My favorite books read in 2018

Yay, books! I love adding recommendations to my own To-Read list, so I like to share my favorites for other booklovers. I keep a written record of books I’ve read, which seems somehow more substantial than online lists; however, the functionality of Goodreads is fabulous because I can quickly pull it up on my iPhone at the library to see if I already read a book, or want to read a book, or loved a book by a certain author, etc.

In this post I’ve narrowed down the 73 books I read in 2018 to just 10 of my very favorite reads of the year. I also share my reading throughout the year on instagram with my own little hashtag #seejamieread.

My 2018 Top Ten book picks:

my 2018 top ten recommended books

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

In some places, the way the vernacular speech was written hung me up just a minute because I couldn’t seem to hear it right in my head, but that’s the only thing I can nitpick about this novel. I felt so much for “the Marsh Girl” and loved the setting of the North Carolina coast. Highly, highly recommended.

Every Note Played – Lisa Genova

Still Alice was such a heartbreakingly beautiful book that I knew reading this one by the same author about a man dying of ALS would be hard for me as the child of a man who died of ALS. But oh, goodness, I highly recommend this. The characters are so real and deep, and she wrote this in such a way as to really get a feel for what ALS is like.

Interestingly, besides being an accomplished writer, the author is also a neuroscientist.

A Parchment of Leaves – Silas House

I pilfered this one from my mom’s bookshelves when we were biding our time waiting for Hurricane Florence to do her thing. Set in rural Kentucky in the 1900’s, the story follows a Cherokee girl name Vine throughout her marriage to a white man and her life thereafter.

Beartown – Frederik Backman

I loved A Man Called Ove so much that I was hesitant to read this one because I couldn’t imagine how it could measure up to such a high bar. It did — because Backman writes humans so well. Highly recommended but be warned there may be trauma triggers for some readers.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton

So good! Last Christmas I gave my mom a Book of the Month membership and joined myself, too. I just skip the months where I don’t see something I expect to knock my socks off, and I’ve gotten some great ones, like this one. The books are gorgeous hardcovers and it’s oddly pleasing that they’re all exactly the same height so they look nice next to each other on a bookshelf.

Beauty: A Retelling – Robin McKinley

Another one Kathryn urged me to read. It’s a re-write of The Beauty and the Beast story and a million times better than the Disney-ized version. (Currently only $1.20 on kindle.)

Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander Smith McCall

This is part of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and I’ve loved every one I’ve read so far. While these novels are not edge-of-your-seat mysteries, they take me back to my trip to Botswana and they’re simply lovely stories.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Although I’ve quoted Maya Angelou often, I’d never read any of her books and it was time to change that. This autobiography was powerful.

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

I wasn’t sure I’d like this one but I trust Kathryn’s recommendations. I’ve always loved a good horse story, all the way back to the days I read every single thing in the library by Marguerite Henry. Apparently that even applies to mythical predatory water-horse stories, because this one surprised me by becoming a favorite.

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

If I had any doubt about whether or not I’d like to live in Alaska, this one helped me decide: NOPE. Complex characters, some I loved and some I didn’t, and an extremely compelling storyline.

Book-nerd dreams:

Homeschool books have been most of what has filled my bookcases for years, but I’ve been cleaning out the books we no longer need. I’ve donated some of these to our local library. I’ve also had piles of paperbacks I’ve picked up here and there, and our brand new Little Free Library is a great for those to find new homes.

hand painted little free library
Our brand new hand-painted Little Free Library.

Meanwhile, I’m making a wish list of books I’d like to own in hardcover. As I gradually buy these (or ask for them as gifts), I’ll slowly revamp my bookcases. If you daydream about things like gorgeous book collections and/or have ever savored new-book smell, then add this one to your list, too: I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel.