I managed to read 37 fiction books this year, out of a total of 53 books. Really happy with that. For the purposes of my yearly review, I go December to November because I still might read something brilliant over the next week! Here are my top ten:
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
A struggling PhD student breaks up with her long term boyfriend and has a bit of a breakdown. To aid her recovery, she house sits for her sister on Venice Beach, attends group therapy, and falls in love with a merman. It’s clever, filthy, sweary, funny, and dark. I loooooved it. My review is here.
Sight – Jessie Greengrass
Our narrator is pregnant for the second time, and contemplating the significant relationships in her life; with her mother, grandmother, partner, and daughter. Long, beautiful, poetic sentences mixed in with three science stories that complement the main story. Contemplative and moving. I adored this book and felt greatly moved by parts of it. My review is here.
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Inspired by Black Lives Matter, The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Williamson and the aftermath of her being witness to her friend’s murder by a police officer. The book follows Starr’s move toward activism, and explores her life as a black student at a mostly white school, and how she is treated in her own neighbourhood because she is sent out of the local district to school. It’s emotional! My review is here.
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
A gay Iliad adventure! We follow the life of Patroclus from his banishment for killing another child, his new life being brought up as a companion of Achilles (his father takes him in), to his adulthood as Achilles lover, and their adventures in the Trojan War. Special shout out to Thetis, Achilles’ Godess sea nymph mother, who does not like Patroclus. She is terrifying and brilliant. My review is here.
In Our Mad and Furious City – Guy Gunaratne
Five residents of a London estate are followed in the aftermath of a terrorist killing that happens nearby. It’s a brilliant book about life in London, and struggles against racism, oppression, religious expectations, and uniting them all – poverty. I just wanted good outcomes for all the characters so desperately! My review is here.
Ponti – Sharlene Teo
Ponti follows the relationships between three Singaporean women. Szu, an awkward teen, her beautiful, cruel, one time film star, mother Amisa, and brash Circe, Szu’s only school friend. We go back to Amisa’s childhood and teenage years, and forward to Szu’s adult life in 2020. The women are all interesting and complicated, and I really enjoyed being immersed in their world during Ponti. My review is here.
Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
The Iliad written from the perspective of Briseis, the war bride taken from Achilles, by Agamemnon, that kicks off the whole story of The Iliad. We join Briseis while she is still a princess, before her city is destroyed by the Greek fighters. I loved the different perspective given to the Trojan war by the women’s story. My review is here.
White Tears – Hari Kunzru
Audio nerds and their descent into obsession with an old blues song that may be cursed. It’s about privilege, racism, ‘authenticity’ and cultural appropriation. Eventually it becomes a quite strange ghost story too, but I liked this weird element! My review is here.
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
A wide ranging story, set over eight generations, of two separated sisters, beginning in the 1770s. One stays on the Gold Coast in Africa as a slave trader’s wife, one becomes a slave and is shipped to North America. You follow each generation of the family up to the present day. My review is here.
Heartburn – Nora Ephron
Hilarious book about a woman coping with her discovery of her husband’s infidelity. I haven’t managed to review this yet! I don’t know whhhyyyyyy. I’ll add the link when I do!
Here are all the fiction books I read this year. Click the name of the book to go to my review of it:
- The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
- Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
- The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch
- Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi
- All the Beautiful Girls – Elizabeth J. Church
- Motherhood – Helen Simpson
- Serious Concerns – Wendy Cope
- The Circle – Dave Eggers
- The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
- In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
- The Hidden Man – Robin Blake
- Sight – Jessie Greengrass
- The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
- The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
- This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell
- After You – Jojo Moyes
- Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
- How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
- Conclave – Robert Harris
- Still Me – Jojo Moyes
- The Pisces – Melissa Broder
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
- Crisis – Frank Gardner
- Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron
- Crudo – Olivia Laing
- The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
- White Tears – Hari Kunzru
- Miss Nightingale’s Nurses – Kate Eastham
- Ponti – Sharlene Teo
- In Our Mad and Furious City – Guy Gunaratne
- Heartburn – Nora Ephron (still not reviewed this!)
- Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata
- Wake – Anna Hope
- The Outsider – Albert Camus