Looking back and looking forward: my favourite reads of 2018 and plans for 2019!

With just two days left of 2018 I’m taking a look back on my reading year. I had a sluggish reading start to the year but really picked up over the summer and finished well. I had set a target of 75 books on Goodreads and have, up to today, read 94, which I am really pleased with.

I would love to have made it to a nice, round 100 but that is not going to happen, however I may set that as my Reading Challenge target for 2019.

As I don’t read just newly published books, I’ve broken my end of year list down into three sections: best newly published books, best from the 746 and best books by Irish authors.

Which is just a cheeky way of having a Top 15 Books of the Year, rather than a Top 10, but that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

So, here are the books I’ve enjoyed most this year, with links in the titles to either my reviews or their Goodreads descriptions.

Top Five Books published in 2018

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

Don’t Skip Out On Me by Willy Vlautin

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

Top Five Books from the 746

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

Life, A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

Top Five Irish Books read in 2018

Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park

Milkman by Anna Burns

Orchid & the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes

Special Mention!


Special mention must also go to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which doesn’t fit into any of these categories, but which was one of the books I most enjoyed this year. I am now bereft that I have read all his books and have to wait until he finishes a new one for my Mitchell fix!

2019 Plans!

Looking forward to 2019, I feel quite positive about my reading and my blog. I feel like I have found a good balance in the second half of this year and new features such as Northern Exposure, focusing on literature from Northern Ireland and my Monthly Miscellany round ups have given me a structure and a focus.

I very much enjoyed reading more literature in translation and do plan to try and keep that up, but not in any formal way.


I plan to take part in The 1965 Club in April, organised by Simon of Stuck in a Book and Karen of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and the RIP Challenge again in October. In terms of my own challenges, Reading Ireland Month will return in March along with 20 Books of Summer in June.

One thing that did strike me as I looked over my reading year was how little progress I actually made in bringing down the 746 – which is, effectively, the whole point of this blog! Of the 94 books I have read, only 33 came from the 746, which is a really poor percentage.

Therefore, in 2019, I am setting myself the challenge of getting the 746 down into the 400s. That means reading a minimum of 46 books from the TBR. I think that is completely doable, if I just focus and plan my reading carefully.

I am looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings. Are you taking part in any interesting reading challenges that I haven’t heard about yet? Will anyone be participating in Reading Ireland Month or 20 Books of Summer? I do look forward to reading along with you all in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

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Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

63 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Some wonderful reads Cathy! I’m also focussing on getting my TBR down in 2019, as my book-buying ban of 2018 didn’t reduce it nearly as much as I hoped… Here’s to our TBR piles steadily diminishing in 2019 and plenty of wonderful reads along the way 🙂 Happy New Year!


  2. I’ve started reading more this year so look out for more book posts. The Tom’s Midnight Garden one is the first of many. Thank you for your continued inspirations to read more 😊 Your 2019 plans sound great 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved The Bone Clocks, tremendous fun. The Fire Sermon, The Orchid and the Wasp and The House of Impossible Beauties keep getting recommended, so I’ll have to check those out!


  4. Lovely to see Memento Mori in your list of highlights for the year. I think it’s my favourite Spark (of the books I’ve read to date), probably with Loitering a close second.

    Wishing you all the best for the year ahead, Cathy. I’m hoping to join you in Reading Ireland in the spring.


  5. I have The Bone Clocks on my “imminent” list — possibly for January. It’ll be my introduction to Mitchell, quite the opposite to your own situation!

    And Happy New Year to you! Here’s hoping 2019 brings you and yours nothing but good things.


  6. Some great books here, Cathy. Ghost Wall was such a powerful book, and I loved The Crimson Petal and the White. I can recommend the BBC adaptation if you haven’t already seen it. Happy reading (and everything else) in 2019!


  7. Sounds like you’ve had some excellent reading this year Cathy. I’ve read 3 of your 15 this year too (Vlautin, Spark and one other which I’m being coy about as it’s in my best of (you can probably guess which book though)), I also want to read The Orchid and the Wasp. I shall definitely take part in Ireland Reading Month and 20 Books of Summer, and am planning to read more from my TBR too. (I say that every year, but this year I mean it – yeah!)


  8. I don’t know much about these books, except like you I love everything by David Mitchell! I’ve got two of his books left and I’m stretching them out. I’m looking forward to reading Milkman. Good luck with your 2019 goals and thanks for hosting 20 Books of Summer!


  9. Great round up! The House of Impossible Beauties is high on my list for next year, and I’ve just picked up a paperback of Milkman. I’m hoping to set monthly themes for myself next year, in addition to participating in blogging challenges – I’ll definitely be participating in 20 Books of Summer and Reading Ireland Month! Looking forward to both.


    • Brilliant Michael! I loved The House of Impossible Beauties – the writing is really wonderful and vibrant. Milkman is nearly the complete opposite but both perfectly capture their respective worlds. Look forward to hearing what you think of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved The Crimson Petal and the White too and I’m hoping to read Ghost Wall in 2019. I’m pleased you’re hosting Reading Ireland Month and 20 Books of Summer again – I will try to take part in both! Have a great 2019. 🙂


  11. I see a few I need to get onto the almighty wish list – sigh – I’ve never read Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec and that’s an embarrassment – Same with Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, I’ve got Milkman up next actually but all the other Irish books look good.


  12. I really enjoyed 5 of your 15. I’m up for joining in with both of your challenges again next year 🙂 This year’s 20 Books of Summer was a great excuse for me to read some of the books I own — it can be hard to prioritize those, can’t it?


  13. In 2018 I devised a challenge that I think would work really well for you, Cathy, depending on if you have your books cataloged in some way. Each month, I task myself with reading four books: 1) the oldest book I own, 2) the newest book I own, 3) a book from my quest to read about fat women, and 4) a random pick. You could try such a challenge during the months you are not doing other challenges, like Reading Ireland.


      • Oh, Cathy! I’m so glad! I found it REALLY useful in 2018. In fact, I read every book on my list. Occasionally, I would come across a terrible book I owned and swap it out for a different book I own, but I still read 48 books. This was a great way to get rid of some books, too. If I don’t love it, it goes to the Little Free Library.


  14. Great books! I’ll be doing Reading Ireland if I have anything that fits, 20 Books of Summer of course, All August / All Virago (if I have enough Viragoes and Persephones to fill the month), and will finish my Iris Murdoch readalong in her centenary year. Happy 2019 reading!


  15. Cathy, I like how you’ve split your top reads into the categories of best newly published books, best from the 746 and best books by Irish authors, and even better that it means you can have a top 15 😉 And I am also absolutely thrilled to see that Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine made it into that top 15. You’re making me want to re-read it!
    I wish you all the best with your reading goals and challenges in 2019. I really look forward to taking part in R.I.P and your 20 Books of Summer again next year, and throughout the year, I will also be continuing with my second list for The Classics Club. Happy reading and Happy New Year!


  16. So many wonderful books!! The House of Invisible Beauties, Travelling in a Strange Land, and The Crimson Petal and the White are all high on my to-read list. And of course, yay Milkman! Looking forward to chatting about books in the new year!


  17. What an interesting year you’ve had, and such an exciting one to come! Milkman is definitely on my TBR for 2019. Good luck with getting down to the 400s – you can do it, I’m cheering you from here! 😍


  18. Looking forward to your contribution to 1965 Club! Of your best books, I’ve only read Memento Mori, which I also love, and Dandelion Wine, which completely confused me!


  19. Darn it. I didn’t see this come through because the “sender” in my email system was wordpress.com NOT Cathy746books. I wonder why? I’m just cleaning up my blog inbox and saw this. I love your sneaky way of getting 15 top reads.
    BTW I was just talking about you to Mr Gums yesterday – after seeing a lovely pic of your twins on Instagram – and telling him I wasn’t sure where you were at with your 746 challenge. And here was your answer all along.
    BTW I haven’t read much in your list, but I did love the Faber when I read it. I love Munro and have that book, but haven’t read it. As always. I’m not doing any challenges – except the challenge-that-isn’t-a-challenge-for-me, the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I’d love to talk part in some – Classics, TBR and Translated fiction challenges in particular but I just can’t give myself those stresses. If I could read 90 books in a year I might!! (I have no idea how a working mother can read that many books, but I dips me lid to you!)


  20. I can’t believe I’ve let so much time go by without reading this post! (I’ve been working 4-6 half-days a week the last couple of months, which is so different for me – I still haven’t quite figured out how to juggle it all.)
    What a great list! I love that you divided it into 3 categories. I’m happy to see Alice Munro there! And Fire Sermon was good, wasn’t it?So compelling.
    I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it, but Paula is hosting a Wales Readathon in March, as well! I better start planning now if I’m going to fit everything in. 🙂


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