The year is rapidly coming to a close. It’s hard to believe that in a little over two weeks we will be ushering in 2019. I always loved New Year’s Eve as a time to reflect on the past year—put aside mistakes and regrets and vow to be a better person the next year. But I also love to look back on what’s happened during the year like notable events and books that I’ve read. This year, I’d love to share what I thought were the 6 Best Books of 2018. And my goodness, what a year for books. It was definitely difficult to narrow it down to only 6 best books of 2018.
**I’ve read so many good books in 2018. If you’d like to read my reviews, check out my Goodreads profile.
***This post contains Affiliate links, meaning, if you should click on those links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
It’s really difficult to believe that this is Martha Hall Kelly’s first novel. Her gift of storytelling is that of a seasoned author with dozens of books under their belt. Lilac Girls is loosely based on real life events of Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women and the life of Caroline Ferriday, an little known New York socialite during WWII.
A coworker told me about this novel and I have to admit that I was horrified by the content she was describing. As if the known atrocities of the Nazis during WWII were not enough, this book details an experiment performed on healthy Polish women imprisoned during this time. The novel takes the reader through the lives of three women over the course of twenty years: Caroline in New York, Kasia, a prisoner at Ravensbrück, and Herta, a doctor at Ravensbrück.
It’s amazing to see how all of their lives are impacted by the same event. The author does an incredible job giving each woman their own voice based on her research. Even though “Kasia” is not a real person and only based on a former prisoner, the author makes her come alive on the pages. I highly recommend this emotional and thought-provoking read.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
Four young children visit a psychic in 1969—she tells them the day each one of them will die.
What follows is an account of how each of them lives as a result of that knowledge. One at a time, you see their futures playing out. Are these “death dates” self-fulfilling prophesies or is the psychic really…psychic? Or is it all just a hoax?
This book really shook me to my core, resonating with me in a way that a book rarely does anymore. I, too, had a fortune teller give me a “death day”. Not the year, just the date. I don’t know if that is a blessing or a curse to be honest. I guess if it was far in the future, I would be less anxious—the date wouldn’t come every year, me on edge, wondering if this is the year the prediction comes true. And if it was sooner, well, maybe I would convince myself that life is worth living a little more freely, simply because I wouldn’t have much time.
This novel really brought out the fears and the anxiety that one goes through when contemplating the future, with or without exclusive knowledge. It was astonishing to see how each of the children’s futures were somehow shaped from that one interaction, how their ingrained personalities caused their destinies. I would highly recommend it—I read it in less than 24 hours.
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Richard was an accomplished concert pianist, his life and body revolving around his lengthy career. That was before he was diagnosed with ALS. He is slowly losing his ability to not only play the piano, but to care for himself.
His ex-wife Karina becomes his reluctant caregiver, the pain and hurt that she thought she had buried long ago, bubbling to the surface as she watches the man she once loved deteriorate.
This novel hit me in all the feels. It was breathtakingly emotional and raw at times. What would I do and how would I feel if I could not do what makes me…me? How would I feel if someone I was estranged from needed to help me with basic activities of daily living? How would I spend those last few months if I knew that was the end.
A beautiful novel that makes you really examine your life and encourages you to not take a moment for granted.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
Five kids are sent to detention on crisp autumn day…and only four leave the room alive. The kids are stereotyped straight from “The Breakfast Club”, the jock, the brain, the prom queen princess, the thug, and the outcast. The question becomes, “which one killed Simon”?
Even though I had a pretty good idea of where this book was heading about halfway through, the story still held me captive, the players in this drama were well fleshed out and relateable. I found myself hoping that whoever killed Simon was not one of the four, that it was someone else because as I got to know them, I liked them in spite of myself.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
As the book starts off, you don’t really like Eleanor. She’s kind of fussy and annoying and you want to scream at her, “Why can’t you just act normal?”. She starts her journey to hook up with “the singer” and now you’re really shaking your head. But then she has conversations with “mummy” and bits of her real self start to creep out around her very strange and stoic exterior. By the end of the book you are sobbing for Eleanor and all the pain she has endured in her life and you don’t want the book to end.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
When she was in high school Ani FaNelli went through a tragedy that left her desperate to hide herself away from the world. Years later, her life is what one would call perfect. Except, for the secret of that day that is threatening to eat her alive.
This book really wowed me. I don’t know if it was the author’s style (part chick lit/part psychological thriller) or the fact that this book dealt with a topic so fresh in the news, one that weighs so heavy on my mind these days. The fact that it was so all encompassing—the before, the during, the aftermath of tragedy—made it so powerful.
TifAni was like everyone I knew in high school and middle school. Just wanted to be liked and accepted. Arthur was so full of hurt and rage, just like so many teens. The other characters, the popular ones were real too. Everyone is insecure. The way it manifests itself is different. Does it always explode into tragedy like it did in this novel? Thankfully not, but it needs to be addressed by the adults that can prevent it. No one’s feelings are invalid. Teenagers have a lot going on in their lives, a lot that needs to be taken seriously. We’re failing them if we don’t listen to them and be there for them.