NONFICTION OF NOTE

Becoming — Michelle Obama

Former US first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography has sold over 3-million copies so far. It’s a fascinating, candid read and delves into her relationships, her career and her years in the White House.

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret — Craig Brown

The UK’s Princess Margaret – not a popular gal. Mean and entitled, or just misunderstood? Either way, a fantastic, unusual biography.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions — Stephen Hawking

The late guru and cosmologist delves into some deep issues: Is time travel possible? Is there a God? Will we survive on Earth?

The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela — Sisonke Msimang

Award-winning writer Msimang casts a smart, fresh perspective on Mandela in a short, sharp book.

The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley Ka Isaka Seme — Bongani Ngqulunga

This won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for 2018. It’s a fascinating look at the at times tragic life of the man who, in a whirlwind of overachievement and in record time, founded the ANC.

How to Change Your Mind — Michael Pollan

Pollan is back, this time taking a personal deep dive into the world of the mind, mental health and scientific and medical developments around psychedelic drugs.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup — John Carreyrou

A mesmerising tale of corporate fraud, Silicon Valley-style, and the biggest of its kind since Enron. This is one of the FM team’s top reads of the year.

Everyone is Present: Essays on Photography, Memory and Family — Terry Kurgan

Joburg artist Kurgan has woven a fascinating tapestry of stories in text and visuals that is a commentary on history and seeing and on how we interpret both.

The Last Hurrah — Graham Viney

A smart and sexy snoop into the British royal family’s famous tour of SA in 1947 and the politics, people and culture of the country at the time.

Fear: Trump in the White House — Bob Woodward

Yes, the Woodward of Watergatereporting fame. In this book, he draws from many, many interviews with sources and documents to paint a picture of the US president.

The result i s n’t pretty.

FICTION

Warlight — Michael Ondaatje

Certainly not as lyrical or magical as The English Patient (which won the Golden Man Booker Prize, the Booker of all Bookers, this year), but still an entrancing and smart read.

Milkman — Anna Burns

The 2018 Man Booker Prize winner is set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The style is unusual, but get into it and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Less — Andrew Sean Greer

A failed novelist escaping his life by travelling around the world — that’s the set-up of this warm, witty story of self-discovery. It won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Transcription — Kate Atkinson

Atkinson is back with a story about a girl who gets caught up in the dark realm of World War 2 espionage. Atkinson, a Costa Award winner, is a master storyteller and this new work will not disappoint.

Washington Black — Esi Edugyan

A central character of a slave who becomes a free man, adventures that span the globe, marvellous flying machines — what doesn’t Edugyan’s hit book offer? No wonder it’s been raking in the gongs.

Love is Blind — William Boyd

The story of a man’s life that sweeps across Europe at the end of the 19th century. It’s got all you want in a gripping read: human frailty, romance, drama, beautiful writing … and music.

Normal People — Sally Rooney

She’s the beloved writer of the cool set, the "voice of a generation", but we were still deeply sceptical of Rooney’s first book, Conversations with Friends. This makes up for it. It’s "zeitgeisty " and clever.

Circe — Madeline Miller

Miller does retellings of ancient myths with aplomb. Her The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize, and this, a potent account of Circe, has also received big praise.

A Keeper — Graham Norton

Somehow in between hosting his much-loved TV show, Norton wrote this, his second novel. He sure knows how to spin a yarn. With undertones of the gothic, it is a tale of family, loss and relationships.

Lethal White — Robert Galbraith

The fourth in the Cormoran Strike detective series, this is a proper page-turner. Crime, intrigue, a "will they, won’t they" relationship, and Galbraith/JK Rowling’s trademark ace writing.

Melmoth — Sarah Perry

Perry hit gothic gold with her second book, The Essex Serpent. This takes the dark, foreboding thing up a notch in a reinterpretation of an 1820s classic that involves some soul-for-time bartering with the devil.

SHORT STORIES

Friday Black — Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

This debut collection of stories was a huge success. The main theme? What it’s like to be black in the US. We predict more good stuff from Adjei-Brenyah in future.

Florida — Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies author Groff takes on the southern US state in this compilation of tales, which all have it at its epicentre. The New Yorker described it as "gorgeously weird and limber". Give it a whirl.

RECIPE BOOKS TO SAVOUR

Simple — Ottolenghi

It might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s true: cult British chef Yotam Ottolenghi can do simple. He shows you how here, with fresh, easy and wildly successful recipes.

How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places — Diana Henry

Wonderful food writing and beautiful recipes for meals to share and celebrate over. No wonder this was the Sunday Times food book of the year in the UK.

Basics to Brilliance Kids — Donna Hay

The Australian food favourite strikes back with another gleamingly styled homage to lovely eats, this time for the littlies and their try-hard parents.