My record of everything I’ve read in 2018, including links to where I’ve written about it.

84. Susan Orlean, The Library Book (USA, 2018). An exploration of libraries, revolving around the 1986 LA Central Library fire.

83. Charlotte Runcie, Salt on Your Tongue (Scotland/England, 2019). A memoir of motherhood, art, women and the sea. [***]

82. Dov Alfon, A Long Night in Paris (Israel, 2016 tr. 2019). Brisk thrill set over the course of 24 hours. [***]

81. Guðmundur Andri Thorsson, And the Wind Sees All (Iceland, 2011 tr. 2018). A whirlwind tour of two minutes in the lives of an Icelandic fishing village. [****]

80. Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Poland, 2009 tr. 2018).

79. Dalia Grinkevičutė, Shadows on the Tundra (Lithuania, 1997 tr. 2018). Harrowing memoir of the author’s time in a Siberian labour camp. [***]

78. Abi Silver, The Pinocchio Brief (England, 2017). Intriguing legal thriller about a schoolboy accused of murdering his teacher, and a piece of advanced lie-detection software. [***]

77. Edward Carey, Little (England, 2018). Eccentric novel about the life of Madame Tussaud. [***]

76. J.L. Butler, Mine (England, 2018). A thriller that doesn’t thrill. [**]

75. Erhard von Büren, A Long Blue Monday (Switzerland, 2013 tr. 2018). A man recalls his unrequited love at college, and reflects on what he has become. [***]

74. Clifford D. Simak, Way Station (USA, 1963). A space opera set in rural Wisconsin. [****]

73. Alex Beer, The Second Rider (Austria, 2017 tr. 2018). Thoroughly enjoyable crime novel set in Vienna, 1919. A serious exploration of history coupled with some moments of outright comedy. [****]

72. Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists (USA, 2018). Four siblings discover the date of their deaths, which shapes their subsequent lives. I found the author’s thumb to be on the scales too much. [**]

71. A.L. Kennedy, The Little Snake (Scotland, 2016). Charming fable about a girl who befriends a snake that ushers people out of their lives. A tale of loss and finding one’s place in the world. [****]

70. Guy Bolton, The Pictures (England, 2017). A murder mystery set in Golden Age Hollywood. [***]

69. Evald Flisar, A Swarm of Dust (Slovenia, 2016 tr. 2017).

68. Dag Solstad, T Singer (Norway, 1999 tr. 2018). The tale of a librarian and his family, which doesn’t sound much when I put it that way, but is transformed by the writing into an examination of the distance between people. [****]

67. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (England, 1831). When my book group chose this, I was surprised to realise I hadn’t read it before. I enjoyed it but didn’t love it; possibly my aversion to 19th century prose got in the way. [***]

66. Marc Nash, Three Dreams in the Key of G (England, 2018). Three narrators (including the human genome) discuss deep questions of biology and existence, and minutiae of human life. [****]

65. Vasil Bykau, Alpine Ballad (Belarus, 1964 tr. 2018). Gripping and romantic tale of a Belarusian soldier and a young Italian woman who escape from a concentration camp. [***]

64. Eva Meijer, Bird Cottage (Netherlands, 2016 tr. 2018). Biographical novel about Gwendolen Howard, a concert violinist turned naturalist with a fascination for birds. [***]

63. Igor Eliseev, One-Two (Russia, 2016). Two conjoined sisters try to find their way, and themselves, in 1980s and ’90s Russia. [***]

62. Muriel Spark, The Girls of Slender Means (Scotland, 1963). The characteristically Sparkian tale of the lives, loves and woes of a group of women living in a wartime boarding house. [****]

61. Valeria Luiselli, The Story of My Teeth (Mexico, 2013 tr. 201). Novel about an auctioneer who buys and sells famous teeth, and the changing meaning of objects. [***]

60. D.A. Northwood, Judderman (UK, 2018). Another pseudonymous novella from the Eden Book Society. A boy searches for his brother, who vanished while chasing a mysterious figure in the hidden shadows of London. [***]

59. Emma Viskic, And Fire Came Down (Australia, 2017). More trouble for Caleb Zelic in the brisk sequel to Resurrection Bay. [***]

58. Tatyana Tolstaya, The Slynx (Russia, 2000 tr. 2003). Bizarre and disturbing post-apocalyptic tale. [***]

57. Emily Maguire, An Isolated Incident (Australia, 2016). A novel exploring the aftermath of a young woman’s murder, with a strong narrative voice. [***]

56. Margarita García Robayo, Fish Soup (Colombia, 2012-6 tr. 2018). A collection of sardonic stories about characters distanced from life. [****]

55. Yoko Tawada, The Last Children of Tokyo (Japan, 2014 tr. 2017). A post-catastrophe tale of the elderly young and the healthy old. [***]

54. Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman (Japan, 2016 tr. 2018). A challenge of empathy as the reader meets a woman who only feels normal when working at the convenience store. [*****]

53. Luis Carrasco, El Hacho (2018) Short and poignant novel about an olive farmer trying to hold on to his way of life. [***]

52. Masako Togawa, The Lady Killer (Japan, 1963 tr. 1985). Fascinating tale of a predator being framed for the murders of his victims. [****]

51. Beatriz Bracher, I Didn’t Talk (Brazil, 2004 tr. 2018). An ageing professor talks about his time under torture by the military dictatorship, and the partial nature of understanding that experience. [****]

50. Gavin Extence, The Universe Versus Alex Woods (England, 2013). Quirky novel about the friendship between a teenage boy and an elderly man. [***]

49. Mercè Rodoreda, Death in Spring (Spain, 1986 tr. 2009). A vivid portrait of a boy’s life growing in a village with stifling customs. [***]

48. W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn (Germany, 1995 tr. 1998). Absorbing account of a walk on the Suffolk coast,and a meditation on loss, ranging through history and geography. [****]

47. Jaroslavas Melnikas, The Last Day (Ukraine/Lithuania, 2004 tr. 2018). A superb collection of reflective stories at one side of reality. [****]

46. Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, The Gurugu Pledge (Equatorial Guinea, 2017). A chorus of voices tell the tales of migrants gathered on a Moroccan mountain, waiting for a chance to cross to Spanish soil. [***]

45. Lucy Wood, The Sing of the Shore (England, 2018). Another superb collection from the author Diving Belles, weaving something rich and strange from ordinary life in off-season Cornwall. [*****]

44. Cristina Rivera Garza, The Iliac Crest (Mexico, 2002 tr. 2017). A strange and slippery novel in which marginalisation is contagious, a boundaries of gender and identity blur. [***]

43. David Goudreault, Mama’s Boy (Canada, 2015 tr. 2018). Snappy tale of an unlikeable type searching for his mother, whether she wants to know him or not. [***]

42. Scott Pack, Weightless Fireworks (England, 2018). A lovely collection of haiku by a long-time friend of this blog. [****]

41. Rachel Halliburton, The Optickal Illusion (UK, 2018). Novel about an art scandal in 18th century London. Dry at times, but ultimately compelling. [***]

40. Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying (USA, 1993). Quietly powerful novel of 1940s Louisiana, in which a disaffected young black teacher is asked to educate a man who has been (wrongly) sentenced to death. [****]

39. Alison Moore, Missing (England, 2018). A novel about communication and the uncertainty beneath everyday life. [****]

38. Ignát Hermann, Childless (Czech Republic, tr. 1925). An affecting and surprising novella about the secrets of a childless couple. [****]

37. L.G. Vey, Holt House (England, 2018). A horror novella exploring toxic masculinity in a strangely timeless house. [****]

36. Emma Healey, Whistle in the Dark (England, 2018). A woman tries to discover what happened to her daughter, who has been found – alive and well, but distant – after going missing for four days. [****]

35. Anna Vaught, Killing Hapless Ally (UK, 2016). A compelling novel about living with, and seeking to move forward from, mental health issues. [****]

34. François Blais, Document 1 (Canada, 2013/8). Enjoyable novel about a pair of slackers planning a road trip they can’t afford. [****]

33. Tony Peake, North Facing (South Africa/England, 2017). A tale of 1960s South Africa refracting broader events through the prism of life at a boarding school. [***]

32. Sam Thompson, Communion Town (England, 2012). A re-read of this novel in which each chapter reinvents a city. Still highly enjoyable. [****]

31. Ruth Hogan, The Keeper of Lost Things (England, 2017). Read for my book group. There was so much to dislike, I had to force myself to finish it. [*]

30. Javier Cercas, The Blind Spot (Spain, 2016/8). An essay on Cercas’ view of the novel, which I found useful to think with and against. [****]

29. Herman Bang, The Four Devils (Denmark, 1890/1927). A classic Danish tale of infatuation set in the circus. [****]

28. Neil Campbell, Zero Hours (England, 2018). The tale of a young man living on the knife-edge of zero-hours work. [***]

27. Nora Ikstena, Soviet Milk (Latvia, 2015/8). The tale of a mother and daughter finding (or losing) their way in Soviet-occupied Latvia. [****]

26. Christoph Ransmayr, The Flying Mountain (Austria, 2006/18). Evocative novel written in blank verse, concerning two brothers who leave Ireland to search for and climb a Tibetan mountain fabled to be higher than Everest. [****]

25. Antony Johnston, The Exphoria Code (England, 2017). Nicely propulsive spy thriller about a top-secret computer code for programming smart drones. [***]

24. Ariana Harwicz, Die, My Love (Argentina, 2012/7). Powerful tale narrated by a woman driven to the edge by marriage and motherhood. [****]

23. Antonio Muñoz Molina, Like a Fading Shadow (Spain, 2014/7). A novel juxtaposing two soujourns in Lisbon: one that of James Earl Ray, shortly before his arrest for the murder of Martin Luther King; the other that of the author, researching his first novel. [***]

22. Jorge Consiglio, Southerly (Argentina, 2016/8). Seven dreamlike stories of change. [***]

21. Han Kang, The White Book (South Korea, 2016/7). A fragmented meditation on the colour white, and a novel giving life to the author’s sister who died as a baby. Glass-sharp, as ever. [****]

20. Javier Cercas, The Impostor (Spain, 2014/7). A fascinating examination of Enric Marco, who falsely claimed to have been held in a Nazi concentration camp. Cercas pieces together Marco’s real life, and reflects on the implications of writing about him. [****]

19. Laurent Binet, The 7th Function of Language (France, 2015/7). A thriller which begins with Roland Barthes’ death (run over by a laundry van) and becomes a country-hopping romp with a cast of intellectuals, and (possibly) the ultimate secret of persuasion. I found this great fun to read at the start, but ultimately it outstayed its welcome. [***]

18. Virginie Despentes, Vernon Subutex 1 (France, 2015/7). First volume of a trilogy about the washed-up former owner of a music shop. There’s a certain energy to the prose, but I just didn’t get along with this book. [**]

17. László Krasznahorkai, The World Goes On (Hungary, 2013/7). A collection of stories revolving around individuals trapped in their situations and the relentless march of time. Some pieces worked for me, some left me indifferent. [***]

16. Wu Ming-yi, The Stolen Bicycle (Taiwan, 2015/7). A highly enjoyable tale weaving together the history of bicycles, World War Two, butterfly handicrafts, and more besides. [***]

15. Olga Tokarczuk, Flights (Poland, 2007/17). A wide-ranging novel of fragments, concerning travel and the human body. [****]

14. Anietie Isong, Radio Sunrise (Nigeria, 2017). A radio journalist returns to his home town to make a documentary, but things don’t go quite as expected. Brisk and sharp, this is great fun. [****]

13. Jenny Erpenbeck, Go, Went, Gone (Germany, 2015/7). An attentive novel concerning a retired academic and the refugees he comes to know in Berlin. [****]

12. Gabriela Ybarra, The Dinner Guest (Spain, 2015/8). A novel piecing together and reflecting on the kidnap and killing of the author’s grandfather, and her mother’s death from cancer. [***]

11. Jaap Robben, You Have Me to Love (Netherlands, 2014/6). On a remote island, a boy’s father goes missing at sea, putting his relationship with his mother under strain. Seriously affecting stuff. [****]

10. Ahmed Saadawi, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Iraq, 2013/8). Adapts the Frankenstein story to highlight the absurd nature of life in a Baghdad at war. Brilliant. [*****]

9. Oliver Bottini, Zen and the Art of Murder (Germany, 2004/18). Crime novel set in the Black Forest which involves a child trafficking ring and a cop struggling with her demons. [***]

8. Tarjei Vesaas, The Ice Palace (Norway, 1963/93). Beautiful, jagged tale of a girl whose friend goes missing in a frozen waterfall. [****]

7. Chris Power, Mothers (England, 2018). A striking collection of stories about people finding their way – or not finding it. [****]

6. Roma Tearne, The White City (England/Sri Lanka, 2017). A tale of displacement and fraying families, in a future frozen London. [***]

5. Simon Okotie, In the Absence of Absalon (England/Nigeria, 2017). An absorbing detective novel told in extreme close-up. The protagonist thinks a world of things, all while talking his keys from his pocket. [****]

4. José Mauro de Vasconcelos, My Sweet Orange Tree (Brazil, 1968/2018). A poignant novel of childhood with a charming and cheeky protagonist. [****]

3. Alan Parks, Bloody January (Scotland, 2017). Debut crime novel set in 1970s Glasgow, where a detective tries to discover what lay behind two teenage shootings. Properly gripping stuff. [****]

2. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (England/Japan, 2005). Ishiguro’s novel of young people growing up in a mysterious school and then [spoilers redacted]. I found it less engaging than I expected, felt that it fell between stools.

1. César Aira, The Lime Tree (Argentina, 2003/17). A dense, digressive autobiographical novel from a cult Argentinian author who was new to me. I want to read more of his work after this. [***]