2019 Jan 25
2018 was an incredible year for literature all-round, so if your New Year’s Resolution was to read more this year, or you simply want to get in more reading time, here are 8 of the top picks from last year you can get started with!
1. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations. The first section, Folly, tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. By contrast, Madness is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.
Asymmetry is a TIME and New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year, New York Times Notable Book, and Times Critic’s Top Book of 2018. The novel by Lisa Halliday became a literary phenomenon last year. It is bold, innovative, and brought fiction back to its rightful place; in the spotlight. Halliday writes expertly, seamlessly showing the contrast between both the worlds and character depicted in the book whilst simultaneously being as compelling as possible. Asymmetry is a must-read.
2. Circe – Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Repeatedly named one of the best books of the year, Circe is the perfect read for fans of mythology and Greek history! Weaving in both female empowerment and all the elements of an exciting read, Circe is the superheroine story the world needed. Circe is an epic tale filled with suspense and well-fleshed out characters that will keep you turning pages.
3. Kudos – Rachel Cusk
A woman writer visits a Europe in flux, where questions of personal and political identity are rising to the surface and the trauma of change is opening up new possibilities of loss and renewal. Within the rituals of literary culture, Faye finds the human story in disarray amid differing attitudes toward the public performance of the creative persona. She begins to identify among the people she meets a tension between truth and representation, a fissure that accrues great dramatic force as Kudos reaches a profound and beautiful climax.
From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of Outline and Transit comes the book that completes the trilogy, Kudos. Perfect for the intellectuals out there, Cusk unflinchingly explores the nature of family and art, justice and love, and the ultimate value of suffering. Kudos is the perfect end to the trilogy, and if you haven’t got your hands on the first book yet, now’s the time!
4. Educated – Tara Westover
An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.
Veering away from fiction, Educated is a memoir by Tara Westover and her childhood, growing up as the youngest of seven children in a survivalist family that lived completely off the grid – this means no school, no birth certificate, no friends, and a minimal education. She would eventually go on to earn a Ph.D in history at Cambridge and her journey is an incredible testament to the thirst for knowledge and education.
5. Warlight – Michael Ondaatje
It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time.
Michael Ondaatje holds a special place in the hearts of our Lankan readers, and rightfully so. Warlight is an exciting novel with all the elements needed to make it a thriller. Perfect for fans of historical fiction, Ondaatje’s storytelling is captivating and spellbinding as always. Brilliant imagery and well-fleshed out characters bring this work of prose to life, making a must-read, especially for all the Lankan Ondaatje fans out there.
6. Becoming – Michelle Obama
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
A must-read for every power woman out there, Becoming by Michelle Obama is a deep reflection of the ups and downs, challenging experiences, triumphs, challenges, and chronicles her story for the rest of the world. One of the most admired women across the world, Becoming is an honest and down-to-earth memoir which is a must-have on your bookshelf.
7. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
An incredible novel of friendship and tragedy, Makkai’s novel explores the theme of loss and grief, set in the mid-80’s AIDS epidemic and thirty years later, following the lives of those affected by the crisis. The novel amply earned its place among the contenders for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award as well.
8. The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani
She has the keys to their apartment. She knows everything. She has embedded herself so deeply in their lives that it now seems impossible to remove her.
When Myriam decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.
The winner of France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, The Perfect Nanny is the disturbing thriller that was missing from this list! This National Bestseller is incredibly engaging, riveting, and filled with suspense. For lovers of this genre, The Perfect Nanny is a perfect read, that will leave you wanting more.