Favourite Books Of 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018
In 2018 I fell back in love with reading and actually achieved what I set out to do, which was to read more books this year. Some have been on my 'list' for years, others I've found through recommendations and some were gifted. Most of the following books were released way before 2018 but these are my favourites amongst those I have read this year which I recommend...enjoy!

Helmut Newton Autobiography

I eased my way back into reading with an autobiography that caught my eye on the family bookshelf. Told through the witty and honest voice of Helmut Newton, he goes back to his childhood upbringing, family and his climb up the ladder to becoming one of the best photographers in the fashion industry. Newton doesn't hold back and talks about both his intimate and professional relationships in detail and how they have shaped his work and him as a person. The book was both funny and sharp, effortless to read and Newton's personality comes through perfectly in his writing.

The Bell Jar

I hadn't read anything by Sylvia Plath up until now and fell in love with her writing style from the first sentence - it's great what books you find lying around your house! Though shocking and painful to read, Plath writes effortlessly about semi-fictional character Esther Greenwood and the realistic emotional turmoil she falls into. Esther is a young and talented woman trying to 'make it' in New York but is faced with a debilitating mental illness making for a bleak and haunting story of her experiences. She writes in such vivid detail, you can almost see the whole story play out in front of you. It's not the easiest of reads however it's truly honest and still garners the character's humour and realness throughout.

Sofia Coppola: A Cinema Of Girlhood

A friend gifted this to me and I was delighted as I love reading and learning about cinema! This book explores the cinematic work of Sofia Coppola and how she showcases female characters through themes of sex, fame, power and celebrity. Author Fiona Handyside talks about every film of Coppola's including The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette and how she uses costume, colour and light to portray the 'girl world'. At times, it did somewhat feel like a dig at Coppola's success (due to the fact she is the daughter of one of the biggest directors in cinema) though it was after all a critical study and an interesting analysis into this important area of cinema. Ideal for those studying or just curious about post-feminism/girlhood in film.

Breaking Mad

I was given this some years ago and like I said, as I finally am getting back into reading - it means finally putting gifts to use, even if years later... in comes this helpful and friendly guide to conquering anxiety. Told by Anna Williamson, a tv presenter, now author/counsellor and Mind charity ambassador, she recounts her previous experience with anxiety and how she managed it. I truly admire these people that can overcome issues like this enough to make a book about it and find it hugely inspiring. It's a hands-on, no nonsense kind of guide which gets straight to the issues head on and why they actually happen which I found useful and informative on areas I hadn't thought about. There were also parts I found less relatable and/or repetitive but overall a great go-to guide in times of need.

Portrait Of A Young Man Drowning

Another book lying round the house that peaked my interest and was immersed by the first chapter. The one (and only) novel by Charles Perry which draws heavily on his own personal experience growing up in Brooklyn amongst gangsters and juvenile delinquents. The story explores the life of Harold who gets caught up in the underworld scene while living at home with his overbearing mother and step father. The whole novel is written from Harold's point of view so we really feel like we're in his head with him and growing as he grows. I researched afterwards and discovered the movie adaptation 'Six Ways To Sunday' with Adrien Brody and Debbie Harry which is good but doesn't quite sting as much as the book - a must read. 

Kafka On The Shore

I heard about this book as recommended via Jenn Im (here). This isn't the kind of book where it goes from A-Z and everything is neatly rounded up and makes sense - no, no no. This book is a complete whirlwind including fish falling from the sky, talking cats and Colonel Sanders - to name a few things. Haruki Murakami has a vast and hugely colourful imagination which he lets roam free across the pages of this book - following the lives of two characters and their entwined destinies. I enjoyed this book so much, even if I didn't really know where it was going, however, that is what made it just so compelling and kept me turning the pages.

Still Alice

I saw the film version of this some years ago and found it an emotional viewing as my late (grand)papa also suffered from Alzheimer's, like the protagonist Alice. The book, like the film, is truly accurate, and at times painfully so. Author, Lisa Genova, explains in the book via q&a the extent of her research for this story and how she wanted it to be as true to life as possible. Genova leaves no emotion untouched and covers every spectrum of the disease and the complexities involved when a whole family is affected too. Whilst the book is at most times heartbreaking, there is till humour and inspiration to be found in this story from Alice's resilience and determination despite her challenging circumstances. 


Growing up as a British teenager, I often saw/heard Fearne Cotton on the tv/radio like most people, who always came across as this radiant, super-confident girl who has her whole life together - which I still think she does by the way. However, this book was an eye-opener and a brave account of Cotton's experience struggling with mental health. I hugely appreciate her honesty to reveal what was really going on and use this as a tool to help others, like myself. The book features activities/pages to fill out so it never feels like you're wading through pages of writing as it's nicely broken up in sections to let you share your own thoughts and feelings. There are stories from other people in her life plus useful tips and reminders to enjoy the little things and - as the title suggests - finding joy of everyday and letting go of perfect.

On top of that I also read:
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, 
On The Road, 
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, 
Grace: A Memoir, 
Animal Farm, 
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, 
Why be happy when you could be normal?, 
The Dressmaker (not a huge fan),
Do No Harm,
and Le liseur du 6h27 - so overall, a very good year for reading!

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