Throughout the year, I have been awarding books with my Best Book Award if they receive a five-star rating from me. In order to receive a five-star rating, it needs to be an incredible book that leaves me with nothing bad to say. I have read many outstanding books this year, but a few have stuck in my head and really made a lasting impression. It was hard to pick my favorite book of the year, but here is the winner and a few that almost made the cut. Please comment with your favorite book of 2018!
Best Book of 2018:
The Way I Used to Be | Amber Smith
“I don’t know who I am right now. But I know who I’m not. And I like that.”
Number of Pages: 367.
The book starts with a freshman, Eden, getting raped by her brother’s best friend. We see her change over the course of her four years in high school in the aftermath of the assault. We see how her friendships and relationships are impacted. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This is without a doubt the best book I have read in a long time. I gave it my Best Book Award, but I would give it more than that if I could. I stayed up until 3 am finishing this one through tears. The very first page starts with the raw account of the sexual assault. I had to stop and reread the first page three days in a row before I could move on. It was the most powerful, spine-chilling first page I have ever read.
I know this book was inspired by Speak. It was similar, but I think it stepped it up a few more notches for the older teen crowd. Speak was a little more PG, where this was PG-13 to R.
There were so many times I wanted to scream through the pages and tell the main character to stop. But the strength of this story is that she is flawed and damaged. We see the long-term aftermath of her rape. It slowly deteriorates her over several years. It felt very realistic. And that made it even harder to read.
Because of the content, I realize that this book is not for everyone. It was heart-wrenching. But I cannot recommend it enough. If you might want to read this, see if you can handle the first page. If you can make it through that, then you will get hooked. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
“Maybe he’ll get what he deserves. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll never find it in my heart to forgive him. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, either.”
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda | Becky Albertalli
“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.”
Number of Pages: 303.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia.
This book is about Simon, who is not yet out as gay. One day, a classmate finds Simon’s emails with his secret pen pal boyfriend and threatens to reveal their secret unless Simon plays his wingman. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I have to admit that I have been in a little bit of a book funk. I am currently hardcore editing my own novel, so it’s been hard to compartmentalize that when reading other books. I keep getting caught up in trying to edit published books. Ugh. So it was very refreshing to find this book and get able to get so caught up in it that I forgot to pay attention to grammar and formatting. I finished this book in less than 24 hours (two separate sittings).
At the surface, it is about being gay and coming out. But it is also a story about family, friendships, love, and growing up. This is a timely novel with a very authentic voice. I loved all the characters for their own quirky ways. I do have to admit that I only read this book so I could see the movie in theaters. Based on the title and cover, I probably wouldn’t have naturally picked it up.
I highly recommend this book to everyone! I even have it my Best Book Award. It gives a perspective that is not often represented in published fiction. It was truly refreshing and heartwarming. I can’t wait to see the movie (released as Love, Simon). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.”
The Woman in the Window | A.J. Finn
“My head was once a filing cabinet. Now in a flurry of papers, floating on a draft.”
Number of Pages: 432.
Location: New York City.
Anna is trapped in her house due to dibilitating agoraphobia, so she spends her days watching out her many windows. When she sees her new neighbor get stabbed, she needs to find a way to prove what she saw without leaving the safety of her own home. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I have to admit, I figured this was going to be another over-hyped book. I basically wrote it off before even opening it. Yeah, yeah, another unreliable narrator thriller. Yeah, another Woman on/in the [insert noun] book. But this had so many elements that were unique. It definitely lived up to the hype.
About halfway through I thought I had the whole book figured out and assumed it would be a four star book. But this book has so many amazing twists. There was one big twist that I guessed, so I patted myself on the back. But then, WHAM WHAM there were two other twists that I didn’t see coming until they happened. At one point I literally put the book down, looked at my husband, and said, “Holy [expletive].”
At some points I was annoyed with the way things were worded, but I think that’s just because I’m in the editing stage of my own novel, so I am hypercritical of sentence structure right now. But after the twists, I realized that a lot of the wording was very intentional.
I don’t want to ruin anything about this book, so I won’t go too much more into the details, but for as many pages there was, it was a quick read that kept me up until the late hours of the night. I even gave this my Best Book Award! If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”
All Your Perfects | Colleen Hoover
“If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”
Number of Pages: 308.
This is a story about a married couple who is falling apart after many years of infertility and unspoken words. They have to decide if their perfect beginning can help them get back to a perfect ending. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I’ll be completely honest, when I started reading this book, I thought it felt familiar. I thought it would be like a lot of other books I have read (for some reason I was getting a What Alice Forgot vibe at first). I also always doubt Colleen Hoover. In my mind, I always think it’s impossible for an author with such die-hard fans to actually be good. But, oh my God, I eat up every single one of her books, including this one. She always proves me wrong.
What I loved most about this book is that it felt real to me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been married for a while now, so I am getting bored of reading love-at-first-sight novels. It is refreshing to read about people who have been married for about the same amount of time I have. And, perhaps, that is why I sat in bed ugly crying while reading this book. [Pro tip: don’t read this book in public].
I also loved the ending. Given the circumstances of the book, I thought the ending was believable. I hate endings in books like this that try to make everything too perfect, just for the sake of a happy ending. I want an ending that make sense for the circumstances, even if it isn’t the outcome the characters wanted. Hoover did a great job of finding that balance.
(Ahem, this book also gives some more risqué love scenes than any of Hoover’s other books that I have read.)
I highly recommend this book, but I think women will love it the most. I even gave it my Best Book Award. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
“No matter how much you love someone—the capacity of that love is meaningless if it outweighs your capacity to forgive.”
We Are Okay | Nina LaCour
Everything Everything | Nicola Yoon
Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng
What is your favorite book of the year? Let me know in the comments!
See my favorite books from past years: