2018 hasn't exactly been a bumper year for the kind of books I like to read. I should explain that I mostly like to read political memoirs, biographies and diaries, with the odd football book thrown in for good measure. I hardly read fiction at all, which is something I want to change in 2019. So here are the the ten books I have most enjoyed reading this year.
1. In My Life by Alan Johnson
I hadn't expected to enjoy this book given its billing as a memoirs written through the prism of music. But as Simon Cowell might say, I didn't like this book, I loved it, and it is without doubt the best book I have read this year. I wrote a full review of it HERE.
2. Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts
I'm only half way through this book and am loving every page. It's made me realise how little I knew about the Great Man, even though I thought I was a bit of a Churchill expert. I read Roy Jenkins' biography of him years ago and thought that was excellent, but this is light years better. I recorded a podcast with Andrew about the book, which you can find by searching for the Iain Dale Book Club.
3. Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy by Max Hastings
Had I not been going to interview Max Hastings for my book club podcast I might not have read this book. So I am glad I did. I think like many of my generation, the Vietnam war ended just as we became adults. I am embarrassed about how little I know about it. This may be a doorstep of a book but it's beautifully written and made me want to read everything Hastings has ever written.
4. Diaries Volume 7: From Crash to Defeat by Alastair Campbell
I commissioned four volumes of the Campbell Diaries and I am proud to have published them. Future generations will find them an invaluable research tool in writing about the Blair years. I love the way Alastair combines the personal with the political. I think this volume is the best one so far as it catalogues his attempts to resist the blandishments of Gordon Brown to return to a full time role in Number Ten.
5. Unbelievable by Katie Tur
I loved this book. It told me just as much about Donald Trump as Fire & Fury, and was much more entertaining. Katie is an NBC journalist and was told to follow Trump on his campaign. Her encounters with him were legendary. I reviewed the book in full HERE.
6. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
Much hyped pre-publication, this book didn't quite live up to its billing. Although hugly readable, once you had read the newspaper serialisations there wasn't an awful lot more left over. Having said that, if anything it underestimates the madness at the heart of the Trump White House. Wolff came under massive attacks from Trump and his acoltytes who tried to trasjh reputation. I wrote about my encounter with Michael Wolff HERE.
7. My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan
I spent a hugely enjoyable hour interviewing Kevin Keegan for my Book Cub podcast. If you're a football fan, look it up. You'll enjoy it. Meeting your heroes is often a disappointment. It wasn't in this case. And it's a great book too. Searingly honest, as you would expect.
8. Confessions of a Recovering Politician by Nick de Bois
Nick de Bois served as a Conservative MP for the 2010-2015 parliament. This book is an incredibly insightful and amusing memoir of his five years as an MP. He's got a wonderfully waspish sense of humour as he highlights all the ridiculousness of the Palace of Varieties and the life of a slightly rebellious backbencher cum wannabe radio star.
9. Hitler's British Traitors by Tim Tale
Another book I probably wouldn't have read had it not been for my Book Club podcast. Tim Tale catalogues the various individuals and groups who betrayed their country both before and during World War 2. It has to be read to be believed. I've always found it fascinating to try to get inside the minds of traitors, and this book really helps you do it.
10. An Irrational Hatred of Everything by Robert Banks
Back in 1995 Rob Banks published his first book, 'An Irrational Hatred of Luton'. It told Banks's story as a West Ham fan's support for his local club, interspersed with lots of personal stories. He wrote two follow up books in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This latest tome covers the years 2003 to 2018 and if you're a football fan you'll love it, even if for some inexplicable reason you don't love West Ham. He also talks about his failed marriage and then meeting the love of his life, a Brazilian lady called Elaine and their struggle with authority to enable her to live in this country.