escape to normality” only to realise that there is no such thing. Love conquers all and true friendship wins. A fairy tale of the most heroic variety, written for middle graders and tweens, with a wild imagination… I loved it.
Kid’s Snakes of Southern Africa and Exploring the Seashore in Southern Africa. Both of these are lovely picture rich books that deserve lots of attention… young nature lovers will love these books that are packed with snippets of information and facts. Lots of information for quick and easy identification… fantastic reads for curious kids.
Best Topical Books for Teens And Adults
This was definitely the year for topical topics to reach the world of young adult literature… and it reached it well.
Most Important Read of the Year: The Girl Who Smiled Beads… I loved this book. A profound read, covering the global problem of refugees, misplaced people all over the world and their plight, or rather flight for freedom. Clemantine writes about her stolen childhood, the ravages of a war she will never understand, her personal survival and the tragedy of it all. This is a profound read, it will stay with you and it is a true story.
Rosie Loves Jack: I was drawn to this book because of it’s pretty cover… and I am so glad that I am not ashamed to read a book because of its cover. It is a fabulous read, a love story, written from the perspective of Rosie. Rosie, has Down Syndrome, is in love with Jack, who has anger issues… they both attend a special school… but their personal issues separate them. Rosie goes on a journey, that no one expects her to be able to go on, and yet she manages… through really difficult times… she conquers public transport and narrowly escapes trafficking, before arriving at her destination. This book is a right of passage… in fact a triumph, for Rosie and for Jack.
Life Changing Non-Fiction of the Year
These books weren’t published in 2018… but I read them/listened to them in 2018 and they were life changing for me. I started by getting the kindle books and realised that I wasn’t reading them at all… books that I really wanted to read!!! I just want to say that when it comes to Gretchen Rubin, you actually want a notebook next to you, to keep track of all the pearls of wisdom, I just relistened and relistened and relistened to sections. So far she has written four books and they are brilliant… “>I started with Happiness in the Home and then went back and read The Happiness Project. I think what had put me off was what I thought would be the inward focus of the Happiness Project, how wrong I was. Happiness in the Home was a great place to start for me… because I will do a lot to create a happy home… I realised that her Happiness Project was a lot more outward looking than I thought it would be and I returned to read it again and then again!!! I went on and absorbed her habit changing books: Better than Before and the Four Tendencies, fascinating reads and The Four Tendencies, really helped me to understand a whole lot about myself and my kids, and our relationships… All her books are fabulous… read them already!!!
Favourite Family Cook Book
Jamie’s Italy outshone all the other cookbooks that passed through our review pile this year… this went straight onto one of the most loved family books ever. Not only is it packed with happy memories as we wound our way through countless recipes… ice-cream sandwiches for the win, but also it is packed with comfort food, like homemade pasta and gnocchi… and so many deliciously healthy salads and one dish meals. Really, and get inspired for some new recipe ideas for the year ahead.
Adult Reads That I Loved This Year
Most gripping read of the year: The Woman in the Window… This book will have you on the edge of your seat, its a thriller and not a genre I would normally pick up, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. Page turning long after you should have gone to bed. A gripping read about a woman who appears to be seeing things… or is she. Highlighting the gap between our perceived reality, and how mental illness, paranoia and grief can cloud our reality… or can it? An excellent read, if you like a book that you can’t put down then pick this one!!!
My favourite saga was The Sealwomen’s Gift, I loved this book… possibly because it was a saga from a completely different culture to historical books that I have read before… mostly historical reads are about the Kings and Queens of England, or Ancient Rome or Ancient Anything… welcome to the World of Vikings and slavery on the North African Coastline, during the Middle Ages. Loved this book… if you enjoy something a little different and a historical saga all at the same time… then this is a great book for you.
And then, what would be a great year of reading, without a fabulous book of unrequited love… Meet Me At the Museum was that book for me. Loved this and a classic example of “There is no such thing as an ordinary life.” What can I say… a peep into the correspondence between an older museum curator and a middle aged mom with a dream. Lovely, lovely read.
Audible Fiction That I Love
A lot of folk told me that they were looking for easy listening fiction on audible, because while they listen to non-fiction on audible, they cant quite get into stories. The fact is, unless you are listening to quick snippets and factoids, then you need a little uninterrupted time to actually get into a story. A great place to start with easy listening and can’t wait for more in this series, was The Mitford Murders. Think period murder mystery, between the wars, family life and interweaving lives and characters.
Once you have gotten into listening to fiction… I love and adore Kate Morton’s books and The Clock Maker’s Daughter was fantastic… Fantastic. Her books are often about a building, in this case a house in the country, and the people whose lives are intertwined through generations, and the house in the country through time. Her books are long, and there are hours and hours of listening, that literally fly past…
That’s us… and all the best for another great year of reading in 2019…