The books we’re looking forward to in 2018

Next year will be a book lovers' paradise. The Pool’s regular reviewers pick their most-anticipated titles

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By Sam Baker on

Sam Baker will be reading… The Leavers by Lisa Ko (Dialogue Books, April)

One of the developments I’m most excited about next year is the launch of Dialogue Books, a new imprint dedicated to inclusivity. The first sign that the publishing industry is putting its money where its mouth is, Dialogue pledges to champion authors from the BAME and LGBTQ+ communities. The first title out of the blocks is a hell of a statement. The Leavers by Lisa Ko has already been published to an avalanche of plaudits in the States and it’s not hard to see why. It's the story of Deming and his mother, Polly, who goes to work when he’s just 11 years old and never comes back, leaving him to be adopted by two well-meaning white professors who rename him Daniel and fervently urge him to assimilate. This stunning and absorbing novel is the right book at the right moment. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t flap its wings and soar.

I’m also looking forward to: Peach by Emma Glass, Lullaby by Leila Slimani, Her Body And Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado, The House Of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara, The Hoarder by Jess Kidd, Daphne: A Novel by Will Boast, The Pisces by Melissa Broder, Almost Love by Louise O’Neill, Tangerine by Christine Mangan, The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton and In Our Mad And Furious City by Guy Gunaratne.

Cathy Rentzenbrink will be reading… Educated by Tara Westover (Hutchinson, February)

Tara Westover grew up on a junkyard in Idaho. She was the youngest of seven children, had no birth certificate and didn’t go to school because her father didn’t want the Feds interfering with the family. Tara's father was busy preparing for the Days of Abomination when the sun would darken and the moon would drip as if with blood. He knew that if they could skin and bottle enough peaches and store up enough military ready meals, then the family would survive the failure of the World of Men. This fiercely intelligent memoir is a fascinating and compassionate view of another world and the author’s struggle to both escape from and understand it as she heads out into the world to become educated.


I am very biased as the author is one of my closest friends, but I am ridiculously excited for Catherine Doyle's debut children's novel. The Storm Keeper's Island will be published by Bloomsbury in July 2018 and, having read an early draft, I can tell you that this book is a modern classic in the making.

Caroline O’Donoghue will be reading… Spare And Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin (Titan Books, February)

Sarah Maria Griffin is one of my favourite Irish writers and next year her debut novel will finally be published with Titan Books in the UK. Spare And Found Parts tells the story of Nell Crane, a girl living in a world where everyone has something missing: an arm, a foot and, in Nell's case, a heart. When she pulls a mannequin hand out of the river, she begins building a love of her own, playing God and girlfriend at the same time. I'm fully prepared for Sarah's debut to be the big dystopian talking point of 2018 – the way The Power was for 2017 – and I can't wait to see it happen

Amy Jones will be reading… Brave by Rose McGowan (HQ, January)

I'm really looking forward to Rose McGowan's book, Brave. It's part memoir and part manifesto. Obviously, she's been really incredible in the past few years, fighting against sexism and misogyny in Hollywood, but her life as a whole is fascinating – she was born into a cult, spending her childhood travelling in Europe (occasionally modelling for Italian Vogue, as you do) and her teens as a runaway living with drag queens. She emancipated herself from her parents at 15 and entered what she described as the cult of Hollywood, before purposefully leaving that behind and speaking out against it publicly. I can't wait to read her incredible story and have it make me feel both very angry at the world and powerful enough to change it.


I've been a fan of his Guyliner columns (and his waspish Guardian Blind Date takedowns!) for absolutely ages, so I'm extremely excited about reading Justin Myers' first novel, The Last Romeo. Myers is an extremely funny writer, but his words always have real heart, depth and resonance, and I can't wait to read his debut about love, relationships, identity and anonymity in an internet-obsessed and hyperconnected age.

Katy Guest will be reading… Wendy Cope’s new poetry collection (Faber & Faber, March)

I've been a fan of Wendy Cope since way back when – I had her poem The Idyll as a reading at my wedding – so I can't wait for her new collection, Anecdotal Evidence, which is due to be published in March. Faber & Faber says that it will capture "everyday happenings that our fast-paced, technology-fuelled lives risk missing", and that Cope "reimagines Shakespeare in unorthodox fashion" and "offers heartfelt tributes to friends and to public figures including Eric Morecambe and John Cage". It's her tone of voice that I love: sharp but funny, warm and wise. An antidote to Twitter that will no doubt be very welcome in 2018.

Not a million miles from Wendy Cope is a debut collection of stories called Bad Romance by the young writer and dating columnist Emily Hill. They're dark and twisty tales all about single women who don't end up happily ever after with a man and they're published by Unbound just in time for Valentine’s Day. Full disclosure: I am this book's commissioning editor and I plan to buy it for everyone I know who has ever been single and lived to tell the tale.

Anna James will be reading… The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker, January)

My ones to watch from the books I've already read are The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock and The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock is a brilliantly plotted story of mermaids, madames and intrigue in 1780s London and I wouldn't be surprised to see it become the The Essex Serpent of 2018. The Water Cure is a dark and lovely book about sisters, faith and survival. It's got that perfect blend of gorgeous, lyrical writing and a properly page-turning plot, and will delight fans of The Power.

Top of my to-be-read pile are The Pisces by Melissa Broder (about a PhD student who falls in love with a merman from the writer behind @sosadtoday); Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce (set in the 1940s about a woman who wants to be a war correspondent but ends up typing letters for an agony aunt); and The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse (which I know very little about, but I adored his last book, Mobile Library, and would read whatever he wrote next).

Lynn Enright will be reading… Love And Trouble: Memoirs Of A Former Wild Girl by Claire Dederer (Tinder Press, February)

Claire Dederer wrote a brilliant piece on separating art from the artist, particularly focusing on Woody Allen, in The Paris Review, in November. It was one of the best pieces of 2017, touching on gender and who gets to make art and what makes a person “monstrous”. After that, I want to read everything she writes and, this June, Love & Trouble: Memoirs Of A Former Wild Girl, her book about about coming to terms with the person you are in midlife, is published in the UK. I’m so looking forward to it.

I am also telling everyone to read Almost Love by Louise O’Neill, published in March. I was lucky enough to get an early look at it and I read it in one sitting – it is so compelling, full of cruel insights and devastating truths.

Viv Groskop will be reading… all about the Romanovs

My top tip for 2018 is to get ahead of the curve by reading something about the Romanovs, Russia's last Imperial family. The Tsar and all his descendants were shot in 1918. The centenary promises an exciting and glamorous re-evaluation of their lives and times; Angelina Jolie just bought the film rights to Simon Sebag Montefiore's book on the topic and the next project for the producers behind Mad Men is – you guessed it – the Romanovs. Think The Crown but with more beards. I'll be reading Four Sisters: The Lost Lives Of The Romanov Grand Duchesses by Helen Rappaport to get into the mood.

Frankie Graddon will be reading… Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton (Fig Tree, February)

I've actually been lucky enough to have already read Dolly Alderton's debut book, Everything I Know About Love, so I can say with absolute certainty that you have to add it to your 2018 book list. You will quite literally laugh and cry as Dolly crashes her way through her teens and twenties, tripping over everything, from friendships to falling in love, by way of wild nights out, drinking too much, self-sabotage, getting a job, losing loved ones and finding reassurance in Ivan, the man from her cornershop. This is about growing up and all the mess that comes with it. I loved it.

Alexandra Heminsley will be reading… books that celebrate good behaviour

I plan to be in full self-cosseting mode when January comes rushing at me and am braced with Rosamund Dean's wise and warm-hearted Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life and Signe Johansen's gorgeous Solo: The Joy Of Cooking For One, both of which make good behaviour feel rewarding. I'm also looking forward to Tara Westover's Educated. She was raised a Mormon in rural Idaho and did not set foot in a classroom until she was 17, then went on to complete a PhD at Cambridge. I think 2018 could do with embracing the transformative powers of education…

Hannah Varrall will be reading… Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue (Virago, June)

Perhaps I'm biased, as she's a good friend of mine, but I can't wait for The Pool contributing writer Caroline O'Donoghue's debut novel, Promising Young Women. From what I've heard, it's a gothic and darkly witty novel about an agony aunt who begins an ill-advised affair with her boss, and, knowing Caroline, it will be beautifully written and insanely clever as well as completely absorbing.

Tobi Oredein will be reading… Brit(ish) On Race, Identity And Belonging by Afua Hirsch (Jonathan Cape, February)

I'm looking forward to reading Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch. I think, in the current political climate, we all need to start having more conversations about our nation's history and hear about our history from different perspectives. For far too long, British history has erased people of colour and, as a result, it has left communities of colour not being considered truly British by some. Afua's book will be a great tool in starting to right that wrong.

Sarah Franklin will be reading… The House On Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (Raven Books, May)

This is the story of Leo, an assistant coroner in Victorian London who’s shocked when the woman he loves, Maria, shows up dead on the coroner’s slab. Leo’s accused of her murder – but he’s hiding a secret of his own. Born Charlotte, he ran away from home aged 15 to become his true self and has been living as a man ever since. Can Leo uncover Maria’s killer and exonerate himself without destroying his own hard-won new life? This is smart, thought-provoking historical crime for lovers of Sarah Waters. Also, Kit de Waal’s debut, My Name Is Leon, was a deservedly huge success. I can’t wait to read her next novel, The Trick To Time, in April. And as a lifelong insomniac, I’m intrigued by Henry Nicholls’ Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience And The Search For A Good Night. Publishing in March, maybe it’ll hold the answer to a decent night’s kip at last.


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