2018: A Reading List Review

My library card saw more use this year than ever before! Since the majority of my work was done from my home office (aka the guest bedroom /see also: the kitchen table, the couch, my bed, etc), walking to the Greenlake Library was my much needed break from sedentary computer work. I never got out of the door without 3-4 new books in my bag, and often relied on the library’s “peak picks” (the latest bestsellers) to guide my choices.

I feel like I’m constantly referring to an author or a book in conversation so I wanted to gather my favorite reads of this year for you! As you may notice, many of these books were published before 2018, but this is the year they made their way to me. Titles marked with an *asterisk were my favorites and if nothing else, I suggest putting at least one of them are your list to check out. And if you don’t have a library card, what are you waiting for? Libraries are the seriously, the coolest, and usually offer classes, events, and special exhibits in addition to a hoard of free books. Happy reading and I would love to know -

What was your favorite book you read this year? Leave your answers in the comments below.

**Note: Most of the book’s descriptions given below are straight from the Publishers website. (ex: Penguin Random House)

The best books of 2018. A complete reading list


  • *Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover:
    Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. (excerpt provided by publisher)

  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot:
    Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Best books of 2018: Educated by Tara Westover
Best books of 2018: Heart Berries by Terese Marie

Historical Fiction:

  • There There by Tommy Orange:
    Tommy Orange’s groundbreaking novel is the story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

  • *Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark T. Sullivan:
    Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis, but when his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders. Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret.

  • *Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

Best books of 2018: There There
Best books of 2018: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Best books of 2018: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


  • *She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore:
    Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain:
    A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Best books of 2018: She Would be King by Wayetu Moore

Self Help

  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero:
    In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want. By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

  • You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero:
    You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation—over just a few years—from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results.

  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:
    Greg McKeown has spent the last fifteen years obsessed with one question: What is it that keeps capable, driven people from breaking through to the next level? To his surprise, he found the answer to be success. In his revealing new book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown debunks the myth that “we can do it all.” We can’t. Despite ourselves, we continue to take on more. We say yes because we feel we have to, not because we want to. As a result, we feel overworked and underutilized. McKeown argues that what is needed in order to achieve greater productivity, success and live more fulfilling lives is to remain focused on the few essentials, and getting rid of the trivial many. Do less but better. That is the definition of Essentialism.

Best books of 2018: You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Best books of 2018: You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Best books of 2018: Essentialism


  • *The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil:
    In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries. When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.

  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem:
    My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

Best books of 2018: The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Best books of 2018: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

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