I am not sure if this is something to be proud of, or ashamed of but… I read 81 books this year! Unclear. I’m sort of a shut-in and just love to read. Since starting to date someone more seriously I haven’t read as much as usual, but I was still a bit shocked by the number! I went through every single reading list from the past year and decided to rank them all by genre for a “best books of the year post.” I broke it down by category but if asked, I would say that the best books I read this year were probably Educated (Tara Westover’s memoir) and Matchmaking for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson. And Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly which STILL haunts me. Circe was pretty amazing too. Ugh it was really hard to choose favorites, there are so many stars on this list!
Looking at this list informs also informs one of my big intentions for 2019. Reading for me is oftentimes about escaping and doing something mindless. Brain Candy. Which is why I read 21 thrillers, 23 light reads, and 20 YA reads. But only 5 historical fiction books and 2 self improvement books. I’ll still always love my brain candy but need to work in some smarter books too.
To keep this post from being an actual novel, I didn’t include any descriptions as I’ve already done that in the individual reading list posts which are linked at the bottom of the post. You can also browse my Book Club page which has shorter descriptions of each book!
Edited to add – memoirs are double starred below. Next year maybe I will make a separate category for those. I shouldn’t have lumped them in with fiction!
The Best Historical Books I Read This Year.
These are ranked in order, but honestly you should read them all – they are SO GOOD. As I mentioned above, Lilac Girls is still haunting me, months after finishing it!
- Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
- The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn
- Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton
- Waiting for Snow in Havana**, by Carlos Eire
- The Masterpiece, by Fiona Davis
The Best Thrillers I Read This Year.
Trashy thrillers are my genre. On the podcast Becca basically defined it as Gone Girl rip-offs and I would totally agree. I like to be kept up all night, wondering who killed who or trying to guess the big twist. Playing amateur detective. But I definitely read too many. If we’re being honest, I would say that 1-10 are must-reads but you could probably skip everything after that. (15-21 were not great/just meh)
Also I have starred The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Wife Between Us as they are basically the same book. So you probably only “need” to read one of them, in which case I would probably choose The Last Mrs. Parrish. They are both great, though!!!!
- The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager
- The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
- The Good Liar, by Catherine McKenzie
- Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell
- The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine*
- The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen*
- Two Girls Down, by Louisa Luna
- The Girl Before, by JP Delaney
- All These Beautiful Strangers, by Elizabeth Klehfoth
- Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton
- Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman
- People Like Us, by Dana Mele
- Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser
- If I Die Tonight, by Alison Gaylin
- A Double Life, by Flynn Berry
- The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani
- Our Kind of Cruelty, by Araminta Hall
- Fashion Victim, by Amina Akhtar
- Mine, by JL Butler
- Do Not Be Alarmed, by Maile Meloy
- The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll
The Best More Serious Books from 2018.
Honestly you should read all of these books. Except maybe The Oracle Year, which I wanted to love (the concept is brilliant!) but fell flat for me. Everything else on the list is an absolute must-read!
- Educated**, by Tara Westover
- An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
- The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
- Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
- All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin (just felt wrong classifying this one as light!)
- The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
- Therapy Mammals, by Jon Methven
- The Oracle Year, by Charles Soule
The Best Light Reads from 2018.
Kk this is also my genre. I made fun of Becca mercilessly over Matchmaking for Beginners and then read it myself and sobbed the whole time. Despite the cheesy name, it is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I also started reading Christina Lauren + Sally Thorne – they’ve become two of my favorite authors. This list was hard to make and rank as 1-16 are all really, really good. The others (besides Nine Perfect Strangers, still mad) are great too. It’s hard to rank Jasmine Guillory’s books as 11 and 12 (loved them both so much) but this list had so many stars on it!
- Matchmaking for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson
- Love and Other Words, by Christina Lauren
- The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne
- 99% Mine, by Sally Thorne
- Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, by Jo Piazza
- From the Corner of the Oval**, by Beck Dorey Stein
- The Underwriting, by Michelle Miller
- Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh
- The Secret to Southern Charm, by Kristy Woodson Harvey
- The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle
- The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory
- The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory
- When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger
- The Identicals, by Elin Hilderbrand
- Marriage Vacation, by Pauline Brooks
- Waiting at Haydens, by Riley Costello
- Still Me, by Jojo Moyes
- The Paris Wedding, by Charlotte Nash
- A Nantucket Wedding, by Nancy Thayer
- Beach House for Rent, by Mary Alice Monroe
- The Intermission, by Elyssa Friedland
- The Stylist, by Rosie Nixon
- Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty
Young Adult, Ranked
Okay so for this list, please note: 5-10 are terrible (so bad) but amazing. I’ve talked about the Paper Princess and Selection books here quite a bit but if you haven’t gotten involved (and lost days out of your life) then you should probably drop everything and order them. These books are pure trash, but absolutely addicting! 1-4 are no miss. I loved Circe and Ready Player One so so so much! Also I feel like maybe I’m being unfair to Children of Blood & Bone but it was just so long and I was in a rush to read it for the podcast. I know so many people really loved it.
- Circe, by Madeline Miller
- Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
- The Towering Sky, by Katherine McGee
- A Million Junes, by Emily Henry
- The Selection, by Kiera Cass*
- The Elite, by Kiera Cass*
- The One, by Kiera Cass*
- Paper Princess, by Erin Watt*
- Broken Prince, by Erin Watt*
- Twisted Palace, by Erin Watt*
- Famous in Love, by Rebecca Serle
- Truly, Madly, Famously, by Rebecca Serle
- Children of Blood & Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
- One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M McManus
- Royals, by Rachel Hawkins
- The Summer of Jordi Perez, by Amy Spalding
- To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
- Vicious, by V.E. Schwab
- Save the Date, by Morgan Matson
- Listen To Your Heart, by Kasie West
The Best Self-Improvement Books I Read This Year.
I hate calling these kind of books self-help because I think of terrible books about “snagging a man” and things like that. I want to read more books like this. A goal for 2019 is to read one self-help or business book every month. Something that will make me a little bit smarter, better at my job, a better writer, and so on and so forth. I only read two this year (both of these are amazing and total game-changers) and would like for this list to be much longer next year!!!
photo by Trent Bailey.