I don’t read books as soon as they come out. I just don’t have that kind of structure in my life. So these aren’t necessarily the top books that were published or on a bestseller list in 2018. These are just my favorites that I read in 2018.
For the past several years, I’ve used Goodreads to set a reading goal and to track my progress with what I’m reading. Using that list for the 40 books I read in 2018, here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
The Leavers, Lisa Ko: Recommended to me by a professor when Ko came to the university for a reading because he thought it was similar to the novel I’m writing. This made it to my comps list immediately.
Difficult Women, Roxane Gay: I also read Hunger and Bad Feminist this year. I’ve decided she is currently my favorite writer who shares my name. Or just one of my favorite writers with any name. Following her on Twitter is also good fun.
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult: I’ve been reading Picoult’s novels for a long time and have enjoyed them all. This one is amazing, even if it was uncomfortable to read the sections from the white supremacists’ point of view.
Family and Other Accidents, Shari Goldhagen: Another recommendation from the professor after he read my novel outline. Another addition to the comps list.
The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Pround. Beautiful. Sorrowful. I’m just not sure what other words to use to describe these twelve powerful stories.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng: Another book dealing with the complicated nature of motherhood that might make it to the comps list.
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Aimee Bender: Assigned reading for a class on literary craft and form with a focus on stories of the body. I also read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake for book club, the this “anthology of the bizarre” struck me on a deeper level. Bender’s prose is poetic and strange in a lovely way.
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff: My Christmas present from my kiddo after he saw me take it off the shelf–several times–at the used book store we frequent. I could say I loved it just for that, but each of the stories was heartbreaking in a way that I enjoy. Tragedy of everyday life, or some such thing.
Liars and Saints, Maile Meloy: Also recommended by the professor. So much about the secrets held by families, Meloy’s irreverent novel is certainly making it onto the comps list.
Black River, S.M. Hulse: A beautiful and poignant novel written by a professor in my MFA program (not the one making recommendations). I picked it up before I took my first workshop with Hulse, and then spent the entire semester wanting to talk about it, but kept to myself. Might be weird to put on my comps list, but it is undeniably one of the many reasons I’ll be asking Hulse to be my thesis committee chair.