18 Favorite Reads of 2018

2018 was a good year for reading. While I didn’t have as many “this is the BEST BOOK EVER” reading experiences as I sometimes do, I did like nearly everything I read. So there may not have been as many highs, but there weren’t that many lows either. With picture books included, I read over 400 books this year, which makes this my highest volume reading year since 2015. Being a Cybils judge for Graphic Novels definitely boosted my numbers! Here are 18 favorites in no particular order:

The most satisfying fiction experience I had this year. I read it months ago and still think about the characters.

Murderbot, how I love you. This was my favorite series of the year.

In a year where I read dozens of stellar graphic novels, March Book 3 still stood out.

Allen Say’s picture book biography of artist James Castle introduced me to a new artistic in the most powerful and affecting way possible.

What could have been a stunt (100 chapters; 100 words each) turned out to be a moving and ultimately hopeful novel about surviving grief through kindness and connection.

I’m not one to buy stuffed animals based on books. No Elephant or Piggie dolls here. But I totally need a tea dragon doll (or better yet, a real tea dragon!). Katie O’Neil’s quiet story of delicate little tea dragons thoroughly enchanted me.

Nightly read-alouds were a thing of the past, but then my son saw Rebound on the shelf and wanted me to read it aloud to him. Which led to The Crossover and several more sports books and a long trip into Gordon Korman’s backlist.

Textbook came along just as I needed some writing inspiration. Such a creative delight.

It’s rare to read a verse novel with poetry this good. I can’t wait for Elizabeth Acevedo’s next book.

I felt so invested in the stories Helen Thorpe tells about students in a Denver-area class for recent refugee and immigrant arrivals.

I spent several day happily ensconced in the world Kelly creates in her Newbery winner. And started You Go First, which I liked nearly as well, right after I finished Hello Universe.

It took me several weeks to read Birds Art Life because I only wanted to read a few paragraphs each day to savor this meditation on birdwatching and creativity.

What an unlikely story! Grand Theft Horse introduced me to a character I loved rooting for and a world (horse racing) that horrified me.

If you haven’t read Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver, be sure to put them on your list for 2019. Incredible world building, character creation, and sentence-level writing.

I liked several books by Richard Van Camp this year, but the one that sticks with me most is the quirky What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?

My favorite David Sedaris collection in years.

I wasn’t expecting to be so affected by Krosoczka’s art in Hey Kiddo, but it’s really beautifully done.

In a year of kind of meh (for me) middle grade, Front Desk stood out for its setting and strong characters.






6 responses to “18 Favorite Reads of 2018”

  1. Scott Day Avatar

    More books with which to begin 2019! But first: I loved the Murderbot series, though Exit Strategy took me longer to appreciate. Birds Art Life also took me longer to enjoy. Spinning Silver has been sitting in my bookcase for a while. Will read it soon. Also added The Tea Dragon Society and What’s The Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses to my TBR. Thank you.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Both are a bit oddball, maybe especially The Most Beautiful Thing about Horses, but it really worked for me. I think Naomi Novik is magical! I need to go back and read/reread her dragon series. I read the first couple when they first came out and liked them so much but never finished the series. Whatever fantasy/sci fi I read ALWAYS makes it onto my favorites list so I’ve got to start reading more since clearly I love it!

  2. Akilah Avatar

    I’m probably the only person who couldn’t connect to Front Desk, sigh. I know it happens, but still.

    What I Leave Behind sounds fascinating. I just added it to the TBR.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know a couple of people who didn’t connect to Front Desk, so you are not alone. There’s A LOT going on, and I do think it feels very first novely. In a different year, it wouldn’t have ended up on my list, but it wasn’t a great middle grade year for me for whatever reason. Hopefully next year will be better!

  3. cweichel Avatar

    I have not read one book in the Murderbot series so of course I went to put a hold on the first. There are now 54 holds on 8 copies.
    I loved Birds Art Life enough to purchase it as a gift for one of my daughter in laws.

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