the sparkly life: The Best Books I Read in 2018

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Best Books I Read in 2018

best books of 2018
Photo via @reesesbookclubxhellosunshine

For the past few weeks, I've been pouring over everybody's "look how many books I read in 2018" posts and I love them. I get lots of great book recommendations, and I'm also truly awed by how many books people read. Some people I follow read 50+ books! In one year! But while that's awe-inspiring, it's just not going to be me. 

I absolutely love reading, but I also love podcasts. And social media. And hanging out with my kids. So I definitely don't read as much as I wish I could. But I am getting better! For 2018, I made a resolution to "read more books," and I really did read more than I had in previous years. (In an upcoming post, I'll share some of the strategies that helped me up my reading last year, and that I'm hoping will help me increase it even more for 2019.)

Last year, I had a relatively modest goal of reading 24 books over the course of the year. Though I hadn't been keeping track, I was pretty sure I hadn't met that goal. But I tallied it up just now and was surprised to see I had read 22! So while I didn't quite hit my goal, I was close! (There were also at least three books that I started this year and got pretty far into before giving them up, so I actually "read" more pages in a way.) 

Anyway, because I came so close, I'm going to up it a little this year and make my 2019 goal 30 books. (And I'm definitely going to keep track this time. If I had seen I was so close, I definitely would have picked up the pace in December!)

Below I've listed the 22 books I finished this year, divided into three categories based on how much I liked them. And yes, I do recommend all of these books! For the first time in my life in 2018, I made a point to stop reading books I wasn't into (a huge step for me--I used to force myself to finish everything I started!). As a result, I really did like everything I read (and finished) this year.

LOVED/Highly Recommend/You're Insane If You Don't Read These:

The Heart's Invisible Furies: Loved this so much! A beautiful, sweeping, epic story of the life of a little boy in Ireland. (I don't want to give anything away, but trust me.)

Educated: Incredible story of a woman who was raised in the mountains by a survivalist (crazy) family that didn't believe in attending school....and then she goes on to study at Harvard and Cambridge. 

This Will Only Hurt A Little: Busy Philipps's memoir! I've mentioned before how much I love it, and I especially recommend the audio book version.

The Bright Hour: Beautiful memoir written by a dying woman. If you liked When Breath Becomes Air, you'll love this. 

A Spark of Light: I enjoy anything by Jodi Picoult and this did not disappoint. I liked it (but didn't necessarily love) for much of the book, but then really went all in once I got to some surprising twists towards the end. Powerful story of a shooting in an abortion clinic and it really shows "both sides."

There ThereI downloaded this immediately after hearing several friends (and several publications) say it was one of the best books of the year. I don't know if I would personally go that far, but I did really, really like it. It's beautifully written and the characters are well developed and so interesting. It's the story of 12 different Native Americans living in modern day Oakland, California. The book is written almost as individual essays on each character and then they all intertwine towards the end in a very powerful way.

Really liked/Recommend:

This Is How It Always Is: The story of a family living with a transgender child. Really made me think about a topic I realize now that I didn't really understand.

The Arrangement: Great premise (a married couple tries an open marriage for six months) and really funny. Wrote a little more about it here.

The Size of Everything: A Memoir: If you liked The Glass Castle, you'll like this memoir of growing up in an abusive household. 

Something In The Water: This was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick and she always chooses the best stuff. Super suspenseful and hard to put down.

The Dinner List: You know the age-old question, "If you could have dinner with any five people, living or dead, who would they be?" Well, this book shows what happens for one woman when this comes true and she shows up for dinner with her best friend, three people from her past, and Audrey Hepburn.

Small Great Things: Another Jodi Picoult! (She's the queen of can't-put-it-down stories for me!) A gripping story of an infant's death told from two points of view: that of an African-American nurse and of the baby's white-supremacist father. 

The Book of Essie: The story of a teenager growing up in large, super religious reality-TV family--and her very creative plan for freeing herself. (My description makes the book sound way heavier than it is. It's light!)

Yes We (Still) Can: I'm a Pod Save America superfan, so I couldn't wait to read this memoir by Dan Pfeiffer who is one of the hosts of the podcast. It tells the story of his career working in politics including the years he spent working for Obama--funny and very inspiring. 

Good/Worth Reading:

Still Lives: A Reese Witherspoon book club pick, so you know it will be good. Not one of my favorites of hers, but still a good thriller that was a nice, quick read.

Two Girls Down: Story of two little girls getting kidnapped--and the private investigator who is trying to locate them. 

The Hate U Give: A lot of people thought this was one of the best books of the year, and it didn't rise to that level for me personally, but I did really enjoy it. It's the story of a teenager who witnesses her friend being shot by a police officer--and you then see how this violent act affects her life as she tries to get justice for her friend.

The Woman In The Window: Yep, a Reese Witherspoon pick again! A month ago, I would have stuck this in the middle category, but recently a story came out about how the author is a big liar, so I think I'm kind of unconsciously punishing him for that (!). But the book--a thrilling story of an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a crime--will keep your attention for sure. 

In His Sights: One Woman's Stalking Nightmare: Like a Lifetime movie (or You) come to life...but real! This is a true story of a woman being stalked by an ex. The dude was/is craaaazzzy, and you definitely won't be able to put it down.

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After: Another memoir! (I love a good one.) This a story about a woman who becomes pregnant, and then her boyfriend decides he doesn't want to be a father and does not want to have anything to do with the child. Then the child gets seriously ill, and--I won't give anything away--but it's a great, very out-of-the-ordinary story about finding happiness in unexpected ways.  

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair: People are obsessed with this bestseller! I personally thought it was a little slow for much of it, but I did ultimately enjoy it. It's the story of a young novelist who goes to visit his mentor, but then the story takes a major turn when his mentor is implicated in a cold murder case from many years ago.  

Raising Lions: Non-fiction parenting book! But included it here 'cause it's still a book, right? ;)

And that was my literary 2018! Looking forward to reading many more great books this year (I've already completed four in January, so I feel like I'm off to a good start!) And of course: Please let me know if you have read anything lately that you loved! I'm always looking for new options to add to my list!


candy said...

I haven't read any of these books. Will have to copy down the titles and take them to our local library. Sure they have them or could order them for me.

Caits Cozy Corner said...

YEs im always looking for new books to read ( i have a new book club for our month of feb so you might want to check it out ;) ) but i def will add this to my list!

Ashley S said...

Sounds like a great list! I actually haven't read any of these. But I will definitely check out some of the titles.

Melissa Chapman said...

Do not sell yourself short your reading list looks so good. I have to start with babysteps so I choose The Dinner as a good one to read when I get a chance.

AiringMyLaundry said...

I just love reading! I've been wanting to read Where The Crawdads Sing. I keep hearing such good things about it.

Team Mommies PR Bloggers said...

I love your list of books and they was all books I hadn't heard about but can't wait to check into. As I have been looking for a new book to rad as I just finished what I was reading.

Shelley@StockpilingMoms said...

I needed a book list. This year I have made it a goal to read for pleasure more. Being a Blogger, it is hard to get myself to read for pleasure because I spend so much time reading for work related things. I will be checking out some of these!

Swathi said...

I need to read books, I am reading only cookbooks nowadays. Not anything related to friction. Looks like you have good list of books.

Ashley @Irishred02 said...

The hate you give is on my list to read. I'll have to look at a few others you have here.

The Super Mom Life said...

I'm so jealous. I have a stack of books I've been wanting to read for over a year. I just don't have the time.

Terri Steffes said...

I adore reading. We've read many of the same books. I love it when I find people who have the same reading interests!!

Beth said...

I used to read a lot, but I don't read books very often any more. I feel like I'm more connected to my family and life in general now that I'm reading less. However, I just purchased This Is How It Always is after reading your review.

Cherri Megasko said...

I am not an avid (novel)reader. I do want to read more, though, so I recently started up a book club. We just finished our first novel - The Suspect, by Fiona Barton - and it was fantastic.

Lynndee said...

Wow, you've read a lot of books last year...just like the hubs. I'd love to go back to reading again. Already read two books so far.

R said...

I also love reading but don't have the time to read an entire book these days. I switched to listening to podcast instead of music in the radio while driving. Thanks for all your recommendations. I'd check them later.

Tammy said...

Thanks so much for the reviews. I'm always looking for a good book.

Fatima D Torres said...

I'd be into a book like Educated. It's always nice to hear of people who've been given a second chance in life. said...

Your post contains a lot of useful information for me
Thank you for your sharing.
Thanks to this article I can learn more things. said...

I would like to let you know that provides a big list of books to be read during summer. You are welcome to choose any if you wold like to.

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