I read over 100 books this year. These are my 10 best books of 2018, new releases and old favorites.
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Lists are my language. I literally think in lists. So, reading everyone’s Best of 2018 lists and writing my own is such a pleasure.
One of my favorite lists to make is my Best Books of the Year list. Although, if I’m being really honest, this was not my best year of reading. I did read 131 books, which is fantastic! However, I didn’t meet any of my reading goals (read more classics, read more smart non-fiction).
I think my biggest problem was the internet/instagram. I’m such a sucker for a book list and every time someone said they loved a book, I grabbed it from the library. Consequently, I read so many books from all the popular Summer Reading lists posted and favorites from the bookstagram world, but most of them were just mediocre reads for me.
One thing I am proud of is how many really great Middle Grade and YA Books I read (on my own and with the kids) this year. There were so many good ones that I’ll make a separate list of my Middle Grade Favorites – watch for that one tomorrow.
I’m working on reading goals for 2019 and putting a plan in place to make sure it’s a better reading year. But even if I did read a lot of fluff this year, I still had my 10 best books of 2018. These are 10 stellar books that I really loved.
Leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite books were this year!
The Best Books of 2018
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell
I wrote about this one more here. It was my favorite book of the year. I plan to reread all my favorite essays in it again this year.
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
And this one came in a very close second favorite. I grew up loving all things Little House on the Prairie, plus I did my MA studies in American History/History of the American West, so this book was practically written just for me. And then because the author lives near me, I got to hear her speak and she signed my book! One of my favorite moments of 2018!
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
This was my most favorite fiction book of the year. It tells the story of Colonel Allen Forrester and his wife Sophie. Forrester, along with a band of men, sets off on an expedition through unmapped territory in the Pacific Northwest and up the Wolverine River into Alaska. Sophie is newly pregnant, and although she resents the social restrictions, she is left behind. But neither Sophie’s pregnancy, nor the expedition go as planned and the year apart tests the limits of their faith and courage in profound ways.
This book has a lot of elements that make me swoon: explorers + Alaska; unmapped territory in the 1860’s; it’s written in the form of letters, journal entries, and newspaper articles; lyrical prose + magical realism; beautiful storytelling; the perspective of Alaska’s indigenous people. It really was a masterpiece for me.
The Read Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections With Your Kids by Sarah MacKenzie
I almost didn’t read this one because I didn’t think it would have much to offer me. I don’t need any help creating a reading culture in my home. I’ve been reading with my kids since the day they were born and we all love books. But I decided to read it so I could review it for other people. It turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. And though we already read together everyday, I found so much value in the book and found myself tearing up more than once.
Reading this book, I felt both inspired and understood. And if you’re on the fence about this one, all the fantastic book lists alone are worth the cover price!
The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin
I was a book snob for so many years and only read classics and literary fiction. I only figured out how much good Fantasy and Science Fiction writing I was missing out on just a few years ago! So, in recent years I’ve tried to make up for my narrow minded reading and I’ve found so many great new-to-me Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. This trilogy is a revered classic and now that I’ve finally read it, I see why. It’s full of wizards and dragons and battles between good and evil, but also so much philosophy and beautiful wisdom too.
I’ve been thinking about these and talking about them all year long! My favorite was The Tombs of Atuan.
The Friend: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez
I’ll tell you right up front that this is either a book you will love or hate. I can see a lot of people being turned off right away because there’s not a lot of plot. It’s fiction, but it reads more like a series of musing essays – maybe autobiographical fiction? But I loved it and it did win the National Book Award for 2018, so I’m not the only one. The book has a lot to say about grief and I found it very moving.
The Widows of Malabar Hill: A Mystery of 1920s India by Sujata Massey
This was such a fun read! I love a good mystery and this one is fantastic. Perveen Mistry is Bombay’s only female lawyer and she’s been called to investigate a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim women, but it gets hairy when a murder occurs. I loved the mystery, I loved the 1920s Bombay setting, and I loved the rich cultural history and discussion of women’s legal rights peppered throughout.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
My college bestie sent me this one for my birthday and, as usual, she picked the perfect book for me. It’s an intense read, but I loved it. I wrote more about it here.
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
Yes, another cancer memoir, but not JUST another cancer memoir. This was an amazing, beautiful, profound read. And I love the recent connection between the husband that Nina Riggs left behind and the wife that Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air) left behind – it feels like a happy ending (or just the next chapter?) to a heartbreaking story.
The White Darkness by David Grann
I read this in December and I’m still in that stage of talking obsessively about it and trying to get everyone to read it. It’s a short book, only 142 pages and there’s a good amount of photos, but it’s powerful. Henry Worsley, a husband, father, and British Special Forces officer, was obsessed with Shackleton and in 2008 decided to follow his footsteps into Antarctica. I’m a little bit obsessed with explorers and adventurers right now, so that might partially explain my big love for this small nonfiction book. But also, I found it so inspiring.
I noticed just now that there are a lot of people complaining about the price of the book on Amazon because it’s really just a compilation of New Yorker articles. Fair enough. Get it from the library then. But I loved the book, even its small format, and I’ll probably still buy my own copy because I wanted to book dart so many parts. (P.S. I had another David Grann book on my Best Books I read in 2017 too.)
What were your best books of 2018 ? I’d love to know!
Love your list. There are a few in there that I read and loved too. I am I am I am inspired me to track down and read several other books by O’Farrell. The adventure stories sound inspiring. I’ll be looking for those soon.
I want to read more O’Farrell too!
I love that you are obsessed with explorers as our new house is on Shackleton Road 🙂
Really?! That’s such a funny coincidence. I’ll have to show you my little Shackleton collection sometime. Now I feel like a visit to NZ is destiny ????
I also loved I Am, I Am, I Am and The Widows of Malabar Hill was a great read also. I am almost through (don’t want to put it down) The White Darkness.
Looks like I have some more to add to my list!