C’mon, you know the song, right? Or am I just old? And possibly have bad music tastes too. Don’t judge! Nah, I’m cool being a nerd. I’m already a book nerd, might as well be a music nerd too! Since I traditionally use a song in the title of my annual best of books post, I chose Roxette beause I loved many, many books this year. And sure, sure, the next line in the song is “But it’s over now”, which also felt sadly appropriate. My love affair with books took a hit this year, but I still love them.
The Best Books I Read in 2018
Given my reading slump, I didn’t calculate the number of books read last year, although it pleased me to see how many books I truly loved after compiling my list.
Yo, it’s not just for youngin’s. Besides, most teens are taller than me, so I don’t even feel stupid going into the kid section to pick-up books (err … mostly).
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
I like Kinsella but admit that I was little nervous to read this book. Her stuff is typically laugh-out-loud fluff, which normally isn’t a problem and why I like her. But this book deals with mental illness, which isn’t something most people LOL over, well they shouldn’t. Unless they are douches. Major, major douches. So I worried she’d make Audrey someone to laugh at versus laugh with because her characters tend to be very unrealistic and sometimes borderline stupid (like I’d punch them in the face if I met them IRL stupid). But Audrey was real; her family was real. It was funny and sad with a whole lotta heart.
Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
I was a huge fan of her book Night Film and Neverworld Wake did not disappoint. I love the intriguing concept (a day is on loop), seeing lies and secrets exposed, relationships fracture and mend and vice versa, and maybe it’s all bullshit in the end because that’s just how Pessl rolls. And I kinda like it.
I like big thrillers and I cannot lie, because when a thriller walks in with a great, big mystery, well, I don’t get sprung but I do get happy. 😀 Somehow, reworking Sir Mix-A-Lot feels like it earned me back some cool points after Roxette.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Like most popular thrillers, some loved this and some felt it didn’t live up to its hype. I fall into the love category. It’s not perfect but man! Vanessa did a bad, bad, burn in Hell, kind of thing. It’s shockingly brilliant and you understand why she did such a horrible, no-good soulless act that would rightly see her hanging out with Hitler and Judas in Hell in her afterlife and yet — you maybe even approve … just a little. It fascinated me how I admired her smarts and still abhorred what she did while also finding her both sympathetic and unlikable, and ultimately respecting her too. But damn girl.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
While I have complained a lot about unreliable narrators this past year, I liked Amber. She told us from page 1 that she lies and then proceeded to lie. Repeatedly. Then retract said lies and tell you the truth … maybe. I mean sometimes she had to lie a few times before the truth came out. And sometimes she told you the truth from the get-to. And other times, she lied then admitted the lie in the next breath. You were always on your toes.
The category where I put books that fit multiple genres. 😀
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
I raced through this and appreciated that it had no twists or unreliable narrators. Here’s to not trying to trick readers! It’s not a bad thing, writers! Nate, for whatever reason, reminded me a bit of Jax from Sons of Anarchy without the Mama drama. But the real star of the story is his daughter. She’s sheep. Innocent. And it seems mean to say this, but kinda a wuss. But not by the end. Pray for the idiot who pisses her off because her daddy taught how to take care of herself and now she has a particular set of skills she ain’t afraid to use. You can decide for yourself whether he saved or doomed her.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneyMan
This book wasn’t what I expected. I thought it was something light(ish), funny(ish) and not serious. Well, it was light (at times) and funny but also deadly serious. Eleanor is not completely fine by a long shot. Another story that deals with trauma and mental illness with humor and gravitas and left you rooting for Eleanor to put herself back together and be completely fine.
Best of bad books? Yes please.
Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson
So this is not a bad book, per se. I loved The Butterfly Garden and Roses of May but this — not so much. The previous books focused on one victim and her journey, whereas in this story virtually everyone is a victim. We get to see the horror but not the recovery (whether just starting or along the way) and the perptrator is a very troubled victim herself. There is no real justice here. Plus, I cannot deal with multiple, young children as victims, so those triggered by child abuse be forewarned. I will read what Dot writes next, but this was a disappointing ending to a trilogy that I loved.
Reading Slump by Me
Uh, yeah I’ve been in a reading slump since this summer. And I actually waited to read the above book thinking it would jolt me out of my slump. Oops. It made it worse. So my reading surprise is technically the worst surprise of the past year. I don’t recommend it.
My Favorite Books of 2018
Drum roll, please.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
This is really one poem (but not scarily long and very accessible) and it broke my heart. I’ve heard it’s amazing on audio, which isn’t surprising. Poems are meant to be heard in my opinion; I just don’t like listening to books, although I may make an exception for this one. I also don’t regret reading it though. Sometimes I just needed to sit for a bit with his words. Reread them until they fully soaked in and became a part of me. Some people confuse justice with revenge (including me) at times but at some point, someone has to put their gun down. I’m still haunted by the final words.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
This book is another that divided readers into love/hate camps. Obviously I loved it. While I agree Daniel and to a lesser extent Varya’s stories were weaker, Simon and Klara put me on the floor. I read this book a year ago and still frequently think of them. You know how Simon’s story will end but that doesn’t mean, no matter how hard you gird your heart against it, that you won’t fall in love with him and sob and wail when his story does end. And Klara. Lordy. I did not see the ending coming. Afterwards, I had to walk around my apartment, feeling all the feels. Oh Klara. Klara, Klara, Klara. KLARA. Girl.
2019: I Want My Reading Mojo Back
Pretty please, with sugar on top? I want to love books again. To feel the thrill of reading the first paragraph and wondering where this lovely book will take me. Will I laugh? Cry? Get angry? Fall in love? Learn something? Be inspired? All of the above? Yes, please.
I’m joining the Best Of 2018 Show Us Your Books Link-Up, hosted by Jana and Steph. Thanks again to both lovely ladies for hosting the very, very best link-up on the Internet. And yo, that ain’t hyperbole either.
What was the best book you read in 2018?