Our Favourite Reads of 2018

Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on December 12, 2018.

In one of our last blogs for 2018, we asked our well-read Library Staff to pick their favourite read of 2018, both fiction and non-fiction. We present an eclectic mix of contemporary fiction, legal thriller, murder mystery, sport, travel and a debut poetry collection! Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng I read a […]

Curl up with a good book

Curl up with a good book

In one of our last blogs for 2018, we asked our well-read Library Staff to pick their favourite read of 2018, both fiction and non-fiction. We present an eclectic mix of contemporary fiction, legal thriller, murder mystery, sport, travel and a debut poetry collection!

Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng

I read a lot of great books this year but the one that stands out when I think back over the last 12 months is ‘Everything I Never Told You’ by Celeste Ng. Set in small-town Ohio, it follows the story of the Lee family and delves into the mystery behind why middle daughter Lydia disappeared one night and ended up drowning in the nearby lake. It’s a slow burner but by the time I reached the end I was blown away. The way Ng (pronounced ‘ing’, I discovered) fleshes out her characters so that you understand and feel for them makes for a richly layered story. By the time it reaches the powerful conclusion, you can’t help but be moved by the characters’ struggles and understand the reasons for their actions. It’s rich in metaphor too – something I really enjoy in a novel. If you’re looking for an exciting read, this isn’t it. However if you’re looking for something meaningful and beautifully told, I recommend this one. Ng’s 2017 follow-up ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ is also a fantastic novel, but I think this one has more to offer.

The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

I found a wonderful Newfoundland author this year called Donna Morrissey. I started reading “The Fortunate Brother” which is the latest book and last of a trilogy. I had no idea at the time that it was part of a trilogy nor did it diminish my enjoyment of it. This story is steeped in the rugged history, hardships, landscape, dialogue, and culture that is unique to Newfoundland. The writing is smooth and flawless. The characters are grounded, raw, hardy and loyal. And the plot has a nice mix of suspense, tragedy, and emotion. It is, ultimately, a murder-mystery that takes us on a subtle journey through loss, love, grief, guilt, perseverance, community dynamics, and family relationships. Poignant, and deeply moving!  Available as an eBook on Borrowbox.

The Slow Horses/Jackson Lamb Series by Mick Herron

This acclaimed spy fiction series is about a group of failed MI5 agents who have been banished to Slough House, under the command of the odious Jackson Lamb, who has appalling personal habits and delights in being politically incorrect. Despite their exile, these ‘slow horses’ become embroiled in high-level espionage. The characters of the agents are brilliantly written, but the author is not afraid to kill some of them off. Several politicians in the novels bear more than a passing resemblance to real-life denizens of Whitehall.  The plotting and dialogue are superb, and there’s plenty of humour;  not surprisingly, there’s a tv series being planned.

Eddie Flynn Series by Steve Cavanagh 

Everyone loves a thriller, but when a thriller is presented to you in such a new and different light, it draws out a whole new feeling of excitement. The first time I opened up the pages of the The Defence, I felt this excitement. Steve Cavanagh turns out the slickest legal thriller series, every page is a breath of fresh but incredibly tense air. Eddie Flynn, Con-man turned professional lawyer, ramps up the action in the courtroom facing off the Russian mobsters he’s also representing after they kidnap his daughter, destroying New York’s top law firm in the biggest money laundering scheme of the century, there is nothing about this series that won’t keep drawing you deeper and deeper. Absolutely fantastic read: bridging the gap between crime fiction, thrillers and contemporary storytelling, as the drama keeps unfolding you never truly know where it’s going to go. Books in the Eddie Flynn series include: The Defence, The Plea, The Liar and  Thirteen.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

A novel  with a rich background in science.  Detailed, fact filled, with a composite of characters and factual information. All you ever wanted to know about trees but never thought of asking. We’re just a blink in the eye of a tree’s lifespan.  Beautiful descriptions of the tree in all it’s various forms. A demanding read but good for the brain cells! The Overstory was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Meet Romy Hall who has been incarcerated in a USA women’s  prison. A  gritty novel with a human heart.  Life on the inside through the sympathetic approach of the author. It’s all  on display here – humour,  heartbreak,  pathos in a violent and cruel environment. Hope is for those on the other side of the fence! The Mars Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.

Dublin: the Chaos Years by Neil Cotter

Recent years have seen huge success and a glut of All-Ireland medals for Dublin footballers but it’s not so long ago that the Dublin team was in a comparative wilderness. Ironically winning an All-Ireland title in 1995 precipitated a steep decline, and Dublin won only one of the next nine Leinster titles. Then followed Leinster success but continual disappointments at the later Championship stages, until salvation and a new era arrived in 2011. There were five different managers in all during this period. In this entertaining book players and managers from the leaner times give their reminiscences and sometimes recriminations. It’s an often humorous insight into how a team dynamic operates, and how trial and error can lead to a turnaround.

Icy Graves: Exploration and Death in the Antarctic by Stephen Haddelsey

The Antarctic has long represented the outer reaches of human exploration. This compelling book shows how the hazards for expeditions are numerous when operating in an extreme environment. One of the most famous early fatalities was Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and his four companions in 1912. They were victims of a lengthy period of abnormal cold in spring, leading to malnutrition and hypothermia. Unexpected blizzards, hidden chasms, and disintegrating sea ice proved fatal for others. Fires at base camp buildings were particularly destructive. Motorised vehicles and airplanes were also prone to tragic accidents. Some individuals survived situations that killed others. The author finally looks at risk-taking and judgement in a unique environment.

Mandible by Ingrid Casey

I really enjoyed my friend, Ingrid Casey’s, debut poetry collection, Mandible, which was published this year. Ingrid is a Blanchardstown native and her poetry is informed by themes of motherhood, literature, philosophy and art. Mandible draws on the poet’s own life experiences and inner world, combining the personal with the mythological. The book is framed by a quote from Jo Shapcott: ‘The point is how to find a use for fury’, and in the very first poem we read: ‘this will not be love but a fire pit, a place to grow miracles from dirt’. The poems lead us through an unravelling until ‘winters and winters and winters’ finally give way to renewal. The surreal and the earthy are placed side-by-side and a variety of character make an appearance along the way – the rabbit ‘up there in IMMA’ comes to life, Molly Bloom goes to yoga, Martin Heidegger is resurrected as a paper bird and Rasputin lives on a traffic island in Blanchardstown with the 39 bus trundling by.

What I love about the collection is the vivid way it maps a transformation, and also speaks to the local and the universal in one breath. The poems are very much rooted in the poet’s experience in the here and now but open a window into cultural memory and look to the future too.

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A very special thank you to our library staff, Nadene, Íde, Fergus, Conor, Éadaoin, Francis and Meadhbh for sharing their favourite book of 2018.  We hope you enjoy our selection.

You can borrow/reserve any of the books by calling into your local Fingal Library.  Alternatively you may wish to reserve a book online by using the Fingal Online Library Catalogue.

 

By the Fingal Libraries Blogging Team