To bring in the New Year, the team here at whitefox offer our Top Reads of 2018.
John Bond, Founder and CEO – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The best book I read this year was published in 1985. And I just got around to reading it. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is rightly lauded as a grippingly believable, beautifully crafted dystopian masterpiece, one that is also ridiculously relevant for our times. But what you don’t always pick up from the reviews and the many advocates is just how witty the book is, and how brilliantly the author maintains the pace of the narrative while exploring such fundamental issues that define what it means to be human. I can’t recommend it highly enough. And now we know a sequel is (finally) coming next year, I won’t take so long to get around to reading that one.
George Edgeller, Project Manager – Munich by Robert Harris
I breezed through Munich. Harris is masterful at gripping, high-stakes political drama underpinned by meticulous research. If there’s a better thriller which slips in a revisionist view of the British policy of appeasement in the 1930s, I’ve not read it.
Gabrielle Johnson, Marketing Assistant – Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal people offers everything Conversations with Friends did in terms of content: a painfully raw insight into the mind of anxiety-stricken young adults and the intoxicating power innate in romantic relationships. It’s narration however, is different, which I think makes the novel far superior. The book is narrated by Connell and Marianne, whose relationship we see develop from adolescence to adulthood. Rooney cleverly switches between perspectives, allowing the same scenarios to play out with vastly different interpretations from each narrator. Not only does this make the book both frustrating and unputdownable – as the reader becomes increasingly desperate for Marianne and Connell to realise how they feel about each other – but encourages you to consider (as we bring in the new year) how easy it is for your words and actions to be misinterpreted, even by those closest to you. Although I found the ending a little unsatisfying, it was pointed out to me that each reader’s individual reaction to the end of the story tells you more about the reader themselves, rather than the quality of the prose or novel, which I would recommend to anyone.
Julia Koppitz, Editorial Director – The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
US campus novels often provide the best kind of reading experience, a delicious kind of reliving of your own coming-of-age (Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Chabon, Mary McCarthy, Donna Tartt…the list is long!), and Meg Wolitzer’s latest endeavour is no different: she brilliantly portrays the bright-eyed idealism of freshman Greer Kadetsky as she sets out to conquer the world. She becomes entranced by a feminist of Gloria Steinem’s generation, and the novel sympathetically examines the successes and failures of the women’s movement and what a 21st-century version of feminism looks like. Wolitzer is great at depicting universal themes of ever-evolving power struggles, friendships, love and betrayal. Inevitable setbacks abound, but ultimately it’s an optimistic story, and one that couldn’t be more timely – an ambitious, dynamic novel that beautifully captures the joy – and pain – of growing up and coming into your own.