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My favorite books of 2018 (and Andy’s too)

I managed to read a few more books this year than last, so I’m happy about that. I mean, quality over quantity, yes. But as I’ve said before, my reading affects my writing. It’s important to me that I fill my creative well.

Because a lot of my favorite reads this year fall under the Young Adult category, I talked about them over in our annual roundup at WeHeartYA.com.

And I have so many highlighted quotes from EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME that I plan to do a Reading Reflections post on it soon.

So the only other thing I want to say here is that it was a great joy to read and truly adore so many books written by friends. (Jasmine Warga, Ingrid Palmer, Natalia Sylvester.) A joy, and an inspiration. And a trend that I hope continues for the rest of my life.

You can see my favorite books from previous years here.


A few years ago, I challenged Andy to read at least two works of fiction a year, as a way of supporting my industry. (The same way that our household supports his, by buying the products his company makes.) Warily, he agreed.

Somehow, over the years, this little challenge has morphed into a personal habit, and he now reads an average of two books per month. It’s amazing!

This year, he asked if he could be included in my annual roundup, and I thought that would be super fun. So here are Andy’s favorite books from 2018…

And his full reading list:

Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann
Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
Artemis – Andy Weir
We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
Exit West – Mohsin Hamed
Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate
The House of Broken Angels – Luis Alberto Urrea
Awayland – Ramona Ausubel
The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
Circe – Madeline Miller
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
The Map of Salt and Stars – Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
There There – Tommy Orange
The Good Son- You-jeong Jeong
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – Ellen Oh
My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
The Third Hotel – Laura van den Berg
Severance – Ling Ma
She Would Be King- Wayetu Moore
The Wildlands – Abby Geni
The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton
The Witch Elm – Tana French
All You Can Ever Know – Nicole Chung
Those Who Knew – Idra Novey
Once Upon River – Diane Setterfield
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte

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My favorite books of 2017

You lose a lot of reading time when you’re taking care of a baby — or at least I did. I read fewer than 10 books in 2017. I did read tons of articles, and several short stories, but still. It’s a little bit sad.

I think not reading as much also has a noticeable impact on my writing. Less input, less output. So lately I’ve trying to make reading more of a priority, even if it’s just for a few minutes before bed each night.

Anyway, these were my favorite books in 2017, in order of when I read them:

I talked a bit about the three YA titles over at We Heart YA. Here, I want to share a few lines from HOMEGOING, a book that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I loved the characters, the themes, the back and forth “twin” structure. It’s brilliant and beautiful, powerful and moving. (I actually doubled over in agony at one point!) My top favorite of last year, no question.

It had created an impossible situation, and those who had been determined to stay on the fence found themselves without a fence at all.

Among other things, this line reminded me of the 2016 presidential election.

She was staring at the bark on the palm trees, the rounded diamonds crisscrossing against each other. Each one different; each one the same.

I love the simplicity of this image, and the beauty and truth of the observation.

“There should be no room in your life for regret. If in the moment of doing you felt clarity, you felt certainty, then why feel regret later?”

That is something I really struggle with. I agonize over decisions, even dumb little ones sometimes, and if I later find out that a different choice would have been better, I have a hard time letting it go. What a useless way to spend my time and energy. And worse: it’s me undermining myself.

I’ve been working on it, though, and I think I’m getting better.

The word hit her like a memory. Though she had never been there, she could sense its presence in her life. A premonition. A forward memory.

love that phrase, “a forward memory.” I have had that feeling before, but never had a name for it. Such a strange and beautiful thing.

(Early in my relationship with Andy, we broke up. I remember so clearly this feeling in my gut that it wasn’t The End, that it couldn’t be. I just knew in my bones that there was supposed to be more to us, as if I had already seen it, already lived it. Happily, it turns out I was right.)

Evil begets evil. It grows. It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in your world began as the evil in your own home.

Such a smart, important, and difficult truth.

“Just because somebody sees or hears or feels something other folks can’t, doesn’t mean they’re crazy. My grandmother used to say, ‘A blind man don’t call us crazy for seeing.'”

I never really thought of it that way, but it’s a good comparison. A good reminder of how and why to respect other people’s perceptions.


For previous years’ favorite books, click here.

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My favorite books of 2016

I’m sorry to report that I only read 12 books in 2016. Of those, 7 were audiobooks, and 2 were re-reads.

I’m going to go ahead and blame the baby, because it is her fault. In a way, though, she actually has me reading more than ever. I spend practically every free moment poring over the internet’s wisdom (or “wisdom,” in some cases) about pregnancy and parenting.

The good news is, over half of the books I read were diverse — in subject matter, authorship, or both. That’s a trend I hope to continue with all my future reading.

Here are my favorite reads of 2016:

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1) The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) All the Light We Cannot See Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE features a halfie protagonist and was written by a fellow halfie, Heidi Heilig. I really enjoyed the lush settings and the sense of adventure.

THE RAVEN KING completes Maggie Stiefvater’s wistful and lovely Raven Boys series. Not perfect, but really magical. I aspire to write at this level someday.

Andy discovered ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE a couple years ago and urged me to read it. He said it was more like a work of art than just a book or story, and he was right. It took me a long time to read, but that time was well spent.

Technically I haven’t finished BRINGING UP BÉBÉ, but I’m enjoying the examination of different parenting styles, and I appreciate the practical tips.

Click here to see my favorite reads from previous years.

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My favorite books of 2015

The past few months have been a blur — mostly due to the new house — so going over everything I’ve read this year proved to be a nice surprise. I had forgotten how many great books there were!

In order of when I read them:

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1) My Heart and Other Black Holes The Storyspinner (The Keepers' Chronicles, #1) Black Dove, White Raven Lexicon: A Novel An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) Bone Gap Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) The Walls Around Us Chasing the Sun Conviction Yes Please

Notes:

  • A particularly lovely treat is that several of of my favorite reads this year were written by friends of mine, including Jasmine Warga, Becky Wallace, Natalia Sylvester and Kelly Loy Gilbert. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to read the work of people you know in real life, because what if you don’t like it? (Awkward…) Fortunately, with each of these books, I could tell I was in good hands from page 1.
  • LEXICON was a book that Andy discovered on a whim, devoured, then urged me to read so that we could discuss it. That doesn’t happen often.
  • The author of BONE GAP is an “agent sister” of mine, and I’m honored to think that Tina has as much faith in me as she does in Laura Ruby, whose writing is so lyrical and fierce.
  • Once again, I’m trying more audiobooks. (Including SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT and YES PLEASE from above.) In our old neighborhood, I could hold a book or my phone and read while I walked Riley, because there were only a couple streets and virtually no traffic. But our new neighborhood is much busier and more urban, so listening to books is a safer way to go. Unfortunately I don’t have the best attention span when it comes to audio, and I’m picky about narrators/voices. For that reason, nonfiction seems to work best for me.

What were your favorite books of 2015?

If you’re interested, here are the roundups from previous years.

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My favorite books of 2014

I guess it’s become a bit of a holiday tradition to look back on my year in books and pick out favorites. According to GoodReads, I’m “behind” on my reading goal for this year, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

Thanks in part to the YA Diversity Book Club, I was exposed to a really wide variety of stories in 2014, and that’s a trend that I hope to continue, if not improve upon, in 2015. My nonfiction reading was down, but I did end the year with a really thought-provoking book recommended by Andy called MINDSET. (Which might warrant its own post in the near future.) And surprisingly, my audio “reading” may be on the rise, due to my realization that it’s much easier to listen to my iPod while walking Riley than it is to hold a book and flip pages.

Anyway, in order of when I read them, here are my favorite books of 2014:

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1) We Were Liars Caminar Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) Pointe Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) The Walled City Landline Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
(If you’re curious, you can also check out my roundups from previous years.)

What were your favorite reads this year?

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