Let's Discuss: The Best and Worst Books of 2018

by - 1:03 PM

Apparently, there are less than two weeks left in 2018. AND I AM NOT MENTALLY PREPARED FOR THIS??

I think part of the reason this year flew by is because of all the awesome books we read. (At least, that's the case for me.) So to help send off 2018, I teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers to discuss the best -- and worst -- of the books we read in 2018.

Did 2018 fly past anyone else? I mean, the Winter Olympics happened this year! And that whole tide pod challenge nightmare! Gosh, I barely had enough time to sit down and read a book. I made my Goodreads challenge 50 books, thinking I would easily complete it in, like, June. I just completed my goal in October, and my inner perfectionist is crying. ANYWAYS, books! This year, I made sure to read lots of YA starring LGBT+ and POC characters. I also made sure to read #ownvoices or #WeNeedDiverseBooks novels and support LGBT+ and POC authors. Because, surprise, the publishing industry is not that diverse! Crazy, I know. My favorite books I read this year were Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (the ace rom-com of my dreams!!!), American Panda by Gloria Chao (a sweet coming-of-age rom-com starring a Taiwanese-American girl!), and Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (the story of a black teenager losing his twin to gun violence and police brutality . . . I cried for hours).

In 2018, I also took a deep dive into my giant TBR and . . . YIKES. I cleaned out so many books, but I read a few; specifically, books I never got around to from the 2010s era. I read Every Day by David Levithan and Virals by Kathy Reichs andddd, sadly, they didn't captivate me. They were the same stories I've read before, so they fell short. As we enter 2019, I encourage all you bookaholics to read more diverse books. And maybe clean out your TBR pile. Just maybe.

2018 has been a wild ride, as far as books go. I'm struggling to choose what the best book of the year is because I read so many incredible ones that I could have rated six stars! I'm going to be sneaky and slide a new category, "Best Series of 2018," in here, because The Kinsman Chronicles by Jill Williamson blew me away. It has the deepest, yet most original, worldbuilding I've seen for a long time in an epic fantasy. It explores darkness, light, and the areas in between we all struggle through, all while told from engaging and unique POVs. As for the worst book of the year (which I always feel bad about labeling!), it would be Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, simply because I didn't relate to any of the characters and found the whole plot hard to wade through. I know so many people who ADORE it, though, so if you enjoy small towns, eerie magic, and cornfields, this is probably the book for you! All in all, there were some amazing books this year! Let's hope for an even better 2019!

Choosing a favorite book this year was impossible. I've read so many great ones! It's been a good year of reading. But finally I settled on Fawkes by Nadine Brandes because, though I liked some of the other books I read, it was one of the most well-thought-out, poignant, beautifully written books I've ever read. This is a historical fantasy retelling of The Gunpowder Plot. And yes, it's as cool as it sounds. Not only does not have historically accurate events, it also throws in some super awesome fantasy elements. The world revolves around masks and color magic, not to mention a plague going around that turns people to stone. Our teenage protagonist Thomas Fawkes (son of the infamous Guy Fawkes) was a precious cinnamon roll, and watching grow and become his own person was a complete delight. Then we have the lady lead, Emma; complex and epic but still feminine, she's seriously one of the best YA heroines I've ever read. I ADORED HER. The writing instantly transports you to foggy London and leaves you breathless with such brilliant descriptions. And the PLOT. It was so twisty with rebellion and confusion and a plot to kill the king (naturally) and allll the feels. I was so confused who to root for and LOVED IT. I 10000% recommend this one to anyone who loves YA, fantasy, or historical fiction (or all three!)

My least favorite book was Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Honestly, I didn't hate this one. I just expected so much more from the author who wrote my beloved Lunar Chronicles. I really liked the concept of a future world where superheroes are our leaders, and the protagonist is a villain. And I do love Marissa Meyer's easy, snappy writing style. Unfortunately, the plot and characters just didn't grab me. Nothing ever seemed to happen (despite it being over 500 pages??), and the characters did not have all that much personality. I honestly didn't care what happened to them, which is not a good sign. Also, the Big Plot Twist had zero buildup, and it felt more like a cheap cop-out than something that was supposed to blow my mind. I was invested enough to keep going and would like to read the sequel to learn the outcome, but my overall feelings were "meh." 

The best book I read in 2018 has to be I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid; that book messed me up on so many different levels. I started reading it at eleven at night and had to stop to sleep around two in the morning. I finished it on the way to my co-op that morning and sat in silence for the rest of the ride after I finished in shock. And then I didn't shut up about it all day and my friends were rather annoyed.

It was worth it. The ending will leave your head spinning.

The worst book I read this year was probably What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones. The main character (Robin) was a cheater, manipulative, and controlling, plus he had all the red flags of a future stalker and the whole book was really disturbing. I can't stand reading about abusive relationships being portrayed as cute or ideal.

I had a lot of favorite books this year, but some of the very best would have to be:
The Chosen by Chaim Potok: This was an assigned school book, but one I really enjoyed. It was interesting and eye-opening. The characters were also well put-together, and I liked learning about Reuven's religion and the time period.
The Wildcrafter by Angela Cannon-Crofters: I am honored to know this author in person, and she is an amazing, strong person. I knew I would love this book from the moment I saw it at the library. The book follows the life of a nature-loving widow who is raising her little son off the grid. But her peaceful life changes when her concerned + rash parents-in-law decide to gain legal custody of her son on the basis of her not properly caring for him. I especially identified with the theme of our inherent roots with nature, whether we like it or not. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who finds their happiness moments in the world outside their door!
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee: Such a good book. Not something I would normally read, but it was a recommendation from a friend and I actually enjoyed it a LOT more than I thought I would. One of those modern, well-written, fairytale romances for young adults + teens. I would definitely read this one again!

I'm not big on dwelling on negativity -- I think there is something we can learn from every book we read, even if we decide not to "like it" in the end. I would rather categorize these ones as books I would definitely not like to read again. 
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: I wish I had liked this book more because it sounds interesting. It was just very heavily written/wordy and hard to sit down + enjoy. I'm not sure I ended up finishing the entire book.
Animal Farm by George Orwell: I found this one very interesting because it is an analogy of our modern-day politics. However, it is not something I would normally read + probably would not have picked up had it not been assigned for school.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse: I read this one for a book club and did not enjoy it as much as I hoped. I definitely know people who like it though, so . . .


Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this post! Go check out their content below, because they're some of my very favorite bloggers:
Anna's blog - Annaish
Christine's blog - Musings of an Elf
Sophy's blog - South Love
Melissa's blog - Quill Pen Writer
Gray Marie's blog - Writing is Life

PSST! Liked this post? Catch up on previous years' installments here and here. (And cringe with me at my old graphic and post design.)

Now it's your turn! What were the best books you read this year? The worst? Do you agree or disagree with any on these lists? Comment below, and have a lovely rest of your day.


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  1. looks so good!!! i really enjoyed reading everyone else's contributions. thanks so much for organizing this! it was fun! it was honored to be part of this.

    sophy of sophyslighthouse.blogspot.com

    1. Thanks so much! Thank YOU for being a part of this!

  2. This was so much fun to do, and I looooved hearing about everyone else's favorite books. I've sadly not read ANY of the ones listed (though the Kinsman Chronicles is on my TBR because I LOVE Jill Williamson). I will have to check these out!

    Thank you so much for having me Eleanor. This is such a fun idea and I loved being part of it!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ^_^

    1. Thank you! I've only read The Chosen (which is just as good as Sophy says it is) and Animal Farm, I think. Merry Christmas!!

  3. Eleanor! This collab looks amazing! I love reading everyone else's paragraphs. Thank you for including me again. <3 Happy Holidays!

    - anna

    1. Thank YOU for contributing and being so great to work with! Happy holidays!

  4. I really love how you pick bloggers from all different viewpoints on things because that's an awesome way to start a conversation on books. :D

    I'm with Christine, I didn't like Renegades, either, and I had been super stoked to read it. I ended up not finishing because the prologue was very disturbing to me and that had been a total turnoff. I couldn't get much further due to some other elements. I was happy to hear some of my friends enjoyed it, though.

    I think by having people with different book opinions on your blog, it helps us all get along, no matter what book we like or don't like.

    Have a Merry Christmas! <3

    1. I've never been much of a Marissa Meyer person, either. I've tried to read both Cinder and Heartless, but I didn't get far into either of them. Some books just aren't for some people, I guess.

      Thank you! That's what I'm trying to do :)

      You too!

  5. Ahh! This was so cool!! Thank you for organizing this, I don't know how you also lay this out so beautifully. ^_^

    1. Ahhh, thanks! Many hours of trial-and-error on Canva until 2am ;)

  6. Ahhhh I'm not ready for 2019 either!! Loved reading this posts and all of the best and worsts. :)

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

  7. Every time someone tells me that the tide pod challenge was in 2018, I feel like that year lasted for a decade. Time was irrelevant, apparently.

    I actually just posted in my end of the year wrap-up that for 2019, I'm hoping to tackle my TBR/backlist by focusing on the diverse books still sitting unread on my shelf! My heart's been aching for queer fiction lately and I can't seem to get enough of it, so I'll be reading everything I can get my hands on ASAP. Fawkes is also on my TBR list. You're not the first person I've seen raving about it!

    1. Yessss. One of my (2) reading goals for 2019 is to make my lgbt+ shelf my biggest on GR. (I'm off to a slow start, but I'll get there!) Thank you so much for your comment!! I always love hearing from you <3

  8. So I may or may not have read this post and added a lot of books to my TBR... xD It's really so great to be able to hear different bloggers' thoughts on their reads this year, and to know a few to avoid! I love the idea of these posts so much (and the graphics!), you're brilliant! <3


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