2018 was an excellent reading year for me, both in terms of quantity and quality -- yet, among the many great books I newly read this year, these stood out in particular:
1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun -- a multiple-perspective inside view of the Biafra conflict that manages to be brutally honest, insightful, saddening and poetical all at the same time. Review HERE.
2. Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer -- in many ways the exact counterpoint to Half of a Yellow Sun: a largely autobiographical ode to reading, and to the peace and quiet of a summer garden ... with more than an occasional sidelight on early 20th century Prussian country life and mores. Status updates:
3 / 190 pages ~~ 9 / 190 pages ~~ 14 / 190 pages ~~ 22 / 190 pages ~~ 30 / 190 pages ~~ 41 / 190 pages ~~ 46 / 190 pages ~~ 55 / 190 pages ~~ 62 / 190 pages ~~ 65 / 190 pages ~~ 67 / 190 pages ~~ 69 / 190 pages ~~ 83 / 190 pages ~~ 87 / 190 pages ~~ 89 / 190 pages ~~ 93 / 190 pages ~~ 95 / 190 pages ~~ 106 / 190 pages ~~ 110 / 190 pages ~~ 126 / 190 pages ~~ 131 / 190 pages ~~ 133 / 190 pages ~~ 140 / 190 pages ~~ 147 / 190 pages.
(An eminently quotable book, as you can see.)
And joint honors for No. 3:
3.a) Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver -- an examination of the death penalty as administered in the Appalachians as only Sharyn McCrumb could have written it, contrasting the historical case of 18-year-old Frankie Silver (the first white woman to be hanged in the area) with a fictional modern counterpart. Like Half of a Yellow Sun, equal parts brutal, saddening and lyrical. Review HERE.
3.b) Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters -- modern crime fiction as it ought to be: very (darkly) atmospheric, but without even an ounce of sentimentality; with compelling characters, an intricate plot, a great, not-yet-overexploited setting and a satisfying conclusion. Review HERE.
Honorable mention goes to my reread of this year -- J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which I fell in love with all over again ... to the point of splurging on the new hardcover set and the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
And lest anybody point out that this is, in sum, vastly more than the "top three" books called for in the task: I'm a Libra -- do you know what an effort it was to even narrow it down this much?? Besides, I'm counting the Harry Potter series as one book, so there ...