Since rekindling my love for reading towards the back end of 2017, I’ve been very excited about diving back into books this year. So with this debut post, I’d like to share with you 10 books you should read in 2018.
This post will contain books that I have read, some recently, some a long, long time ago . The first 5 recommendations are fiction books whilst books 6-10 are non-fiction. The order of the books is purely random (kind of). Enjoy!
1) Angels & Demons – Dan Brown
I just had to start this list off with a book from one of my favourite authors. Angels & Demons is not only possibly my favourite book from the Robert Langdon series, but conveniently it is also the first. Dan Brown is a master of thrillers. Though his second Robert Langdon book, The Da Vinci Code, may have been his big breakthrough, undeniably Dan Brown’s talent as a storyteller was evident in Angels & Demons.
In short, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is contacted when a physicist is found dead with an ambigram branded onto his chest and a potentially explosive canister of antimatter is stolen. The ambigram reads ‘Illuminati’. Baffled and insistent that the Illuminati were long extinct, Langdon travels to Rome to discover that in the wake of the Pope’s death, 4 papabile cardinals are missing. Langdon must race against time in a chase that leads him across Rome and the Vatican to not only save the cardinals but to find the dangerous antimatter too. The journey is far from easy, as complex riddles and subtle, hidden clues mask the way. Can Langdon find the antimatter before it explodes? And who is behind the plot?
Goodreads rating – 3.87 (all ratings were accurate at the time of publishing this post, and all ratings are out of 5).
2) The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dicker
Put simply, this is my favourite book of all time. As a lover of mystery novels, the build up and storyline of this book blew me away. Though the wordsmanship is far from excellent (this could be put down to translation), the plot is very well thought through. Originally written in French, the novel has been translated into 32 different languages. That alone speaks volumes for its success. Never before have I seen such mixed opinions about a novel. Therefore, I must urge you to read with an open and unbiased mind, and just enjoy the journey to the truth. As for myself? I couldn’t put the damn book down.
Protagonist Marcus Goldman is an author with writer’s block with a pressing deadline. He visits his mentor and former college professor Harry Quebert in a small quiet town named Somerset, in hope of finding inspiration. That is when the body of 15-year-old Nola Kellergan, a girl who went missing 33 years earlier, is found in Harry’s garden, and the love affair between the two is uncovered. Harry pleads with Marcus to stay and prove his innocence. But Marcus doesn’t know what to believe. He begins investigating. One by one, he meets the locals of Somerset. And one by one, he begins to realise that everyone in this little town is somehow connected to Nola. One by one, Marcus uncovers the truth about the Harry Quebert affair.
Goodreads rating – 3.97
3) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
Another book that wasn’t originally written in English, this time from the late Swedish journalist and author Stieg Larsson. A real murder mystery. In contrast to my previous recommendation, the general consensus for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is predominantly positive. Again, being a sucker for a good mystery, I was pretty hooked onto this book when I read it.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist. He has been hired by a wealthy businessman to uncover the truth about the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger, despite her going missing 40 years ago. Her uncle suspects murder. Murder at the hands of a fellow family member. But he needs to find out the truth of what happened. With the help of a heavily tattoed and pierced computer hacker called Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist gets to work. He very quickly has many suspects as he meets members of the Vanger family. So who, if anyone, in this family could have been responsible for the death of poor Harriet 40 years earlier?
Goodreads rating – 4.12
4) 11/22/63 – Stephen King
22nd November 1963. You recognise the date right? The date that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Ever wondered what the world would look like if he was never assassinated? You probably haven’t if you’re a millennial, but the journey this novel takes you on is fascinating nonetheless.
English teacher Jake Epping is one day introduced to a hidden portal, a portal that takes you back in time (specifically to the 9th September 1958 – take note). Jake is convinced to go back in time and try to prevent the assassination, in the hope that saving Kennedy will improve the modern world. Reluctantly, Jake enters the portal.
Now I know what some of you will be thinking. Time travel? Not my cup of tea, too confusing, and so on. However, this isn’t your Back to the Future-style time travel. In fact, that’s not even the focus of the book surprisingly. Remember the year the portal takes Jake to? 1958. 5 whole years before the assassination. This story is not purely about stopping the assassination. This story is not about time travel. This is a story of the journey Jake takes over those 5 years. And I must say, it’s quite a spectacular journey, tactfully written by one of the best fiction writers of our time.
Goodreads rating – 4.30
5) The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
An American classic. Set in the ‘Roaring Twenties’, the story revolves around the wealthy Jay Gatsby. Gatsby hosts extravagant parties with dazzling firework displays for anyone who is anyone. But there is an air of mystery surrounding the handsome young man. Why does he really host these parties? And where does his wealth come from? Who is Jay Gatsby? Gatsby’s neighbour, Nick Carraway slowly starts to see through Gatsby’s charade and he comes to learn that Gatsby is hiding a secret.
The Great Gatsby is an incredible piece of literature that captures the pursuit of, and ultimate failure to achieve, the American Dream. A dream, a lost love and an obsession that could make or break a man. This book is will take you back in time and capture your imagination in the most delightful of ways.
Goodreads rating – 3.90
6) The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
I know, I know, everyone is telling you to read this book. All the blogs, all the recommendations, they all point to this. But there’s a reason for that. Many reasons in fact. I read The Power of Habit when I was far too young to fully digest what it was that I was reading. Only now that I’m older and more mature do I see the importance of what this book teaches.
The Power of Habit is not just about learning how to stop biting your nails (I genuinely picked up this book in the hope of learning how to get rid of this childhood habit) or how to develop positive habits. Duhigg does a brilliant job of explaining how habits arise, why bad habits are so hard to shake and how habits are crucial to success in so many aspects of our lives. Once we understand habits and how they work, we can use this to our advantage and develop habits that impact our lives in the best of ways. To go a step further, Duhigg is able to apply the same ideas to big businesses to outline how these small habits are in fact the reason they make millions.
Goodreads rating – 4.04
7) The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuition Deceives Us – Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons
Yet another book that I feel I was too young to appreciate. The concepts addressed in The Invisible Gorilla are compelling. It’s filled with interesting anecdotes that will leave you doubting just how much of what you see to be true, actually is. What makes this book special is something I’ve found to be rare in many non-fiction books; it’s really memorable. It’s more than just bland information that goes in one ear and out the other. I certainly never forgot the Invisible Gorilla experiment, and I don’t think you will either.
For anyone not familiar with the Invisible Gorilla experiment, it’s definitely worth checking out. Watching the short video linked above is a nice and quick test to see whether you’re prone to inattentional blindness. And if you’d like to learn more of course, you can enjoy the book.
Goodreads rating – 3.89
8) 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less) – Thomas Frank
A nice, short read for anyone studying anything right now. Thomas Frank has been one of my favourite discoveries of 2017, and I can’t stress how much he’s helped me. Blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, Thomas Frank does it all. And the content he comes out with is crucial for all students to learn and implement into their daily lives. College Info Geek started off as a blog that has grown exponentially over the years, and has helped students around the world.
I’m a fan of how this book has been kept short and sweet. All the information you need is condensed into easily readable chapters and is ideal for students who don’t have much time to read. Covering subjects from making better notes to conquering procrastination, this book is a must-read for anyone needing a little kick to get started on that overdue assignment or last-minute revision. And best of all, it’s absolutely free to download. Check out the College Info Geek website for the details.
Goodreads rating – 4.42
9) Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed
This is a book that, if absorbed and implemented into the practical world, could make shock waves. Black Box Thinking could revolutionise attitudes to failure in a way that can help us all learn from mistakes and stop preventable mistakes from occurring again.
Throughout the book, Syed focuses on the aviation industry and its use of black boxes; if ever there is an accident, the black box can be analysed to figure out what went wrong and mistakes are made public for others to learn from. In stark contrast, in medicine, physicians are often dismissive of their mistakes, with claims such as ‘there was nothing we could do’ thrown about regularly. The difference between the way both industries go about learning from mistakes is largely contrasting, and ultimately, it is costing people their lives. Syed outlines this concern in a wonderfully written and engaging book that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Currently, Matthew Syed is also doing a brilliant job hosting the award-winning BBC podcast Flintoff, Savage and the Ping-Pong Guy along with Andrew Flintoff and Robbie Savage. I’d highly recommend this podcast for anyone interested in topical sports discussion.
Goodreads rating – 4.33
10) Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers – Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is by far one of the most interesting characters I came across in this last year. What he ‘does’ for a living is quite simply, everything. A human guinea pig of sorts. Amongst the experiences listed on his website are; national Chinese kickboxing champion, first American to hold a Guinness world record in tango and horseback archer. Crazy, right?
In Tools of Titans, Ferriss reflects on some of the many guests he’s interviewed on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Motivational speakers, professional athletes and numerous physicians feature in the book and share their knowledge, experiences and expertise in a wonderfully enlightening book that is written in the most colloquial of ways. Aside from the content of the book, I feel the style of writing is one of the reasons it is so engaging. The book is divided into three sections; Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, with each section focusing on their respective titles. Essentially, what Tools of Titans is is a collection of advice and teachings accumulated from many different people in what Ferriss has called ‘my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools.’ Ferriss acknowledges not all the pages in this book will be relevant to everyone. There were parts of this book I had to struggle through but upon reflection, I’m glad I read every single page.
Goodreads rating – 4.24
I hope anyone reading this post will find as much pleasure as I did in reading these books. If there is anyone who is disappointed, I apologise in advance. Feel free to let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree with any of these recommendations. Happy reading!