My favorite books of 2018

My favorite books of 2018

2018 was a solid reading year for me, and today I’m sharing the best-of-the-best: the handful of truly exceptional titles that earned a spot at the top of my list.

I track my titles in my reading journal, and put a simple little star by especially noteworthy titles. Despite my best efforts at record-keeping, I’m probably forgetting a favorite here, because I always do. I tried to keep my list short, or I could have included thirty titles.

Note: I’m omitting favorites I listened to on audio from this list. Please click here to see my favorite audiobooks of 2018.

I’ve broken my list down my genre, and they’re not in any particular order.

Favorite Books of 2018: Fiction
A Place for Us

A Place for Us

I adored Mirza’s slow-burning debut about an Indian-American Muslim family, which skillfully probes themes of identity, culture, family, and generational change. The story opens with the oldest daughter’s wedding: the bride scans the crowd for her beloved yet rebellious brother, hoping he'll appear despite being estranged from the family for years. Through a series of flashbacks, and in rotating points of view, Mirza examines the series of small betrayals that splintered the family, skillfully imbuing quotidian events—a chance meeting at a party, a dinner conversation about a spelling test—with deep significance, showing how despite their smallness, they irrevocably alter the course of the family’s life. The last section is a stunner, but grab the tissues first. More info →
Harry’s Trees

Harry’s Trees

Author:
Have you ever read a book that made the world around you feeI just a little bit magical? I first raved about this latest from Jon Cohen to the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club, and we're reading it together in January. This story features an unlikely friendship, a book-within-a-book, a battle to save the local library, and a mysterious good Samaritan, all set amidst the beautiful Pennsylvania forest. More info →
What We Were Promised

What We Were Promised

Author:
I loved this emotionally resonant debut about class, culture, regret, and the road not taken; it deserves more attention than it's gotten. After twenty years abroad, the Zhens return to their native China to take up residence among Shanghai’s nouveau riche. But deep unease lies behind the façade of their pampered lifestyle, and the reappearance of a long-lost brother stirs up a host of long-buried emotions, and forces the family to revisit complicated (and secret) past choices. The backdrop of contemporary Shanghai and a national festival highlights how the family embodies China’s current conflicts and complexities: rich vs poor, urban vs rural, old vs new values (and I loved talking with Cindy Brandt about the realities of these divides in episode 140 of What Should I Read Next). More info →
I’ll Be Your Blue Sky

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky

In her new standalone novel (and a minimalist summer reading guide pick), Marisa de los Santos returns to the characters she introduced in Love Walked In. The day before her wedding, Clare, now a grown-up, has cold feet. Enter Edith, an elderly stranger Clare connects with instantly, who nudges Clare to cancel her wedding to a man who scares her. Not long after, Clare receives notice that Edith has died, and bequeathed her a strange gift—her house. Clare seeks refuge there after her nonwedding, and soon learns hints of the past role the house—and Edith—played in a "relocation system" that served women fleeing domestic violence in the 1950s. Easy to read while covering serious emotional territory, packed with literary references that will warm book lovers' hearts. More info →
Montana 1948

Montana 1948

Author:
This book took my by surprise. In this quiet and timely pageturner, a man recounts the tumultuous events of his 12th year, back in his small hometown of Bentrock, Montana. The story begins with the death of his beloved Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier; even as a 12-year-old he can see her death is suspicious, and he fears the blame lies at his family's door. I wasn't initially inclined to pick this up, but my husband urged me to read it. I'm glad he did. (Listen to me recommend this to Chelsey and Curtis as a couples read on episode 164 of What Should I Read Next.) More info →
Stay with Me

Stay with Me

Author:
Adebayo's debut is a powerful, emotional story about love, family, and fidelity set against the backdrop of the turbulent political climate of 1985-2008 Nigeria. The story begins with Yejide’s mother-in-law arrives at her door with a guest in tow: her husband’s second wife, that she didn’t know he’d married. More info →
The Dreamers

The Dreamers

I loved Walker's 2012 debut The Age of Miracles and have been impatiently waiting for a follow-up. It's finally (almost here): this one doesn't come out till 2019, but its release date is right around the corner. The story begins with a college student crawling into bed and falling asleep. Her roommate thinks she has the flu ... but she doesn't wake up. She's patient zero of a strange illness that plunges its victims into deep sleeps some never wake up from. The community is quarantined, but as the illness nevertheless spreads, so does the sense of panic. I flew through this unusual book: equal parts mystery, fantasy, and dystopian novel, all overlaid with a dream-like quality. More info →
Favorite Books of 2018: Nonfiction
Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

Author:
Plenty of people get tons done but still feel frustrated with how they’re spending their time. In her latest time-management book, Vanderkam examines highly productive people who—despite their commitments, obligations, and successful enterprises—feel like they have all the time in the world, and she investigates what exactly they’re doing that causes them to feel that way. The seven mindset shifts presented here are full of stories about real people, which makes this both helpful and fun to read. More info →
Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places

Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places

Author:
Walkable City was one of my favorite nonfiction books of years gone by—it's a book I can't stop talking about. So of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on Jeff Speck's latest, devoted to "everything that people tend to get wrong these days when designing pieces of cities." I was pleased to see it's not a retread of Walkable City, and contains overwhelmingly new content. More info →
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Author:
I'm cheating a little, because this book doesn't come out until 2019. But I'm sliding it in because it comes out just 15 days into the New Year, and I loved it so much. This is Shapiro's story about how she very recently discovered a life-changing, identity-threatening secret about her family, and what happened next. If you've enjoyed Shapiro's work in the past, like her most recent memoir Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, I recommend you avoid the spoiler-laden reviews (that specify what that family secret is) and dive right in. More info →
Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Author:
You know it's a good sign when you want to read a book out loud to anyone close enough to listen, and that was me with this new Anne Lamott book (which, as a bonus, is completely gorgeous). The guiding principle here, as she expresses in her "Humans 101" chapter, is: "Almost everything is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy." I laughed, I cried—sometimes on the same page. This was a no-brainer for my favorites list because I've referenced this book and it's central idea so much in conversation since I first read it. More info →
Favorite Books of 2018: Re-reads
This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

This is the story of an unlikely but successful marriage between a floundering American professor and a British film star who hated the limelight so much she faked her own death and disappeared ... until an unexpected bit of news, twenty years old but newly discovered, threatens to unravel everything they've built together. Family stories are commonplace in fiction, but I love this one for its intricate plotting, nuanced characters, true-to-life feel, and ultimate hopefulness.

More info →
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say

Author:
My favorite Kelly Corrigan memoir by a long shot. I adored this book, I wish I could download it into my brain, I want everyone I know to read it, and we’ll never exhaust the discussion topics it presents. More info →

What were YOUR favorite books of 2018? 

P.S. I’ve been sharing my favorites for a long time: check out my favorite books of 2017 and of 2016. In 2015 I divided my list into fiction favorites and nonfiction favorites. (You can go back even farther if you dare!)

94 comments | Comment

94 comments

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  1. Sarah says:

    I loved The Line That Held Us(warning: parts are graphic and disturbing). I finished Little, Big which was recommended to me by a bookseller at Malaprops in Asheville, NC. This was after 5 attempts at blind date with a bookseller and I had or had read all the ones that I picked. I also loved Peace Like a River and The Wicked Deep.

    • Lisa Root says:

      Thank you for the suggestion, Sarah. Just added to my kindle. I, too, loved Peace Like a River. I also added Montana, 1948 to my stack. I know for certain that I read it long ago, but it’s worth a reread.

  2. Marcia says:

    These are some of my favorites from 2018: anything by Lisa Genova and Louise Penny.
    “Lightkeeper’s Daughter”, “L’apart” by Leibovitz, “The Alice Network” by Quinn, “The Art Forger” by Shapiro, “Midnight Blue” by Van Der Vlugt (love stories about art) and “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old” by Groen.
    Currently reading “The Diary of a Bookseller” by Bythell will finish in 2019.

  3. Stacy DeCoste says:

    One of my goals this past year was to read more nonfiction. Top picks include
    * The Big Burn and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan
    * Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Eric Larson
    * Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
    * Educated by Tara Westover
    Top fiction reads include
    * The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
    * A Gentleman in Moscow by Amos Towles
    * Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    * Little Fires Everywhere by Celest Ng
    * My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
    * Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    * The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

  4. Guest says:

    Enjoyed a number of these as well – Notes on Hope is amazing. My favorites from this year in no particular order:
    – A Gentleman in Moscow.
    – The Awakening of Miss Prim
    – Almost Everything
    – An Irish Country Practice
    – The Queen of Hearts
    – Secret Daughter
    – Pachinko
    – How to Find Love in a Bookshop
    – The Duchess (Okay, this may seem like a fluff book but I found it a very interesting biography of Camilla Parker Bowles. Of course, I also have a bit of an obsession with British royalty.)

  5. Dee says:

    I loved Tana French’s Faithful Place. Not a new book for this year, but it was my favorite read. I’d read the previous two books in the series, which were good, but Faithful Place blew my socks off. French really put me in the Dublin neighborhood she wrote about. I hated turning the last page.

    • Emily says:

      I discovered Tana French this year. I’ve read the first 3 books in the Dublin Murder Squad series and I love all of them. I recently finished Faithful Place, and agree with your assessment. You totally get why her characters behave in the ways that they do.

  6. Debbie Ball says:

    I have to agree Dead Wake was a favorite but topping that was Indianapolis which is also out of my usual genre but I felt very informed by the good writing and research. I highly recommend Indianapolis as it was done by two ladies! The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was not given the publicity it deserved! Another Brit novel which at times is a bit salacious but push on the story is worth it. Very enlightening about the plight of women and their limited choices in life during 1700 England

  7. Malissa Kilpatrick says:

    I’ve been reintroduced to a couple of oldies.
    Elizabeth Goudge is now reprinted. “The Deans Watch” is a good start.
    Also George MacDonald, friend of Lewis Carroll and influencer of CS Lewis. “There and Back” is third in a trilogy, but the easiest to read of the three. Very meaty.

  8. Patty says:

    You need to check the title of your blog post announcement that you emailed out. It says 2017 in your title and in the body of the message.

  9. I enjoyed Off the Clock this year too! I listened to it on audio and Laura Vanderkam narrates it herself. It always makes a book better for me when the author reads it. They understand the flow and nuance better than a hired narrator, I think.

  10. Mary says:

    I can’t believe “Where the Crawdads Sing “ by Delia Owens hasn’t been mentioned…far and away the best book I’ve read in several years.

  11. Kinsey says:

    My 5-star reads this year (not including re-reads of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings) included Backman’s “Us Against You” and “A Man Called Ove,” “None Like Him” by Jen Wilkin, “The Hiding Place” (which I’d never read before but loved!), “The Austen Escape” by Katherine Reay (I love all her books), “When Breath Becomes Air,” “All That’s Good” by Hannah Anderson, “I’m Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown,” and your very own “I’d Rather Be Reading.” It was a great reading year!

  12. Shelly says:

    My top fiction was The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. This book’s structure was different than anything I’ve read before. The main character is trying to solve the mystery of Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder, but he only has one day to do it. He lives that same day over and over, but in a different character’s body. Think Groundhog Day, meets Gothic novel, meets Downton Abbey, meets Ruth Wear. I like books that keep me a little off balance and this one did just that until the last page.
    My favorite nonfiction this year was Get Well Soon: The History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them. I love books where I learn things about the world and history. But what really made this a favorite was the author’s humor. It would have been easy to make this a dreary book. It’s about plagues after all. But Jennifer Wright added humor and modern day references into her writing.

  13. Terri says:

    My #1 this year was The Map of Salt and Stars. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Swing Time, Almost Sisters, The Underground Railroad, The Second Mrs Hockaday, The Alice Network and White Chrysthanthemun are all at the top of my list.

    • Guest says:

      I love, love, love Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk! Read it last year and find it such an inspiring book on aging – not because it’s all pretty, as you know it’s not, but because it shows resilience and continued growth.

      • Nancy says:

        I have some favorites already mentioned: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Little Fires Everywhere, Everything I Never Told You, Lilac Girls, Educated and discovered Kelly Corrigan. (thanks to this blog) …love love LOVE her books, started with the newest one and immediately listened to every other one…and may go back and listen to each a second time. Oh yes…also absolutely loved Dinner with Edward.

        Just started Becoming and sure it will be added to my favorites list.

  14. Vicki says:

    I loved Harry’s Trees I read after I listened to one of your podcasts. I love your podcast what should I read next?. My only regret is that I did not listen sooner.

  15. Judy Burnham says:

    My favorite nonfiction book was The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe about a high school in Denver where they have a program for teaching refugee teens. My favorite fiction book was Beneath a Scarlet Sky about WW2 in Italy – actually a true story and a real thriller.

  16. Janean says:

    I love seeing evertone’s year end top 10/15/18/20. I kind of have to laugh at myself, because when I see your list, Anne, I immediately think, “Oh, she’s reading the same things as I am!” Then I have a 🤦🏻‍♀️ moment, because, duh, of course you are – I get 99% of my reading recommendations from you.

    My top 10:
    🥇The Poisonwood Bible
    🥈Eleanor Oliphant is Completely 🥉Where’d You Go Bernadette
    4. The Female Persuasion
    5. The Ensemble
    6. Eleanor & Park
    7. Educated
    8. The Great Alone
    9. Becoming Mrs. Lewis
    10. Tell Me More
    🌟 I’d Rather Be Reading holds a special place in my heart, because it’s absolutely wonderful and because I was part of the launch team (my first!), which was an absolute blast. Such a great reading year!

  17. Julia R. says:

    My favorite reads in 2018: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst; Dead Wake by Erik Larson; The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher; Us Against You by Fredrick Backman; The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah; To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  18. Laurel Bandi says:

    These are my favorite books read in 2018…The Great Alone, Kingdom of the Blind, Irish Country Cottage, The Widows of Malabar Hill, Wildfire and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.

  19. Carol Santilli says:

    My favorites in no particular order: The Nix by Nathan Hill, This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel, and my new favorite author is Fredrik Backman because of Beartown and Us Against You. Except for The Nix, all were recommended by you Anne. ❤️📚

  20. Terrie Purkey says:

    In the comments I see many favorites of mine as well as lots of new ones I’ve not heard of. Which is as it should be; there are SO many books published, how could anyone read them all??? 🙂 I read 74 books this year and my top ones are:
    The Boat People, Sharon Bala
    Harry’s Trees, Jon Cohen (thanks WSIRN)
    The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
    An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
    Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
    The One-in-a-Million Boy, Monica Woods (thanks WSIRN)
    Looking forward to another stellar reading year in 2019. Thanks Anne and WSIRN group for such amazing recommendations and such clearly articulated analysis of the books. It makes it much easier to decide “What Should I Read Next”!

  21. Elise says:

    This has been an absolutely fantastic reading year, thanks to this blog and community and WSIRN. Thanks, Anne and everyone who contributes!
    My highlights:
    – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    – Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
    – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    – Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
    – Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
    – Middlemarch by George Eliot
    – What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
    – A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    – Zita the Spacegirl trilogy by Ben Hatke
    – Mighty Jack/Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke
    The last two items are kids’ graphic novel series that completely stole my heart. Fun to read on my own and to share with my kids.

    • Gloria says:

      I love that Ben Hatke’s books made your list, they surprised me while I was reading it 🙂 They are favourite here too (Mighty Jack 2 is the first my daughter read on her own, start to finish!!)

  22. Sherry Sharpnack says:

    Argh! MORE books for my enormous TBR pile/list!
    My favorite reads in 2018 (notice they didn’t come out in 2018; I’m really behind.) were “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande (everyone should read about making end-of-life decisions); “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly, based on the lives of three WWII-era women, which answered the question about how “normal” people turn into monsters; and “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, just so beautifully written while addressing pertitent themes.

  23. Nancy says:

    I liked
    WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
    BEST COOK IN THE WORLD: TALES FROM MY MOMMA’S TABLE by Rick Bragg
    And 2 more set in India-
    SECRET DAUGHTER (Gowda)
    THE SPACE BETWEEN US (Umrigar)

  24. Kitty Balay says:

    Reading everyone’s lists makes me wish for so much more reading time! There are so many of your titles that I wish were on my list for this year! Here are my lists:

    FICTION
    Middlemarch – George Eliot (I will be finishing today or New Year’s Day at the latest!)
    The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
    The Hate U Give- Angie Thomas
    Less- Andrew Sean Greer
    Peace Like a River – Leif Enger
    White Houses – Amy Bloom
    Heating and Cooling – Beth Ann Fennelly
    Peter and Wendy – J.M. Barrie

    NON-FICTION
    I’d Rather Be Reading – Anne Bogel (I saved this for my Christmas reading and it was delightful in every way!)
    Becoming – Michelle Obama
    Tell Me More – Kelly Corrigan
    Women and Power – Mary Beard
    So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport (this was the first book I read in 2018 and this, along with Deep Work, has influenced my entire year at work.)

    Anne, thank you for being a part of our lives. You make them so much richer with beautiful stories well-told, challenging topics, and a sense of community. “Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!” Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • Kitty Balay says:

      And in a category all her own is
      A Trick of the Light – Louise Penney
      The Beautiful Mystery – Louise Penney
      I’ve been savoring this series. It has its own page in my book journal. (Flavia de Luce has a page, too!) I love these characters so much that I save them to read when the season corresponds with the season in the books. How is that for nerdy? I don’t care, it makes me happy! I think it’s time to read How the Light Gets In!

    • Sarah M Schneider says:

      I’m also reading middle march, and enjoying it, but I won’t finish my new years (it’s been a hectic month, and I really feel like I can’t do it justice when I fall into bed some nights.)

      • Kitty says:

        Sarah,
        I can’t recommend Juliet Stevenson enough! It’s so alive you feel like you’re experiencing everything w/ her. And her ability to create clear, distinct voices in the group scenes is genius! I’m so glad there is someone else on the Middlemarch journey with me. I started with the group, but life & Work got in the way & I fell woefully behind. Thanks to Juliet’s reading I’m loving being back in the thick of it. How can a 147 year old book feel so insightful and alive today?

      • Nanne Cutler says:

        I read Middlemarch years ago and remembering loving it so much so much that I had (with the whole hearted consent from my family)the the minister at my grandmother’s funeral read a passage from it:
        “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
        ― George Eliot, Middlemarch

  25. Stacy says:

    I finished A Place For Us yesterday based on the podcast recommendation and it broke my heart. I’d say it was the best book I read in 2018. I discovered your podcast a few months ago after my car radio died and have really enjoyed it. Looking forward to hearing you in 2019!

  26. Kristin says:

    In addition to Tell Me More & A Place For Us, my top five of the year included White Houses by Amy Bloom, the Heart’s Incredible Furies by John Boyne, & There There by Tommy Orange.

  27. Sarah M Schneider says:

    My favorites: Lonesome Dove; The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul; Searching for Dragons; American Gods; Circe (hey look something written in the last 5 years…); Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder; and as a bonus I’ve finally found a guilty-reads author that doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve about cardboard cutouts, so when I need my usual fun romance palate cleanser I’ve been reading everything by Tina Gower/Alice Farris.

    • Elise says:

      I love The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul! Such a uniquely silly and fun book. It always makes me happy to see lighthearted sci-fi/fantasy on people’s lists.

  28. Janene Misak says:

    Thanks for all of the great recommendations. If I were able to read all that you suggested and those your readers recommended, it would fill my reading list for 2019! My favorites were a Gentleman from Moscow, Beartown and Glitter and Glue. Thanks for leading me down new reading roads this year!

  29. Stephanie says:

    Oh my goodness, I need to quit my life and just spend all my time reading, so many of these look so good!

    For me, my favorites of the year included:
    The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner
    A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (I’m not particularly religious, but I find her attitude toward her faith refreshing)
    The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I kept the patio, lost the lawn, and fed my family for a year by Spring Warren
    Educated by Tara Westover
    Saving Alex by Alex Cooper
    The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

    I’ve spent the last two years trying to read down my Goodreads Want to Read list (it’s now down to 140, from 332!!!). It’s been packed with nonfiction for the most part, and while I’m still going to continue to read it down (and never let it get that high again!), my goal for the 2019 is to incorporate a lot more fiction into my life, so I’ll be checking this blog often for ideas! Happy New Year to Anne and everyone! 🙂

  30. Janice says:

    In no particular order, some of my favorites: Beneath a Scarlet Sky, The Golim and the Jinni, The Bear and the Nightingale, Follow the River, Us Against You, The Last Child, Harry’s Trees, The Sun Does Shine, Where the Crawdads Sing.

    • Laura says:

      I love when I see comments by people who has similiar taste in books as I do , Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Follow The River and The Golem and The Jinni are among my all time favorite books!

  31. Jess says:

    My top 5 reads of 2018 are mostly represented already in the comments, but there are a few unique titles.
    1. Harry’s Trees (thanks for the rec!)
    2. Where the Crawdads Sing
    3. The Alice Network
    (I read ‘The Room on Rue Amelie’ right after I finished The Alice Network and it was just as good!)
    4. The Hate You Give
    5. Both of the thrillers by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen blew me away! -The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl

    Also…
    True Crime – The Innocent Man by John Grisham
    Memoir – Educated by Tara Westover
    Backlist – The Kitchen House (may be a contender for top Historical Fiction of all time for me!)

  32. Heather says:

    Some of my favorite reads from this year:
    – A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
    – Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
    — Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
    — Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
    — Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman
    Happy New Year!

  33. Jennifer Olson says:

    I loved my 2018 reading life and am so excited for 2019. Some of my favs were: The Widows of Malabar Hill, Six Stories, Educated, Hillbilly Elegy, and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.

  34. Gloria says:

    Eek! I just checked and there are a lot of 5 star entries in my 2018 read list. That means its been a good reading year, right? Right. Here’s some highlights:
    -A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    -Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
    -Sing, Unbuired, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
    -All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (so excited to read her latest Women Talking in 2019)
    -The Break by Kathleen Vermette & Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez for my CanLit picks of the year (although Miriam Toews is Canadian too…)
    -Arcadia by Lauren Groff
    -Heavy by Kiese Laymon
    -Educated by Tara Westover
    I am part of the way through Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver and it is good enough it will be on this years list and next year’s since I won’t be able to finish it in the next several hours (ok maybe if I ignored my family…)
    Here’s to another great year of reading, fellow book lovers!

    • Gloria says:

      I can’t not give credit where its due … so I must add
      -Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
      -The Boat People by Sharon Bala
      -Speak No Evil by Uzodimma Iweala
      -The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

  35. Jennifer Brewer says:

    Anne, I love to hear your short list of favorite, but would love even more, the long list. Even if it takes all day, I’m game! What would be even better is a list of all your recommendations for the year in one long and beautiful list! I could read about other people’s favorite books all day! THANK YOU!

  36. Christine from Australia says:

    My three favourite books this year have been:
    Catherine McKinnon, Storyland (an Australian novel about generations of people living in the Illawarra region north of Sydney); WG Sebald, Austerlitz (not new, but profoundly moving); Gail Honeyman, Elinor Oliphant is completely fine.
    I’ve also enjoyed discovering Elly Griffith’s murder mysteries about a forensic archaeologist in Norfolk; Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm; and Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire

  37. I have read more – both more quantity and more good books – this year, thanks in large part to this blog, the WSIRN podcast & the MMD book club!! It’s super hard to narrow down my list of favorites, but here are 10 I really loved:
    *The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
    *I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
    *The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
    *The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
    *The Odyssey, as translated by Emily Wilson
    *Educated by Tara Westover (on audio)
    *Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
    *There There by Tommy Orange
    *Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
    *and of course, I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel!

    Happy New Year, fellow book nerds!!

  38. Donna says:

    Loving this list, Anne! Definitely adding a few of these to my 2019 reading list.
    I read 30 books this year (I usually read 50-60 books). But this year was crazy busy with school and work.
    Here are my favourites:
    Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
    Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
    China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
    Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (currently reading)
    Hindsight by Justin Timberlake

    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

  39. Andrea says:

    My favorite reads from this year are The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Educated by Tara Westover, and the first two books of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series.

  40. Sheryl says:

    My favorites from 2018:
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
    A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
    Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami
    Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
    What a great year!

  41. Harriet Clark says:

    I’ve just discovered Modern Mrs. Darcy and this group! Thanks to all for such intriguing reading suggestions. Some of my favorites this year were: ROBIN by Dave Itzkoff; LETTERS FROM SKYE by Jessica Brockmole (recommended by Margaret Manning of Sixty and Me), INSEPARABLE by Yunte Huang; SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS TO HUCK AND HAMLET by Joe Mills (poetry by a gifted professor at UNCSchool of the Arts); THE GOOD NEIGHBOR: THE LIFE AND WORK OF FRED ROGERS by Maxwell King; THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER by Laurel Davis Huber; I have I’D RATHER BE READING on order, and it’s due to be delivered in 2 days! Can’t wait!! Happy reading in the new year!

  42. Kelly says:

    Stay with me was my favorite book I read this year. Also, I really enjoyed a new to me author-Liane Moriarity-loved What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies. Looking forward to the 2019 reading challenge!

  43. Patti says:

    Two books which I sent to others in my family were ‘The Philosopher’s Flight’ by Tom Miller, a laugh out loud gender bending, world building, alternative history story. And, ‘To Obama With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope’ by Jeanne Marie Laskas which was just an amazing read about the people who wrote letters (and poured their hearts out) to the White House (and the people who read EVERY letter) over the challenging eight years of his administration.

  44. Emily says:

    Anne—I am a teacher and I found WSRIN over summer break this year and it changed my life! I read maybe 4 or 5 books in 2017, and I read 32 after finding WSIRN in July! My 2018 favorites list is long, and very WSIRN inspired. In order of dates read:
    For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
    Emma by Jane Austen
    Reading People by Anne Bogel 🙂
    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
    Inspired by Rachel Held Evans
    Rush by Lisa Patton (this was SO good on audio!!)
    Still Life by Louise Penny
    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

  45. Stephanie says:

    Agenda-driven and trendy. Anne, please have more independent thinking and bow less at the altar of current trends. May 2019 be a better literary year for you.

  46. Debra says:

    The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
    Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
    The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
    The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
    Becoming MomStrong by Heidi St. John
    The More of Less by Joshua Becker

  47. Joan Carothers says:

    What a great reading year 2018 was! I set a hefty goal of 110 and made it! I read a mix of everything from award winning children’s lit to classic adult lit. I realized that I really enjoy biographies and memoirs, thanks to keeping a good reading log. One of my favorites was Tony Danza’s book-I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. The book took me back to teaching in the inner city. I ended my year with The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning. A friend of my daughter recommended it because we live in a small home and have unintentionally become minimalists this year. I recommend it for anyone looking to focus on the important in their life. I have yet to nail down my 2019 goal but am excited to get started with a good audiobook, Harry’s Trees, while making a 1300 mile trip on January 1! We’re traveling as I write this. Happy new year Anne!

  48. Mark Freeburg says:

    Good best of the year list, Ann. Montana 1948 is one of my all-time favorites. I have had Harry’s Trees on my radar for awhile and I have a copy of The Dreamers waiting nearby. Here are some of my favorites from 2018:

    Best Fiction:

    1) The Overstory
    2) The Princess Bride
    3) Fight No More: Stories
    4) The Mars Room
    5) Virgil Wander

    Best Nonfiction:

    1) When They Call You a Terrorist
    2) The Right Stuff
    3) The Spirit Catches You
    4) Bad Blood
    5) The Night of the Gun

  49. Rachel says:

    I had such a hard time narrowing down my list! I ended up with a top 15 for the year, including A Place for Us, This Must be the Place, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Just Mercy, The Ensemble, Calypso, and others. Thanks for continuing to fill my TBR list, Anne!

  50. I had a great reading year in 2018. I loved:
    Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)
    Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)
    An American in Marriage (Tayari Jones)
    The Bright Hour (Nina Riggs)
    The Likeness (Tana French)
    Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)
    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han)
    A Study in Scarlet Women (Sherry Thomas)
    A Place for Us (Fatima Farheen Mirza) – I just finished this yesterday!

  51. Esther Cohn says:

    I first read Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove a couple of years ago and loved the book and the author. Several people mentioned Ove, Beartown and Us Against Them but no one mentioned Britt Marie Was Here. I think that might be my favorite Backman or at least tied with Ove. Like A Man Called Ove, it is sweet, touching and very funny!

  52. Susan says:

    My favorite books of 2018:
    Kitchens of the Great Midwest
    The Year of Magical Thinking
    Born a Crime
    Educated
    Piecing Me Together
    Knowing God
    You Are What You Love
    The Rest of God
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    The Remains of the Day
    Lethal White
    Calypso

  53. Marci says:

    I almost shot coffee out my nose when I saw today’s message about “1000 books to read before dying” – and new books are being written every day!

    My favorite books read in 2018 are:
    Ordinary Grace – William Kent Krueger
    Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein* (*Ordinarily steer clear of books written from an animal’s perspective but it worked and I loved this book!)
    The Ice House – Laura Lee Smith
    This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell
    Reading with Patrick – Michelle Kuo
    Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
    Great Reckoning – Louise Penny*
    (*I hadn’t heard of Louise Penny until this year and I’ve chosen 3 of her books for my 2019 Reading Challenge – SO good!)

  54. Diane Evans says:

    I’ve read so many good books in 2018 Here are a few of what I thought the best:
    Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller
    The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan
    Down the River Unto the Sea by my favorite Walter Mosley
    The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
    Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
    Faithful Place by Tana French (another big Tana French lover)
    A Delicate Truth by John le Carre
    A. Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
    Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
    The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker
    Two Kinds of Truth a wonderful Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly

  55. Marci says:

    True confession – LOVE all of the Michael Connelly books! Read 5 last year just didn’t include them in my best of 2018 list. Especially loved audiobooks read by Titus Welliver

  56. Sharon says:

    For fiction- Loved WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and just finished ONCE UPON A RIVER. Couldn’t put either done.

    Nonfiction: BECOMING rereading it with my 8 yo daughter on audible. Even better the second time, especially as Michelle Obama narrates it. Loved LEARNING BY LIVING by Eleanor Roosevelt. Discovered it through WSIRN. It is amazing how relevant it is today!

  57. Mimi says:

    Thank you Anne for helping me find the best books for me. My 2018 favorites; Nonfiction – The Power of Moments, Martin Luther. When, The Reason for God, Made for More, Live Like a Narnian
    Fiction – Lilac Girls, Watership Down, Dreamland Burning, We Were the Lucky Ones. Angle of Repose, Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, Bridge of Clay, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Blue Castle Short Stories – Tenth of December and my favorite middle reader selection Okay for Now.

  58. Beverly says:

    *Everybody Always by Bob Goff (nonfiction)
    *Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand(read in Hawaii right before going to Pearl Harbor- really appreciate our Greatest generation!)
    *Educated by Tara Westover
    *Persuasion by Jane Austen (favorite re-read)
    *Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser – Pulitzer Prize 2018 – read to finish the MMD challenge. Great way to end the year. It is a definitive biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder while intertwining the history of the West and the laborious struggle of the American farmer.

  59. Stephanie says:

    I read a lot of books this year and my goal is to read even more next year. I am part of your challenge and will get to that soon! This year my favs were:
    * The Hate U Give
    * Bird Box
    * Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    * This is How It Always Is

  60. Stacey says:

    My favorite books read in 2018 (in no particular order) were:
    Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate
    The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
    Unbroken: A WWII Story… – Laura Hillenbrand
    All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
    Tell Me More – Kelly Corrigan
    Salt to the Sea – Rpta Sepetys

  61. Sue says:

    My favorite books of 2018 were:
    Fiction:
    -Beartown & Us Against You – Backman
    – The Music Shop – Joyce
    – Varina – Frazier
    – Saints for All Occasions – Sullivan (my new fave author)
    Nonfiction:
    – Just Mercy – Stevenson* my book of the year!
    – Educated – Westover

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