In case you hadn't noticed, it's almost Christmas! That means it's also time for us to pick out our favourite books of 2018. Our staff have chosen a huge variety of titles, from love stories to Brexit satires to a graphic novel. We hope there's something that will interest you on our list, and we'd love you to let us know on Twitter using the hashtag, #BooksOfTheYear. And if you click on the book titles, you can buy the books from Hive.co.uk -- at no extra cost to you, you'll be helping to support our programmes and local bookshops.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Executive Assistant to the CEO Jack Phillips picked the Booker-longlisted novel. Jack says: "This love story of two people from very different worlds shows how people can change each others' lives. Sally Rooney writes with a rare quality. Normal People is one of the finest depictions of character in modern literature."
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Louisa Steel, Reader Development and Access Manager for Essex Libraries, says: "This is an enchanting book about the magical Papa Jack's Toy Emporium, with the seam of a darker tale running through it, set in the last few months of World War One. It's not the sort of book I'd normally choose, but I was swept along by the magic of the story."
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Annie Robinson, Programme Manager, Reading and Health says: "A funny, vulgar and deeply strange novel following a twenty-something Manhattanite anti-hero as she decides to embark on a drug-educed hibernation in the months leading up to 9/11."
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
Sam Cox, Communications, Marketing and Brand Manager, says: "An unnerving, beautifully illustrated book that explores trauma and truth in the digital age."
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Kathryn Rose, Promotions Coordinator, says: "Simple yet powerful, the quirky story of a woman whose life has been defined by her job in a Japanese convenience store makes you think about how we are affected by our surroundings."
Middle England by Jonathan Coe
Sharon Hardwick, Production Manager says: "This laugh-out-loud novel will make you draw sharp intakes of breath and shake your head in sorrow along the way. Middle England follows Benjamin Trotter, a yet-to-be published writer and dreamer, and his family. From the General Election of 2010, through the 2011 riots, the heart-swelling 2012 Olympics all the way to September 2018 and the repercussions of Brexit, the book reflects a divided England that seems to have lost its way.
Thomas Cromwell: A Life by Diarmaid Macculloch
Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive says: "This biography immerses you in a wonderfully detailed account not just of Cromwell's life, but his world. If you loved Hilary Mantel's books, read this."
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
Karen McPherson, Publisher Relations Manager says: "Funny, clever, and unmistakeably Fforde, this brilliant new stand-alone novel is the perfect Christmas read, especially as the weather turns colder. I would recommend for people new to Fforde, as well as to his die-hard fans."
Frieda by Annabel Abbs
Emma Braithwaite, Programme Manager, Children's Reading says: "An enticing and well-constructed story that is also a fine study of Edwardian social mores, female sexuality and political awakening. Frieda's struggle to find her place in the world -- balancing the love for her children with wanting to break free of stifling social constructs -- is utterly compelling and also feels relevant to a modern audience. Glorious!"
Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom by Keisha N. Blain
Carina Spaulding, Research and Evaluation Manager, says: "In this fascinating book, Blain provides an account of a group of women across the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean and their vital role in shaping black nationalist politics. Blain's work is both painstakingly researched and highly readable, offering an eye-opening perspective on black resistance in the early to mid-twentieth century."
The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson
Georgia Newman, Programme Assistant, Reading & Health says: "The Language of Kindness reminded me how interdependent we all are, and how this vulnerability is what makes us human. Nurses accept us, respect us and care for us, warts and all."
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Debbie Hicks, Creative Director, says: "Definitely my book of the year- a really touching story about old age and friendship told with humour and a touch of almost magical realism that made it absolutely compelling story telling and unputdownable! A new author discovery for me too which is always exciting."
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Lindsey Prestage, Kent Libraries, says: "Nine stressed city dwellers attend the health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House -- miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, it seems like the perfect escape. But there's something sinister lying underneath -- such a fun read, I loved it!
Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke & Elizabeth Uviebinené
Kimberley Sheehan, Children's Reading Partners, says: "This book is a brilliant starting point to understand what it's like to be woman, black and a Londoner in 2018. It ultimately left me feeling hopeful about the future for women and empowered -- which has been a nice change compared to the rest of the year!"
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Kathleen Ktorides, Adult Reading Partners says: "I would strongly recommend this book. It's a fascinating and often shocking account of the suffering and struggle for justice A must for readers interested in social history."