For me, 2018 was an incredibly memorable reading year. I devoured a very old 12-book British series I had no idea even existed before, discovered Libby (library application for reading and listening to e-books and audiobooks) and tracked my reading comprehensively over the whole year for the first time ever.
2018 was also the year I decided to engage more fully in the book world by starting an Instagram book account or a “Bookstagram” (I write even more about books and food over on Instagram. Won’t you click over and follow me?). It was also when I first conceived of creating and writing this blog. I did not go on to start the blog until 2019, but 2018 was the year it all really started.
I am an eclectic reader, loving books in just about every genre including literary fiction, thriller, horror, true crime, memoir, romance and historical nonfiction with a few other genres sprinkled in here and there. I have traditionally been very stingy with my highest rating (5 pizza slices), and this favorite books of 2018 list definitely reflects that.
Out of 52 books read in 2018, I am only deeming seven of them to be the cream of the crop.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (Harper, 2018)
This unputdownable true crime about the Golden State Killer (GSK) was written by McNamara and then published posthumously after she died suddenly and tragically. Over a period of about 10 years, the killer committed numerous rapes and assaults in Northern California. He later moved south and graduated to murder. McNamara tracks back through old cases and evidence and through her research, is able to paint a picture of the killer that has lead to some major breaks in the case today.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Atria, 2013)
A slow burn novel about the family of a small town Midwestern Methodist minister in the early 60s, Ordinary Grace struck me as both sad and beautiful. Told from the perspective of the main character, 13 year-old Frank Drum, it is a combination mystery and coming of age story about the tragic events that befall Frank’s family over one summer. Frank is thrust into an adult world of lies and betrayal and forced to respond with wisdom beyond his years. I loved this gorgeous story with underlying messages about faith and family.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House, 2010)
This is the beloved story of Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini, and his experiences first being lost in action and then as a POW during World War 2. At once horrible and inspiring, Zamperini withstood conditions and torture that many others frankly would not have been able to withstand. The really special part of the story comes at the end when he realizes that hate festers and destroys and only love and forgiveness will keep his life afloat.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (William Morrow, 2017)
In the aftermath of World War II, a young woman searches for her cousin, Rose, who disappeared during the war. Aiding in her search is Eve Gardiner, a woman whose past and involvement in World War I, as a part of a network of spies called “The Alice Network” has left her torn and broken. Told alternating between the two time periods, this compelling novel weaves a story of women spies, loyalty, betrayal, torture and finally new hope for the future.
Poldark by Winston Graham (Sourcebooks Landmark, 1945)
I became interested in this book after watching the first two seasons of Poldark, the BBC series, and then decided to pick up the books. I found the books, about Ross Poldark, a young British aristocrat, and his wife, Demelza and their family and life over several decades in Cornwall to be atmospheric and addicting. Graham is a master storyteller who knows just how many details to reveal in a plot twist before taking the story in a surprisingly different direction.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan (Scribner, 2017)
I adored this debut novel by Matthew Sullivan which tells the story of Lydia Smith. At the beginning of the novel, Lydia enters the bookstore where she works and finds one of their regular patrons, Joey McGinty, has committed suicide in the store. Lydia then finds out he has left all of his possessions to her. Her research into his life brings about a dark connection they have in their past. What follows is a twisty and sometimes scary ride through both Lydia’s search for more about Joey and then finding her way through to the other side of her own tragedy.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (Viking, 2017)
I first picked this one up because I heard an interview with the author and her description of the novel as “a hopeful WW2 story” peaked my interest. A truly amazing and real life account of a Jewish family in Poland, separated by the Nazis and the War, it is told chronologically from the perspective of the parents and then each of four children of the Kurc family and is about their experiences surviving through the horrific events of World War 2. Hitting all the right notes of tender moments alongside edge-of-your seat action, this amazing family and their special bond was completely endearing. A friend described this book to me recently as being “just right.” I believe it is.
Note: This content was updated from a post originally published in April 2019.
Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite books of 2018?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: 10 Books for Escaping Reality; 5 Books to Get Your Tween Excited About Reading; Best Books of 2019: Back List Books; Best Books of 2019: New Releases; 10 Amazing Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of; 6 Most Recommended Audio Books