Lala

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Best Books I Read In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week it’s all about our favourite books of the past year. I read 72 books this year which was great, but it did make it a bit difficult to narrow down by favourites. I managed it though and, in no particular order, here are ten of the best books I read in 2018.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
I found The Garden of Evening Mists to be a beautiful story about war, forgiveness and growth.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
I don’t think I read as much YA in 2018 compared to previous years but what I YA I did read was generally pretty good. The Nowhere Girls was the best that I read. It was funny, inspiring and I loved all the main girls and what they set out to do.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
I finally read The Power and I found it compelling and fascinating. It’s hard to read at times but that made it even more affecting.

The Three Musketeers by Alexadre Dumas
I’m so happy I’ve now read this classic. It was a great adventure story with interesting characters and it was a lot of fun.

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie
Events in Kartography were affected by the civil unrest when Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan, a historical event I knew very little about. My Read the World Project has made me read books set in countries during notable events in their history and I’m really enjoying that experience.

Thirty Days by Annelies Verbeke
It took me a while to get settled into Thirty Days but when I did, I loved the main character and his desire to help others, even when it was detrimental to his own happiness and relationships

Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye & the Winter Soldier by Matthew Rosenburg, Travel Foreman and Rachelle Rosenburg
I didn’t read many comics or graphic novels this year but Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye & the Winter Soldier was a lot of fun and memorable. Clint Barton is one of my favourite characters ever and I love seeing how he bounces off more stoic characters like the Winter Solider.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
The only book on this list that I didn’t review, but that’s mainly because I find it difficult to review thrillers that have a lot of twists and turns and surprises without giving everything away. Then She Was Gone was a book where I could figure out some of what happened, but never managed to get it all straight in my head before the big reveal – I think that’s the best kind of thriller.

Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell
This is one of the best short story collections I’ve ever read. It’s all about girls and women, and each character feels so real even though you only spend a dozen or so pages with them.

Lala by Jacek Dehnel
This story made me laugh and cry. It’s a sweeping family epic but it’s the little anecdotes and the ridiculous things that make a person, and their family, more real that stood out to me.

What were some of your favourite books you read in 2018?

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READ THE WORLD – Poland: Lala by Jacek Dehnel

Lala has lived an exciting life. Born in Poland just after World War One, Lala grew up to be a selfless and honest independent woman who survived some of the most turbulent events in Europe. As she falls prey to the first signs of dementia, she continues to tell the stories of her life to her grandson, who faithfully notes down her adventures.

Lala was translated from Polish to English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lawrence Dobiesz which I would recommend.

Lala as a book is a little confusing as it’s marked as a work of fiction but the way it’s told, and the fact the grandson who is narrating this story has the same first name as the author, did make me wonder if it was a combination of fact and fiction, memoir and fantasy.

The scenes where it’s clear that Lala is losing her memory were both funny and poignant. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and when reading about Lala’s antics I had to smile as there were so many things she said or did that was just like my gran. It’s a great depiction of a woman slowly losing her mind but then there’s also those moments of suddenly clarity which were lovely but also so sad as Lala was never going to get better.

Lala is a grand sweeping story as Lala tells stories about her family as far back as her great-grandfather. This is where she would sometimes confuse something her grandfather did for something her father did, then it’s her grandson who corrects her as he’s heard so many of these stories before he could often recite them by heart.

While Lala is the focus of the story, with her life before, during and after the Second World War is a big part of it, her stories of a family means this story spans over 100 years. This led me to learning a lot about Polish history that I’d never even heard of.

I really enjoyed Lala. It’s an interesting insight into Poland’s turbulent history from he eyes of a character who lived through it all, the good and the bad. It’s funny, touching and sometimes verges on the ridiculous because of Lala’s outlandish stories about the situations she’d get into or she’d hear about. I loved the way it’s told with the grandson simultaneously seeming to tell the red the stories and to be hearing them for the first time himself.

Lala is such an interesting book and it’s honest and realistic take of a woman slowly succumbing to dementia was brilliant yet sad. 5/5.