I know it’s now February and we’ve all forgotten that 2018 ever existed, but I wanted to post about the best books I read last year. 2018 was the year I really got back into reading, and I spent most of my evenings (and bus journeys) hiding behind a book. I stopped wasting lots of time scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, and stayed offline, managing to rack up a total of 103 books/graphic novels read.
There were a lot of books I loved from last year, but for the sake of keeping this post relatively short, I’ve whittled it down to my top six. If you’d like to see everything I read last year, check out my Goodreads.
I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
This was the best book I read last year. Alice Oseman has been one of my favourite authors since her first book came out, and I genuinely can’t think of another YA author who writes quite like her. The plots she creates are so intricate and intelligent, and the way she tackles important topics such as mental health and sexuality is amazing. I’ve loved every book she’s written and would genuinely read them all over and over again.
I Was Born For This follows Angel, a Muslim girl absolutely obsessed with band “The Ark”, and Jimmy, a trans male who’s in Angel’s beloved band. It explores what it is to be a fan and what it is to be famous, and how harmful both of these things can be. Oseman creates such fantastic characters, and I always find myself completely engrossed in the story by the end of the first chapter of her books. This was such an incredible novel and I loved how the relationships between the characters developed, and seeing new friendships form and old friendships continue was really wonderful.
Also the ending made me cry a little. Yes, I’m always crying at things that aren’t real. Don’t judge me.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Heartstopper is a graphic novel by Alice Oseman, based on two characters from her first novel, Solitaire. It’s the story of how Nick and Charlie fall in love, and the problems they face as a gay couple in school. I bought this through her Kickstarter last year and I’m so glad that I did. Nick and Charlie’s relationship is so cute, the story is so brilliant and the illustrations are utterly beautiful. If you want to read it online, it’s available on Tapas, or you can buy the physical version on Amazon.
This is not sponsored by the way, I just included the link in case anyone wanted to go read it straight away. Also, Tapas is fantastic if you like indie comics. 100% would recommend.
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
I saw this recommended in one of Alice Oseman’s vlogs about own voices novels and decided to pick it up. It follows Sofia Khan, a writer living in London, who plans to stop dating after being unlucky in love again. However, this plan soon changes when her boss asks her to write an exposé on the Muslim dating scene.
Sofia Khan is flawed but lovable, and keeps her amazing sense of humour even when things don’t quite go to plan. The characters are all well-developed, and I particularly liked seeing how Sofia and her family interacted and how she dealt with what was expected of her. It’s such a fun read, even though some parts did hit me right in the feels and left me almost in tears on the sofa. But who doesn’t love getting emotional over a good romance?
For the Love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson
I got this graphic novel in the “date with a book” promotion at my local comic shop for Valentine’s Day last year. Basically, lots of books were wrapped up, each with a short description given on a gift tag (see this Instagram photo). I was drawn to it by the description on the tag, which read: ‘Revolving around attitudes towards love, sexuality and religion. Really, what harm can come from loving people?’ It focuses on the life of Marie, a girl brought up in a Catholic household, as she discovers what it means to follow your heart and live as you want to, in a world that doesn’t leave much room for breaking from the norm.
It kind of reminded me of the film Riding in Cars with Boys, where you see a woman’s life not quite go as planned and every bad thing that happens kills you that little bit more, until you’re a mascara-covered, emotional mess by the end. There were a lot of strong friendships in this, and I loved all of the characters so much, especially Marie. If you’re looking for a well-written, LGBTQA+ page-turner then I’d definitely pick this up.
Note: This book does contain some sex scenes and is not suitable for people who hate drawings of vaginas. This is the weirdest note I’ve ever put on anything…
My Dad Wrote a Porno by Jamie Morton, Alice Levine and James Cooper
When Jamie Morton found out his dad had self-published an erotic novel called Belinda Blinked, he was horrified. Instead of ignoring it and hoping it would go away, he enlisted his friends Alice Levine and James Cooper to help him read it aloud, creating the incredibly successful podcast ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’. This book is based on the podcast of the same name, and includes snippets of their original commentary, along with lots of new material.
The book consists of the original Belinda Blinked text, which is annotated by Morton, Levine and Cooper, and is absolutely hilarious throughout. As a person who likes to laugh at the Bad Sex Awards every year this was definitely right up my street, and I spent my Christmas holiday laughing on the sofa at the ridiculous plotlines and weird ways of describing genitalia. Genuinely one of the funniest books I’ve ever read!
Note: If you fast forward the sex scenes in True Blood (hello, Mum) then this is not the book for you. There’s a lot of detailed erotic scenes and almost every paragraph has some weird naked thing going on.
Second Note: My mum doesn’t actually read this or know what a blog is, but she does scream at me to fast-forward every time there’s a boob on the TV.
Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Freshers is a book I wasn’t expecting to like, and I only actually read it because there’s so much hype around it and I wanted to get in with the cool crowd, so to speak. From the fact it’s on this list, you’ll probably be able to guess that I ended up loving it.
Spoiler: I did.
Freshers focuses on Phoebe and Luke, who have both just started their first year at university after leaving the same high school. Phoebe has fancied Luke for years, but Luke is completely oblivious to this and barely even knows who she is. The novel follows their university experience, as they become friends and try to survive their first year living away from home.
I loved everything about this book. It was one of those that I couldn’t wait to get home to read, and was incredibly sad when I got to the last page and had to leave Phoebe and Luke behind. It doesn’t sugarcoat the uni experience, and I found it to be quite realistic in terms of dialogue and plot. It made me wish I could go back to university and actually live in halls this time, because the novel made it sound like so much fun, despite some of the negative things that happen. It’s such an upbeat, chilled-out read and I’ll definitely read it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
Okay, you get it.
These are the books that didn’t quite make my top six, but that I still loved a lot. Choosing six out of 103 is so hard!
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- The Second Child by Caroline Bond
- The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain
- A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes by Holly Bourne
- Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood
- The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
- O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
- Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
I’m aiming for 100 books again in 2019, because I feel like having the target reminded me to read more, and got me away from the Internet for a few evenings a week. I know this is a bit of a clichéd thing to say, but I feel like reading more really improved my mental health, and made my free time a lot happier. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it just as much this year!
What was the best book you read in 2018?