I had a GREAT reading year and these are the 12 that I’m choosing to highlight. No easy feat given my list but all of these stories left an indelible mark in my mind and heart. Not all were released in 2018 but were read this year.
1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This didn’t seem like something I’d find as interesting as my friends but I got to the point where I couldn’t ignore the hype amongst them. I was taken by this story early on and am still shaking my head at my having delayed reading this so long. I loved this story so much I even watched the subtitled movie!
2. The Wife by Alastair Burke
I knew I was going to like this book, and I did…liked it a lot! What makes it a standout is the ending that gobsmacked me. It’s the kind of ending where you have to rewind the audiobook and re-listen to Chapters because you couldn’t have missed the clues so badly. It’s rare that I’m caught this flat footed.
3. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
If I had to choose only one book as a favorite, this would be it. It captivated me from the onset, piqued my curiosity about the big secret, then wrecked me emotionally when it was revealed. And, all throughout the central connection is around books and words. If you’re interested in checking out this author team, this book is where I’d start. (The audio version is great!)
4. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
It’s one of those stories where you’d do well to not read the synopsis close to when you decide to start reading this book. I’m glad I listened to it because the narration was outstanding. The subject matter is provocative and it did what I thought would be impossible…shifted my point of view on an explosive topic. These characters stayed with me for weeks!
5. Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
There are many stories out there that deal with mass shootings, mostly focused on the event itself and those that were injured and survived. This story focuses on those that escaped physical harm but were forever shaped by the trauma. It’s an outstanding novel that further exemplifies why this author continues to have staying power.
6. Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
If this isn’t ranked as my #1 top read, it’s a mighty close second. The writing is clever and the characters extremely well developed with a wicked ending, not because of a major twist (though it has one) but because of how conflicted you end up being about Oliver. And, there are multiple narrators used in the audio version that deliver outstanding performances.
7. Year One by Nora Roberts
The first in The Chronicles of the One series, this story is a mixed genre of dystopia, fantasy and romance, a clear stretch for Roberts that she successfully mastered. The only downside is having to wait a year for the next book, which I have queued to begin next. It’s riveting and if you can listen to the book, do it.
8. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
Contemporary issues involving sexting, teenage drinking, social bullying income disparity are all tackled in this powerful story, one I couldn’t put down, listening in one sitting. This is a new-to-me author I’ll be following from now on.
9. Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins
This is a truly important story that just gets it right. I’ve never read anything that comes this close to capturing the psychographics related to weight-related issues. Don’t judge it until you’ve read it cover to cover, no skimming because every word matters and I promise you your perspectives will be rocked.
10. Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger
Every book in this series is a gem and I’m now in the position of having to wait for the next release. This story does an outstanding job of weaving mystery, setting and culture to create something authentic and special. I really hated getting to the end as I love being with these characters.
11. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
The cover alone will almost break your heart and the underlying story pushes you over the precipice. But, there are triumphs that leave you in a good place to counter that sadness. It was just a very good story that evoked a range of emotions and without it I would not have learned about an astonishing set of events in our history.
12. All My Life by Prescott Lane
I really like friends-to-lovers romances and this one is stellar. Lane is one of my favorites in the genre because of her skill at crafting particularly appealing characters who draw you in emotionally and intellectually. It’s just a great story.