Best Nonfiction of 2018!

Earlier this week, I talked about the best fiction books I read in 2018. Next week, I’ll be talking about the worst. But today I wanted to talk about the best nonfiction that I read last year! I read 27 nonfiction books in 2018, and here are my top five.

5. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”

But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period–and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective–the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including Fear of a Black President, The Case for Reparations and The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

my review

4. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today–written as a letter to a friend. 

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

my review

3. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

A historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism.

On November 9th, millions of Americans woke up to the impossible: the election of Donald Trump as president. Against all predictions, one of the most-disliked presidential candidates in history had swept the electoral college, elevating a man with open contempt for democratic norms and institutions to the height of power.

Timothy Snyder is one of the most celebrated historians of the Holocaust. In his books Bloodlands and Black Earth, he has carefully dissected the events and values that enabled the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the execution of their catastrophic policies. With Twenty Lessons, Snyder draws from the darkest hours of the twentieth century to provide hope for the twenty-first. As he writes, “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism and communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.”

Twenty Lessons is a call to arms and a guide to resistance, with invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come.

my review

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. 

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

my review

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward. 

my review

Have you read any of these books? What’s the best nonfiction book you read in 2018? Let’s talk in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2018

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! It seems like the time has finally come to choose my top ten books of 2018 out of the 200+ books I’ve read this year. This is a little bit of an intimidating challenge, but I’m going to do my best. These ten books are in no particular order.

You might notice that all of these are fiction! I might do a top non-fiction list on another day. 🙂

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

my review

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

my review

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. 

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. 

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

my review

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

my review

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

my review

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

my review

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love. 

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

my review

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

my review

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

my review

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley

my review

Debut author Alex Evansley delivers a sweet summer romance in this inventive novel about a young heartthrob and teen author falling in love.

Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he’d nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There’s just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he’s stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.

The weekend isn’t exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family’s lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren’t the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Alex Evansley’s debut novel, written from both Bennett and Teddy’s perspectives, will have teens laughing, swooning, and falling in love along with these fantastically relatable characters.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What were your top books of 2018? Have you read any of these? Let’s talk in the comments!

End of Year Survey: 2018 Edition

Every year, I look forward to doing Jamie’s End of Year Survey, and this year is no different! The only change is that I have a lot more to talk about this year than I have in the past. 🙂

2018 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 218!!!
Number of re-reads: 1
Genre you read the most from: probably YA romance

Some Bonus Reading Stats

Books by female authors: 162
Books by male authors: 50
Books by non-binary authors: 1
Books co-written by male and female authors: 5

Adult books: 94
Young adult books: 92
New adult books: 29
Middle-grade & children’s books: 3

Debuts: 16

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2018:

Ooh, starting off with the most difficult question. I think I have to go with Nevernight. I still think about how much I liked it sometimes.

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t:

I thought I would love Down and Across but I kind of ended up hating it.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:

Troll. Mostly I was just surprised that a book could possibly be this bad.

Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did):

I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as “that girl who loves The Hating Game,” so I guess I should probably go with that one. (Even though I read this in 2017, not 2018.)

Best series you started in 2018:

Definitely The Raven Cycle!

Best sequel of 2018:

Since I probably can’t use The Raven Cycle for every series-related answer, I’ll go with In Bed With the Beast.

Best series ender of 2018:

I have to go with The Raven King because it’s the only series ender that I read in 2018.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2018:

Definitely, without a doubt, Jenn Bennett.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:

I don’t tend to read a ton of political nonfiction, and when I do, I don’t tend to love it. But On Tyranny was amazing.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:

I’m trying so hard not to repeat books, but I think I have to go with Nevernight again.

Book you read in 2018 that you would be MOST likely to re-read next year:

I am, in general, very unlikely to ever re-read a book, just because there are so many books that I want to read and so little time. That said, if I absolutely had to choose, I’d probably re-read The Kiss Quotient.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018:

What If It’s Us. I’ve said a few times that I love this cover so much that I’d frame it and hang it up in my house.

Most memorable character of 2018:

Ghüs from Saga!!!

Most beautifully written book read in 2018:

This is another really hard question, but I think I’ll go with Little Fires Everywhere.

Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2018:

I don’t know about life-changing, but Between the World and Me was very thought-provoking.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read:

I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan and I owned Saint Anything FOREVER before I finally got around to reading it.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2018:

“People say depression lies. Anxiety is just stupid. It’s unable to tell the difference between things that are actually scary (being buried alive, for example) and things that are not scary at all (being in bed under the covers). It hits all the same buttons. Stop. Go. Up. Down. It’s all the same to anxiety.”

— Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Shortest and longest book you read in 2018:

Book that shocked you the most:

I had never read anything by Jenn Bennett when I picked up Alex, Approximately and I was so surprised by how much I loved it.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!):


Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:

The Grant siblings in Save the Date!

Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously:

R.S. Grey, queen of steamy romantic comedies, wrote a number of my favorite books of 2018. I think my favorite this year was Not So Nice Guy.

Best book you read in 2018 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure/bookstagram/etc:

It’s so hard to choose because I’ve read a lot of great books based on someone’s recommendation (or just peer pressure) this year. One book that I definitely would not have read (or, I guess, re-read) without being asked was The Catcher in the Rye. This was a buddy re-read with Daniel and I loved it so much more the second time around.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018:

I think my one and only fictional crush from 2018 would have to be Michael Phan from The Kiss Quotient.

Best 2018 debut you read:

Love Scene, Take Two was an easy five stars for me. I loved it so much!

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year:

Hands down, The Name of the Wind.

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:

Emergency Contact just made me feel warm and fuzzy and happy.

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018:

It’s really, really rare for a book to make me cry, but Love and Other Words had tears streaming down my face.

Hidden gem of the year:

Since I’m trying not to repeat books, I’m going to go with Frat Girl! I loved this book and somehow it only has 557 ratings on Goodreads!

Book that crushed your soul:

I’m still not over the way that Saga, Vol. 7 ended.

Most unique book you read in 2018:

I think that honor would have to go to The King of FU.

Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):

Fire and Fury made me mad, both because of the subject matter and the fact that it could have been so much better.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog/bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018:

Everybody already knows that my favorite book blog of 2018 is Page to Page, run by my favorite person, Daniel.

Favorite post you wrote in 2018:

I’m a big fan of:

That’s more than one, sorry.

Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:

Please enjoy this photo of me reading The Name of the Wind with my cat.

Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, etc):

Definitely BookCon!

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018:

I would say that the best moment of my blogging life this year was hitting 1,000 followers.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:

I had a number of reading slumps where I couldn’t even look at a book. You’d never know it looking at my stats, but there were weeks where I’d read 8 or 10 books and then weeks where I’d read basically nothing.

Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):

My most popular post of 2018 was Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite book bloggers. I’m so happy that it’s my most popular post and it always makes me smile when it gets another like or comment.

Post you wished got a little more love:

Honestly, my posts this year have gotten more love than I’d ever expected, but let’s see… I wish some of my earlier posts in 2018 would have gotten more love.

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc):

I think my happiest discovery is my library’s used bookstore and a used bookstore about twenty minutes away from my house. Also a disaster since I don’t really need to be buying any more books, but at least I’m not paying full price anymore?

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did! I set several goals for myself in 2018 and I actually met all of them!

  • Debut Author Challenge: I wanted to read 12 debuts and ended up reading 15!
  • #killingthetbr: I wanted to read at least three books per month that had been on my TBR for more than three months, and I did! (December was a little iffy, but I bent the rules a little bit to allow for reading unowned books that had been on my TBR for more than three months.)
  • 100 Book Challenge: Having read well over 200 books in 2018, I’d say this one was a success.
  • Monthly Motif: I read at least one book each month fitting the theme.
  • Read the Rainbow: I had read the rainbow so many times by the middle of the year that I stopped keeping track.

Looking Ahead

One book you didn’t get to in 2018 but will be your number 1 priority in 2019:

My Plain Jane! I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet!!

Book you are most anticipating for 2019 (non-debut):

By far, Serious Moonlight is my most anticipated. I would do just about anything to get my hands on this book.

2019 debut you are most anticipating:

After having a cup of coffee and nice conversation with the author, I have to say that the debut I’m most anticipating is The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer.

Series ending/sequel you are most anticipating in 2019:

Without a doubt, Darkdawn.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2019:

I have a whole post with my 2019 goals coming up, but basically, I have a few reading challenges that I want to complete and I want to do more collaborations with other bloggers.

A 2019 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone (if applicable):

I’ve read one book so far that releases in 2019 and it was amazing. I would definitely recommend You’d Be Mine.

Have you done this end of year survey? Feel free to leave your link and the comments and I’ll check out your post! Do we have any of the same answers for these questions? Anything you disagree with me on? Let’s talk in the comments!