Favorite Reads of 2018
According to Goodreads, I read 127 books in 2018. Most of those were full-length fiction. A handful were comic books. A few more were short stories. Slow year for non-fiction, since I had ovarian cancer and wasn’t feeling up to thinking hard most of the year. I’m free and clear now, so look out 2019!
This is mostly for my own purposes, but in case anyone is interested, here are my favorites of 2018. YMMV.
- Best Short Fiction: “The Word of Flesh and Soul,” Ruthanna Emrys. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42785575-the-word-of-flesh-and-soul – two women risk everything for a chance to prove their own linguistic theory; a wonderful look at language, academics, gender, embodiment and identity, and non-neurotypical thinking. Runner up: “Among the Thorns,” Veronica Schanoes. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21893683-among-the-thorns a young Jewish woman bonds with the Matronit (Jewish goddess) in 17th century Germany; part fairy tale, part revenge fantasy.
- Best Dystopia: The Power, Naomi Alderman.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39402272-the-power A fascinating dystopia about women with power, that covers some of the same ground as “The Word of Flesh and Soul” on the subject of academia.
- Best Fantasy: City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25163956-city-of-bladesI could talk about this book forever without doing it justice, so I won’t try. It’s an amazing story featuring a middle-aged military woman of color that deals with themes of faith, colonialism, family and friendship, and much more. The entire series is great, but this one (and Mulaghesh, the heroine) are my favorite. Runner-up: The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37913584-the-poppy-war A powerful historical fantasy about the Opium Wars and a young woman from nowhere who turns a chance at education into a destiny.
- Best Literary Fiction: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18297472-boy-snow-bird One of many new twists on Snow White, this one is the descendant of another favorite of mine “Snow, Glass, Apples” by Neil Gaiman. Oyeyemi follows Gaiman in tackling the question of the Evil Queen’s evilness, but does so while looking hard at questions of race and passing in early 20th century U.S.
- Best YA: Uprooted, Naomi Novik https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36681425-uprooted Besides being a fantastic twist on the Beauty and the Beast story, it’s a beautiful meditation on the nature of female friendship. Loved it.
- Best Middle Grade: The Witch’s Boy, Kelly Barnhill.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21825475-the-witch-s-boy When two boys drown in an icy river, the “wrong boy” lives. This is the story about how he was actually the right boy.
- Best Non-Fiction: Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27804653-hamilton Notes and stories on how Hamilton came to be.
- Best Academic Non-Fiction: Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, Avery Gordon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18585137-ghostly-matters Not a new book, but new to me. A wonderful read that braids together great fiction, psychoanalysis, and social justice to take the spectral turn to a deeper, richer place than Derrida imagined for it.
A good year for reading. Hoping this year will be even better.