the best books i read in 2018 + six i'm looking forward to in 2019


Happy new year, you guys! I wanted to share with you some of the best books I read last year in 2018 as well as a few that I’m looking forward to this year. I read a lot of great books in 2018, but it was also a year where I had a lot going on and ended up reading some fluffier books throughout the year which is totally fine but I’d like to get back to higher quality reading this year with some beach reads peppered throughout.

Okay! On to the top ten books of 2018. They’re in no particular order other than the fact that the first book listed was my favorite book of the year.

top ten books of 2018

factfulness by hans rosling
This was my number one book of the year and one of the most important things I’ve ever read. Hans Rosling was a Swedish physician and data scientist who wrote this book as his dying wish to help people see how wrong they are about the world. This book is all about how the world is the best it’s ever been and is getting better every year. This stands in stark contrast to what we see reported on the news and Rosling talks about how the media skews data to support false agendas. Please, please, please read this book. It will make you so much better informed but also very grateful for all that you have.

11/22/63 by stephen king
Another excellent book I read this year was actually my first time reading anything by Stephen King. This book is about a schoolteacher who goes back in time to try to save JFK from assassination, but it’s really so much more than that. Stephen King is an amazing storyteller and I was genuinely sucked into the world of this book so deeply. It also has one of the best love stories I’ve read, one that’s realistic and believable.

whiskey in a teacup by reese witherspoon
I adored Reese’s lifestyle book! It’s such a pretty representation of all the things I love about southern culture. You get everything from biscuits and sweet tea to catching frogs and Steel Magnolias. This is one I’ve really enjoyed going back through over and over again.

the little book of lykke by meik wiking
Meik Wiking’s first book The Little Book of Hygge was one I loved and even recently gave as a gift, but I think I might even like this one more. While the first is about coziness, this is about happiness and how different cultures, particularly the Danes, set up their societies in ways that are conducive or not conducive to happiness. It’s a really good read and makes me want to move to Copenhagen. 😅

ready player one by ernest cline
Okay, when I first read this book, I freaked out because I absolutely love it. Then, I saw the movie and it was a hot, hot, hot mess and really made me mad. But, the book is still really good. It’s about a time in the future when the world has basically gone to hell and everyone exists primarily in a virtual reality community called the OASIS. There’s a contest going on in OASIS set up by the late founder of the community. Whoever finds the three keys left in the game will basically win ownership of the OASIS (which essentially controls the world economy). It has tons of pop culture and video game references, which are really fun if you’re into that.

the witch of willow hall by hester fox
I looked forward to reading this book but actually ended up enjoying it a lot more than expected. It’s about a family of three girls in 1820 who move from Boston to a country estate after an incident sends them into exile. The rest of the story is about the middle girl’s relationship with her father’s business partner as well as the ghosts she’s seeing in the house and the strange powers she seems to possess. This just kept getting better and better as I kept reading.

the traveling cat chronicles by hiro arikawa
Ahh, this seriously made me weep! It’s about a cat and his owner driving across Japan to meet with the owner’s old friends. I can’t say anything else without giving things away but if you have a cat or love cats, you have to read it.

origin by dan brown
I don’t care what anyone says, I love Dan Brown books and this one was one of my favorites. Robert Langdon is invited to Spain for a special, secret presentation by a famous tech futurist. When the event erupts into chaos, Robert has to figure out what the futurist’s discovery was and uses his knowledge of symbols, art, and history to do so. Loved it.

to all the boys i loved before by jenny han
I can’t believe I only read this now, but I adore these books! I read all three within a month, I think, because I got so hooked. The cozy factor and all the descriptive writing is so appealing to me, plus Peter K is obviously a babe. I can’t wait for the second movie to come out!

south toward home by julia reed
Julia Reed is one of my favorite writers and one of the big reasons I subscribe to Garden & Gun. This is a collection of her essays about life in the south and what that means. I just really enjoy her voice, plus she used to live in Winter Park which is where I hang out a lot so it’s fun to read about her time there.

five books to read in 2019

the light over london by julia kelly
I’ve seen this compared to Lilac Girls and The Nightingale so I assume it’s going to be amazing! The story is about an antiques dealer who finds an old tin containing items from a soldier’s life. It goes back and forth between this main character and a teenage girl in the 1940s waiting for her suitor to return from war when she meets an RAF pilot, falls in love, then joins the army herself.

the lost girls of paris by pam jenoff
A Manhattan women in the 1940s finds an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central Station that contains photographs of different women. She discovers that the suitcase once belonged to the ring leader of a group of female spies deployed from London during the war, then sets out to learn more about the women. This story is inspired by true events, which makes it really exciting.

southern lady code by helen ellis
I really love all books about southern culture, so I can’t wait to read this one from the author of “American Housewife”. This is a collection of funny essays about all sorts of topics related to life in the south from manners and thank you notes to ghosts and monograms.

gingerbread by helen oyeyemi
I love Helen Oyeyemi’s modern fairytale-like stories and she has this new one coming out that’s inspired by gingerbread in children’s stories. A London girl and her mother make a popular family gingerbread recipe that’s beloved in the mother’s hometown, especially by an old friend whose name happens to be Gretel. Many decades later, the daughter sets out to find her mother’s old friend and learns a new version of her mother’s story.

a wonderful stroke of luck by ann beattie
I love a good boarding school story, which makes me excited for new novel about prestigious boarding school student Ben’s relationship with his brilliant teacher Pierre LaVerdere. When Ben grows up and begins his adult life in New York City, he feels unsure of himself and tries to parse out what lessons he actually learned about life from Mr. LaVerdere. When the teacher re-enters Ben’s life, he questions everything he knew about him in the first place.

the lady from the black lagoon by mallory o’meara
O’Meara works in the horror film industry and had always been inspired by Millicent Patrick who, among other things, designed the titular creature in 1954’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon. In this book, she does some detective work to learn more about the woman’s life and career as a Disney animator. I’m excited about this one because it’s sort of along the lines of one of my favorite podcasts, You Must Remember This, about all things old Hollywood.