Another year has come and gone, just like that. While I still haven’t hit my goal of reading 50 books in a year, I definitely feel like 2019 is my year. I’ve read, and finished, 47 books by the time this post is going live, so I still had quite a few books to wade through to find my favorites. I’ve come up with my top 10 books read in 2018. Let’s get started!
1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train was the first mystery novel I have read since reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2015. I was long overdue for a thriller, and Hawkins story was just the ticket. This book follows the perspectives of three women as the reader tries to piece together a murder. Rachel, Anna, and Megan seem to have nothing in common, but readers soon come to find out that nothing could be farther from the truth. While a mystery on the surface, The Girl on the Train also tackles themes of emotional manipulation, substance abuse, and female connection. Read my full review of The Girl on the Train. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I read The Phantom Tollbooth forever ago, but when I picked it up this year it felt like a totally different book. I loved every single thing about it from the puns to the life lessons. Juster writes about a boy, Milo, who receives a magical tollbooth one afternoon and is taken on the adventure of a lifetime. He’s sent on a mission to save a pair of princesses that will in turn save the kingdom, and along the way he meets Tock, a watchdog, encounters a land dedicated to numbers, Digitopolis, and interacts with a variety of characters that teach him important lessons. It’s a book written for children, but it can be read at any age. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
This book is exactly what it sounds like — a book about the power of being an introvert in a world that sometimes assumes that being extroverted is better. While I did have some qualms about this book, overall I enjoyed the light Cain cast on introverts in an extroverted society. Cain helped me rethink the way I view my introvert tendencies, and gave me some new methods on tackling life. Read my full review of Quiet. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
4. Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo
“Picking Cotton” is the story of an unlikely friendship that formed between a falsely accused rapist and his accuser. Jennifer was raped in 1984 in Burlington, North Carolina. After escaping with her life, she was able to identify her rapist as Ronald Cotton. After serving 10 years in prison, Cotton was able to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. Two years later, the pair formed the strangest friendship. “Picking Cotton” is not only a tale of unexpected companionship, but it also delves into the reliability of eye-witness accounts and memory. I first added “Picking Cotton” to my list after reading “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior,” which mentions it. It takes place at the university I attended, and one of my friends actually met Jennifer when she came to talk to her psychology class during our junior year. I thought it was a really well written book that encompassed themes of criminal justice, forgiveness, and friendship. Check out my full review of “Picking Cotton.” I gave this book 5/5 stars.
5. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick is a true genius. His book was well crafted and left me (and so many others) wanting more. This book is set in a world where America lost World War II, and now it is occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. The few Jews that are left live in hiding, and everyone else is subject to German and Japanese rule. Though I did get a little lost with the changing perspectives and plethora of characters, I still didn’t feel like I missed the point of the novel when I went back and read analyses about the book after I finished it. Personally, I felt like Dick spent too much time building the world and not enough time dismantling it. The ending felt rushed, and Juliana became incredibly entitled. I gave this book 4/5 stars.
6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This was a delightful YA contemporary read. Albertalli writes about a boy in his later teens, Simon, struggling with his sexuality. Simon starts a secret relationship with another boy at his school over email. Neither knows the others identity, but when another boy at school discovers these secret emails and blackmails Simon, Simon is forced to figure out how to handle his identity. A story about much more than just being gay in high school, Albertalli creates dynamic friendships, writes engaging storylines, and imparts meaningful life lessons. Read my full book review on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I gave this book 4/5 stars.
7. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
This was a truly beautiful book. I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah a little over a year ago and immediately fell in love (it’s still one of my favorites to this day). Winter Garden is about the tenuous relationship between a mother and her two daughters and how that bond changes after the death of the one person that brought them all together, their father/husband. Through the telling of a fairy tale, the three women discover a connection they never imagined possible. Though I found this book a little more difficult to get into than others, once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. It was definitely worth sticking it through for the amazing tale of strength, bravery, and love. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I am so glad I finally picked this book up last month! It was such a delightful read full of mystery, adventure, and mayhem. Schwab creates a world with three Londons — White London, which is teeming with magic and run by truly villainous siblings, Red London, which is home to Kell and relatively balanced, and Grey London, which doesn’t know of magic’s existence. Kell is special — he can travel between Londons. But when Kell discovers a dark relic from the past, he is thrown into an adventure he never asked for that results in the fight for his life. Schwab is an expert world creator, and I was immediately captivated by this book from page one. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
9. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
What a truly fantastic book! Little Fires Everywhere starts off with where the story actually ends and then goes back to fill in all the missing pieces. Personally, I’ve never cared about spoilers because I’m truly interested in the journey, so this book started in the best way possible for me. Ng’s book features single-mother Mia and her daughter Pearl, the Richardson family (whom Pearl befriends), and the McCullough’s, who are hoping to adopt a baby. These three families lives intertwine in unexpected ways, and the true mystery of the story — how Pearl and Mia became such a dynamic duo — is revealed. This book traps reader’s from the very first page. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
10. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve heard many wonderful things about this book, and it did not disappoint as much as some other self-help type books. Big Magic delves into the secrets of becoming your most creative self, facing your fears, and finding inspiration. It was just the book I needed to read to kick off 2019. I gave this book 5/5 stars.
What a year of reading I had myself! Despite not hitting my goal, I do feel like I read a wide variety of books that left me more educated and inspired. What was your favorite book you read in 2019? Let me know in the comments below.