I love this time of the year. Not only do I get to have a holiday, but I also get to read all of the “best books of 2018” posts to see what great books I might have missed. I love to read what the various book sellers, reviewers and other bloggers have chosen as their favourites for the year and what they think will be worth reading in the coming year. As a regular library goer I like to make a note of the most anticipated books and then wait until they hit the library shelves. (Call me a cheapskate, but it works for me).
Last year I mentioned that I had only read a couple of dozen books when other readers seemed to have read 80+, so this year I decided to keep a list. There are about 24 books on the list again this year, which equates to two per month. The list doesn’t include books I abandoned, either because they were boring or because the main character was totally unlikeable. I like my protagonists to be flawed but generally decent people, otherwise I tend not to care what happens to them.
Top picks for 2018 (all with flawed characters)
Behold the dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. This book is about two Cameroonian migrants, Jenda and Neni, who are trying to live the American Dream. Whilst waiting for the results of their application for asylum, Jenda gets a job as a driver for a Wall St banker (Clarke), while his wife Neni works as domestic for Clarke’s wife. Their lives are compared, but neither family is painted as perfect. Set in 2008, just prior to the Lehmann Bros debacle, this is a complex book about money, privilege and happiness. Highly recommended. If I had a star system, this would get lots of stars!
Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng. I loved this book about a dysfunctional family living in Shaker Heights, Ohio. This is a book about motherhood, secrets, art and identity and caused a lot of discussion at my book group. What I especially liked about this book was that each of the characters had their own view of the world and their own reasons for taking the actions that they did. It’s a very even-handed book, you could really understand where everyone was coming from.
Still life with bread crumbs by Anna Quindlen. This is a highly enjoyable read, reminiscent of an upmarket Elizabeth Berg novel. This review describes this book as “comfort food” and I think that’s a fair comment. It’s an easy read about a middle-aged photographer trying to re-invent herself after a downturn in her economic situation.
This is how it always is by Laurie Frankel was the book on everyone’s “must read” list this time last year. It’s about a family who’s little boy Claude decides that he wants to be a girl. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book, as I thought it might be too confronting, but it’s an excellent read. The book is about a regular family facing a difficult situation. I especially liked the fact that they make mistakes (just like in real life) but they essentially love their child and just want him/her to be happy.
These are my favourites. What was your best read in 2018?
7 thoughts on “My best reads in 2018”
That’s still a lot of books! It would take me years to read 24 books, but I’m a very slow reader. I read mostly non fiction this year which is a departure from my usual.
Can you recommend any non fiction? I’m planning to read Educated but don’t have many others on my TBR. Another one that looks interesting is Why we sleep.
I also managed about 26 books. My favourite was published about 20 years ago but a trip to India prompted me to buy it at the airport in New Delhi. It is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and so worth the effort. Our bookclub loved The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. At over 600 pages it was not a light read but engendered much discussion. My third choice is Extinctions (Josephine Wilson) on your previous favourites list. Did you notice that all your choices this year are from the US? I am going to take your advice and request some of these titles from the library.
I hadn’t noticed that they were all American so I will definitely try to broaden my scope in 2019. I did read Little Bee by Chris Cleave last year which was a good read and very thought provoking. It’s published under a different title in the UK (The Other Hand) so I would look for both titles at your library.
Thanks also for your recommendations. I read A Fine Balance many years ago and it’s a wonderful book. I’ll also give The Signature of All things a go based on your recommendation. I have a massive TBR for 2019 which makes me very happy.
I am really looking forward to reading The Overstory this year. Your review was excellent. I’m trying to read less of the lightweight books that so often distract me. There’s nothing wrong with light fiction but a lot of the thrillers are very formulaic and I often feel cross with myself when there are so many good books to read.
I’ve been wanting to read Little Fires Everywhere for a long time, so now I finally will. I grew up outside of Cleveland, in a town near Shaker Heights, so that was one reason I wanted to read the novel – also because it’s gotten rave reviews. In real life, Shaker Heights is a fascinating community for a number of reasons. I’m really glad you liked the book, I will put it on hold at the library. (I went through a phase of buying a lot of books when I started my blog, but saw the light after a while – couldn’t keep that up – and the library works for me, too.) . Behold the Dreamers sounds good, too. You have a great list here.