We’ve seen my most disappointing books and my favorite 2018 releases. Today we’ll continue the positivity with my favorite kind of list to read or watch around this time: My Top 10 Books of 2018. At the moment of writing this post, I’ve read exactly 100 books this year, the vast majority of which I enjoyed. You can imagine my struggle to narrow this list down to only 10 entries, which is why I established a few rules to make it easier myself: This list contains Fiction only (i.e. no non-fiction, poetry or short-story collections) and no rereads. Non Fiction and Poetry have their own Top 5, that can be found here. I tried to put them in order, but if you ask me again tomorrow, chances are some may have switched places. Links to my review, as well as the books Goodreads-page will be provided for each. Now without further ado, let’s get into my Top 10:
10. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere is the second novel by Celeste Ng, and the second one I gave 5 stars to. A beautiful homage to mother-daughter relationships, that is as moving as it is raw and honest.
It was a book gripped me from beginning to end and stayed with me for the entire year. I have still to write a full review about it, but kept thinking how much I would have loved to have read this with my mother. A very beautiful reading experience, and a very deserving nr. 10 entry on this list.
9. Everything Under – Daisy Johnson Everything Under is Daisy Johnsons 2018 debut, and made it to nr. 4 of my Best Releases of 2018 list. It’s a literary fiction (emphasis on the “literary” part) with themes of memories, language, childhood fears and family bonds, drenched in a deep and dark atmosphere. The writing is some of the best that I came across this year, and realizing this was a debut blows my mind to be frank. Daisy Johnson is an author to keep on your radar: I’m sure there are some great works to come from her in the future. Link to my review
8. The Lightkeepers – Abby Geni The Lightkeepers is probably my most surprising read of the year, that I can only describe as “nature writing at its best”. It’s a beautiful literary fiction/mystery story about the experiences of a young nature-photographer over the year she spends on the desolate Farallon Islands. It combines vivid descriptions of the eerie landscape of the islands and the oppressive and uncaring atmosphere it carries with it, with the inner world of our protagonist. If you are a fan of nature-writing, literary fiction or are in general looking for an autumn read that isn’t scary but does have that “eerie atmosphere”: this is the one for you! Link to my review
7. The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss
The Tidal Zone is one of the most intimate, yet impactful books I’ve read this year. We follow a family as they try to pick up life, after a rare medical event almost claims the life of their daughter Mirriam. Although Mirriam survives without any physical damage, the ordeal flips their entire world upside down with the realization that it could all have ended right then and there.
The beauty of this story is its core of un-coated truth and realism. I read a lot of books about losing health or loved ones to disease, yet this book is unlike many I’ve read. It offers a perspective that is extremely real, but often overlooked and underrepresented. Although for Mirriam and her parents everything “ended well”, the impact of what has happened is not over…
Link to my review
6. Circe – Madeline Miller
The second book to be featured on both my Best 2018 Releases, as well as this list, Circe is a retelling of the life story of the mythological character from Greek mythology. I’ve talked about it yesterday, so I won’t go to deep into the story. Suffice to say it’s a fantastic read that does justice to the characters and magical feeling from the original myths. Because it’s somewhere on the boarder of fantasy and literary fiction, I think this is one that readers of many different tastes can enjoy, so I’d recommend it to almost anyone out there.
Link to my review
5. Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor Coming in at number 5: this one needs little introduction. I’m pretty sure everybody who’s been in the book-community anytime in the past 2 years has heard of this one. Strange the Dreamer is the first book in Laini Taylors second fantasy series by the same name, and tells the story of Lazlo Strange, a librarian living a quiet life who has a deep rooted fascination for a long lost city named Weep. One day, he get’s the opportunity of his lifetime, as a group of researchers and adventurers sets out in search of this lost city, and invite him to come along as their expert. If you’ve read anything by Laini Taylor, you know she has a way with words like no others. Her gorgeous writing style immediately transported me into her beautifully crafted world, and I had a hard time putting the book down after I had begun. Additionally I loved the characters. Two of them I won’t mention for spoiler-reasons, but sweet and sensitive Lazlo for one, is one of my favorite male characters of all time. There is only one YA-book that made it higher on my list of favorites this year, so if this is your genre: please give this one a try! Link to my review
4. The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan
Which brings me to my highest nominated YA-read of the year, and also one I’ve mentioned on yesterdays list as well. The Astonishing Color of After is Emily X.R. Pans magical realism debut about a girl who travels back to her Taiwanese roots after her mother has committed suicide. Clearly this book is a heavy hitter, and comes with a large content-warnings of mental-health and suicide. If you are comfortable reading about these topics however, you cannot miss out on this book. As someone with up close experiences of depression, suicide and the loss of a parent, I have to say this is one of the best books on the topic I’ve ever read. Gorgeously written, balanced and full of emotion.
Link to my (temporary) Goodreads review
3. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel like you’ve never read one before, and although I was expecting to like it, I couldn’t have anticipated to be as floored by it as I was.
The novel takes a left turn from all the sensationalist action and focus on plot that most novels in the genre do, and instead focusses fully on the characters that inhabit this destroyed world. The result is a stunning and beautifully written novel about humanity and resilience in the face of adversity, that is simultaneously mournful, yet filled with hope.
Even months after finishing, just looking at this book on my shelf brings back that exact feeling I had whilst reading it. Again; I have still to write a review for it, as I struggle to put my thoughts to paper. If you’ve read this book I’d love to talk to you about it. If you haven’t, I’d strongly recommend you give it a chance; I think there is truly enough in this book for anyone to find something to love.
2. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
Last year, my favorite list was quite dominated by fantasy books. This year, as you can see, they are in the minority on this list, and I blame part of that on this one.
I read The Name of the Wind at the very beginning of 2018, and it completely set a new standard for all fantasy, that honestly was extremely hard to meet. The Name of the Wind is as close to a perfect fantasy as you can get in my opinion: the story leans of some tropes you’ve seen before, but is still completely unique in its execution. The characters are fascinating, flawed and to some extent not what they seem. The worldbuilding and magic are incredibly in depth: after finishing this novel it felt like I’d physically taken a trip to this world, based on how real it felt. Finally the writing is exquisite; lyrical and funny, but never over the top.
The Name of the Wind is a staple in modern fantasy, and for good reason. I’ll now join the party of millions of fans who are anxiously awaiting book three.
Link to my review
So what could possibly top “the perfect fantasy”…? Honestly, very little. Except for a book that was about as perfectly written, but carried a great deal of personal meaning to me. That book was:
1. The Gloaming – Kirsty Logan
I’ve talked quite a lot about this book over the past few months; too much even, if you ask me. The Gloaming is a book that shouldn’t be talked about, but experienced for yourself. I’ll be the first to say that because of the emotional connection I felt to the story, I might not be the most objective observer. However, I still think this book deserves so much more love than it got. If I had to pick 1 favorite reading experience of the year it would be The Gloaming, and if I had to pick an author of the year it would be Kirsty Logan.
As I mentioned yesterday: read the description on Goodreads. If you like what you read there, do yourself a favor and give it a try. Even for the writing alone it’s worth it in my opinion.
Link to my review