Welcome back to The Best and Worst of 2018. If you missed part one, I detailed my five least favorite books I read last year and why they rated so low on my list.
Now for the good news! I actually read many more enjoyable books than not last year, so I’m excited to announce my top five favorites. It was really hard to choose! I read so many solidly good books this year, but these five stood out from the crowd.
My Favorite Books of 2018
#5. The Kiss Quotient- by Helen Hoang
This my Book of the Month pick for June, and it was a perfect poolside read. I’ve already gushed about it in my review, but here are the highlights: Stella is on the autism spectrum and feels likes she’s bad at sex and relationships. So, she hires Michael Phan, an escort, to help her practice. Yes, it’s Pretty Woman in reverse, and the plot is definitely not realistic. But that’s why it’s fiction. And that’s part of what I find so enjoyable. It’s smart, funny, sexy, and gave me all the feels. And also, I can’t lie, made me blush. Bonus: a very honest portrayal of autism spectrum disorders. All around win in my book.
#4. Surprise Me- Sophie Kinsella
It’s possible that I’m biased here because Sophie is one of my all-time favorite writers and my dream is to become the American version of her someday. This book received some mixed reviews on Goodreads, but personally I loved it. I liked that it was different than her other books. Sylvie and Dan have a happy marriage, but faced with the prospect of 70 more years together, they both begin to freak out a little. They decide the best way to combat the monotony is to try and surprise each other. But Dan surprises Sylvie in a way she wasn’t expecting. And yes, some of the plot was outlandish, but aren’t all of hers? (Wedding Night, anyone?) I don’t read Sophie Kinsella looking for realism. I read it for quirky characters, humor, and lots of heart. Surprise Me delivers on all three.
#3. Sweet Little Lies- Caz Frear
This was another Book of the Month pick, though I can’t remember which month. It was around the time I was going through Tana French withdrawal (before The Witch Elm came out and disappointed me), and I was looking for a juicy mystery to sink my teeth into. This debut novel follows Cat Kinsella as she attempts to solve the murder of a woman who was strangled outside her father’s pub. It also happens to be the same woman who disappeared when she was a child, forever altering her relationship with said father. (Cat believed her father had something to do with the disappearance). What follows is a fast paced, well-plotted mystery with great writing and sharp characters. I sincerely hope that Caz Frear is out there writing another book, because I am waiting to devour it.
#2. The Alice Network– Kate Quinn
I’ve read a lot of historical fiction this year, but this was by far my favorite. The Alice Network is about a female spy ring in World War I, focusing on one new spy, Eve Gardiner. Half of the book is from her perspective during the war. The other half of the book takes place a generation later, immediately after World War II, and is told by Charlie St. Clair. Charlie is a young woman who finds herself in trouble, or as she calls it, “her little problem.” But she doesn’t let that deter her from what she’s truly after, which is finding her cousin who disappeared during the war. For this endeavor, she teams up with Eve. Both Eve and Charlie are dynamite characters and badass women, which was one of the big appeals of the book for me. It’s both action-packed and beautifully written. It gripped my attention from beginning to end, even when I found myself reading late at night. I will definitely be checking out Kate Quinn’s other books.
#1. Little Fires Everywhere– Celeste Ng
There was so much hype surrounding this book. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was. I’m always weary of books that get too much hype, but this book was nothing short of stunning. I won’t lie—I don’t read too much “literary” fiction these days. I read a lot of contemporary literary fiction in graduate school and I never enjoyed it that much. But Little Fires Everywhere is a gem that straddles the line between literary and commercial fiction beautifully. Where do I even begin to describe this book? Little Fires Everywhere is about single mother Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, who live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle but have recently landed in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Here, Pearl becomes friends with the affluent and popular Richardson children, an alliance that seems harmless enough. Until, that is, Mia and Mrs. Richardson end up supporting opposite sides of a battle over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby. This synopsis doesn’t do justice to the subtle complexities of this book. Every character is developed so thoughtfully that they leap off the page. The writing itself is gorgeous. And there is no way you can anticipate where the plot is headed until it hits you in the face. It is the ingenious way that Little Fires Everywhere surprised me that earned its top spot. So on this one, all that hype was completely earned.
So what do you think about my top 5 picks? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What are the best books you read in 2018?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!