As we approach the end of 2018, I wanted to look back on another selection of 10 books I've read this year. Including biographies, cult classics and contemporary fiction, this varied selection reflects myriad experiences of the 20th and 21st centuries.
1. Lolita,Vladimir Nabokov
Lyrically wrought, this classic tale of obsession, love and lust between professor Humbert Humbert and 12-year-old Lolita is as controversial as it is compelling. Continually questioning the reader's morality, it leaves them implicit in its narrative – following a road-trip governed by an unreliable yet enchanting narrator.
2. Coming Up For Air, George Orwell
As WWII looms across Britain, insurance salesman George Bowling reflects upon his life with humour and tragedy in equal measure. Tapping into universal ideas of nostalgia, it documents a changing urban landscape whilst looking into the protagonist's experience of an unstimulating middle-class domestic existence.
3. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
4. Elmet, Fiona Mozley
One of the newer novels I've picked up this year, Elmet explores life on the margins of society through atmospheric commentary. Set within the north of England's rural landscape, it is a dark and lyrical book, exploring themes of ritual within an alternative community. Family is at the heart of this tale, as it slips into a narrative of violence and revenge.
5. Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture, Douglas Coupland
Andy, Dag and Clare are members of Generation X, working dead-end "McJobs" and living in the California desert. Comprising stories told by the trio, Coupland's book uses pop culture references and a satirical tone to offer blatant cultural commentary on a world defined by capitalism, technology and mindless entertainment.
6. Andy Warhol: Giant Size, Phaidon Authors
Bringing together artefacts, images and quotations from throughout Warhol's life and career, this visually arresting book is punctuated with informative yet readable essays that chronicle his rise to international stardom. Foregrounding an insatiable work ethic, interdisciplinary ventures and a visionary imagination, it is a must-read for those interested in Pop Art.
7. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend
This cult classic comprises diary entries by Adrian Mole – a 13 3/4 year-old "intellectual" living in 1980s Britain. Presenting easy-to-read, hilarious and very dry social commentary, Townsend uses Mole as a lens through which to view domestic life. This coming-of-age tale is nostalgic and relatable, offering readers a lighthearted escape.
8. The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa
Demonstrating the powerful relationship that can exist between humans and animals, this poignant book follows a road-trip taken by Satoru and his cat Nana. Meeting people from Satoru's past along the way, it delves into deeply human narratives whilst offering comedic and touching commentary from a feline perspective.
9. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Laurie Lee
This account chronicles Lee's own experiences travelling across England and into Spain. As the impending Civil War grows on the horizon, the author's vivid descriptions bring to life the striking landscapes and diverse inhabitants of a country that begins to take its hold on him irrevocably. Reminiscent of works such as George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris in London.
10. If We Were Villains, M.L. Rio
Utterly compelling, If We Were Villains follows the experience of a group of actors studying Shakespeare at an elite American arts school. The novel follows their descent into violence and tragedy, as life begins to imitate art. A true example of dark academia, it is perfect for those who enjoy narratives such as Donna Tartt's The Secret History.