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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.