07 January 2019

Top 5 Books of 2018

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence book cover
2018 was an excellent reading year for me and I read a new personal best of 72 books, 20 of which I gave 5 stars. This made the selection of my Top 5 Books of 2018 quite difficult, but with so many great books to choose from it was a good problem to have.

Here are my Top 5 Books of 2018 in the order I read them:

1. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

Annie Spence is an experienced librarian and writes a variety of witty and engaging letters to different books in Dear Fahrenheit 451. Some books she can't stand, others were all-time favourites as well as quirky and obscure books she discovered while weeding the stacks.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in May (courtesy of Allen & Unwin) and found myself laughing along with her, agreeing with some of her comments and rushing to look up books that were new to me. I relished her clever sign offs at the end of each letter and her creative nod to the Dewey Decimal System.

Thoroughly original and full of bookish humour, I’ve been recommending Dear Fahrenheit 451 widely, making it an easy choice for my Top 5 list.

The Peacock Summer by Australian author Hannah Richell book cover2. The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell

The Peacock Summer by Australian author Hannah Richell is the perfect historical fiction novel replete with a crumbling mansion/estate that has seen better years. The novel is a story about family, secrets and regrets unfolding in a dual narrative and I just loved it!

The pacing was perfect without any dull periods and the writing was so atmospheric I could almost hear the peacocks in the garden and trace my finger through the dusty rooms. I flew through this in July (courtesy of Hachette) and felt as though it was written just for me. Don't you love it when that happens?

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell book cover3. The Girl on the Page by John Purcell

This was the most surprising read of 2018 for me and the first of its kind on my Top 5 Books list. The Girl on the Page has everything: a setting in the publishing industry, ageing and eccentric authors, bestselling authors, publishing personalities, editing and proofreading, manuscripts aplenty, sex, ambition, literary debate and tragedy.

The plot contains intelligent debate on literature versus bestselling fiction and the writing is punchy, sexy, witty and entertaining. I read this in October (courtesy of Harper Collins) while on a cruise and I'm hanging out to see what Australian author John Purcell writes next.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield book cover4. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Reading Once Upon a River was like sitting at the foot of a legendary storyteller on a wild and stormy night. Set in the 1800s on the river Thames, the story starts at an ancient inn at Radcot called The Swan. The identity of a girl found drowned in the Thames is the mystery gently driving this atmospheric novel forward, and the elements of myth and folklore kept me glued to the page.

Just like the river itself, the story meanders along at times, sometimes appearing deep and dark and others sparkling with insight or forging destructive new paths.

I read this in October (thanks to Penguin Random House Australia) while in London which further enhanced my enjoyment. Once Upon a River is dark and gothic and reads like a fairytale re-telling at times. It was one of my favourite reads of 2018 and I was giddy with excitement when Diane Setterfield thanked me for my review.

5. The Corset by Laura Purcell
The Corset by Laura Purcell book cover

Sometimes you just know when a book you've read is going to be your favourite book of the year. So it was with The Corset by Laura Purcell.

This Victorian gothic thriller unfolds in alternating chapters by two female narrators, a wealthy and charitable woman with an interest in phrenology, and a prisoner named Ruth awaiting trial for murder. Before her arrest, Ruth was a seamstress and claims her needlework has the power to kill.

The Corset is an absolute masterpiece with so many elements I enjoy in a book: secrets, friendship, Victorian England, needlework, gruesome hardship, betrayal, revenge, redemption, hope, poison and mystery. These elements in the Victorian setting and gothic atmosphere enhanced my enjoyment tenfold and I really didn't want this to finish.

It did draw to a close though and the subtle twist at the end made me gasp and is one of the most satisfying endings I can remember reading. The Corset is an intelligent, riveting and engaging story and I enjoyed every stitch on every page. Infinite thanks to Bloomsbury for my favourite book of the year.

I'm really happy with the variety in my Top 5 Books of 2018, and also glad to have two Australian authors in my Top 5 list. If I could add one more to my favourites list, it would have to be Hangman by Jack Heath. This was a ripping read and I'm looking forward to the next in the series in 2019.

Have you read any of the books in my top 5 list? What was your favourite read in 2018?

Carpe Librum!

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a great top list. 4 and 5 are high up on my tbr.

  2. Thanks Theresa, I really hope you enjoy The Corset, I'm still thinking about it :-) And I'm loving seeing other readers falling in love with Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, so hope you're one of them. Dive on in, pun intended.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!