Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Most Anticipated Reads in 2018
This is the first time that we are doing this here in GatheringBooks. While I did post about what I planned to read this year as part of our #LitWorld2018GB (Literary Voyage Around the World) Reading Challenge, I did say that our reading remains fluid, especially as more books find us in the course of the year.
After looking at a number of trusted websites, and consulting with my favourite book distributor here in Singapore, these are some of the titles that I am really looking forward to getting my hands on this year. The blurbs (a few are abbreviated) are from the publishers/distributor.
Books from Authors I Already Love
The Only Story by Julian Barnes. Publishing 1 Feb 2018.
Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question. First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen. Tender and wise, The Only Story is a deeply moving novel by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Publishing 13 Feb 2018.
In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers–they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding–but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa. Publishing 27 Feb 2018.
A thrilling tale of desire and Peruvian corruption swirls around a scandalous expose that leads to murder. Ironic and sensual, provocative and redemptive, the novel swirls into the kind of restless realism that has become Mario Vargas Llosa’s signature style. A twisting, unpredictable tale, The Neighborhood is at once a scathing indictment of Fujimori’s regime and a crime thriller that evokes the vulgarity of freedom in a corrupt system.
Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk. Publishing 1 May 2018.
People pass the word only to those they trust most: Adjustment Day is coming. They’ve been reading a mysterious blue-black book and memorizing its directives. They are ready for the reckoning. In this mind-blowing novel, Palahniuk, an equal-opportunity offender fearlessly makes real the logical conclusion of every separatist fantasy, alternative fact, and conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche.
The Outsider by Stephen King. Publishing 22 May 2018.
When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered, forensic evidence and reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach. But the jailed suspect, arrested in a public spectacle, has an alibi, and further research convinces Detective Ralph Anderson that the coach was indeed out of town. So how can he have been in two places at the same time? Following the phenomenal success of his Bill Hodges series, MR MERCEDES, FINDERS KEEPERS and END OF WATCH, all Number 1 bestsellers, Stephen King has written an unputdownable crime thriller with a unique twist.
International Titles Published by Local Authors from Singapore
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan. Publishing 20 March 2018.
Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut follows a young man’s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister’s murder. Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago. But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death. As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.
Ponti by Sharlene Teo. Publishing 19 April 2018.
Set in Singapore, and spanning fifty years, Ponti is the story of three women: sixteen- year-old Szu; her monstrous and beautiful mother, Amisa; and Circe, Szu’s unlikely friend. Winner of the Deborah Rogers Writers’ Award, this is a novel about love and friendship, and about a guilt spanning decades. Told from the perspectives of all three women, Ponti is about friendship and memory, about the things we do when we’re on the cusp of adulthood that haunt us years later. Beautifully written by debut author Sharlene Teo, and enormously atmospheric, Ponti marks the launch of an exciting new literary voice in the vein of Zadie Smith.
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng. Publishing 10 July 2018.
They leave us no choice. Always look both ways before you cross the road. Get a 9 to 5 job. Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Do not eat bread. Do not eat sugar. Do yoga. Do meditate. Never raise your voice. Always smile, even if you feel like dying. What are you doing to help yourself? What are you doing to show that you’re worth the resources? Some time in the near future, thanks to medical technology HealthTechTM, immortality is now within humanity’s grasp. But faced with declining economic productivity, falling birth rates and a severely aging population, the Ministry has become the all-powerful arbiter of how healthcare resources are allocated… The Suicide Club hasn’t always been an activist group. Initially, it was a group of disillusioned lifers, gathering to indulge in forbidden, hedonistic activities: performances of live music, traditional meals of the most artery- clogging kind, irresponsible orgies. You name it. Now branded terrorists, anyone found guilty of wanting the right to die as they choose will find themselves fast- tracked to the Third Wave and condemned to immortality.
Literary Novels from New-to-Me Authors
The Immortalists from Chloe Benjamin. Published 9 January 2018.
It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes. A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht. Publishing Mid-January 2018.
Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea. One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore. So begins the story of two sisters suddenly and violently separated by war. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war. A riveting, immersive read in the vein of The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Publishing 1 February 2018.
FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them. Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side. The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises. Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistle blower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with. Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. Publishing 8 February 2018.
We went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home . . . Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives. In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing. Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.
Almost Love by Louise O’ Neill. Publishing 1 March 2018.
When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard. So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him. Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job. But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew. And love is supposed to hurt. Isn’t it?
Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Publishing 6 March 2018.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
Hangman by Daniel Cole. Publishing 23 March 2018.
A detective with no one to trust. A killer with nothing to lose. 18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest. In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis. Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist. Publishing 5 April 2018.
A story of mid-life and second chances from Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project, and his wife Anne Buist. Soon to be a film produced by Ellen DeGeneres. Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past – for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce. Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago de Compostela. In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin’s and Zoe’s stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal – physical, psychological and spiritual. It’s about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it’s about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.
Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. Publishing 13 April 2018.
Winner of the 2017 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary award for Young Adult Fiction. A beautiful love story for fans of Jandy Nelson and Nicola Yoon: two teens find their way back to each other in a bookstore full of secrets and crushes, grief and hope – and letters hidden between the pages. Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favourite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came. Now Rachel has returned to the city – and to the bookshop – to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. As Henry and Rachel work side by side – surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages – they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross. Publishing 3 May 2018.
A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time – read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.
I am neither monster nor man – yet I am both. I am the Beast. I know why I was cursed; I know the legacy of evil I carry in my tainted blood. So how could she ever love me? Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.
A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. Publishing 12 June 2018.
The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity and belonging A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding – a match of love rather than tradition… A deeply affecting and resonant story, A Place for Us is truly a book for our times: a moving portrait of what it means to be an American family today, a novel of love, identity and belonging that eloquently examines what it means to be both American and Muslim — and announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.
An Ocean Of Minutes by Thea Lim. Publishing June 2018.
‘Lim has it all; she’s fearless, smart and writes like a dream. This is a novel I’ve been waiting for… an extraordinary book’ Junot Diaz. Their story begins with a goodbye. Polly and Frank are young and in love, a lifetime together before them. But one evening in 1981, as the Texas sun sets over their shoulders, the world is suddenly pulled apart by a deadly virus. Within months, Frank is dying. Polly can save him, but only if she agrees to a radical plan: to time travel to 1993 for a corporation who can fund his life-saving treatment. She can only go forward, she cannot go back. And she must leave everything she loves behind, including Frank. All they have is the promise of a future together: they will find each other again in twelve years’ time, in Galveston, Texas, where the sea begins. But when something goes wrong and Polly arrives late, Frank is nowhere to be found. Completely alone, Polly must navigate a terrifying new world to find him, and to discover if their love has endured. An Ocean of Minutes is a devastating and timely novel about courage, yearning, the cost of holding onto the past – and the price of letting it go.
Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff. Published 9 January 2018.
The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous – and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself. In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations: – What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him- What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama – Why FBI director James Comey was really fired- Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room – Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing- What the secret to communicating with Trump is- What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.
The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Publishing 4 June 2018.
President Bill Clinton partners with No. 1 bestselling author James Patterson in a powerful, one-of-a-kind thriller filled with the kind of insider details that only a President can know.
Any title that caught your eye? What are you most looking forward to reading this year?