The Skinny's Best Books of 2018

With 2018 coming to a close, we asked The Skinny editors and books team to tell us about their favourite books they've read over the past twelve months

Feature by Book Team | 10 Dec 2018

As the year draws to a close, we asked our editors and books team what their top reads of 2018 have been, so if you're looking for a few last minute additions to your Christmas list, or looking for the perfect gift, here are some to get you started!

Heather McDaid (Books Editor)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Faber & Faber)

When Will's brother Shawn is shot and killed, he knows what to do. Don't cry, don't snitch – get revenge. Long Way Down follows him on the elevator journey with a gun in his waistband as he's met with some unexpected guests. Jason Reynolds carries a novel with the precision of a poet, condensing the most difficult of conflicts and hardest of emotions into searing verses. The plot technically lasts a minute, but its impact stretches far beyond the last page. An incredible book.

Honourable mentions:
XX by Angela Chadwick (Dialogue Books)
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib (Melville House)
Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla (Hodder)
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)

Katie Goh (Intersections Editor)
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton)

What are the rituals that make a woman? In her otherworldly dystopian debut novel, Sophie Mackintosh asks this question through three sisters, Grace, Lia, and Sky, who learn to navigate their femininity when three men wash up on their previously empty island. Deemed the millennials' Handmaid’s Tale, The Water Cure is a poetic, weird, and melancholy exploration of gender and power. It’s utterly sublime.

Honourable mentions:
Ponti by Sharlene Teo (Picador)
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)

Ben Venables (Comedy Editor)
I’m a Joke and So Are You by Robin Ince (Atlantic Books)

For a comedy book, Robin Ince's I’m a Joke and So Are You doesn’t ask the usual question – ‘What is wrong with comedians?’ – but instead shows the quirks and weird thoughts we all fear are unique to ourselves are not as strange as we think. It’s a book about the human mind and one that leaves you feeling a lot less alone in yours.

Honourable mentions:
A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlone et al (Phaidon)
The Medical Detectives by Berton Roueche (Penguin)

Beth Cochrane (Poetry editor)
Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi (Bloodaxe Books)

Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods is one of the rare poetry collections that wholly captivates its reader from page to page. It absorbs its reader through tides of rage, defiance and peace; line by line it swells with Doshi as she experiences the every day, the violent, the unjust. 

  1. Honourable mentions:
    The Lesser Bohemians
    by Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)
  2. Afterglow (A Dog Memoir) by Eileen Myles (Grove Press)
  3. House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (Atlantic Books)
  4. The Insomnia Museum by Laurie Canciani (Apollo)

Mika Cook (Books team)
Natives by Akala (Two Roads)

Unflinching, honest, and informed, Natives is an exhumation of the consequences of the British empire. Akala uses his own experiences to illustrate and confront the social, historical and political factors that have contributed to current issues on class and race, and to engage with all the most difficult questions. This is a book that demands to be heard.

Honourable mentions:
The German Room by Calra Maliandi (Charco Press)
XX by Angela Chadwick (Dialogue Books)
Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan)

Kirstyn Smith (Books team)
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraquib (Melville House)

Abdurraqib takes music writing, shakes it up and forces his readers to look behind the songs to the socio-politics inspiring them. He’s unpretentious about his faves: Carly Rae Jepsen, Bruce Springsteen, Fall Out Boy, Notorious B.I.G, Nina Simone – he has something poetic and beautiful to say about anything that makes him think and feel. They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us is an essential collection of journalism for anyone who’s ever been intimidatingly, obsessively in love with music.

Honourable mentions:
Amphibian by Christina Neuwirth (Speculative Books)
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (And Other Stories)

Laura Waddell (Books team)
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (Granta Books)

Honourable mentions:
Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan (Sceptre)
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (Granta Books)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (Portobello Books)
Sight by Jessie Greengrass (John Murray)

Ross McIndoe (Books team)
Amateur by Thomas Page McBee (Canongate)

After becoming the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden, Thomas Page McBee penned Amateur, serving as both a record of his experience and a deeper reflection on what it means to be a man. In a year where pseudo-philosophical "strong men" continued to vomit frightened bile into the conversation, McBee’s calm, compassionate voice was like a cleansing crystal stream.

Rebecca Wojturska (Books team)
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine (Tramp Press)

In this bold collection of essays, Pine tackles the complexities and intricacies of life and relationships. Told with refreshing honesty, intelligence and wit, Pine explores themes including love, addiction, sexism, and menstruation. Both beautiful and heart-breaking, Notes to Self is realistically uplifting yet indicative of the hard work still to be done through feminism.

Honourable mentions:
Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela (Telegram Books)
Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber)
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
Sleeping With the Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror by Darryl Jones (Oxford University Press)

Clare Mulley (Books team)

Folk by Zoe Gilbert (Bloomsbury)
Melmoth by Sarah Perry (Serpent's Tail)