Top 10 Books of 2018 + Reading Stats

by - 11:49 AM


From Donna Tartt to Ibi Zoboi, 2018 has been a diverse and wild reading year. Although I only read 85 books -- almost 20 fewer than last year -- there were lots that stood out in a good way. It was SO tough to sort out my top 10, but I somehow managed. Plus, I compiled some colorful charts of some reading year stats for your perusal at the end of the post. Let's dive into this look at my 2018 reading year!

(As always, titles are links to those that have reviews.)


10. Phantoms as Euphemisms for Disaster by N.L. Shompole - Landing a spot in my top 10 for the second year in a row is the fabulous poet N.L. Shompole. I loved her collection Lace Bone Beast so much, I figured it was high time I look into more of her poetry. This short volume packs a brilliant punch, beautifully examining subjects such as race, gender, and heartbreak through the lens of the author's Maasai culture. Favorites: "Apparitions at Midnight," "Night Diver," "A History of War," and "Where the Water Sleeps."
Phantoms as Euphemisms for Disaster was formerly titled Spectre Specter Blue Ravine.

9. Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America by Christopher Bram - I accidentally got a lot more into nonfiction this year, and I knew pretty quickly after I picked this up that it was going to be my favorite. Despite being a gay writer myself, I must confess to knowing very little of our history. Reading this was at turns fascinating, heartbreaking, and validating. There may be people today who try to shut us up, who don't want to hear our voices or our stories. But we have overcome greater opposition in the past. We will never be silenced again.

8. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - I've spoken extensively about this book before, but allow me another few hundred characters to sing its praises. I don't typically enjoy historical fiction, but this book stole my heart. It tells the story of Lily, a young white girl in 1960s South Carolina who runs away from her abusive father with Rosaleen, her fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother." They're taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who teach Lily about self-love, hope, and resilience. It's such a fresh, inspiring take on historical fiction, and I can't recommend it enough.

7. Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce - Y'all know I like Tamora Pierce. She's one of my most-read authors, and I've always enjoyed her books . . . but I'd never fallen head-over-heals in love with one until Cold Fire. More than almost any other book on this list, I just could not put it down. Our down-to-earth, resourceful, clever fire mage, Daja, is finally out in the world taking on students and solving mysteries of her own. I only have a couple books left in the Emelan universe, and I'm very sad about it :(


6. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud - Second Book Syndrome WHO? The Whispering Skull, which details the further investigations of our young ghost-hunting trio, absolutely surpasses its predecessor in terms of action and intrigue. Usually, it takes about a hundred pages for me to get into a Stroud book, but such is not the case with this baby. And that ENDING?! OH MY GOODNESS I MUST KNOW MORE RIGHT NOW.

5. The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo - Any longtime readers will know I typically dislike fairytale retellings. What's interesting about taking a basic fairytale and plopping it down in another bland fantasy world? It takes a lot for a retelling to impress me, and The Reluctant Godfather blew me away. It's a Cinderella retelling from the POV of Burndee, a very snarky, very lazy, very reluctant fairy godfather. It's such a sweet read, and I was laughing every page. And then that ending made me stop laughing and start (happy)crying very quickly. 

4. This Way to the Sugar by Hieu Minh Nguyen - YES, more poetry. You know who I am. This Way to the Sugar was one of my last reads of 2018, and I'm so glad I slid it in. Nguyen is a queer Vietnamese-American writer who writes beautifully and heartbreakingly about his experiences as a minority. Stylistically, he is far from the Tumblr-esque vibe of Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, and N.L. Shompole; his poems feel much more like snippets from a story, inner monologue, or diary entry. Favorites: "A/S/L," "In the End," "The Dock," and "The Gay 90s, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 18+."


3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - I don't think I've talked about this one that much on here?? It is one of the most beautifully written books I've read all year, the kind of beauty you have to slowly let sink in, like a very rich and very delectable pastry. It follows Count Alexander Rostov, a member of the old Russian aristocracy who is imprisoned in a hotel after the Russian Revolution, and his life there. Any fans of historical fiction absolutely must pick this up. The Count is a charming hero, and his story is the epitome of the word bittersweet.

2. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren - What’s that?? The one and only popular YA novel to make this list? Yep. I’ve been drifting away from YA this year, but Autoboyography is one of those rare novels that restores my faith in the genre. One of the most emotionally draining books I read this year, it took me on a relentless, crazy, heartwrenching, joyous journey. And it hit especially close to home for me, a gay teen living in a conservative Catholic community, because a lot of the book deals with being a gay teen in a conservative Mormon community. Plus, it's about writers. What could be better? (Hint: literally nothing except for the next book on this list.)

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt - I HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS BOOK SO MUCH THIS YEAR BUT GIVE ME ONE MORE MINUTE OF YOUR TIME OKAY. The moment I read it, I knew it would be the best book I'd read--and it was also the first. Murder, haunting beauty, and layers upon layers of secrets define this book. Not only is it one of the most gorgeously written books I've ever read, the characters remain just as fresh and close in my mind as they were the day I read it. Just as Bunny haunted Francis and Henry, they haunt me, and I wILL HAUNT ALL OF YOU UNTIL YOU READ THIS AMAZING BOOK.

BUT WAIT!
We can't forget the
Honorable Mentions!


And now onto the statistics!





This is usually where people talk about their 2019 goals, I think, but I typically need more motivation to do something than it being just, like, another day. So my only reading goals for 2019 are

  • Read at least 80 books
  • Make my Goodreads lgbt+ shelf have more books than any other shelf of mine
  • Continue reading classics I guess idk ?? I'M REALLY BAD AT THIS CUT ME SOME SLACK

Let's chat! What were your favorite 2018 books? Have you read any on my list? Any reading goals for 2019? And make sure to link your 2018 wrap-ups below! I just love reading them XD <3 Comment below, and have a lovely day!

Namàrië,
Eleanor

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19 Comments

  1. Oh, I have been interested in reading The Reluctant Godfather. I do tend to like fairytale retellings, so... :)

    Best of luck on your goals!

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  2. It looks like you read a lot of great books in 2018! I was really interested in reading The Secret Life of Bees last year but I never got around to it, maybe I will this year. I love how you included statistics, I always find them interesting. I don't have many 2019 reading goals apart from wanting to reread more!

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    1. YES YOU MUST. I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts on it :) haha, me too! I am unabashedly nerdy about spreadsheets, pie charts, and the like. Hey, that's still a goal! Good luck with it!

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  3. *Feverishly takes notes* I haven't read any of these so I will for sure be checking them out! I am super intrigued by The Secret Life of Bees, especially, because I have heard great things. I also started to read more nonfiction this year (mostly essays) and it was surprisingly refreshing after reading so much YA. Loved the list! Thanks for the recommendations. :)

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    1. Haha yes, I tend to read books that are more off the beaten path, one might say, than those typically hyped in the blogosphere. (But they're equally good!!) Have you read any of Oliver Sacks's essays? They're so sweet + nerdy; he's my favorite essayist. My favorite is "My Periodic Table." It's a short one, but it's awesome. Thanks!

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    2. I have not read any Oliver Sacks! I will definitely give him a read. :) Thank you!!

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  4. The Secret Life of Bees does sound good. And historical fiction is completely my type of read. A Gentleman in Moscow and The Secret History are both on my tbr. Great list!
    Good luck with your reading goals! I'm really hoping to get through more classics as well. Not my thing but I really want to get into them :)

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    1. It's usually not mine, and yet it somehow ended up my second-most-read genre?? UM HOW DID THAT HAPPEN. A good classic is the bomb. Wuthering Heights, Macbeth, and the Eclogues are some favorites that immediately come to mind, but for getting started with classics, titles like Cyrano de Bergerac, The Hobbit, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest could be better. Happy reading!

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  5. Autoboyogrpahy was really awesome, I agree! And wow, okay now I guess I need to read The Secret History, eh? Sounds fabulous!! So glad you found so many wonderful books in 2018!

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    1. Haha, yes indeed you do. (If you like/are intrigued by If We Were Villains, The Secret History will be right up your alley.) Looking at how many of my reads were 4 or 5 stars, I'm kind of shocked. This was a REALLY good reading year. (Though I guess I am pretty picky with what I read ;) )

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  6. Congratulations on all your reading :-)
    One of my favourite books from last year was The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. It had the most beautiful setting and featured some fascinating characters, it's definitely worth reading for any historical fiction fan!
    My main goal for this year is to demolish my tbr shelf, I want to completely clear it before I go on another book buying binge! Wish me luck :-P
    xoxo
    http://gingersnaphattie.blogspot.com/2018/12/2018-reading-wrap-up.html

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    1. Ooh, that sounds interesting! I'm honestly not a big historical fiction person, I just ?? randomly read a lot this year ?? idk. But I'll still check it out! Haha, good luck!

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  7. omggg YES I LOVE AUTOBOYOGRAPHY!! I reread it this year and basically cried (it hits very close home to me too being raised in conservative circles and definitely not fitting into the tightness of their requirements 😑) I ached for Sebastian ajfdksadl. And also I really want to read The Secret History! I don't read much adult but I've just heard it's so captivating and I WANT.

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    1. I KNOW RIGHT. I think you would like it, even though you read mostly YA. It's kind of like if the Gangsey were murderous.

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  8. I feel like I should make an attempt to read more classics, but for some reason the classics intimidate me more than any other genre. I love historical fiction but I've yet to read The Secret Life of Bees. It sounds like an incredible book. Good luck with your goals for the year. :D

    - Lois @ My Midnight Musing

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    1. They can be kind of scary! I would recommend starting with more modern classics, like The Hobbit and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. That can be a good way to ease yourself into the genre. Thank you!

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  9. 85 books is still really impressive. Way to go, Eleanor! I have recently added Phantoms as Euphemisms for Disaster and The Reluctant Godfather to my TBR list per your recommendation. One of my goals for 2019 is to read more poetry, of course!

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    1. Thanks! AHH that makes me so happy. I'm trying to do that, too! My first (and thus far only) read of the year was The Crown Ain't Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, an absolutely gorgeous poetry collection. Stylistically, it's far from your work, but you might still enjoy it if you like Phantoms.

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