One of my favorite parts of late December is going through all the books I’ve read during the year and picking the best books of 2018.
There are no rules about what kinds of books make the cut and it’s usually a complete hodgepodge of new and old titles, audiobooks and paper copies, adult and children’s books, and fiction and non-fiction.
This year’s top ten is no exception.
I loved every one of these books and if you’re in the market for something really terrific to kick off your new year of reading with, I highly recommend these.
The Best Books of 2018
The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah MacKenzie
You guys. If I were limited to a single book on my list of best books of 2018, it’d be this one. I was a little dubious if this book would offer a lot to people who already read to their children, but I found it so inspiring and so useful. I cried reading it on an airplane and I’ve referred back to my copy many times since I finished it. This should basically be required reading for parents. (Full review here)
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
I knew exactly zero about Phil Knight and the origins of NIKE, and now I’m a fan for life. This memoir was completely fascinating even for someone like me and I stayed up way too late finishing it. I’m also realizing as I write this that Shoe Dog would make a great addition to this list of non-fiction for men. (Full review here)
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel
Although I love Anne Bogel and her blog Modern Mrs Darcy, I wasn’t convinced I’d love a book of essays (because I generally don’t). This one, though, was delightful from the first page to the last and I wish I could give a copy to every person I know who loves books too. It’s seriously so wonderful.
At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider
I read this book early in the year and I still think about it almost daily. I have no desire to be a full-time wanderer, but it was fascinating to read about a family traveling the world especially with young children. It was such an amazing peek into a totally different life experience and into so many other cultures. (Full review here)
Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer L. Holm
If I had to choose one book to reflect my 2018 reading, it’d be this book and the two sequels – I just LOVED this young adult historical fiction trilogy, and it was such a fun, delightful read with a little sprinkle of romance and a lot of adventure. (Full review here)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The girls and I listened to this one in the car earlier this year, and the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking, “This woman is the most masterful writer.” I also really want to take my girls to NYC now. But we’ll stay in a hotel, not in the Met.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
This book. It’s such important reading and sometimes that means dull as dirt, but this one was also completely gripping about our justice system and how deeply broken it is right now. I’m still so full of regret that I missed him speaking at BYU this fall (of course I found out about it literally three days after it happened). (Full review here)
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I feel like people either loved this book or found it the most depressing story of all time. I LOVED it and couldn’t put it down, even as one terrible thing after another kept happening. And I definitely want to visit Alaska now. (Full review here)
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
You know how some books, you can look at the cover even months or years later and the feel of the book comes rushing back to you? That is this book for me. The atmosphere of the German city, the Nazi boarding school, and the woods was SO strong for me it was like falling into those places headfirst while I read. I’m crossing my fingers hard for a sequel. (Full review here)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
With a companion book coming out some 20 years after Ella Enchanted debuted, I knew I had to re-read the first one before diving into Ogre Enchanted. And I loved this book just as much as I did when I was 11 (and when I re-read it at 18). I just LOVE this clever, funny, and sweet retelling of Cinderella. I read it on the plane on the way home from Italy and definitely cried into my Kindle a little bit.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
I’d love to hear – what were YOUR favorite books from 2018?
P.S. If you’re looking for more books I absolutely loved, you can see my ten favorite books from 2017 here.
Grace hennessey says
You and I have wildly different tastes in books so a majority of your recommendations I don’t love(I’m a scifi/high fantasy girl) but I adored the great alone! It was amazing. I finished it at 1am crying. I also added I’d rather be reading to my birthday list, I love David sedaris’s books which are all essays so I’m hopefully I’ll enjoy it.
The best book I read this year would probably be the forever war. It’s just the best scifi around! Can’t wait to see what books you recommend in the new year!
Janssen Bradshaw says
Ha! Yep, sci-fi and high fantasy are NOT my genres.
I love sci-fi/fantasy! I’m going to put this one on my list. Also, the great alone was amazing. I was born and raised in Alaska (I now live in SoCal) so it brought a whole new level for me. It was a great read, even if it was depressing.
Not necessarily in order, but I really enjoyed the following:
1. The passage
2. Lilac girls
3. We were the lucky one
4. Before we were yours
5. Little fires everywhere
6. The war that saved my life
7. The great alone
8. Big little lies
9. How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk
10. The girl on the train
11. The art of racing in the rain
I read some others that were good, but these were my favorites!
I just finished Lilac Girls and LOVED it!
Ashley V says
I was just reviewing all of my reads from the year, and I read 4 of these books this year. If I made a list of my top 10, Just Mercy would, without a doubt, make the cut. From the Mixed-Up Files was one of my favorite books as a child, and when I was still in grad school, I created a literacy lesson to pair with it. It’s just so great!
At Home in the World made my best of list last year! I really enjoyed that one! I also (re)read From the Mixed Up Files this year and it is just a delight!!
Mary Ellis says
Wait! Where is “To the Boys…” on this list?! ?
Janssen Bradshaw says
Well, I can’t really add it EVERY year 😉
To All the Boys, Caraval, I’ve Got Your Number, Where the Light Gets In, Small Great Things, The Language of Flowers, and I started the Read Aloud Family, so those were some of my favorites.
Bryan Stevenson spoke at BYU?!?!?!? well…. 2018 is officially ruined. i can’t tell you how many people I’ve tried to talk into reading that book…..
Janssen Bradshaw says
I KNOW! I found out about it two days after he spoke and I’m still totally bummed.
Jordann @thebookbloglife says
Woah, these books sound amazing, I might have to add some of them to my Amazon wishlist!
Thanks for your recommendations.
So on your graphic for this post the title “Shoe Dog” was partly covered up and I had never heard of it but when I saw the Nike swoosh my mind tried to guess the title as “She Does” (like in response to Just Do It”). Anyway the point is, if you wanted to write a nonfiction book about someone who just DOES I would totally read it because you are an awesome example. I mean…to read this many books on top of running a business, AND running a blog/social media account, AND being a great mom and authentic about all of it, I just love it!
Janssen Bradshaw says
Well, this is RIDICULOUSLY nice of you.
I loved The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but my kids did not. My favorite read this year was Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan. Historic fiction set in World War II in Italy. It’s a coming of age story. I love historic fiction and have a special affinity for WWII fiction. This is the first I’ve ever read that dealt with the aftermath of the war as well as the war itself. It also gave me a lot to think about in regard to labeling and generalizations. That it’s based on a real man’s life just added another layer. (I somehow missed that before I had read the whole thing). My other favorite this year is A Samuri’s Tale by Eric Haugaard. I loved learning about feudal Japan. It’s written in a little older style so it’s not super fast paced. I really like it though.
I also LOVED “The Great Alone.” It was full of bad, terrible things, but I was just rooting so hard for Lena, that I couldn’t put it down. I finished it one day on my lunch break at work, and was sobbing sitting at my desk! And of course I enjoyed Anne Bogel’s book too. I was lucky enough to be chosen as part of her “launch team,” so they sent me a copy of the book, and I got to talk it up prior to release, and that was so fun for me!
The one book we disagree on though is “Orphan, Monster, Spy.” I really enjoy all sorts of WWII books (fiction & non-fiction), and I really expected to love this one. But it fell sort of flat for me. I mean, it was good, but I certainly didn’t *love* it, and if there *was* a sequel, I’m not sure if I would read it or not…?