My Top 5 Reads of 2018

Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)

2018 was one of the best reading years for me, at least since college. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 15 books (soon to be 16), which spanned a variety of genres and included traditionally published books and indie books. I thought it would be fun to count down my favorite books of the year.

No. 5. Deep Work by Cal Newport (Nonfiction)

Cover of Deep Work by Cal Newport, Grand Central Publishing
Grand Central Publishing

This book was recommended to me by my husband who was reading it for a work book club. I was intrigued by the premise and picked it up. Essentially, this book is about how our best, most productive work comes from “deep work,” work done with no distractions for extended or regular periods of time. I have to say, after reading this book I completely revamped my writing routine and started spending more time on my personal projects. Honestly, I attribute most of my personal growth for the year to reading this book. It’s helped me manage my time, set goals, and put better thought into my novel and this blog. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to tackle their 2019 goals with discipline.

No. 4. Spicebringer by H.L. Burke (Young Adult Fantasy)

Cover of Spicebringer by H.L. Burke (Uncommon Universe Press)
Uncommon Universe Press

I’ve read a few of H.L. Burke’s novels over the last couple years. She’s an indie author from my home town and often writes books in the YA fantasy genre. I was pleased with the story, characters, and overall professional presentation of this book. Also, it was awesome to see such a wonderful book come from author I’ve followed over the years and who has shown so much growth (I find that really inspirational). I wrote a full review of the book for this blog if you’d like more details and would highly recommend this to anyone interested in YA fantasy or wanting to support an indie author.

No. 3. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Contemporary YA)

Cove rof Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Dutton Books)
Dutton Books

I’ve enjoyed John Green’s books for a while, and I very much anticipated diving into Turtles All the Way Down, a story about a teenage girl who struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder. However, what I did not anticipate while reading this book was the crazy amount of introspection and self-reflection it caused me to do. When the main character, Aza, begins to find her brain looping into these thought cyclones of worry that lead her to compulsive actions, I was reminded of my own obsessive thinking patterns. I don’t want to go into my own journey with mental illness here, but I will say this book was hard for me but it taught me a lot about myself. It will forever have a very special place in my heart and I’m grateful to John Green for writing it.

No. 2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Contemporary YA)

Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
Balzer + Bray

You don’t get much more present and applicable to our modern times than The Hate U Give, and I was ready for its deep discussion of race and systematic oppression in America. However, I wasn’t prepared for a book that was just so… perfect? The storytelling craft in The Hate U Give is dynamite. The story arc was nuanced but tightly crafted. The characters were written with sympathy and depth. I loved Starr’s voice: funny, passionate, conflicted—just like a real teenager. In short, this was an amazing read that I thought I was prepared for but really wasn’t. Read it, please.

No. 1. The Stone Sky and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

Covers of The Stone Sky and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
Orbit Books

I’ve already written a lengthy review of how the Broken Earth Trilogy is one of the best fantasy/science fiction series in the last decade and it well deserved its three Hugo awards. But, just because I loved this series so much, I’m putting these two books (which I read this year) as tied for number 1. These books were amazing. Tightly crafted, complex narrative, beautiful characters, amazing worldbuilding. In my mind, these are the gold standard for all fantasy books and will forever be an inspiration to me and my writing. N.K. Jemisin achieves miracle-levels of storytelling in these books and it boggles my mind how she managed to do it all over the course of just a few years. I hope that, if you haven’t read these books, you’ll pick them up with that Amazon gift card you don’t know what to do with (or better yet, at your local book store’s next sale). And then come find me and tell me what you think (I’m still looking for more people to talk to about these books).

There you have it, my top 5 reads of 2018. I’m also excited to get reading in 2019 and have a list of anticipated titles which I’ll hopefully be able to share in the next week or so. What were your favorite books for 2018? What are you looking forward to reading in 2019? Tell me in the comments 🙂 Oh, and happy new year, everyone!

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