Best of 2018

Hi, everyone. It’s good to be back on my blog to highlight the books I enjoyed most in 2018. Leif Enger, the author of one of my favorite novels, Peace Like A River, published a new book this year titled Virgil Wander. Much like his previous novels, Virgil Wander explores life in the Upper Midwest with a mix of insight and wonder that I have grown to love in his stories. He brings a large cast of characters to this story, which was something new for Enger. His previous novels have felt a bit more intimate, with fewer characters. This book was worth the ten year wait since his last book.

virgil

 

I read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch on the recommendation of my friend, Hannah, who has a YouTube channel called From Beginning To Bookend that you should definitely check out. Dark Matter is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Hannah describes it as a cyberpunk techno-thriller. Even if that description doesn’t sound like the kind of story you usually read, you should still give this book a chance. It will appeal to almost every reader of fiction. Everyone I know of who read it after I talked about it, finished it quickly just like I did. One word of advice- don’t read the synopsis on the back. Just start on the first page and enjoy the ride.

dark matter

 

One of my favorite genres over the past several years has been Southern fiction. One of the best examples of this kind of story that is read this year is Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I picked this book up as a souveneir of my first time to visit Asheville, NC, last summer. Allen combines the North Carolina setting with elements of magic realism reminiscent of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic into a story that just makes you feel good, like a pot of hot chicken noodle soup on a cold night.

garden spells

 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is a middle grade book written from the perspective of Red, a 200+ year old oak tree inhabited by all kinds of animals. On the first day of May, several people who live near the tree write down a wish and tie it to one of Red’s branches. One little girl in particular, enjoys visiting Red. But others in the neighborhood don’t like her habit of coming around. Wishtree is a kid-friendly story about tolerance that I thoroughly enjoyed.

wishtree

 

Elmet by Fiona Mozley is the story of a poor family fighting a wealthy landowner to save their home. The lyrical writing along with a rural setting make it easy to mistake it for Southern fiction. But the setting is actually northern England. Family, love, loyalty, and justice are a few themes taken on in this wonderful debut.

elmet

 

Melmoth by Sarah Perry, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens are three of the books I plan to read in 2019. It will be interesting to find out if they appear on this list in a year’s time. Meanwhile, what were some of your favorite books that you read in 2018? Did you read any of my picks? If so, what did you think of them? As always, thanks for reading.

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7 thoughts on “Best of 2018

  1. Hi, Jim. I enjoyed seeing your selections, as I always do.

    Last year I enjoyed Dr. Sleep by Stephen King; Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler; Famous Father Girl, a memoir by Jamie Bernstein (daughter of Leonard); Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel; and Becoming by Michelle Obama.

    I frequently revisit old favorites as well. Last year, among others, I re-read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle. And I always re-read Dickens’s Christmas stories at the holidays.

    Currently I’m reading two memoirs: The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck; and The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard.

    I highly recommend them all. Lots of love. ❤

    • Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations, Terry. This year I plan to catch up on some of King’s more recent books that I haven’t read yet: Doctor Sleep is one of them.

      I would also love to find some nonfiction titles to read. “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries” by Kory Stamper is one I will probably pick up soon. Lots of love. 🙂 ❤

  2. Intriguing list, Jim! I really enjoyed reading your list of favorites. If you end up enjoying Melmoth. I highly recommend you read Sarah Perry’s first novel, The Essex Serpent! Cheers to another year of great reading!

    • Thanks very much, Mary. The Essex Serpent is on my list, too. Something about Melmoth made me want to put it higher on my to-read list. But I’m sure I’ll read both eventually. Happy reading and lots of love. 🙂 ❤

  3. I still haven’t read Dark Matter! I do this thing where I buy a book and mentally mark it as “done” and that’s that xD
    I still haven’t read Garden Spells, but I absolutely love Sarah Addison Allen’s writing!! Read a few others by her already.

    • I highly recommend both of these books. I don’t read many thrillers, but Dark Matter is one of the best I’ve read- with so much more to it than what makes it a thriller. And I will absolutely read more of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels. Garden Spells is wonderful. Thanks for reading my thoughts. 🙂

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