Top Ten Adult Reads of 2018

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I’m not sure how I did it, but I read 109 books last year. 5 of those were picture books that snuck into the list and 24 of them were chapter books that I read with my 6-year-old, which means that I read 80 books for me and me alone. When I look back on them, it feels like a year of self-indulgence and luxury. There’s nothing like a good stack of books to make you feel like you’re traveling the world, meeting some of the most amazing (and maybe also some of the worst) people you’ve ever met.

Out of my 80 “adult reads” last year, there were ten that rose to the top as my favorites - and one extra that I added list because - well - it’s Jane Austen and she can’t be left out. Here are my favorites from 2018 - in no particular order.

The Snow Child - This was the last book I read in 2018, and I’m SO glad I snuck it in in the last week. I had thought about waiting until there was snow on the ground, but it came so highly recommended that I just couldn’t wait to open it. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. This book pulled at my heart in so many directions, and it’s a book I will read over and over again. It’s a magical fairy tale that will break your heart and full you with so much joy all at the same time. If you need a good book this winter, this should be at the top of your list.

Where the Crawdads Sing - I highly recommend the Audio version of this one. It was simply incredible. It made me think a lot about my own family roots, it made me miss the south, and the ending left me stunned. It’s a fantastic story of survival and of beating the odds. I was crushed when it was over.

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky - This was one of my favorite summer reads in 2018. It’s light-hearted and beautifully written. I had not ever read Loved Walked in or Belong to Me, so the characters were unknown to me. I love the way the story lines of two different women are interwoven to tell an intricate and beautiful story of finding oneself. I loved it so much that I read the first book written (Loved Walked In) and was sorely disappointed. I’ll Be Your Blue Sky stands alone - and far above - the other two books with the same characters.

The Light We Lost - This book captivated me from the first page. I fell in love with the characters, got angry at the characters, and really felt every emotion they were going through. It's a beautiful portrayal of love, temptation, despair, and how life may not always be as black and white as we might think. Although I disagreed with the actions of the main character, Lucy, I always FELT why she did what she did. Relationships are so complicated - love is so complicated - and this book really lifts that up in a beautifully written way. 

The Broken Girls - I’m not usually a fan of thrillers, but this one was exceptional. It was creepy without being too over the top. This is another one that’s worth an Audible credit - I really enjoyed hearing the story told to me as opposed to reading the words on the page. It was suspenseful, entertaining, and a story well told.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - I bought this book on a whim back in June when I was heading to a wedding and thought I might have a few extra hours of quiet. I tried to start it that very same day, but found it boring and whiney. I’ve told you before how I’m not afraid to put down mediocre books - and how, if the reviews are really really good, I’m also not afraid to pick them up and try again. I’m so glad I picked this one back up in the Fall, because I found it to be brilliant. It’s a book of character development, so read it when you’re ready to really dig into the characters - not when you’re wanting something full of action. It made me feel all the emotions, which is the true sign of a great book. I feel like Eleanor is a good friend, and because of that I’m pretty sure I’ll read this one over and over again.

An American Marriage - And now we’ve come to the books that had me coming undone at the seams. This one was so hard for me on an emotional level. It brings up contemporary issues of race, which always makes me angry at the world we live in and also a tiny bit uncomfortable (as it should). It’s not simply about race though - it also brings up topics of love and fidelity - and is just gut-wrenching on so many levels. But you guys … it’s SO SO good. If you didn’t read it in 2018, make 2019 the year you do.

Brown Girl Dreaming - I’ve had this on my TBR pile since it came out in 2016, and finally got to it this year. It’s a memoir written as poetry and is quite possibly one of the best pieces of creative writing I’ve read in a long time. It’s a quick read, and it’s one I’ll add to our school repertoire in a few years.

Dreamland Burning - Another book that made me think a lot about race relations, my southern roots, and just how far away we are as a society from where we should be. This one has a historical component to it, which I really enjoyed.

All We Ever Wanted - This is Emily Giffin’s best novel, by far. I’ve always been a Giffin fan, but her books usually fall in my beach bag and get devoured in a matter of hours, without much real deep thought. This book is so different. It’s incredibly thought-provoking, and brings up so many issues that I wanted to dig into with a group of friends.

Bonus - Pride & Prejudice - I am so ashamed that in 38 years of living, I had never read any Jane Austen. At the start of last year, I promised myself I’d get through at least two classics and this was one I chose. It was a slower read for me, because of the old English that it’s written in, but I really enjoyed it. I found myself really identifying with the characters and dreaming of what life may have been like. When I finished it, I watched the 1995 BBC production of it (hello Colin Firth!) and it made me appreciate the book even more. I’ve decided 2019 will be the year I read the rest of her stuff - because - well, why not?!

So there you have it. My favorite “adult reads” of 2018. What were your favorite books last year? What’s currently on your nightstand?