My 18 Favorite Books of 2018

Is it too late for this post? Nah, I’m going to do it! 2018 was a good reading year for me. Despite the school and work and traveling and chaos–maybe because of those things?–I still read a lot. Here are my favorites, in the order I read them.

My Sister Rosa — Justine Larbelestier

This was actually my very first book of 2018, which I read as an audiobook. It’s a thought-provoking story told from the perspective of a boy whose sister is a psychopath (not a spoiler). I paired it with a reading of Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, which I also recommend.

Rising Strong – Brené Brown

I read 3 Brené Brown books last year, but I’m only listing the first one here. They’re all good, consider them all highly recommended. I go back to her writing and concepts regularly. They comfort and challenge me.

A Thousands Nights – E.K. Johnston

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you probably know that I’m a sucker for myths and fairy tales. This retelling is excellent. I was especially interested in the theme about sisterhood, which is a vital element of my life.

Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson

Look, I’m late the fan train for Jenny Lawson/The Bloggess, but boy am I totally on board. Jenny is amazingly insightful about mental health, and also very, very funny.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Everyone should read this book knowing absolutely as little as possible. And trust it the whole way through. I was fascinated.

The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

Ah, Leigh’s modern take on fairy tales. I actually saw her at an event for this book before I’d read any of her writing. That got me interested and I sped through Six of Crows, and of course jumped on this when I could get it from the library. Beautiful, a touch sinister, an elegant mythology to underpin the Grishaverse.

A Thousand Perfect Notes – C.G. Drews

I read Paperfury’s debut! An investigation of love, obsession, and abuse all wrapped up in a sweet boy and cake-eating sunshine girl. I loved it, and I can’t wait for her next book. (Also, IDK if anyone’s made this comparison, but her character pairings remind me of Stargirl, which I was obsessed with in earlier years. So if that’s a thing you like…)

The Ember series – Sabaa Tahir

I finally finally got around to reading An Ember in the Ashes, etc. and they were every bit as good as everyone has said. They’re even worth the heartache.

Sadie – Courtney Summers

It hardly feels as if I need to say this, since I’ve already reviewed this book and everyone on my Twitter timeline loves it, but Sadie is great and you should read it if you haven’t already.

Bad Blood – John Carreyrou

Aren’t we all fascinated by scams? Yes? This is a book you should read then.

Circe – Madeline Miller

Have I written my review for this yet? [checks] No. I should do that. This book is brilliant. A thoughtful feminist telling of Greek mythology that is amazingly profound and also masterful on multiple technique levels from each word to the large themes.

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novak

For one, the premise of this book, where two brides are facing off against their death/demonic spouses is **absolute catnip** for me, so that was a lot in favor of it. But the writing, the themes of family and Jewishness and story are breathtaking. In fact, I need to reread it. [wanders off]

Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson

For a book set at a private school, this feels remarkably as if it should have been written by a homeschooler. (I was homeschooled, so that’s a compliment.) It’s incredibly nerdy and quirky and delightful. Also, the second book is out now!

The Soul of Shame – Curt Thompson

A must-read examination of shame and its effect on culture. If you’re non-religious, you may prefer Brené Brown’s academic work, but for the religious among my readers, this book truly has the potential to transform your relationship with God and others. Highly, highly recommended.

Tess of the Road – Rachel Hartman

Whoa, this book. It might be my favorite of the year, honestly. It’s fantasy, but very grounded in some of the problems of our real world, and thus felt imminently applicable and healing.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara

A heartbreaking and vital tale of investigating the Golden State Killer. Not for the faint of heart, but it can do remarkable things for your reflection on the state of the world.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

This candid discussion of mental health experiences and especially coping mechanisms for anxiety was key in my early days of trying to understand and come to terms with my own anxiety. Reading this will help you understand yourself and others better.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Oh, this book. Matt’s writing about his mental health experiences is gut-wrenching and heart-lifting. He has been through the trenches, and the practical, beautiful way he writes about what brought him through and what keeps him going is life-giving. Major trigger warnings for depression and suicide.


What were some of your favorite recent reads?

3 thoughts on “My 18 Favorite Books of 2018

  1. My book club oick is Eleanor! I haven’t started it because I don’t when I’ll find the time. And, honestly, I’m kind hesitant to start it because I don’t know anything about it! But it’s good to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. Iconic book list! Love the mix of self-help books (e.g., Brene Brown) and fiction. I’ve only read one Brene Brown book (Daring Greatly) and enjoyed it, though something has stopped me from reading more of her work – maybe the concern that it’ll get repetitive or she’ll talk about vulnerability in a way that centers the white experience. Still, I appreciate her appreciation and thoughtful discussion of vulnerability so perhaps I’ll check more out, and it’s cool to see how her work has affected you. Also, I loved Sadie, such a stellar novel.

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