2018 was the year of “I’m not sure I’m going to like this book, oh wait, I love it.” A list of books that I was skeptical about at first, in the order that I read them.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I’d read Laini Taylor’s book Daughter of Smoke and Bone and barely finished it. I’d liked her writing style, but the plot read like something a bad fanfic author would cobble together. Then came Strange the Dreamer, which sounded like a book I would enjoy, but I was hesitant. After hearing enough people tell me they hadn’t liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone either, but they’d given Strange the Dreamer a try and loved it, I picked up the book and instantly became one of them.

This book is for you if: You love unusual fantasy, you’re quiet and bookish and want to read about a protagonist like yourself, you have a vivid imagination.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials were my absolute favorites when I was younger, and when I found out about La Belle Sauvage I was afraid it wouldn’t measure up. It did. I can’t wait for the next one.

This book is for you if: You loved His Dark Materials, you want to read a book with a kind and nurturing young male protagonist, you get ocular migraines and want to read a really good description of them that makes them feel like magic (it’s perfect).

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

There was so much hype for The Hate U Give built up before I had a chance to read it, I wondered if it would be one of those times when the hype doesn’t live up to the reality. Thankfully, I did. This book made me laugh, cry, and think.

This book is for you if: You’re not sure if it’s as good as you keep hearing (it is), you don’t understand why Black Lives Matter is such a big deal, you like realistic fiction (this is the only completely magic-free, non-sci-fi fiction book on my list).

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This was the first book I read for my work’s bookclub, and let’s just say I don’t read a ton of non-fiction. Or, when I do, it’s usually either memoirs of people who were in a cult or memoirs of female comedians. But I thought, having something go really wrong with your brain is kind of like being in a cult, right? So I gave it a shot. And it was not only very well-written (always a gamble with memoirs) but incredibly interesting. I was hooked. I could not put this thing down.

This book is for you if: You usually prefer fiction but are down for a memoir, you’re interested in how the brain works, you like happy endings.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders

While I love short stories, I often have a difficult time with short story collectionsbecause there’s no piece of plot enticing me to read the next one. Except when they’re so amazingly good you can’t wait to read another one.

This book is for you if: You’re looking for a short read, you like books that leave you thinking, you wonder what it would be like to know the future.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

I was given this book through my work’s gift exchange. A few days later, and before I had the chance to read the book, I saw a preview for the film at the theater. The film didn’t look like my cup of tea. It started out interesting, but from the preview it looked like a jump-scare horror film. Not for me.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I loved the book. It’s creepy, sure, but no jump scares.

This book is for you if: You like sci-if but are sick of all the usual tropes, you want to read a book that reads like a plot-driven adventure video game, you know the book is better than the movie.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

This was one of my Amazon Prime’s first pick selections. I thought it was going to be chick lit. Don’t get me wrong, I like chick lit. But a lot of it is shallow and forgettable. I’m not even sure if I could call Matchmaking for Beginners chick lit. It’s an incredibly well-written female coming of age story. Reading this book made me want to write again.

This book is for you if: You want to read something that makes you a better person just by reading it, you like a little magic in your realistic fiction, you briefly lived in New York and sometimes missing it hurts.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I loved Uprooted and didn’t think Spinning Silver could be as good. It was even better. The world is more mysterious, the heroine has more agency, and the story is this wondrous gradual journey.

This book is for you if: You like fairytale retellings but are sick of Beauty and the Beast, you like plots that move slowly but still push forward, you don’t like passive protagonists.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

I lied at the beginning. I knew I’d like this one. But work book club’s reaction was not as positive as my own. Perhaps that counts.

This is the one book on this list that I knew I would like before I read it. A friend recommended it and she was spot on. I’ll say though, that it’s not an easy read. The protagonist lives with racism, slavery, and sexual assault and it’s brutal. There’s no toning down or romanticizing. But the writing is beautiful and everything about it is a powerful read.

This book is for you if: You like fiction with enclosed settings (space ships, bunkers, deserted islands, underground silos, speeding trains), you want more diverse protagonists, you like sci-fi that’s more about people than tech.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t read much self help. (I do listen to the By The Book podcast, though!) I never read Eat, Pray, Love. But people who’s opinions I trust kept talking about how amazing this book is, so I grabbed it with an audible credit. I’m so glad I did. Rarely I’ll read a book that feels like it was written just for me, right at this particular place in my life. Who knew it would be a self help book written by the Eat Pray Love author? Other people, apparently. But not me.

This book is for you if: You want to be a creative person, but you don’t know how or you don’t have time or you don’t think you’re good enough, you cringe whenever people say to “find your passion”, you don’t feel like you’re living your best most creative life.

Buy it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, or check it out from your local library.

My first read for 2019? Finishing up a long series with Kingdom of Ash. So many feels!

Cover Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash. Old books, new books, I love them all.

My Top 10 Books For 2018

3 thoughts on “My Top 10 Books for 2018

  1. I need to add “The Hate U Give” on my reading list…I’ve heard too many good things about it.

    I wish I liked “Big Magic” but unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan of it :/ It did have some good advice but wasn’t for me, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

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