Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Top 10 Reads of 2018

It looks like I've read 33 books this year, which is five less than last year. But given the crazy amounts of stress and drama that hit me in 2018, I'm frankly delighted with this count.

Ten of my 33 reads were by authors of color. Six of my 33 reads were penned by male-identified authors. Nine reads were not novels: one play, three volumes of poetry, two memoirs, two collections of essays, and a graphic novel.

Three of my reads were for my book club (Things Fall Apart, Borderline, and The Changeling), which is embarrassing since we've done 9 books for the year and I run the club!

I achieved a wopping zero on reading challenges, which I aim to change in 2019. Mostly by committing myself to two (Read Harder and Historical Fiction) and really diversifying my reading. And reading more, you know, than I had this year. (Re-frame: This year I knit 8 items, which is a 2000% improvement over other years. So, small perk of reading less!)

And for this top ten...I'm actually really only able to commit myself to nine. They're a mix of delicious escapism and butt-kicking reality. (Sadly, I've only reviewed 3 of them, altho I do think I have kneejerk thoughts for each on GoodReads.) What made your top 10 this year?

PS: Just realized that 2019 marks 10 years of this blog! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (Ohmygod!) (!!!!!!!!!)

Unabridged Chick's Top 9 Reads of 2018

Mishell Baker, Borderline
Mishell Baker, Phantom Pains

Borderline was a book club pick, but I ended up inhaling all three books in the trilogy. The premise and world-building were great, but Baker's characters are the real hook. Seen as damaged goods, with a variety of mental health diagnoses depicted, the people of Baker's novels are impossible to ignore. Obsessed with these three!

Alma Katsu, The Hunger

What-if historical horror. Evocative and shivery. I j'adored every page. My review, hopefully, makes my love clear.

Susanna Kearsley, The Firebird

Hot tea in book form: Scotland, dreamy first responder, light paranormal element, historical mystery. Also, dreamy first responder is Scottish, too, so there's romance, dur, and it's perfect.

James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

I snagged this audiobook as background for my novel, but I found it to be a remarkably timely listen for me in 2018. McPherson's essays illuminated small facets of the conflict that was eye-opening to me and translated into an understanding of contemporary politics, even (his chapter on how the Civil War has been depicted by Southern scholars gave me some real ah-has as to why the 'fake news' sentiment is so broad and easy for many to embrace). For someone who is a total dum-dum about the Civil War, this was an easy, fascinating listen.

Laura Purcell, The Silent Companions 

A catnip read for me: gothicky and creepy, haunted house-ish, possessed items, atmosphere and mood... I still get shivers thinking about this one!

Mitra Rahnema, Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry

I read this volume of essays as part of professional development, but the takeaways for me went beyond work and greatly helped me in shifting my thinking. While focused on Unitarian Universalists ministers of color (and one religious education professional), I suspect the themes and reflections shared would have universal resonance and implication for anyone interesting in dismantling white supremacy culture. 

Cat Sebastian, The Lawrence Browne Affair

2018 was my introduction to m/m historical regency romances, and thank goddess, because these were a balm when I was just unhappy, miserable, or at my wit's end. Sebastian has become an insta-fav in our house, and this book might just be my all-time fav of hers. Adorable leads, with a sexy, probable romance, enough historical detail to give it flavor and enough plausibility to make it seem real-ish without having to deal with homophobia and tragedy. Sexy, sexy fun.

Jeff VanderMeer, Acceptance

This final book in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy was incredible. It wrapped up things as clearly as possible (as clear as VanderMeer offers) and presented some gorgeous, gutting emotional moments. It's so good I wanted to reread the series again.


  1. You read quite a variety of books! Here's to a great 2019!

  2. Welcome to the double-digit-blogging-club! lol You have some great picks here. I also really enjoyed The Silent companions this year, and I ate up the Southern Reach Trilogy. I wasn't so sure about it after the first book, but once I got into the second installment, I couldn't read them fast enough! Here's a (hopefully) calm 2019!

    1. I can't believe I'm hitting 10 years -- I can still remember starting this thing and being unsure (ha -- I'm still unsure!).

  3. Bookmarking for when I can pull up my wishlist at the library and get all these reserved. I definitely missed not being able to pull together a "top reads" list for last year ... these are all new to me!