It’s that time of year to look back on the past twelve months of reading and decide on “best of” lists!
This year I decided to break it up into two lists: backlist books and books published in 2018. I had a few reasons for this decision:
1- I read more this year and therefore had more to choose from.
2- About half of the books I read this year were review copies and wanted to spread the love evenly.
3- What’s life without whimsy? (unapologetic Big Bang Theory reference)
My biggest surprise of this list is the wide variety of genres it includes. For someone who proclaims to favor mystery, thriller, and suspense, there’s a fair amount of fantasy and dystopian on this list – and even two nonfiction!
Ready to see my picks?
The Ghostwriter is the story of Helena, a best-selling author who has one last story to tell. She is a cold, harsh, rule maker who distances herself from everyone and is not particularly likable, but as she reveals her story the reader begins to understand why and how she became that way. If you like books about books, authors, and stories within stories, this might be right up your alley!
Are you a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal? Year of Yes is the memoir of their creator, Shonda Rhimes. This is remarkably relatable and absolutely hilarious as Rhimes shares how she started saying YES to things she previously would have said no to and how it changed her life. The author reads the audio version as well, so if you like your books in that format, definitely give it a shot!
Workman’s Complication is the story of off-Broadway actress Kate who inherits her father’s PI business after he’s murdered. With a fast pace with plenty of plot twists and a full cast of quirky characters, this was such a fun and entertaining read! The author’s previous work in screenwriting is apparent as he combines mystery and comedy in a way that comes to life in these pages.
The Power speculates on what might happen if women were to possess a new power that had the ability to reshape society. This presents ideas and questions that I found to be incredibly compelling and kept me thinking about it long after. And the narration in the audiobook was superb, making it even more engaging.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic dystopian that is terrifying and thought-provoking, and it’s amazing how eerily possible it feels in our current reality. I can see how this served as inspiration for newer dystopians with feminist leanings. If this genre is your kind of thing, this is a great foundation to have when reading newer works.
The Night Circus is the setting for a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have trained since childhood for this very thing. The storytelling and prose particularly shine here; the plot is not particularly straightforward or cohesive and many of the characters are hard to connect with. But if beautiful writing is what you look for, you’ll find it here! Jim Dale narrates the audiobook and his whimsical style complements the story perfectly. The Zaria Fierce trilogy is a fun middle-grade fantasy with a great message. In it, Zaria and her friends find adventure in the magical lands of Norway. Rooted in mythology and folklore, this fascinating world is filled with trolls, elves, and many other creatures, with plenty of delightful secrets to uncover. Fans of this genre are sure to be enchanted by this series!
The Fifth Season trilogy is set in a world called the Stillness that goes through a Fifth Season every so often that nearly wipes out the planet. The first book places the reader solidly in this world while following three different characters. This takes some work from the reader to follow along at first (be prepared the check the appendix often!), but once you acclimate it gets harder to put down. Need another reason to check these out? All three books won Best Novel in the Hugo Awards in the year they were published.
Tuesdays with Morrie is an inspirational memoir of Mitch Albom’s time with his college professor and mentor Morrie Schwartz. It’s message is simple: life is short, make the most of it. Some readers may find this book to be too saccharine for their taste, but I found it to be incredibly moving and motivational.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a Nordic Noir mystery thriller that shot into international bestseller status and has been adapted into a few different movie versions. A complex story with multiple plot lines and interesting characters, this has plenty of action and intrigue. Definite trigger warnings for violence here.
There you have my top 10 backlist books I read this year! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What were your favorite backlist books you read this year? Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for new recommendations!