Top Ten Reads of 2018

Since June is the pivotal midway month of the year, I want to take a second and reflect on the books I’ve read and the characters I’ve met so far in 2018.

I’ve read 67 books so far, but there’s only room for ten on this list. I present to you my Top Ten Reads of 2018!

1. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s collection of interstellar short stories was so imaginative, bleak, and pleasantly strange. I can’t imagine a better representation of science fiction, and I’m not a reader who leans toward that genre.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

I will be forever grateful to V.E. Schwab for reintroducing me to fantasy. Aside from the Harry Potter series and A Song of Ice & Fire, fantasy was a genre I’d long left in childhood. Schwab’s Shades of Magic has totally reignited the spark in me that yearns for magic and otherworldliness. Heck, I don’t even remember the last time I actually read a series of books.

3. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

2018 has been the year of Ray Bradbury for me. I read Fahrenheit 451 when I was about fourteen years old, and, while I loved it, I never explored further until a bookstagrammer (Alisa, @worldswithinpages) read Something Wicked This Way Comes. This creepy story about a mysterious carnival gone totally wrong was eerie and frightening, even in the childlike wonder of its two young protagonists.

4. The House of Impossible Beauties – Joseph Cassara

This book is recommended if you like character-driven stories and also want to rip your heart out. Cassara tells of the ’80’s LGBTQ scene of drag queens, balls, and houses. No, not regular houses. Marginalized gay men and trans women work the streets of NYC by day, and rally behind their “house mothers” at the glittery drag competitions by night. Of course, the ’80s LGBTQ scene isn’t complete without truth, and the truth is that the AIDS crisis was in full swing. If you’ve seen commercials for Ryan Murphy’s new show “Pose”, I’d probably urge you to read this book first.

5. All the Ugly & Wonderful Things – Bryn Greenwood

I was reading this right as the year turned, but, as I imagined it might, it has stuck with me. Wavy’s parents are unstable meth dealers, and when Kellen, a friend of her father’s, steps in and shows eight-year-old Wavy compassion and care, it sparks an unorthodox love story. This book is so controversial, because it depicts a relationship between a really young girl and her adult caretaker-Figure. We could talk for days about propriety and “abuse of power”, and as torn as I am about their relationship, I’m so happy this book conflicted me so deeply.

6. Circe – Madeline Miller

This retelling of the Greek sorceress Circe was captivating, fun, and impactful. The witch’s life is reframed and personalized by Miller’s careful character development and imagination. I love Greek mythology, but I love it even more when it’s playfully modernized. I read this one as an eBook ARC, but after seeing the glossy, golden hardcover in stores, I might have to add it to my shopping list.

7. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein is an ultra-punk, super-chick, guitar-playing badass, and until I read her autobiography, I knew her as “that girl from Portlandia.” I never knew the impact Sleater-Kinney had on music. I never would have guessed Carrie Brownstein was an OG Riot Grrrl. I never would’ve imagined she came up on Kurt Cobain’s heels. Since reading this insightful memoir, I’ve binge watched Portlandia and become an avid streamer of all things Pacific Northwest.

8. Bonfire – Krysten Ritter

It is not often that a thriller genuinely surprises me, and to be brutally honest, I wasn’t expecting much from an actor-turned-author. Happily, I was proven wrong! Bonfire shies away from most of the genre tropes. Her main character is a smart, driven, focused women. Her entire personality isn’t based around substance abuse or a cheating husband; she’s utterly focused on her work as an environmental lawyer, and finding the seedy truth of her at-risk hometown. I was very happy to be surprised at this authentic plot.

9. Atonement – Ian McEwan

I think there’s a law somewhere that all bookworms must read the book when it comes to film adaptations. McEwan’s romance is heartfelt, historic, and heartbreaking. I’m extra-happy to see that the film adaptation stayed so close to its roots, and I can see why the book was deemed movie material. McEwan’s imagery is so totally vivid and sophisticated, and if I didn’t know this book was published in 2001, I’d imagine it was a classic out of the early 1900s.

10. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

The hype train was right! This story about four siblings who learn the date of their deaths is so genuine and interesting. It doesn’t play tricks with us: we know the characters will die. Heck, everybody dies, and that’s the point. Benjamin has forced us to care about their journeys more than their endings. Her ability to build compassion and emotion, and to create lifelike characters who drive themselves, is utterly stunning.

What are your favorite books that you’ve read this year? Let’s chat in the comments below! 😊

2 Comments Add yours

  1. LOVE All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and Circe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tyler Olmsted says:

      Such great books!

      Liked by 1 person

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