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Natalie’s Top Reads of 2018

| 28 January 2019 | Reply

My 2018 in books was the year I discovered how much I love and appreciate a well-constructed and gripping thriller. This was the first year I read more from this particular genre and it’s certainly reflected in my top fiction picks for this year. It was nice to discover a new love and something I hope to explore more of into the future.

I also found myself drawn to more non-fiction books this year. While I still read some self-help volumes, I was a little disappointed from this particular genre. Instead, I found myself drawn to more well-written memoirs and essay collections. This was often the case if they happened to be by people I like or admire.

The following list draws together the most noteworthy books I read last year. I feel these were all well-written ones that were fun, clever, entertaining, thought-provoking or any combination of all of these things. There are few things in life that are as satisfying as reading a good book. So if you’re in need of some recommendations, then you need look no further than the following.

Fiction (9)
1. The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This thriller is the third satisfying novel by Ms Harper. You really need to set aside some time for this because once you begin it you will be hooked. Harper creates such complex and rich characters and she proves that while the Australian outback may be sunny, it can also be one dark and lonely place. (5).jpg
2. The Book Ninja by Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

This slice of contemporary fiction features a brilliant idea at its core and one that was really well-executed. The story is all about Frankie Rose’s quest for love by planting favourite books on trains. You’ll enjoy the romance and might just discover your next favourite book. (6)
3. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This thriller is a timely one given the #MeToo movement. This is a taut deconstruction of a rape case and a thorough examination of some moral quandaries. Given the latter theme, this should appeal to fans of Ian McEwan and Lionel Shriver’s work. (7).jpg
4. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

This character study is an entertaining ode to the true value of art. It looks at a man who has grown up in the shadows of his artist father’s genius and is ultimately one nuanced and dramatic story with unexpected results. (8).jpg
5. It’s Always The Husband by Michele Campbell

This debut novel won me over with its fabulous title and cover; it also kept me coming back because I was constantly guessing where Campbell was going to take things. When a suspicious death occurs, people make their own assumptions about what happened but could there be alternative explanations? You’ll have to read this in order to find out! (10)
6. The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

This was more than your garden-variety women’s fiction because all was not as it initially seemed. The tight and insular Pleasant Court is disrupted by the arrival of a new neighbour. Isabelle is curious about the people living in her street even though she remains quite unknowable and vague. The premise of this intrigued me and Sally has crafted some complex and believable characters.

Non-fiction (4).jpg
1. The House by Helen Pitt

This book is a rich and gripping volume about one of the world’s most beloved buildings, the Sydney Opera House. Pitt covers every drama-filled moment and unlocks so many amusing stories to ultimately craft a love letter to this unique landmark. (11).jpg
2. Theft By Finding by David Sedaris

This was the first thing I’ve ever read by David Sedaris and it won’t be the last. This book is an insightful look into his colourful character where Sedaris plays the role of observer of modern life. It’s also fascinating to see how his writing grows and develops over time. This is essential reading for any would-be writer or author. (12)
3. Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills

This inspirational memoir is by the nicest man in comedy. Adam Hills reflects on his 30 years in the business with an enjoyable read that will be lapped up by any self-respecting comedy fan. (13).jpg
4. Close to Home by Alice Pung

This collection of essays will make you want to be Alice Pung’s best friend. It is full of warm anecdotes, clever observations and considered reflections from her life and travels. Pung is an excellent storyteller and she has great empathy for people. (14)
5. A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis by Jacqueline Kent

This biography about Australia’s most acclaimed book editor is a fascinating look at publishing and the history of Angus & Robertson. This beautifully-written and constructed tome captures the essence of this inspiring woman and a lady who didn’t always play by the book. (15)
6. Skin in the game by Sonya Voumard

This book is part memoir and in part an analysis of journalism and the way we all use other people’s stories. Voumard’s commentary is insightful, clever and thought-provoking, and it certainly offers us a lot of food for thought.
Honourable mentions: Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Property by Lionel Shriver, Roadies by Stuart Coupe, Two Sisters by Åsne Seierstad and The Court Reporter by Jamelle Wells.

Children’s books (16)
The New Kid – Unpopular Me by James O’Loghlin

James O’Loghlin tackles what could have been a difficult subject with a deft sensitivity. This story is a universal one. It’s about being the new kid on the block and the challenges that come along with it. O’Loughlin ultimately creates one witty and fun little novel. (17).jpg
World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams

This was dubbed the “Greatest book ever written” by the President of the United States. In reality it is jam-packed full of hilarious gags that will appeal to both youngsters and grown-ups. Comedian-turned-children’s author David Walliams really conjures up one fun and fantastical world.

Honourable Mentions (18).jpg
The Girl with the Lost Smile by Miranda Hart (19)
Bab Sharkey & the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard by Andrew Hansen and Jessica Roberts

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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