For those who missed my first post, I am wrapping up everything I read in 2018 with a ranked list, as well some brief impressions of each book. This portion of the list covers all of my four and five-star reads, and I’m quite impressed with just how many books I read this year that I liked. It actually took me several days to get everything into an order I agree with because I would frequently leave the list one day and then want to reorder them the next day. After much deliberation, however, here are my top twenty-six books of 2018!
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26. A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro
I love retellings of classic literature, but I don’t read a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories. Therefore, while I did appreciate the concept behind this book, a lot of the jokes about the source material were lost on me. In the future, I would like to read more books from this series, but only after I have a better education in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
25. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
I adored this book, but not for the reason one might think. It turns out that the college that Cath goes to in this book is where I went to school. Therefore, I could relive my college experiences through the descriptions in Fangirl. Let me just say, for the record, Rainbow Rowell’s descriptions of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln are spot on, to the point where she described a patch of grass outside of the English building, and I knew exactly what she was talking about because I used to walk by that spot every day. The story and characters were fine, but the setting is the best of any book I read, in my extremely biased opinion.
24. The Getaway – Jeff Kinney
The last few ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books hadn’t been holding my attention like they used to, so I thought I was finally done with this series. After reading The Getaway, however, I realized that there are still some laughs left in this long-running children’s series. This was one of the funniest books I read all year, though that may speak to my rather juvenile sense of humor. Still, I had a lot of fun, and I’m not going to give up on reading about Greg Heffley’s adventures anytime soon.
23. The Fever – Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott’s rating on Goodreads is consistently low for her books, but I don’t totally understand why. I find Abbott’s books to be a satirical take on dark topics in society, and The Fever is no exception. This was a book that I brought on an airplane with me, and I had finished the book before I got to my destination because I couldn’t stop reading!
22. The One – Kiera Cass
I read all of ‘The Selection’ series in 2018 and, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. They definitely have a reputation for being shallow, and while I get that description, I don’t completely agree with it. For The One, while the primary emphasis was on America’s journey to try and win the prince’s hand in marriage, there was also a lot of rising tensions and political intrigue that I found fascinating. While this is hardly a deep political thriller by any means, this series feels like it could actually be a gateway for people who are interested in that overall genre.
21. The Crown – Kiera Cass
Two books from the same series right in a row! This one may be a bit controversial because the general consensus is that the spinoff series isn’t as good as the original, but I personally preferred it. Eadlyn’s characterization makes her come off as cold and aloof at times, but in her personality, there’s an interesting gender study going on that Kiera Cass isn’t afraid to address. Why are the character traits Eadlyn exhibits considered bad when they’re just the same traits male characters regularly exhibit?
20. Hush – Jacqueline Woodson
I read both Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson in 2017 and thought they were both wonderful reads. Woodson’s writing style is so beautiful and poetic. While Hush is definitely made with a younger audience in mind, it isn’t dumbed down or sugarcoated, which I appreciated. It didn’t wow me quite like other titles I’ve read by this author, but I am still determined to read more from her in the future.
19. The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon
The Sun is Also a Star is a rarity because it makes the “instalove” trope actually work. The book follows two characters brought together for only twenty-four hours before one of them gets deported. It tugs at the heartstrings consistently and has some wonderful imagery through the use of small chapters that follow side characters to further flesh out the reality in which the protagonists live.
18. Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
I didn’t expect to like this. This is my third John Green book, and while I never find myself regretting my time with his books, he’s never really wowed me, either. That said, I picked this up because I gave into the hype and it was actually shockingly wonderful. In particular, I fell in love with the protagonist, Aza, as she struggled with her mental health while still trying to live her life. I’m not sure that this has convinced me to read other books from the author’s backlist, but I will probably check out his future publications.
17. Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
I read this book primarily to watch the movie afterward, although it is a goal of mine to read every book Agatha Christie has ever written at some point in my life. While I did enjoy my time, I found that it wasn’t quite as exciting as some of her other books. The entire story is framed around one murder, and while solving the mystery is a real puzzle that results in a satisfying conclusion, it still felt like the book stretched on a bit longer than I would have preferred.
16. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing is weird because of its premise. The story follows two sisters in Ghana hundreds of years ago, where one sister gets sold into slavery and the other becomes the wife of a slave trader. Each chapter follows a new descendant of one of the sisters in a small snapshot of their lives. Since each chapter looks at a new character, this read more like a book of short stories than one cohesive narrative, which means this book suffers from the same issue I always have with the genre. Some stories in this collection are five-star reads, and some failed to grab my attention. Overall, I gave it four stars because I loved more stories than I disliked, but I really wish I could give the story a higher rating.
15. Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
This is another book I read in anticipation of the movie, and I fell in love with Willowdean Dickson and her determination to participate in the beauty pageant. What made this book unique was that Julie Murphy didn’t try to write flawless characters, which is a common trap that young adult contemporaries tend to fall into. Willowdean says and does things she shouldn’t sometimes, and she learns from her mistakes. She feels so much more realistic than the average teen character and I love her for it.
14. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
Can you tell that I tend to read a lot of books because I know movies are coming out? Becky Albertalli isn’t an author with a perfect track record for me (two of her books appear on my worst of 2018 list), but I can’t help but read everything she writes because sometimes I fall in love with her characters. There’s a special shout-out for this book because I was introduced to Eliott Smith because of Simon’s love for his music and now I listen to him frequently on my playlists.
13. The Running Man – Stephen King
The Stand is my favorite book of all time, and ever since I read it, I like to read something by Stephen King every year in hopes I find another title that reaches the heights of his greatest work. While The Running Man doesn’t quite reach the levels of King’s epic, I had a lot of fun. This book came out long before every book in the young adult market was a dystopian, so it’s fun to see the evolution of the genre. I’m definitely going to read more from this author soon!
12. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
This is my second Liane Moriarty book after Big Little Lies stole my heart as one of my favorite books of 2017, so my expectations were high. Needless to say, What Alice Forgot delivered on all fronts. As the reader, we learned about Alice’s life with her as she tries to piece together what happened during the ten years of her life that she cannot remember. It isn’t as fast-paced as some other domestic thrillers or family dramas, but I enjoyed every second of it.
11. Unwind – Neal Shusterman
Unwind came onto my radar years ago, but I found the subject matter of harvesting unruly teenagers for parts as a sort of retroactive abortion to be a little too macabre for my tastes. Over time, my brother and dad have both repeatedly pushed me to read this and I finally gave in. While I think I’ll need to take long sanity breaks in-between entries to the series, I love the characters and can’t wait to see more!
10. The Selection – Kiera Cass
The best book of the Kiera Cass’ original trilogy is the opener, primarily for its strong sense of world-building. I loved seeing a glimpse into America’s life with her family before she’s swept up into the palace life that she doesn’t want. The Selection is hardly the next great American novel, but I had a lot of fun reading this and there’s plenty of political and philosophical commentary if you look below the surface level.
9. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie
I read Death on the Nile because it’s one of my mom’s favorite Agatha Christie books, and I had a lot of fun. The central premise of this mystery felt like Gossip Girl with a serial murderer, though I don’t want people to take this the wrong way. The dramatic soap opera elements of the story allow each character to have a viable motive, leaving me guessing right until the very end.
8. George – Alex Gino
With very few exceptions, I rarely read middle-grade fiction. While I appreciate that it exists, I feel like I’m too old to get a lot out of it in most circumstances. With that said, when I read George, I fell in love. My enjoyment from this book came less from how much I personally enjoyed it and more from the giddiness I felt over the fact that this story was ever written in the first place for any young children that are struggling with their gender identity. This is an important book that society needs in 2018, and I’m so glad that it exists.
7. Sadie – Courtney Summers
My expectations for Sadie were low going in because I knew nothing about it, and that may be why I loved it so much. Half of the book is written in a podcast format, which is interesting on its own, but I was even more blown away by the fact that 3/4 of the podcast was actually released on Spotify as a marketing campaign for the book. Therefore, I could listen to most of the podcast segments of the book while still reading Sadie’s sections of the book. I definitely intend to read more of Courtney Summers in the future.
6. The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
Sometimes, I feel like I may be outgrowing the young adult contemporary genre, and then I read a book like The Upside of Unrequited. I’ve mentioned a few times now that I love when authors write characters that aren’t perfect, especially within this genre, and Becky Albertalli does a great job with Molly. She knows that she’s a flawed person, but she never makes any changes just for the purpose of fitting in with others or attempts to be anyone other than authentically herself. I read four books by Albertalli this year and gave them four different ratings, but I’m on board for whatever she writes next for this title alone.
5. It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover
This was my first Colleen Hoover book due to my hesitation over her reputation for glorifying toxic behavior in relationships. After multiple requests from others that I try this book, however, I gave it a shot and fell in love. Ultimately, I can’t tell you why I believe this book is amazing because it would spoil a twist that is integral to how impactful this read is. All I can say is that I think all young women should read this book at least once.
4. My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
The story of Lady Jane Grey is a sad one, as a young woman, she is put on England’s throne for nine days before Mary stole the crown back and ultimately executed the fallen queen. Three brilliant women saw that story and decided that it would be super awesome to add in some magic and humor to turn an already weird part of history into something truly fantastical in nature. My Lady Jane reads like The Princess Bride, and that is a huge compliment coming from me.
3. The Heir – Kiera Cass
It’s probably unpopular that a book from ‘The Selection’ series made it this high on my list, and it’s even worse that I chose one of the controversial spinoff titles instead of an entry from the original trilogy. No matter how hard I try to see the criticisms others have, though, I love Eadlyn. One of my favorite parts of this spinoff is that it took place far enough in the future to allow for a good look at the ramifications of the events from the end of the original trilogy. I still have a collection of novellas to read from this universe, but I’m saving them for a rainy day when I want to dive back into a well-crafted dystopian world.
2. Obsidio – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Obsidio is a perfect ending to a perfect series. Honestly, across this entire trilogy, I’m hard-pressed to come up with any criticisms or complaints. Before I read Illuminae, I was absolutely convinced that I hated science fiction stories. These books were really accessible and allowed me to dip my toes into the genre without getting overwhelmed. I’m not sure how much this series would appeal to a veteran of the genre, but for someone just starting out, these are a great entry point.
1. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
Finally, we have reached my favorite book of the year. This is my first ever Agatha Christie novel, and I actually decided to read this classic mystery because the concept of a bunch of people going to an island and getting murdered one by one reminded me of a video game I love, Danganronpa. Every character is so intricately woven into the plot that my mind was going down a million different paths trying to theorize who is committing these murders. This is one of my favorite books of all time now, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Phew! That was a whole lot of books, so awesome job reading to the end! In 2019, I’ll be wrapping up my books periodically (probably monthly, but time will tell), so I can do a normal best and worst books wrap-up this year. What were your favorite books of this year? Let me know in the comments!