Another year, another round up of great reads! 2018 has been filled with a wide range of stories—from displaced families to covert global operations, haunting fairy tales to modern retellings of old favorites. Plus, we’re giving a special shout out to the stories that hit the big and small screens this year, from Kevin Kwan’s record-breaking box office hit Crazy Rich Asians to the inspiration of the much-awaited beginning of the end, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Want to know what our picks are? Read on to find out, and share yours in the comments!
America Is Not the Heart
By Elaine Castillo
Recommended by Hannah
I already called it last April: I was only halfway through and I knew it was going to be one of my best reads this year. I think this was the first time I’ve read a book where I felt the book looking back at me. The story and the way Elaine Castillo tells it hit so close to home, mostly because we share the same culture and the same language (this is the first time I’ve read the word basang anywhere, even if I hear it a lot), but also because she doesn’t hide behind any concept of what a story should be or how a story should be told. At the heart of it is just a person. Talking. Sharing her life. How lucky we are that we get to listen.
The Art of Gathering
By Priya Parker
Recommended by Karla
From dating to fundraising to asking for advice—many of our human interactions can now be replicated and simulated online. It is not, therefore, surprising that many people view meetings and group gatherings to be senseless and inefficient. But Priya Parker shows us that it doesn’t have to be. Gathering with colleagues, friends, fellow community members are important and necessary. It’s just that we might have been going about it the wrong way. Let this book breathe refreshing air into your tired, old meetings and reunions.
The Chalk Man
By C. J. Tudor
Recommended by Jowana of the First Look Club
First-time author CJ Tudor abandons the fast-paced amnesia thrillers trend in crime fiction and instead debuts with a novel that takes time to reveal its plot and a lead character full of memories he’d rather forget. The Chalk Man is 280 pages of uneasiness and is perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Stephen King. The Master of Horror himself recommended it on Twitter.
By Madeline Miller
Recommended by Reina of the First Look Club
Circe was just a chapter in the life of the famous hero Odysseus, but her story retold by Madeline Miller is one for the songs. Miller transports us centuries back in time with her elegant prose, enthralling reimaginings of character dynamics between classic personas, and rich attention to detail. We bear witness to Circe growing into her own – from an unfavored nymph child, to a woman wielding her sensuality as skillfully as a wand, to a fearsome witch that not even the Olympian gods dare defy. Best devoured, digested, and savored again, Circe is a story about magic, power, and womanhood – and all the ways they are one and the same.
Global Frequency: The Deluxe Edition
By Warren Ellis
Recommended by Clifford of the First Look Club
Global Frequency is a 12-issue miniseries written by Warren Ellis (Planetary, The Authority, Transmetropolitan). The story centers on the Global Frequency, a worldwide covert rescue organization made of 1,001 agents, all experts in their own fields, from programming to parkour. The anthology series features a standalone story drawn by a different artist, and is collected in a single deluxe volume for the first time. I know the word “underrated” is becoming a cliche, but it certainly applies to this amazing but short-lived series.
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun
Recommended by Cez
A compilation of Lin Manuel Miranda’s tweets with artworks by Jonny Sun? Nothing can get any better than this. As soon as you wake up and right before you sleep, if you need quick reminders that everything takes time, you are awesome just the way you are, and that things happen for a reason, then this book will give it to you—in 280 characters or less.
The Hazel Wood
By Melissa Albert
Recommended by Katya of the First Look Club
Stumbling upon The Hazel Wood was the best thing to happen to my fantasy-loving heart this year. Melissa Albert’s debut novel follows intense, young Alice and her mother Ella as her grandmother’s menacing fairy tales haunt them and lure them to the estate that they’ve spent their lives fleeing. I loved the contrast between Alice’s life in contemporary New York and the surrealness of the world that wants to claim her, the humanity in each of the characters (including my darling Ellery Finch), and the fact that I could. not. sleep. after reading the stories-within-the-story. Atmospheric, spooky, and satisfying, this is a fantasy novel with teeth—one I will recommend over and over.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
By Ottessa Moshfegh
Recommended by Jean of the First Look Club
Sometimes life gets too rough, and the temptation to just sleep it all off is strong. That’s exactly what the protagonist in Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel decides to do, with the help of an entire bodega’s worth of prescription drugs. Is her so-called hibernation a form of destructive self-indulgence, or a misguided quest for enlightenment? It’s a consoling read about the weight of alienation and loneliness, and might just make you feel a little less alone in the world.
The Restless Girls
By Jessie Burton and Angela Barrett
Recommended by Guada
Acclaimed bestselling author Jessie Burton spins a new story out of a classic Grimm fairy tale. More than just shoes and marriage, this modern version deals with losing love, finding oneself, and reclaiming their right to live on their own terms.
The Science of Breakable Things
By Tae Keller
Recommended by Ilia
The narrative of Tae Keller’s debut novel is deceptively straightforward but filled with vulnerability and nuance. Written in a scientific method structure, The Science of Breakable Things allows readers access to Natalie’s unfiltered thoughts and emotions as she comes to terms with her mother’s depression—how it affects her and her father. Always showing and never telling, the book organically explores Natalie’s emotional journey from confusion to denial to hope to anger, and finally, acceptance.
More Great Reads from 2018
By Gina Apostol
The novel constantly challenges the reader to rethink and question personal and national narratives through shifts between time, twists, and metaphor. (Palo G.)
By Emiliana Kampilan
Dead Balagtas tells separate, short love stories that resonate with the geographical history of how the Philippine archipelago came to be. You would never have thought you’d one day be reading about meet cutes, labor unions, and plate tectonics in one panel but Emiliana Kampilan weaves these themes seamlessly. (Nicole B.)
By Christina Dalcher
America enforces a 100-word quota on women’s speech. Vox is worth a read if only to ensure that we guard vigilantly against this future, and — as one of the book’s best characters put it — that we think about what we need to do to stay free. (Reina B.)
By Cixin Liu
Fans of Cixin Liu’s previous work such as the Three-Body Problem trilogy will be pleased with his combination of hard science fiction and mystery. The unique premise is enough to get you hooked. In fact, it deserves two readings: the first for the fiction, the next for the science. (Clifford J.)
The Woman in the Window
By A. J. Finn
This is the one book that has kept me reading till 4 AM but also stopped me reading at that time for fear of my life. It builds both suspense and characters, sends actual chills down my spine, and keeps them there even after all the plot twists and big reveals. (Anna P.)
Special Mentions: Page to Screen
Books that hit the big and small screens this 2018, opening up these stories to new readers.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
By Samin Nosrat
Recommended by Ace
Crazy Rich Asians
By Kevin Kwan
Recommended by Estella
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows
Recommended by Regina
The Infinity Gauntlet
By Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim
Recommended by Loraine
What’s your best read of 2018? Share it with us in the comments!
Find these great reads at Fully Booked Online.