I’m finishing this year’s posts with a round of reading bingo, yet another chance to mention some of my 2018 favourites plus work in a few more that didn’t appear in my books of the year for one reason or another. So, after a good deal of flicking back through this year’s reading, here’s my 2018 bingo card with links to the books I’ve reviewed.
A Book with More Than 500 Pages – Seth Garland’s twenty-first century Bonfire of the Vanities, only better, The Hazards of Good Fortune, which weighs in at a hefty 624 pages
A Forgotten Classic – William Melvin Kelley’s A Different Drummer, first published in 1962 at the height of the Civil Rights movement, which explores race relations in the US. All too relevant today.
A Book That Became a Movie – I’m going to do what I did last year and stretch the rules a little here. It’s been announced that there’s a TV series in the works based on Thomas Mullen’s Darktown, set in Atlanta when the first black American police force was set up.
A Book Published This Year – That would be most of them given my predilection for the shiny and new but I’m going for Anne Youngson’s touching Costa Book Award shortlisted novel, Meet Me at the Museum, about a recently bereaved woman and a Danish museum curator, also coming to terms with loss.
A Book with a Number in the Title – Allan Jenkins’ Plot 29 which recounts his investigation of his chequered birth family history and his coming to terms with it through allotmenteering. A brave and cheering memoir.
A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty – Fiona Mozley’s distinctly Gothic, Elmet, about a family living on the fringes of society, which I read for the Young Writer of the Year Award shadow panel
A Book with Non-Human Characters – Michael Andreassen’ wacky, darkly comic short story collection, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover which features several saints and a leviathan.
A Funny Book – Jen Beagin’s acerbic, whip smart debut Pretend I’m Dead about a young woman who loves to clean while hiding the reason why from herself.
A Book by a Female Author – There are so many but I’m plumping for Louise Levene’s enjoyable romp, Happy Little Bluebirds, about Evelyn, sent to Hollywood to assist a British agent in persuading the Americans to join the Second World War.
A Book with a Mystery – Emily Maguire’s Stella Prize shortlisted An Isolated Incident begins with the discovery of a body but it’s about very much more than that.
A Book with a One-word title – Ruth Figgest’s Magnetism is about a mother and daughter seemingly locked into a dysfunctional relationship. A very clever, satisfying piece of storytelling.
A Book of Short Stories – Helen Dunmore’s posthumous collection, Girl, Balancing, an unexpected treat put together by her son, Patrick Charnley
Free Square – This one goes to Imogen Hermes Gowar’s wonderful The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, our shadow jury winner for the Young Writer of the Year award.
A Book Set on a Different Continent – Fiona Kidman’s engrossing All Day at the Movies follows four siblings in New Zealand down disparate roads over six decades.
A Non-fiction Book – Laura Freeman’s The Reading Cure, a memoir about how reading set its author on the path to recovery from anorexia which I read for my Young Writer of the Year shadow judging stint.
The First Book by a Favourite Author – I’m going to have to pass on this one
A Book You Heard About Online – Katherena Vermitte’s riveting, multi-layered portrait of an indigenous family faced with an appalling sexual assault on one of their daughters, The Break, which I first spotted on Naomi’s Consumed by Ink blog.
A Bestselling Book – Kate Atkinson’s Transcription follows Juliet who finds herself caught up in the machinations of MI5, far beyond the mundane transcriptions she’s recruited to produce in 1940. Superb, as ever.
A Book Based on a True Story – Edward Carey’s highly inventive, engaging Little is based on the life of Madame Tussaud
A Book at the Bottom of Your TBR Pile – Emma Flint’s page-turning Little Deaths about a child murder in ‘60s New York
A Book your Friend Loves – I passed C. K. Stead’s The Necessary Angel on to a friend who liked it so much she’s busy seeking out his backlist
A Book that Scares You – Sarah Perry’s Gothic novel Melmoth. Now avoiding all jackdaws…
A Book that is More Than 10 Years Old – Reissued by the brilliant Pushkin Press, Lisa Zeidner’s Layover explores mental illness and grief through a middle-aged woman who’s lost her son and, briefly, her bearings
The Second Book in a Series – I’m boxing clever here (or bending the rules again) and going for Lissa Evans’ hugely enjoyable celebration of women’s suffrage, Old Baggage, the prequel to Crooked Heart but published after it.
A Book with a Blue Cover – Adam Weymouth’s Kings of the Yukon, a travelogue which follows the longest salmon run in the world. The fourth book I read for the Young Writer of the Year Award and the official winner.
There, just one box empty although it has to be admitted I’ve taken a liberty or two with the rules. If you want to see what a full card looks like you might like to pop over to FictionFan’s Book Reviews. Happy New Year to you all!