The most popular ebooks on the blog in 2018

The most popular ebooks on the blog in 2018

I love to see what books other readers are borrowing, buying, and reading, whether it’s in my local library, at the bookstore, or here on the blog. In the past I’ve surveyed you on your favorite books of the year, and I’ve tabulated the most popular books on the blog for the summer reading season.

This year, for the first time and out of sheer curiosity, I tabulated the most popular ebooks on the blog. As a rule, you all like to know what’s going on behind the scenes, so today I’m sharing that list.

As it so often goes with lists of the most popular anything, some of these are surprising to me, some not at all.

I’ve learned a lot about readers’—and publishers’—ebook habits over the years. Several years ago, I started sharing ebook deals on our deals page (and in the almost-daily email; sign up here if you’re interested). When I began, I didn’t realize what an education this would be. I track what we share on a calendar, and over time it’s been fascinating to see the patterns (for example, which publishers like to offer early discounts and which hardly ever do).

My calculations here aren’t perfect: I can’t tell what you checked out of the library, or bought on your phone. I can tell what you buy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble through this site (a million thanks for that, because as an affiliate those retailers share a small portion of those purchase prices with me when you buy through MMD links). I can’t tell who buys what, but I can tell what’s selling.

I venture some guesses as to how each book made the list. Summer Reading Guide picks are likely contenders, as are MMD Book Club selections. When a publisher deeply discounts a hot new release (as occasionally happens, but it’s definitely the exception), readers are inclined to buy it cheap rather than languish on the library holds list. I’ve added notes below so you can get an idea of how these books earned their spots.

Without further adieu, these are the top 25 ebooks you snagged in 2018, in order, beginning with the most popular.

The 25 most popular ebooks on the blog in 2018

The Almost Sisters

1. The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

I loved this book, which was a Minimalist Summer Reading Guide selection in 2017.  Thanks to several great $1.99 sales throughout the year plus my personal enthusiasm for it, you all snatched up this ebook more than any other in 2018. It’s a fast-reading, big-hearted novel that tackles Serious Issues really, really well—while spinning a terrific story.

 

I'll Be Your Blue Sky

2. I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

This March 2018 release was a Minimalist Summer Reading Guide pick for this year as well as one of my favorite books of 2018. This easy-to-read and emotionally resonant novel brings back the characters from De Los Santos’s bestseller Love Walked In.

 

The Widows of Malabar Hill

3. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

This atmospheric historical mystery is based in part on a real historical figure, the first female attorney in Bombay. This was our July selection for the MMD Book Club.

 

That Kind of Mother

4. That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

This much-anticipated new release was marked down to $2.99 just days after its May 8 release. (I would love to be a fly on the wall for these kinds of marketing conversations!) I found this to be a a thought-provoking novel about parenthood, race, adoption; your reviews indicate readers either love this one or hate it.

 

Tangerine

5. Tangerine by Christine Mangan

This hot spring title was also seriously discounted within weeks of release, which seriously upped sales numbers. Set in the oppressive heat of Morocco, it’s bursting with atmosphere, and played out like a Hitchcock movie in my mind. Recommended reading for fans of domestic noir.

 

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

In this light-hearted mystery, a Bavarian widow moves to Sicily and rediscovers her love of living. If you’re participating in the Reading Challenge, heads up: this could be your book in translation, as it was originally written in German. (Psst—the sequel hits shelves on March 5.)

 

The Cafe by the Sea

7.The Café by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Authors’ previous works often go on sale when they have a new release, and that was the case here. This is a story of small town life, second chances, and family—the kind you get, and the kind you make—and is set in Scotland, a destination many of you clearly enjoy reading about.

 

I'd Rather Be Reading

This is my essay collection about the reading life, which came out on September 4 and was briefly discounted early in December. Thanks so much for your support of this new book.

 

Peace Like a River

9. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Many of you count this book—part tragedy, part romance, part coming-of-age story—among your lifetime favorites. It got an extra boost from the October release of Enger’s much-anticipated new novel Virgil Wander.

 

Middlemarch

10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Gorgeous editions of Eliot’s classic novel about love, happiness, and second chances abound, but at 800-something pages, the electronic version is much easier to squeeze into your bag. I finally read this in the last five years and am so glad I did.

 

Reading People

This one’s mine as well, and it went on sale for the first time right around when I’d Rather Be Reading came out. It’s for readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), explaining the life-changing insights and practical real-life applications that can be gained from the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. Again, thanks for your support.

 

The Lake House

12. The Lake House by Kate Morton

This is my favorite Morton novel. In 1933, a young child disappeared without a trace. In 2003, a disgraced young detective stumbles upon the cold case and soon discovers its ties to one of England’s oldest and most celebrated mystery writer (think Agatha Christie). I absolutely loved reading a mystery novel about a mystery novelist: the pages are filled with fascinating references to the fictional author’s writing process and working life.

 

Perennials

13. Perennials by Julie Cantrell

Cantrell writes gentle Southern family dramas with a touch of romance. I am frequently asked to recommend books that are thought-provoking but not packed with sex and f-bombs; Cantrell is a frequent answer. Her latest book is about two estranged sisters who reunite for their parents 50th anniversary.

 

Visible Empire

14.Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard

I chose Pittard’s latest for the Summer Reading Guide; it went on sale shortly after its June release. Pittard built her story around a real-life 1962 plane crash that killed 121 influential leaders from Atlanta’s arts community. Pittard merges fact and fiction to explore the aftermath in a grieving community. I thought this was excellent but (in contrast to Cantrell) not for the faint of heart; triggers abound.

 

The Sacred Enneagram

Enneagram books continued to be popular in 2018. This 2017 release is written in an easy-to-understand conversational style. Heuertz explores not only how each type thinks, feels, and acts, but also why they do it.

 

Hannah Coulter

16. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

I adore Berry, who writes gorgeous, thoughtful, piercing novels, and this, from his Port William series, is one of his finest. In this atmospheric novel, an older Hannah looks back on her life and reflects on what she has lost, and those whom she has loved. I’m thrilled you all are choosing to read this one.

 

Untangled

I called this “the best book you’ve never heard of on … navigating the tween and teen years.” Damour says that despite the day-to-day roller-coaster of the teenage years, there is a predictable pattern to teenage development, and in Untangled she lays out a roadmap for these seven crucial stages. I can’t wait for the sequel, coming this February.

 

In This House of Brede

18. In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

I haven’t yet read this myself, despite the occasional emails I get from readers with all-caps subject lines like “THE HOUSE OF BREDE: WHY YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOW.” I’ve been warned that while a novel based on life in a Benedictine monastery may sound dull, it’s anything but. The story centers around Philippa Talbot, a successful professional woman in London who gives it all up to become a nun.

 

Kristin Lavransdatter

19. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

This one is also still on my reading list.My friend (who’s been urging me to read this for ages) tells me she’d give it ten stars if she could. Book-of-the-Month Club famously said, “We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book.”

 

The Way Life Should Be

20. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline

In this 2009 release from the author you now know from Orphan Train and A Piece of the World, a New York City woman gives up her hectic lifestyle to start over in Maine. The title is ironic, as she soon discovers there’s no such thing as “they way life should be.”

 

Home Cooking

One of the most dearly loved foodie memoirs. Colwin’s chatty style is funny and endearing, and the book is so slim—and so enjoyable—I finished it in an afternoon. This collection was first published in 1988; much of the action unfolds in New York City. Highly recommended for fans of Ruth Reichl and Molly Wizenberg.

 

The Hazel Wood

22. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I loved this newer YA release featuring a book-within-a-book so much I included it in the 2018 Summer Reading Guide. This seriously twisted and sometimes bloody fairy tale reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, with a dash of The Matrix.

 

Station Eleven

23. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

This literary pageturner is one of my favorite novels of the last ten years, combining a global pandemic, a traveling Shakespeare troupe, and a comic book into a unique and compelling read. Don’t dismiss it because you’re not a fan of dystopian lit; it reads more like Wendell Berry than Suzanne Collins.

 

The Man in the Window

24. The Man in the Window by Jon Cohen

Cohen’s most recent novel, Harry’s Trees, is one of my 2018 favorites, so I’m eager to read more of his work, including this 1991 release, which librarian chose as one of her Book Lust Rediscoveries. She says Cohen can take “life-affirming, heartwarming, touching, uplifting, poignant, and tender” and not have them turn into “sentimental claptrap.”

 

An American Marriage

25. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This January 2018 release about a Louisiana man unjustly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit was EVERYWHERE when it came out. This is very much a book about mass incarceration, but there’s little talk of “issues” in this book. Instead, this is a love story, though one gone horribly and irreversibly wrong.

Do you have a favorite ebook (or ebooks) of 2018? Tell us what topped your list in comments.

18 comments | Comment

18 comments

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  1. Sallie Durette says:

    Hi Anne. I was interested in following the links to several o of the books in the top 25 list, but the links are not working for me. Thought you should know in case they’re not working for others. I will wait to see if it gets corrected before going to Amazon to purchase. Thank you. Your selection sounds great.

    • Amy says:

      These are not currently on sale. It was my understanding that at some point in 2018 that they were on sale and MMD fans bought them.

    • Sallie Durette says:

      Thank you to the person or team who fixed the links. Everything is working now – and many of the books are still on sale. Thank you, thank you. And have a very happy New year.

  2. Nick Ertz says:

    An interesting list. However, I have read only one, (I’d Rather Be Reading). Am so far out of touch? What does this collective reader look like, Age, Gender, Area or State?

  3. Well… I sure helped with your stats – I personally purchased 7 of the 25 in e-books and four in hardback ( I’d Rather Be Reading (2), Reading People and Station Eleven). I find your daily emails very helpful and you have saved me a great deal of money. I always get excited when a book I have been wanting to read is available for only a few dollars! Thank you! Happy New Year and may it be your best year EVER!

  4. Susan Craig says:

    My favorite recent read was The Murder of Patience Brooke. It is the first in a murder mystery series set in Victorian England. Charles Dickens is the detective. Like Dicken’s own novels, it is wordy, atmospheric and full of amazing characters. I loved it.

  5. Erin says:

    I picked up “I’d Rather Be Reading” when it was on sale and enjoyed your thoughts on the reading life as I read it on New Year’s Eve. Thanks for writing such a wonderful, fun book!

  6. Danielle says:

    I am very intrigued by #19, and have decided to read it as my “ in translation” pic for the 2019 reading challenge. I just checked & my library does not have it. I think I will splurge & get it in hardback, as a gift to myself. Thanks for putting out this list. I’m new to your site in the last month, so missed this original when it was posted. I did pick up your most recent book through one of these links, & enjoyed it immensely…..

  7. I love seeing these types of lists…and hearing the rationale behind how you think some of them made the list!

    I share my top purchased book of the month through my affiliate links in my monthly round-ups and it’s always interesting to see what books appear. Some totally make sense and some make no sense at all!

  8. Meg says:

    What a fun list! Personally, I bought 12 of the above titles. Finding a great deal on a books.ive been wanting to read is so much fun. I appreciate your daily email so much, thank you!

  9. Michelle says:

    I love your daily ebook deals. They are so well curated, and help me build my ebook library at exceptionally affordable prices. I rely heavily on my library for elending as well but enjoy having some that I’m not worried about expiration dates when the price is right. Thanks for all your hard work Anne!

  10. Susan V says:

    Anne, I would love more recommendations like Julie Cantrell’s books – the ones without a lot of sex and bad language. I’ve read all of Susan Meissner and Cathy Gohlke and most of Lynn Austin’s, but could use some more recommendations!

  11. Nichole says:

    My favorite ebook find this year was Still Life by Louise Penny. I bought it on a whim and LOVED the characters. I’m a mystery junkie so I was thrilled to find a new series to read my way through.

  12. Kathleen Skinner says:

    I was thrilled to see Perennials on this list. I read it this past year, and I picked it because of the gorgeous cover. I was absolutely delighted! I can’t recall if it was an audiobook or an ebook since I checked it out from the library.

  13. M says:

    Love your daily lists and have purchased way to many books from those recommendations. As a Canadian Kobo user I can’t use your links, however sometimes Kobo will have the same sales. Love a book on sale!

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