In 2018 I had a goal of 52 books to read but I hit that far more quickly than I expected to so I “doubled” it to 100. Now we’re at New Year’s Eve, and I managed to finish 96 books. I’m sad I didn’t make it to 100, but am still pleased with how much I did accomplish and how many of them were fantastic reads. Out of that 96, I decided to pick out some of favourite reads – not necessarily published this year – to talk about.
What I loved about Wonderblood was how different it was from the usual sci-fi/fantasy that I normally read or hear about. Whicker’s take on how the apocalyptic future will regress us rather than move us forward in any way was fascinating and the belief system of magic vs. science (which is seen as heretical magic) is wild. A majorly under hyped book of the year.
I followed M.L. Rio on Tumblr back in the day and really loved her sense of humour, so I was thrilled to finally have the time to get into her novel this year. Modern Shakespeare meets contemporary college life in this psychological thriller about friends turned to enemies and the sacrifices made to keep each other safe. Whether you like Shakespeare/theatre or not, this is definitely a wild ride worth reading.
I was interested in this book because as a fan of the Hannibal television series, I’ve always been curious about encephalitis and how it actually manifests in people. With Netflix making a movie of Susannah Cahalan’s autobiography, I figured I shouldn’t hold off anymore and ended up being completely fascinated and terrified by what Cahalan went through. Definitely a fascinating read as someone who is interested in all things to do with mental health and brain illnesses.
Another book I picked up because of Netflix and fell in love with it. An easy read of love, loss, and books with a large cast of very different characters who quickly captured my heart. This book fed my wanderlust and recaptured my love of history.
Probably one of the best things to come out during the #MeToo movement was Women Talking. Toews started writing this well before, but the timing of the release couldn’t have been better. Despite being a story of violent sexual assault in such an oppressive community for women to exist in, I enjoyed the company of the women in this story and laughed with them as they discussed their options regarding what has happened to them. It opened my eyes to the bigger picture of dealing with trauma, and how not everyone is able to be as strong as others.
This quiet psychological, space-age thriller got to me in the best way. Iain Reid has such a command of atmosphere that there really isn’t anything more to say about this novel other than if you want to be spooked, pick up this or anything else written by Iain Reid.
A book I thought was going to be kitsch and lame but turned out to be a marvellously feminist retelling of Pride & Prejudice. It’s a story of how your first love may not be perfect and how there is nothing wrong with saying no to what makes you uncomfortable. Fun and funny, I loved the characters of this one and greatly look forward to the sequel.
Another nonfiction read, this one is semi-autobiographical as author and journalist Nikki Meredith covers the crossover between her life with the lives of the women of the Manson Family cult (specifically Pat Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten). I was fascinated by what Pat and Leslie went through and hearing their perspective on the brainwashing that Manson was so good at. As a major true crime fan, this is probably one of the best true crime books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and really goes deep into what people do for what they believe in.
Probably one of the best books I read all year, Mary H.K. Choi’s debut novel of anxiety and relationships is swoon worthy. It addresses several issues around race, family, sexual assault, and what it means to grow up. I’ve bought three copies of this book so far and mailed two of those copies to friends who I demanded read it. Absolutely phenomenal and fun.
This book broke me. That’s really all I can say for it. Right from Rose McGowan herself, it recounts just how bad the abuse is in Hollywood (and not just with the monster who calls himself Harvey Weinstein) as well as how people like Rose are taken advantage of time and time again. I can’t imagine how hard it was for her to have gone through all that she has, but this unfiltered autobiography is a peak behind the curtain. Heartbreaking and immensely real, I have so much respect and admiration for Rose McGowan and this book is so important.
This book had me from the moment I heard “Native Dystopia”. The world had ended but resources on the res are already so unreliable, it goes unnoticed for days. It’s a book about survival but also about the bigger issues that are going unnoticed by those outside of Native communities. An incredibly interesting novel that is also utterly chilling.
One of my final reads of 2018 and definitely one of my new favourites. This novel made me laugh, ugly cry, and ugly cry some more. It’s the reaction I wanted the first time I watched Love, Actually (which was a first for me this year, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t care for it). I genuinely want to make this one of my annual reads for the Christmas season.
Special mentions of the year go to two advanced copies I was lucky enough to read that come out in 2019:
I love Jeff Zentner and have said that more than once since I read his debut novel in 2016. His latest upcoming novel is hilarious and while not as heartbreaking as his previous two, still capable of ripping your heart out while you ugly cry over the pages. Available as of February 26, this is a book you don’t want to miss out on.
Okay okay, one of my best friend’s wrote this book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important read. Discussing what it means to be a performer as well as being autistic, Michael’s book is a guide to learn more and a reminder that people are people and deserve your respect. Different is wonderful. Different is interesting. And Michael is such a brilliant story teller, I highly recommend picking up his debut when it hits shelves on March 12th.