Best Books of 2018

Best Books of 2018


Last year, I had no trouble picking an obvious #1 book of the year (The Heart’s Invisible Furies)…because:

This year, I had more trouble picking my #1 book. And, not because it was significantly less good than The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but more because my overall 2018 reading was SO much better than last year (I attribute this to tracking my best and worst recommendation sources using my Rock Your Reading Tracker)! There was just more competition for the top spot. I actually considered over half of my top 10 as candidates for my #1 book of the year.

The reason I picked Waiting for Eden is that it’s the book that affected me the most. I even re-read/re-skimmed it for an upcoming guest podcast discussion (more on that later) and it affected me just as much the second  time around. It’s not a book for everyone (you have to be okay with getting metaphorically punched in the stomach multiple times), but if you you’re comfortable with the gut-punching, then definitely give it a try.

This year, I’m not only sharing my own favorite books, but I’m also sharing the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group members’ favorites! You can join the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group (where I share my unfiltered thoughts, sneak peeks of blog posts and members’ trade book recommendations amongst each other) by supporting the blog at the $3/month level on Patreon (more details here).

Finally, I’ve brought back the high school yearbook-style “Superlatives” from previous years (2017201620152014)!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Best Books of 2018

My #1 Book of 2018

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (my review)
Most Emotionally Gut-Wrenching

Best First Chapter
Biggest Punch in a Tiny Package
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Rest of My Favorites

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (review)
Most Memorable Villain
Best Non-Sequel Follow-Up Book (to The Heart’s Invisible Furies, my favorite book of last year)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (review)
Most Readable “Issue” Book

Best New-To-Me Author
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Premise I Didn’t Expect to Work, But Totally Did
Best Bookend Essays (Opening and Closing)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (review)
Best New Addition to my “Women Who Get Women” Club

Book I Most Related To
Most Recommended (tie)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Ensembleby Aja Gabel
Most Gorgeously Written Debut

Best Ensemble Cast
The Book I Almost Didn’t Read
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer (review)
Best Character-Driven Novel

Most Deserving of its Hype
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (my review)
Best Book If You Want to Read A Little Life, But Are Avoiding It Because of the Relentless Abuse

Best “Issue” Book
Book With the Most Heart
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (review)
Best Debut

Best Southern Novel
Best Coming of Age Story
Most Recommended (tie)

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)
Best Short Story Collection

Most Perfect Collection for New Short Story Readers
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group’s Best Books of 2018

Not surprisingly, many of my Facebook Group’s favorites of they year lined up with mine! And, a number of the books that almost made my list did make m Facebook Group’s list! We’re all sharing recommendations in the Facebook Group, so you’d expect to see a lot of overlap.

Get access to the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group by supporting the blog for $3/month on Patreon (more details here)!

Top Books (2 votes each)

  • Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
    I loved this one too…it just didn’t make my top 10!
  • Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
    I sampled this one, but ended up not reading it.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya (my review)
    I really liked this one, though it’s a hard read. Just didn’t make my top 10.

Others Mentioned

More Best Books of 2018

Eight 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype…and Five That Didn’t
Best Debuts of 2018
Most Underrated Gems of 2018

What were your favorite books of 2018?

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  1. I’ve read 2 of those and loved one and felt meh about the other. I wonder if listening to it hindered my enjoyment of it.

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Well now I’m curious which ones!

      Posted 12.19.18 Reply
  2. You surprised me with your number one pick, though I knew Eden would be on the list. I’m also struggling a bit for which book to put on top, but will need to make the call soon. I agree that this year there have been many excellent books, but maybe no superstars?

    It looks like we’ll end up with half our books in common. I love that the Facebook picks are all over the place. Lots of variety in what appeals to us all.

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I wouldn’t say there were no superstars…maybe just more superstars than usual where I couldn’t really decide if one was better than the other?

      Last year was such a blah year for me overall that HIF had no competition. And, it was also the best book I’d read in years. So, both those factors together made it easy.

      Posted 12.19.18 Reply
  3. We’re picking favorites already?! But I still have so much reading left to do this year! I guess I should put Waiting For Eden on my TBR list. I’ve seen it around, but I don’t know much about it.

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Well, I just pulled the trigger early since I wasn’t planning to read anymore 2018 contenders this year. I’d gotten through the big ones on my “must try before EOY list.”

      Posted 12.19.18 Reply
  4. Excellent choices! I’ve read and loved six from your list. I haven’t put my own list of favorites together yet, though I have a few in mind that I know will overlap with your favorites. I love seeing what rises to the top after a year of reading!

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
  5. Mel wrote:

    Lots of great books on those lists! I’ve read four of the ones on your list, and The Great Believers and I Am, I Am, I Am are definitely on my list, too (along with Calypso and Bad Blood). I’m still hoping to read An American Marriage and A Ladder to the Sky before the end of the year, too!

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
  6. renee wrote:

    I think we’ll only overlap with 1 book this year (Crawdads)! I haven’t finalized my list so another may sneak in last minute which I’m kind of hoping happens

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Looking forward to it!

      Posted 12.19.18 Reply
  7. So many good books I want to get to in 2019. I’m saving this post!

    Posted 12.13.18 Reply
  8. I loved An American Marriage and really enjoyed The Ensemble. Some of yours I haven’t gotten around to yet, but am planning to read in 2019. I just got I Am, I Am, I Am in the mail, so I can’t wait to pick that one up.

    Posted 12.18.18 Reply
  9. The only book I read from your list was An American Marriage, but I didn’t love it as much as everyone else seems to. Your superlatives are a great idea!

    Posted 12.18.18 Reply
  10. Wonderful list! Have a very happy 2019!

    Posted 1.1.19 Reply
  11. CurlyGeek wrote:

    I loved American Marriage, I Am, and Tell Me More. The Great Believers is high on my TBR list, and I’m seeing a lot of John Boyne on these lists so I’ll have to look him up. Happy New Year!

    Posted 1.1.19 Reply
  12. I haven’t read any of these yet. It’s amazing how many great books come out every year!

    Posted 1.1.19 Reply
  13. susan wrote:

    Nice list Sarah. I too liked An American Marriage, Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Female Persuasion. I’d like to read The Great Believers which looks really good too. fyi — I enjoyed your first podcast episode and will rate it highly soon. Thanks for all the work you do. I’m pleased you list the books on the podcast … that helps quite a bit. I think I want to check out the Winter Soldier sometime which your guest author mentioned.

    Posted 1.3.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you so much!! So glad you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think of Winter Soldier!

      Posted 1.7.19 Reply
  14. Book Lover wrote:

    I’m so excited to read this one. It’s wonderful!!

    Posted 3.14.23 Reply

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