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Favorite Books of 2018

January 7, 2019

I read 164 books in 2018 and when I started looking back at what I’ve read, I noticed a trend.  Almost all of the books that really stood out for me last year were nonfiction.  As a matter of fact, I came up with a long list of favorite nonfiction books and had a tough time deciding which ones to cut.  When it came to fiction, it was hard to decide which ones to add.  Here are my favorites, in no particular order.  (Keep in mind these were books I read in 2018, they weren’t necessarily published that year.)


THE LAST CASTLE by Denise Kiernan tells the story of the Biltmore and the family that built it and lived there.

JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson is a book about justice and the lack of it for certain parts of American society.  Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization that advocates for equality.

WHAT THE EYES DON’T SEE by Mona Hanna Attisha is the story of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  You’ll never think of your water or government agencies the same way after reading this book.

THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE by Jeff Hobbs is obviously a sad story.  I think I’ve thought of Peace and his lost potential every single day since I read this book and wonder what we could be doing to prevent tragedies like this.

DOPESICK by Beth Macy is the frightening and eye opening story of the opioid crisis in the US.  It made me realize what’s caused this crisis and just how far reaching it is.


PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee is an epic family drama set in Korea and Japan.  I fell in love with the characters and learned a lot about the culture of the two countries in this well written story.

THE SECRETS BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar is the story of an Indian woman working hard to send her granddaughter to school so she can have a better life.  I leaned a lot about the culture of India as I read this book.

TONY’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani is another great book from a favorite author.  Chi Chi, the main character, is fabulous – she’s talented, ambitious, smart, and strong and I rooted for her throughout this family story that spanned decades.

MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES by Sarah McCoy imagines the life of Marilla Cuthbert before Anne Shirley comes to live with her and her brother Matthew and I thought it was charming.

THE ALMOST SISTERS by Joshilyn Jackson is the story of a graphic artist who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand.  It includes humor and a mystery and touches on social issues.


I WANNA BE A COWGIRL by Angeli Di’Terlizzi is the lone picture book to make my list.  It’s the story of a young girl who uses her imagination to become a cowgirl.  The rhyming verse and the illustrations by Elizabet Vukovic are adorable.

AL CAPONE THROWS ME A CURVE by Gennifer Choldenko is the story of Moose, a young boy who lives on Alcatraz with his family because his dad is an assistant warden there.  Moose loves baseball and is pressured to deliver something from Alcatraz in order to make the high school team.

PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE by Ellen Hopkins is a hybrid novel – part verse and part narrative – about violence and guns that will make you think.

ANIMAL ZOMBIES by Chana Stiefel is fun and just a little bit gross and is just the book to get kids interested in science.

DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy is a fabulous story about friendship and body image among teens all set around Dolly Parton songs.  I loved the main character, Willowdean and found the book to be very engaging.


29 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2019 7:23 am

    I love this post. I have noticed that you do tend to steer yourself towards nonfiction. The only books we have in common are Almost Sisters and Dumplin. It’s always interesting to me to see what others read.

  2. January 7, 2019 7:33 am

    Great list of books! I’ve read The Almost Sisters and definitely want to grab Dopesick, Dumplin’, and What the Eyes Don’t See. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Literary Feline permalink
    January 7, 2019 8:07 am

    So many amazing sounding books! I really want to read Pachinko. And several others of your fiction choices are on my TBR or wishlist. It is interesting nonfiction was so prominent in your reading this past year in terms of your favorites. I’m not the best at balancing my reading in that regard. Even if you look at my bookshelves here at home, my nonfiction section is so small in comparison to my fiction is pathetic, really.

    I hope you have an amazing 2019, Kathy. Happy Reading!

  4. January 7, 2019 8:53 am

    Interesting reading pattern, and I found that I was much the same. Nonfiction is becoming my go-to genre these days. I’m not sure what that means.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Sarah's Book Shelves permalink
    January 7, 2019 9:10 am

    Just Mercy is on my audio TBR!

  6. Diane D permalink
    January 7, 2019 9:46 am

    Great reading in 2018 Kathy. The older I get the more I enjoy NF – easier to follow sometimes as well. Happy Reading in 2019. I made a note of some of your 2018 faves.

  7. January 7, 2019 10:10 am

    Yeah, my non-fiction reading list was always strong but not so much this year and I want to change that because I love non-fiction. I bought Tony’s Wife and hope to read it soon.

  8. cherylmash permalink
    January 7, 2019 10:13 am

    WOW! 164 books for the year! I need to find more time in my schedule for reading!!!!

  9. January 7, 2019 11:47 am

    You had a great year – so many excellent books! I especially love your nonfiction list. Just Mercy was one of my favorites in 2017 and I plan to read both The Last Castle and Dopesick this year. Pachinko was my top novel last year. You’d probably enjoy her earlier novel, Free Food for Millionaires, too.

  10. Beth F permalink
    January 7, 2019 1:01 pm

    What a great year in books — and I’ve really wanted to read THE LAST CASTLE — I guess I should jump on it.

  11. January 7, 2019 2:48 pm

    I have Marilla of Green Gables on my list at the library. I loved the movie Dumplin’. I may end up reading the book as well as Puddin’.

  12. January 7, 2019 2:50 pm

    I have read two of those! WOhoo. And I really want to read or watch Dumplin

  13. January 7, 2019 3:39 pm

    Kathy you had a fantastic year in books. I am always curious to see what you are reading. Hear is to another fantastic book reading year.

  14. January 7, 2019 4:04 pm

    You’ve got some of my favorites on this list: Dumplin’, People Kill People, Just Mercy, and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of your favorite adult fiction!

  15. January 7, 2019 4:42 pm

    I’ve read very little non fiction and that too historical figures nothing in modern times. Your post got me thinking.

  16. Jeane permalink
    January 7, 2019 5:08 pm

    Wow, 164 is a lot of books! I have gravitated more towards nonfiction in the past few years, too. I’m adding What the Eyes Don’t See to my list now (if I didn’t already).

  17. January 7, 2019 7:42 pm

    164 books? You rock! I received Ton’y Wife for Christmas 🙂

  18. January 7, 2019 9:21 pm

    Wow. I haven’t read any of your top 10 adult books. How could that happen?

  19. January 8, 2019 5:01 am

    Have you seen the Netflix adaption of Dumplin’? It’s very good and the soundtrack is all Dolly Parton! I’ve umed and ahh’d about reading an Ellen Hopkins books for years – I remember early on her writing had a drugs focus, but her books are meant to be very powerful. I’m glad you’ve had such a strong reading year!

  20. January 8, 2019 7:11 am

    What an amazing list. I tend to read so few good nonfiction. I think I should probably check out your lists more often.

  21. January 8, 2019 2:26 pm

    Terrific list, Kathy! I haven’t read any of these, but will refer to your list throughout the year. I am interested in many of your selections.

  22. January 8, 2019 8:24 pm

    Loved reading the choices that made your favorite list. Tony’s Wife is on my TBR list. Watched Dumplin’ and loved it and want to read the book.

  23. bookingmama permalink
    January 9, 2019 7:04 am

    What a great list. I am definitely slacking in my reading compared to you! I feel so negligent. I’ve only read 3 of your fiction choices and 2 of your kids ones… and 0 of your nonfiction ones. I need to add these to my list!

  24. January 9, 2019 10:48 am

    Of your list, I’ve read none! I am not a big non fiction reader, as a rule, but my first book of the year happens to be non fiction so what do you know? I can’t believe you’ve read that many books for 2018? That’s a lot!

  25. January 9, 2019 11:52 am

    Your love of nonfiction last year proves that real life often has better stories than fiction. Great list Kathy. I’m glad you had such a great reading year.

  26. January 9, 2019 9:30 pm

    Just Mercy is so, so good! I want to make everyone read that book.

  27. January 9, 2019 11:02 pm

    I am so impressed with the amount of books you read last year! Truly amazing! I have Pachinko, Marilla, The Secrets Between Us, and Almost Sisters on my list to read this year. Time to carve more hours in my day…

  28. January 10, 2019 5:41 pm

    Wow great lists! The Robert Peace story just is so heartbreaking, and I’m recently finding Thrity Umrigar a go-to author for me …. her books always seem good. I guess they are making Just Mercy into a movie … but it won’t come out till 2020.

  29. January 17, 2019 9:36 am

    Did you see the movie of Dumplin’? I watched it but I haven’t read the book. I was wondering how the movie compared. I thought the movie was really good.

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