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

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. [***]