My Top Books of 2018

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Every year, I set a reading goal for myself on Goodreads, and every year I struggle to make it! I’m happy to say that I hit this year’s goal of 60 by the end of November! No Christmas-vacation cramming for this girl this year!

However, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds, considering I abandoned almost as many books as I completed. That makes these top 11 (my top ten fiction, plus one non-fiction) even more remarkable, because not only did I finish them, I devoured them.

Since it’s impossible to rank them in any meaningful way, I’m just going to list them in order of completion. Links to my #2MinBookReview are provided where available.

The Martian, by Andy Weir

While most people will be familiar with the movie starring Matt Damon (one of the most impressive page-to-screen adaptations I’ve ever seen), the book itself is tense, engaging, and laugh-out-loud funny. For nerds like me, you’ll want to read it for the more in depth look at the science on Mars. If not, the movie will give you a pretty good picture of what the book is about with very few omissions.

The Masterpiece, by Francine Rivers

This is a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. It’s engaging and heartfelt with a couple of truly surprising twists. Francine Rivers’s return to romance is triumphant. Watch my #2MinBookReview on The Masterpiece here.

Matchmaking for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson

This one deserves an award for my biggest surprise of the year. Generally, I’m not impressed with my Kindle First picks, but this one definitely paid off in a sweet, funny, quirky story. Watch my #2MinBookReview of Matchmaking For Beginners here.

No One Ever Asked, by Katie Ganshert

This book easily could have come off as harsh, unyielding, or accusatory, but Ganshert handles questions of race and bias with sensitivity and compassion. I really surprised myself by how much I loved this book. See the #2MinBookReview here.

The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is one of the few literary writers who can pull off a page-turner. I read this in a single day, stealing chapters in the car (not driving, of course!) and while I was cooking dinner. That’s my definition of a great book. See my review here.

Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch

How do I love this book? Let me count the ways. In fact, this is the only book on the list that gives The Masterpiece a run for its money for my favorite book of the year. Brilliantly written and mind-bending. I’m thrilled to hear there’s a movie in the works. See my review here.

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

I had mixed feelings on whether I liked this book or not, but there’s no question that objectively it’s one of my top books of the year. See my (admittedly ambivalent) review here.

Belleweather, by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is back! I’d been looking forward to this book for a while, and she delivered. Not only is it a really enjoyable book with paranormal and romantic elements, but it’s a demonstration of how two timelines can be elegantly woven together. Timeslip writers take note! See my #2MinBookReview here.

Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney

This may not be the best-written book in the bunch, but I thought I had the details all figured out…and turned out to be completely wrong. This one blew my mind in the best ways. It does take a bit of rigor to unravel the ending, and the reviews reflect that: either you think it’s fantastic or you’re so confused you hated it. Of all the British “domestic suspense” I’ve read this year (and there have been quite a lot…as well as a few on my DNF list) this is the one that really stands out.

The Kremlin Conspiracy, by Joel Rosenburg

Think of this book as Tom Clancy with a little less violence and a little more conscience. Marcus Ryker is every bit of a Jack Ryan as Ryan himself. He has the seemingly-endless intelligence and skills that annoy me in every men’s fiction novel, as well as a family that serves only as tragic motivation rather than three-dimensional people in their own right (another beef I have about men’s fiction). And despite all that–I couldn’t put the novel down. As a matter of fact, this book is responsible for the fact that I have no nails at present, because I chewed them all off while reading. It’s kind of like a romance novel: you don’t care that you can see the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-and-girl-live-happily-ever-after plot structure from a mile away; you just care about how much fun it is to get there. And by that standard, this book hits it out of the park.

It’s All Under Control, by Jennifer Dukes Lee

(BONUS NON-FICTION PICK)

I generally only review fiction on my blog, but this book was too good to pass by. If you’re a Martha who is tired of being told to transform into a Mary, yet you feel like you’re always running on empty, this is a book for you. Often these types of books are written by people who see themselves as the standard, but Jennifer Dukes Lee is an in-the-trenches, bonafide control freak who struggles as much with these issues as you or me. In this season of my life, I needed permission to back off and slow down, and It’s All Under Control provided just that.

Tell me in the comments–what was your favorite book of 2018? What are you looking forward to reading next year?

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