2018 Reading Year in Review

A year filled with dazzling debuts and dearly loved classics


2018 was the year in which I finally got to see Margaret Atwood in the flesh.

Another diverse and entertaining reading year has come to an end. If the unintended theme of 2017 was First and Second World War narratives, then 2018 became the year of reading fresh works by favourite authors and promising new writers.

The most notable debuts for me were House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara and Home is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire. From established authors came Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, White Houses by Amy Bloom and my personal favourite, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.

I read several classics and universally treasured works, including Around the World in Eighty Days (1872) by Jules Verne, The Little Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, A Month in the Country (1980) by J.L. Carr and Treasure Island (1882) by Robert Louis Stevenson.

For a variety of reasons my reading rate slowed considerably towards the end of the year and I therefore devoured far fewer books than 2017. I was, however, still able to complete my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge by the first week in August.

I signed-up for an online course in February: How to Read a Novel and finally succumbed to joining The Classics Club mid way through the year. I also took part in a handful of exciting challenges and events, for which I read the following:

The highlight of my year was attending the Hay Festival, where I obtained tickets for a variety of author events, including those by Margaret Atwood, Rose Tremain and Roddy Doyle (among others) – an experience I will never forget.

Looking ahead to 2019 I’m most highly anticipating The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which is due to be published on 10th September; and I’m filled with enthusiasm for the very first Wales Readathon (aka Dewithon 2019), which will take place throughout the month of March.

Here is a brief breakdown of books I enjoyed reading this year:


Autobiography/Memoir: The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) by Joan Didion

Biography: In Search of Mary Shelley (2018) by Fiona Sampson

Children’s Fiction: Matilda at 30 (2018) by Roald Dahl.

Children’s Non-Fiction: Great Polar Bear (2018) by Carolyn Lesser

Contemporary: Asymmetry (2018) by Lisa Halliday

Historical Fiction: Walking Wounded (2018) by Sheila Llewellyn

History: Sylvia Pankhurst: The Rebellious Suffragette (2018) by Shirley Harrison

LGBT: The Great Believers (2018) by Rebecca Makkai

Literary Fiction: The Silence of the Girls (2018) by Pat Barker

Nature/Environment: The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate (2018) by Nancy Campbell

Pleasant Surprise: Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? 200 birds, 12 months, 1 lapsed birdwatcher (2018) by Lev Parikian

Science Fiction: Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

Short Story Collection: Her Body and Other Parties (2018) by Carmen Maria Machado

Translation: Bottled Goods (2018) by Sophie van Llewyn

YA Fiction: Where the World Ends (2018) by Geraldine McCaughrean


Scoop (1938) by Evelyn Waugh


My overall non-fiction pick of the year is The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail. In fiction it is Alias Grace (1996) by Margaret Atwood.

May I take this opportunity to wish all my book blogging buddies and followers a very happy New Year!

Dewithon Logo Daffs

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42 replies

  1. I hope your next reading year will be as satisfying and stimulating as 2018, Paula!

  2. Excellent summary of what seems to have been a very busy reading year!

  3. What a great reading year! Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and yours! 😀

  4. I also loved Asymmetry and The Library of Ice. Have a great Christmas and New Year!

  5. Wishing you another wonderful year of reading ahead in 2019 Paula!

  6. I hadn’t realised Atwood was doing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale until your blog, I’ll be looking forward to seeing where that goes too! Great review, lots of fab reads and opinions even if your reading did slow a bit by the end of the year, you managed a lot!
    Wishing you & yours a very Merry Christmas!  ♥🎄
    Caz xx

  7. A happy new year to you too 🙂

  8. I’ve got to get the Beekeeper…great to see your list, Paula! Wish you very happy holidays!

  9. There was a sharp intake of breath here when I read you had completed that Goodreads goal by August. I set mine lower this year but am still not going to make it. What did you think of that Future Learn course?

    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

  10. Clearly, it was a great reading year for you. Here’s hoping 2019 will be full of literary adventures as well.

  11. Looks like you had a great reading year! Hope 2019 is good for you, both in books and life! 😀

  12. Wishing you another fabulously literary New Year, Paula ♥

  13. One of my goals for the new year is reading more classics and literary fiction. I am glad you had a great year and I hope the new year is as great as well.

  14. Great list Paula, I’m looking forward to Margaret Atwood’s sequel to the Handmaids tale myself. Happy New Year😊 Wishing you a blessed 2019.

  15. Wishing you a very happy, book-filled, New Year too 🙂

  16. Oh yes, as far as classics go, you can’t beat Treasure Island. Loved it.

  17. I have never read The Little Prince, and I keep forgetting I need to remedy that!

    It looks as if you had a pretty good year. Happy 2019!

  18. I’m very jealous you got to see Roddy Doyle! I’ve seen Atwood a few times, she comes to Boston somewhat regularly (I think because she spent time here).

    Congrats on completing the Goodreads goal! I missed mine, but surpassed my reserve goal of 52 books 😀

  19. Sorry I missed this when you posted it Paula. That time of hear was just too hectic. I love your list of favourites, particularly because it is so diverse – in form and content, but also in year of publication. Even then I’ve only read a couple of them, but they were standouts for me when I read them and have stuck with me ever since: The year of magical thinking, and Alias Grace.

    BTW It’s intriguing how years can have unintended themes. In 2017 Displacement was an a big theme for me, while in 2018 the trend was Young narrators. How does this happen?


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