Hello gang! Today I’m bringing you the start of a series of posts on my blog. I’ll try to post one every single day for the rest of this week as a way of looking back to 2018. The first one tackles all the good stuff: the books that made my year so great!
2018 was a very good reading year for me. I got to read some a-m-a-z-i-n-g books and I rediscovered my love for blogging. Yay!!! So let me show you all the precious books I got to read in 2018.
I’m the queen of contemporaries. It’s my favorite genre, hands down. Is there anything more magical than being swept off your feet because of a literary romance?
Crazy Rich Asians | China Rich Girlfriend | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
This has to have been one of the most entertaining series I have ever read. I loved every single page. The fact that it’s set in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Xangai, and a bunch of other Asian cities was the icing on the cake. I loved seeing how all the characters were related to each other, how they behaved in different contexts, what their problems and aspirations were, and of course all that drama!
Kevin Kwan made me read all three books in the same year — and in just under six months! And I’m usually the worst series reader ever!!!
If you like books about the elite classes, want to learn about the extravagant side of Asia, love footnotes and tongue-in-cheek writing, and adore drama — this series is for you. Seriously, it’s been out for so long and it has been so hyped already, but I think it deserves all that hype.
American Panda by Gloria Chao This was the first read of the year for me and what a way to start 2018! This book is about a Taiwanese-American girl who got into MIT. The only problem is that she doesn’t really want to become a doctor. I know it sounds cliché, but this was one of the funnest books I read. I love the main character, how she deals with issues, and her struggle to find her passion. Plus, the main love interest is pretty dreamy too, so that’s a plus!
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple If you’re looking for a book to surprise you at every page, this is it. I loved the format of this book. The story is told in narrative passages as well as through emails, letters, and other small snippets of texts. We get the point of view of so many people about Bernadette (the MC) and we’re thrust into believing what kind of person she is. However, we rarely ever get hers! It’s fast paced, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the plot, and very cool characters in this. There’s going to be a movie adaptation of this book in 2019, too! It’s scheduled to come out in the spring and has a very boring trailer, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting it anyway!
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman This book was nominated for so many awards and it was so hyped. After hearing so much about it, I gave in and bought it. And boy am I happy that I did! Eleanor Oliphant follows our self-described boring and inadequate main character. All Eleanor knows is her routine and work. But this gem is everything but boring. Eleanor is one of the most interesting characters I have ever read. She deals with mental health problems and I loved the approach to the subject that Honeyman did. I couldn’t help but loving Eleanor in the end. Besides the superb character analysis, there’s the amazing writing, great side characters, lots of mystery, trauma, misery, and (surprisingly) so much hope. This book broke my heart in the best of ways.
Another favorite genre of mine is historical fiction. I admit I read nowhere near as many historical novels as I’d like to have, so I’m making that my goal for 2019. But the ones I did read, I loved. These were my two favorites…
The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry #1) by Sujata Massey What do you get when you mix the crime and historical fiction genres? You get this lovely book. It tells the story of Perveen, a Zoroastrian Bombay attorney who lives in 1920s India. Once she become of the first female lawyers of India, her dad’s firm got a new task: to iron out the details of a secluded family’s will. The three widows left behind can only speak to other women, which is where Perveen comes in. But as she’s checking legal records, something doesn’t quite add up… I loved everything about this novel: the mystery, the background of the main character, learning more about 1920s India, about the caste system, and a lot more. I even wrote a full (spoiler free) review here on my blog!
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende My only Allende of the year was this amazing book. It follows an African slave named Zarité (or Tété), who was born in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in the 1760s, throughout all her life. As is typical of the author, Allende creates a really complex and lovable main character. We see her struggles as a house slave to a nasty owner in Haiti in the 1770s, her battles for the right to care for her children, her fight for freedom, and eventually being taken to the United States. The book spans over a period of 40 years, but I was still very much able to connect with Tété. If you have never read an Allende novel, this is a great one. It’s not one of her most acclaimed ones, but it’s a brilliant read.
Look at me dabbling (and loving!) this new genre. I hope to read a lot more literary fiction books in 2019. Let it be the year when most of the books I read are not young adult books I’m just meh about.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas How did I end up loving a dystopian novel in 2018???! Zumas made me love it. The whole book is split into alternating point of view of five different women. Ro (a high-school teacher and aspiring mother), Eivør (a 19th-century polar explorer), Susan (a burned-out mother of two), Mattie (an adopted daughter of loving parents), and Gin (a forest-dwelling homeopath — also known as “mender”). While they all lead different lives, their stories all merge in the end. But what I also loves besides these well-constructed characters was the setting. Red Clocks is set in the United States in the near future — but a somewhat-different US. Abortions have been made illegal, extremely conservative policies have come into play to regulate adoption, and in-vitro fertilization has become a crime. It’s super eery to read of such an oppressive society, but this book stands out because it’s not such an implausible setting, after all! Not to mention the writing, which is just stunning!!!
Ayiti by Roxane Gay This collection of short narratives are all connected, in some way or another, to Haiti. I particularly liked the stories of Haiti’s past, of the Haitian diaspora, and of the resort-worker who sees sexual encounters with American tourists around her all the time. It’s no shocker that Gay’s writing is amazing, but how good this book was took me by surprise. I loved the voice, the diversity of points of view, and how vividly the author described the country. It’s the perfect blend between short stories and a very bright, colorful, and unique setting.
I read a lot more non-fiction this year (mostly memoirs), but I also explored some new corners of this genre. It helped that I did Non-Fiction November this year, too!
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari Do you want to go on a massive trip all the way back to the start of mankind and be dropped off in the present? Great, pick up this book. I loved how Harari broke down the history of mankind into bite-size pieces. It obviously does not go into detail on any period, but if you’re just starting out with historic non-fiction books (like me!), then this is great to give you an overview. It also presented some unconventional views I thought were amazing. My favorite chapters were those on the agricultural revolution: the thesis Harari adopts is one I had never heard of before. Surprisingly, it was easy to read and I found myself thinking of this book all day long. It’s such a great, educational book!
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer I adored this non-fiction account of how rape is handled in Missoula. It was infuriating and heartbreaking, which is obvious given the topic at hand. I loved how the author did so much research and gave so much space and voice to the victims. He also interviewed police officials, experts on rape, rapists themselves, and the victims. It’s such a great account of a horrible crime that unfortunately goes largely without being punished. It was a challenging read, but the prose was so good and the book so well planned out that I couldn’t stop reading. Definitely one of my favorite non-fiction books of the year.
How could I forget my dear graphic novels? I still have not read as many as I want (to be honest, I’m never satisfied with my reading), but I did love
most of the ones I read.
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley I was surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel. I had never read any O’Malley and now I can safely say that I need to read more of his works. Katie, the main character, works at a restaurant named Seconds as the head-chef. But she’s in the process of opening her own restaurant, which isn’t going that well… One day, a mysterious girl named Lis appears in her room from inside a drawer. It’s all mystery from here on out — which I loved! Katie was such a lovely character to read about. She was feisty, determined, witty, and so relatable. I wish I could hug her by the end of the novel! I wrote a better review on Goodreads, if you want to hear more of my thoughts on this book.
Heartstopper (volume 1) by Alice Oseman What a cute litte graphic novel!!! I have no words to describe how wholesome and adorable the whole comic is. I read it on Tapas just a few days ago and my heart has still not recovered. It tells the story of two high-school students who become friends almost by accident. But the biggest deal is that one of them is gay, and he may or may not have a crush on his friend. Oseman is a great artist. I have to say I love her art more than her prose, but this story was easily one of my favorites this year.
Saga (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) by Brian K. Vaughn I’m only counting this as one volume since they’re all so short but oh wow an action-packed graphic novel I loved???? I am still amazed by how much I love the series. I almost don’t want to start reading the last 3 volumes so I don’t have to wait for the following volumes. This series is vulgar, explicit, heartbreaking, hilarious, profound, odd, and has crazy good art in it. And I adore it!!! If you don’t mind crude language, sex, and violent scenes, please pick up Saga. It’s not for everyone, but I think definitely worth a shot.