This post was supposed to be called My Favourite Books of 2018 but that title felt a bit tardy, so I’ve sneakily tweaked it so that everything’s just a bit more relevant and exciting. I mean, why harp on about the past when you can look forward to the future? Isn’t it more enticing to think about what you could read this year, rather than what you didn’t read last year?
(Grasping at straws there, Crilly. Next time just get your bloody post out on time. And stop taking time off for the Christmas holidays.)
So here’s what I read last year that you should read this year. Obviously there’s the danger that you’ve read them all in 2018 too, but let’s ignore that blip and press on with my favourites…
(links marked * are affiliate links, for more info see disclaimer below post)
Gizzi Erskine’s Slow is just a masterpiece of intelligent, thoughtful recipe-giving. It’s more than recipes, it’s a whole eating philosophy, gradually teased out over dozens of pages. It’s not just about taking your time with the cooking, it’s about the sourcing of the ingredients and the layering of flavours and – even though I’ve not had a minute to cook from it yet – it’s my favourite cookbook in ages. Find it at Amazon here*.
And Fresh India by Meera Soda is a total triumph; I cook Indian food more than any other and Fresh has injected a whole new lease of life into my repertoire, with pickle-laced rice dishes and zingy salads and slow-cooked curries. Find it here*.
My non-fiction pick of the (last) year is This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years – both devastating and funny, all at the same time, with highs that tested my pelvic floor to the limit and lows that had me weeping. It’s rude, it’s heartbreaking, it’s hilarious and it’s written so well that I polished off the whole thing in four hours. And found a whole new level of respect for doctors, which I didn’t think was possible because I already thought they were at superhuman level. Find it here*, it’s £3.38 for the Kindle edition.
Farrow & Ball’s How To Decorate is one of the most comprehensive interiors books I’ve seen. Actually it only deals with the walls, but as that seems to be what most regularly concerns people (I mean how the hell do you even start choosing a paint colour?) it’s infinitely useful. Experience and wisdom seeps from every page and the tips are practical and easy to digest. It’s here* online.
And for a fuller interiors starter guide, you can’t beat Mad About The House – here* – which takes things back to basics and covers everything from lighting to carpet.
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad goes on my ultimate “best fiction” shortlist. It was so intense that I frequently wanted to close it and hide my head under the pillows, but it felt wrong to stop reading – and at any rate it was so gripping that I couldn’t stay away from it for long. It’s the tale of a woman’s dangerous escape from slavery on a southern plantation and it’s brutal and soul-destroying and you sort of mentally want to go LA-LA-LA with your fingers in your ears but it should be mandatory reading for – well – everyone. Find it online here*.
On My “To-Read” List
Two books on my book pile waiting to be properly started; the first is An Edited Life by my friend Anna Newton. It’s a comprehensive manual to help streamline your life both at work and at home, and although this sort of organisational chat would normally want to make me put my head inside a Magimix and attach the grater blade, I’ve found myself rather hooked. If you read Anna’s blog then you’ll know already that she’s utterly charming and writes just as she speaks, but there’s something about her tone in this book that makes Marie Kondo-ing your life strangely appealing, even if you’re order-allergic like me.
Maybe it’s because she delivers her tips in a more casual and relatable way than most – she knows what she’s talking about, because she’s tried every method of organising things under the sun, but she doesn’t preach. Her delivery is non-prescriptive, it sort of says look, just do what you can alright? If you can’t be arsed to be organised then don’t be, but here are some pointers that will help when you’re ready. And they are great pointers. I’m currently meal-planning and that’s a statement I never thought I would make. Ever.
You can find An Edited Life here*. (Good job Anna, I’m immensely proud. x)
The second “to-read” is the fourth Cormoran Strike book, Lethal White. The cover looks like something from a book you’d get free with Take A Break but let’s skip over that and discuss whether or not we think the Strike books are good. I love JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith and her writing is just so easy, so readable, it’s an absolute joy to sit down and plough on through. Sometimes the plot is lacking if you compare to other bestsellers in the crime genre, but it doesn’t detract from the brilliant writing. I could probably sit there reading shopping lists if she’d written them. I have to say that I thought that the latest book was the best – but maybe Lethal White will top it! I have no idea when I’ll get around to starting it – I think all of the others were read whilst on holiday and I can’t see one of those on the horizon…
You can find it here*.