This post may include Amazon links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
It’s BEST BOOKS of the YEAR time! Do you enjoy perusing these lists as much as I do? It’s always fun to see how my reading tastes line up with those of others and sometimes it’s shocking to find out just how much they DON’T line up. Settling on my “Best Books of 2018” hasn’t been an easy task. For me, 2018 was a stellar year in books, so I’ve struggled over my list for the last month, starting out with 20 books and carefully considering which ones truly shone. To meet that criteria, I needed to love the book to start with and to still love it today. These needed to be books I felt great about reading AND recommending. So, without further ado onto my absolute favorite books of 2018!
Best Book/Literary Fiction Done Right
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
My Reasons: Rebecca Makkai’s gorgeous writing and powerful story has stayed with me like no other book this year. I always enjoy a book with a rich cast of characters and this story of the aids crisis in 1980’s Chicago delivered exactly that. I feel like I’ve strayed a bit from literary fiction the last couple years, so am happy to place a shining example at the top of my reads for 2018. (my review)
Best Debut/The Book Recommended to EVERYONE
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My Reasons: Where the Crawdads Sing was Delia Owen’s first novel, and what a story she delivered! It truly had something for everyone: a bit coming-of-age story, a little mystery, some adventure, and a tad of romance all wrapped up in one stunning story. It’s been wildly popular with good reason. If you haven’t yet read Crawdads, you should! (my review)
Best Audiobook/From the Headlines
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
My Reasons: Had I read The Book of Essie in print I’ve no doubt that I would have loved it. MacLean Weir’s story of a teen trying to escape the grips of her televangelist family would have been amazing on its own, but the audio put it over the top. I was glued to my earbuds listening to Tara Sands, Erin Spencer, and Robbie Daymond read her novel. (my review)
Best Nonfiction/Stories to Make You Laugh…and Cry
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
My Reasons: I hadn’t ever read anything by Corrigan before and didn’t really know what to expect. Her book talked about twelve life lessons that she’s learned from friends, family and just living. They were both simple and profound. I listened to this one, and felt like Corrigan almost became a friend. I laughed and shed tears with her, while considering my own lessons from life. (my review)
Best Memoir/Life Story
Becoming by Michelle Obama
My Reasons: I read a lot of memoirs this year. Some were focused on specific aspects of a person’s life and others on their entire life. Becoming was my favorite memoir of the later type. I was surprised how much I didn’t know about Michelle Obama and was pleased with just how relatable she was. Already a fan, I grew even more so, plus, the writing and linear telling really shone. (my review)
Best Book I was Completely Skeptical About
Circe by Madeline Miller
My Reasons: I had absolutely no intention of reading Circe. A Greek mythology retelling did NOT appeal to me, but I kept seeing it everywhere. Then Amazon had it for $1.99. For two dollars, I figured I could give it a try. I adored it so much I went back and read Miller’s debut The Song of Achilles and went on to read Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls in the fall, loving them, too. (my review)
Best Book I Almost Didn’t Read
The Line That Held Us by David Joy
My Reasons: The Line That Held Us came out in August. I looked at it, but wasn’t interested. I didn’t even pay attention to its reviews. Last month I got a little desperate for something great to read and this book was suggested to me. What did I have to lose? Wow! The story, the writing, the feelings. Everything about it was stunning. It’s not a book for everyone, but for me it was a gift. (my review)
Best Book in a Small Package
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
My Reasons: This was a beautifully crafted story of a man and his conflicted feelings around the two people he loved most. I loved the slow building of each character and how Winman made you grow to care so much about them. Her characters, plot, and writing were all remarkable on so many levels. I highlighted passage after passage in this short novel. (my review)
Best Sequel for Someone Who Doesn’t Like Sequels
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
My Reasons: It was surprising to me just how much I liked 2017’s Beartown. In fact, I liked it so much it made my Best Books of 2017 list. So, I was completely shocked when I liked its sequel, Us Against You, even MORE. I usually don’t like sequels OR sports books, but I adore Backman’s writing and loved that this book was focused more on the people of Beartown and a little less on hockey. (my review)
Best Book to Leave You Haunted
Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
My Reasons: The smallest of books can have the biggest of impact and that was certainly the case with Waiting for Eden. The story of a soldier left with a beating heart, a shell of a body, and no hope for much more, affected me like no other story I read this year. It’s emotional impact haunts me still and I can do nothing but applaud Ackerman for this gut-wrenching story. (my review)
What were your favorite books of 2018?
Disclosure: There are Amazon Associate links included within this post.
Ann Marie says
I’ve only read 4 of these. I have The Great Believers and The Line That Held Us but I haven’t been able to read them. I hope to get to them soon. I’m still on the fence about trying Circe.
Circe definitely isn’t for everyone, but I did not expect to like it so much, so you never know!
I couldn’t wait to stop by and take a look! We’ve got a couple exactly the same, and others where I agree, but had to make the same difficult choices you did. Then there are two where didn’t line up at all. I know it’s me because everyone loved Us Against You, but I really didn’t. And The Great Believers has been so well received but it just didn’t hit me the way it did most. I couldn’t even review it. Not because it wasn’t beautifully written but because I could not articulate why it fell short.
Wonderful post and visually so appealing! I think you have a second career ahead of you!
Thanks, Catherine. I hadn’t realized that The Great Believers fell so short for you. We’re going to have to talk about that next time we get together.
Allison | Mind Joggle says
Love your list! Your categories are excellent.. Mine is coming tomorrow in a little different format, and we have overlap on some of these–especially the best of the year 🙂
Becoming is coming my way in a few weeks, and I may need to give The Book of Essie a try. It didn’t appeal to me because of the reality TV angle, but it’s gotten so many raves I think I’m convinced.
I was happy to see how closely our lists lined up this year, especially in our number one picks! Try Essie. I hadn’t expected to like it either, but then loved it on audio.
I actually haven’t read any of these!! The Book of Essie is pretty high on my TBR, though.
None? You’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Wonderful post, Susie! You are such a great writer, and your blog is fabulous! I’ve read Where the Crawdads Sing, and Us Against You – I loved them, too. There is so much buzz about Circe that I’m now curious about it; like you, the plot has me skeptical but your feedback makes me want to read it.
You’re so nice, Abby. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad we enjoyed some of the same books this year, and I would say give Circe a try. For me it was one of those books that was such a pleasant surprise.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I love your categories! And agree with most of your choices! Not Circe though – HAHA!
Since we usually like so much the same, it’s fun to have us landing so squarely on opposite sides with Circe!
I want to read The Book of Essie, hopefully next year! And The great believers sounds great too. I didn’t love Crawdads 🙁
I’ve talked to a few people that Crawdads just didn’t work for, so you’re not alone there. Hope life is treating you well, Annie.
I love your graphics Susie! We only line up on 1 book this year! Crawdads. I did read The Line that Held Us and agree the writing was so good but there were scenes I wish I didn’t read, a little too dark and gory for me. I’m with Catherine, Us Against You just didn’t work for me. Can’t wait to start comparing our 2019 reads. Have a wonderful Christmas!
Thanks, Renee. I hope your Christmas is wonderful, too.
Susie, we agree on quite. a few: Circe, The Line That Held Us, Tell Me More, Tin Man, and Waiting For Eden. I really enjoyed The Book of Essie too.
I’m an outlier on Crawdads and actively disliked it with a passion. I enjoy Backman’s writing but the Beartown series didn’t work for me. The Great Believers is in my tbr.
I love seeing the ‘best of’ lists and enjoy comparing them against my own ad adding to my tbr. Great list!
I want to thank you again for The Line That Held us rec. It’s always so nice when a book takes you completely by surprise and in a good way. Sometime I want to hear why you disliked Crawdads so much.
Have a wonderful Christmas.
I have read and loved every one of your Best of the Best! Definitely some overlap on my year end favorites, whenever I get around to them 😁
Wow! It sounds like you’re my reading twin. Looking forward to your list.
Beth F says
I think I would have liked Tin Man more if I hadn’t listened to it (it was a freelance assignment). I still haven’t gotten to Us Against You — must correct that. AND I stupidly left Crawdad off my best-of (favorites) list. oops.
Oh, no! Sarah did the same thing with Crawdads on her best debuts list. She went back and added it in though.
I love reading end of year lists from book bloggers. Unfortunately I haven’t read any of these although I do have some of the titles sitting on my shelf!
If you have some of these books sitting around, you’re in store for some excellent reading. Let me know which ones you read and what you think. Thanks for visiting!
Laura @ Library of Clean Reads says
I love the way you chose your best reads. I haven’t read any of these but a few of them have caught my eye. I hope you have another stellar reading year!
I really enjoyed Circe, Becoming, and Tell Me More. I haven’t read the others although I definitely want to read The Great Believers. Happy New Year!
Aj @ Read All The Things! says
I’ve actually read one of these! I liked Tin Man. I’m on waitlists for a bunch of the others on your list. Happy 2019!
Brooke Lorren says
I’ve seen Circe and The Book of Essie on a few lists this week. But you’re right… I’m really surprised to see that some of my favorite books didn’t make any other people’s lists this week.
Thanks for your Best Of list. I relied on your reviews lots in 2018. You are excellent about pointing me to a book I’d want to read. Tin Man made my Best Of list as well. I thought she wrote it with feeling! I want to read Great Believers soon. thanks.