Here’s a list of my best books of 2018 – happy reading!
This is the last time I get to talk to you this year. The next time I appear on these pages, we will be into 2019. But before I wish you a Happy New Year, I would like to share some of my happier moments of 2018 with you. And – as some of you may have guessed – they revolved around reading.
So here, in no particular order of importance, are some of my best reads of 2018. If you haven’t read them already, pick up a copy and enjoy them over the holiday season. And Happy Reading to all of you!
Becoming, Michelle Obama
This is, quite simply, a brilliant book. By now, everyone knows the highlights of Michelle Obama’s life. But what this elegant, evocative, and extremely frank autobiography gives us is the real woman behind the image. The young girl who grew up with so little and yet managed to go to Princeton and Harvard. The high-flying lawyer who gave up her big-bucks job to do something more meaningful. And then there is her love story with Barack Obama, the man who would change the course of her life, told with a sometimes startling honesty.
The Other Woman, Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon, one of my favourite fictional spies, is back in the centre of action in this new thriller. The plot will seem familiar to dedicated readers of spy fiction. There is a mole (a double agent) ensconced in the higher ranks of the British intelligence service. And the only way to identify this mole is by raiding the memories of an old woman who is the key to the mystery. But Allon is more than equal to the task, though it does take its toll on his tired and ageing bones.
Lethal White, Robert Galbraith
While this book could have done with a little editing given that it runs to some 600-odd pages (but then, who would dare take a pencil to the work of the great JK Rowling, writing here as Robert Galbraith?), it still qualifies as a great read. The novel-like spread allows the characters of Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott to develop in complexity and scope. So much so, that you don’t really mind that the murder mystery at the heart of the story takes a long time coming.
Lullaby, Leila Slimani
This is not an easy read. The book opens on a murder scene. Two children are dead, at the hand of their nanny, their bodies discovered by the mother. The novel then goes back in time, tracing the events that led to this bloody, macabre scene. How did a nanny who seemed devoted to her charges end up killing them? What were the petty humiliations and snubs that turned her against those she was meant to love and protect? You will be chilled to the core as you read on, but this is not a book you can put down no matter how much it breaks your heart.
The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
On the face of it, this is a book about a jealous ex-wife who is obsessed with the fact that her ex-husband is in love with and about to marry a much younger woman. But as you read on – and I will post no spoilers here – you will discover that nothing is quite as it seems. And the twist in the tale is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Ladder of Years, Anne Tyler
Delia Grinstead seems to have a great life with a doctor husband, three children, and a lovely home (even though it is being rather noisily renovated). And the family is going off for a beach holiday, along with her sisters and nieces. So, why does Delia walk away from the beach – wearing just a swimsuit and robe, carrying a tote bag with 500 dollars in it – and keep going till she reaches a small town where she can start a new life? You are going to have to read this one to find out.
Broken Ground, Val McDermid
This book marks the return of one of my favourite female fictional detectives, DCI Karen Pirie. The book opens with Pirie still in the depths of grief about her dead lover, which she attempts to walk off every night by tramping the streets of Edinburgh. That’s before she’s drawn into a cold case, when a body is dug up in a remote spot in the Highlands. But, of course, as is usual with McDermid, things soon take an unexpected turn. And Pirie had to use all her wits to come to grips with not one but two killers.
Remnants of a Separation, Aanchal Malhotra
We have had many books that tell the story of India’s Partition through the lived memories of people. But this is the first book that tells that story through the medium of the objects that people carried with them as they made the often-bloody crossing to India from what is now Pakistan. Malhotra draws out these stories with ease and retells them with the empathy that owes something to the fact that she belongs to a Partition family herself.
I could go on but as you can see, I have run out of space. So, here are just a few honourable mentions: The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz; Fear by Bob Woodward; and Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.
(Journalist and author Seema Goswami has been a columnist with HT Brunch since 2004. )