2018 Books

by Jeni Anderson

I’m a book nerd and I’m fine with it. I’ve always been a reader, but over the past couple of years I have made a truly concerted effort to read more books, and keep track of them.

If you want to follow my reviews in real time make your way over to my Instagram feed, and you can look back in my highlights to see all of my previous reviews. Or, find me on Goodreads if you like that better. That said, I’ve been asked by a few people to house all of my books over the year in one place, so I’m going to do that here with a kind of speed round review, so you can get the basic gist. I’ll continue to update this over the next few months as we approach the end of the year. So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve gotten into this year so far.

  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (5 stars) - motherhood, drama, complex modern issues, loved it.

  2. Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward (5 stars) - a powerful and upsetting portrayal of historical and modern day Mississippi

  3. Saints for All Occasions by Courtney J. Sullivan (4 stars) - love Courtney J. Sullivan and this one did not disappoint

  4. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (4 stars) - super fun for fans of the old movies and basically magic in general. Alice Hoffman is a gem.

  5. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (5 stars) - Amazing, beautifully written, totally loved it. From the writer of Olive Kittredge.

  6. Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern (5 stars) - read this for a writing class, really helpful, move on if you aren’t a writer

  7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (5 stars) - Neil Gaiman is obviously a genius, his imagination is unreal. It’s not really science fiction but it has a lot of fantastical, strange elements so keep that in mind depending on what books you like

  8. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarity (3 stars) - normally I love Liane Moriarity, I think Big Little Lies is such a devastating portrayal of modern families, but this was just kinda meh for me.

  9. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (3 stars) - Pulitzer Prize winner, I have to admit I slogged through this. I know it’s incredible writing but this is not a book you will blow through. Approach with caution

  10. The Light We Lost by Jill Santupolo (3 stars) - okay EVERYONE made a big deal about reading this so I read it. It’s a love story, a kind of written in the stars thing, but by the end I was just annoyed. Sorry.

  11. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4 stars) - Oprah’s Book Club, for a reason, this book is heartbreaking. It’s about a modern black couple and how one small moment can turn life forever. It’s an important read especially in this political climate, but it’s difficult.

  12. The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand (3 stars) - also usually love this author, and while this made me laugh a lot, it was just too fluffy and unbelievable.

  13. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (4 stars) - this one of my favorites this year, a big biopic of four Jewish siblings born in the 60’s and their lives as they spread themselves across America.

  14. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (5 stars) - Okay everybody loves Kristin Hannah and this was her big follow up to The Nightingale. I actually liked it better, the research she did into the history of the Alaskan wilderness was so fascinating, and the story kept me hooked even though it was LONG.

  15. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (4 stars) - The Interestings is one of my favorite books, so I was excited to read this one by Meg Wolitzer. It’s sort of a commentary on modern feminism told through the story of a teenage girl, but I think she was a little heavy handed at times and the ending was confusing and just fell flat. P.S. Yes I am 100% a feminist.

  16. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (4 stars) - I read Crazy Rich Asians years ago, and having lived in Singapore I loved all of the references and a look into a culture most Americans know absolutely nothing about. Since the movie came out this year, (loved) I decided to read the follow up books. They were good, but I liked the first one the best.

  17. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (3 stars) - see above

  18. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (4 stars) - based on true events, this is a story of children who were bough and sold on the black market in Tennessee in the 30s and 40s. I listened to this on audio and it was beautifully performed. I found myself really moved by this story even though I don’t typically love historical fiction. I was on wikipedia all the time trying to learn how much I was hearing was true

  19. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (3 stars) - I love George Saunders’ short stories so I was excited to read his first novel, and it’s a beautiful piece of writing, but the book as a whole was distracting and difficult.

  20. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (4 stars) - great mystery/thriller about a reclusive woman watching the world around her in NYC. I did not see the ending coming at all and I really love it when an author can do that to me.

  21. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (3 stars) - tough but solid read about how WWII impacted various women around the world. I usually hate WWII books but the atrocities are so important to remember. This one really tears at the heartstrings.

  22. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman (3 stars) - Initially riveting story of a honeymooning couple, but the writing was a tad dramatic and it got old quickly. I figured out the end about halfway through.

  23. Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams (4 stars) - love Beatriz Williams and this was no exception. She makes historical fiction readable for me and always has lots of connections, twists and turns you don’t see coming. I call this chick lit plus.

  24. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (5 stars) - Another Pulitzer Prize winner, this one I LOVED. Also a bit difficult to read but gorgeous writing as it follows one mans travels after a particularly difficult breakup. You have to stick with this one but it’s worth it.

  25. Educated by Tara Westover (3 stars) - I resisted this book because so many people recommended it (I have no idea why I do that) and because it’s a memoir, which isn’t usually my speed. The author’s story is completely amazing, but all the soul searching gets a little repetitive for me. I know I am a cold-hearted witch.

  26. You Think It I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (4 stars) - I LOVED her novel Prep so I’m always excited to read new things by Curtis Sittenfeld. She’s also great on Twitter if you’re into that. This is a collection of short stories that I really enjoyed - every one a commentary on life as a modern American woman.

  27. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger (3 stars) - Fun, dramatic beach read by the author of The Devil Wears Prada.

  28. Calypso by David Sedaris (5 stars) - David Sedaris is just a hilarious genius. Love him, this one might be one of his best.

  29. Little Girls Can Be Mean by Michelle Anthony (4 stars) - Move along unless you have little girls. Just a little self help for this mama.

  30. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (3 stars) - UGH I don’t know why I keep reading Jodi Picoult because she just makes me mad. It’s good and then I end up hating it.

  31. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4 stars) - Really enjoyed this novel based on the early film studio stars of the past. Set in the present, but dives back and hooks you into Evelyn Hugo’s life story.

  32. The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle (2 stars)- Meh, another thriller about a dumb woman and her dumb husband.

  33. Chasing Hillary by Amy Chozick (4 stars) - Read this on recommendation of a friend of a friend who knows the author - interesting look at her campaign from the perspective of a NY Times beat reporter.

  34. Beartown by Fredrick Backman (5 stars) - Also resisted this because it was recommended so highly, but ended up loving it. Riveting story about a small hockey town and the toll it takes when parents invest so heavily on their children.

  35. The Witch Elm by Tana French (4 stars) - Tana French is a great Irish crime writer, and I loved her Dublin Murder Squad series so I was excited for this one. The novel flips her usual premise and focuses on a murder from the suspects’ perspective rather than the police, so it got a little complicated and tired.

  36. Us Against You by Fredrick Backman (4 stars) - The follow up to Beartown, not as good as the first but a continuation of the gripping story. Love his lyrical style.

  37. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (5 stars) - Barbara Kingsolver is an epic storyteller, and this book was no different. She weaves an intricate tail of two families in two different centuries, navigating a changing world they cannot control.

  38. Circe by Madeline Miller (5 stars) - I was hesitant to read this because Mythology isn’t necessarily my thing. But wow, I loved it. A riveting retelling of the goddess Circe’s history from her own perspective. Amazing.

Okay that’s it for now, I’ll update the rest as the year moves along. Go read a book!