12 books that have entered my heart.

The year will soon be thinking about folding away its linen, packing up and preparing to roll out its credits. It’s been a bit of a one really. Awful in many ways: cruel, fetid, tribal, amoral. But amongst all of this there has been, as always, beauty, hope, joy, amazement. And, of course, as the flapping banderoles of the latter, there are books.

I’m a terrible blogger; a hopeless archivist. I’ve read many, many books this year, and haven’t always shouted into the ether my thanks to those who’ve slaved over their creation. I know how hard it is to produce a book. I understand the fragility of releasing one. I appreciate what it means to have one’s book connect with a single other human.

So this tiny, likely unread, series, is to give name to the top 12 books that have regaled me with their words this year – those books that have given me delight and elation and rapture and that have, for many reasons, entered my heart. Books do that, you see. Become part of your being, your memory, your DNA, your circuitry, your life.

Each one of these books have given me something precious in their own way. They have slung shot me further along this business of existence, and made me happy that I’m part of it, this writerly, readerly life.

One a week, until 2018 properly shuts down, twelve books for which I am grateful.



It was odd reading Robert’s book. We released our debut novels at pretty much the same time. What, I wondered, would happen if they were both really similar? University press, unknown writers, not overly fitting into any pigeonholes, what if they were cut from the same pattern? Reader, they were not.

The Everlasting Sunday is a trip and a half. It is unsettling and dizzying and downright extraordinary. Set somewhere Englishy, boarding house lonely and snowy, it is never quite real, but never unbelievable. It is the Lord of the Flies I always wanted to read. Robert’s writing is magic; every sentence crafted with intelligence and fierce control. I was immersed from the first page, and found it difficult to crawl out of a night. His language slows my heart down, his prose divine.

Somewhere in this is a bit of strange pride that I get to call Robert my contemporary. Perhaps it is more simply contemporaneous, but whatever it is, I feel a tiny kinship with the release of this book. I still see the falling flakes on the front cover, lit up from within, floating to the ground. I can feel the disconnection of the boys in Godwin Manor. I celebrate Robert’s masterful ability. It was the perfect novel to read when I was lost thinking about my own creeping out into the world.

Deeply excited to know what is coming next for Mr Robert Lukins. And if he doesn’t hurry up I shall need to go back and read this one again.



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About the author

Dr Michelle Johnston is a consultant Emergency Physician who works at an inner city hospital. Mostly her days consist of trauma and mess. Also, she writes.

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