A year in review of some of the finest books from 2018
“Circe” by Madeline Miller:
You couldn’t walk through a bookstore without seeing this reimagining of the tale of Circe, a Greek sorceress, famous for her shapeshifting powers that almost trapped Odysseus and his crew on her island forever. But this book is all about Circe, the challenges she faces as a woman and powerful witch from both mortals and gods and her struggle to decide which side she will support.
“There There” by Tommy Orange:
This debut novel is a multigenerational tale that juggles 12 characters and their complex lives as they navigate a world that is both beautiful and terrible. Each character’s story unfolds a little more with each page, revealing their sometimes painful histories and deepest desires. The writing is powerful and evocative; Orange has created a book that you won’t want to miss out on.
“The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez:
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award, this novel is a story about a woman and the dog she becomes obsessed with as she spirals further into her grief after losing her best friend. From the very first page, this is a powerful read. The reflections from the main character (who remains unnamed) are filled with a tangled web of emotions that leaves a lasting impact on the reader.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas:
One of the most successful young adult books released in 2017, The Hate U Give is a story that readers of all ages flocked to, especially after the movie was released in October. After Starr Carter’s best friend, Khalil, was fatally shot by a police officer, she has to learn how to find her voice in a world that doesn’t want to hear her side of the story. What makes this book special are the characters and family that Thomas created. The reader is pulled into their world and truly feels the anger, sadness and joy that Starr and her family go through.
“A Very Large Expanse of Sea” by Tahereh Mafi:
This is Mafi’s first contemporary novel, and she does not disappoint. Over the years, her writing has strengthened and all of her prowess shines in this story. Mafi draws partly from her own experiences to tell Shirin’s story. Shirin is the daughter of Iranian immigrants and has chosen to wear a hijab. But in the aftermath of 9/11, people at her school and in public are not afraid to be openly racist and threatening to her. Shirin has to navigate a relationship that almost tears her school apart, loving (but clueless) parents and her own faults in this wonderful, fast-paced novel.
“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi:
This is the first book in Adeyemi’s debut fantasy series, which has already amassed thousands of dedicated fans from all over the world. The writing is full of energy and the story never once loses the attention of its reader. The characters themselves are what make this story special, along with the magic system and wondrous beasts that aid the characters in their journey to save magic.
“The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur:
In just four years, Kaur’s readership has grown tremendously. She is especially popular among young adults, who flock to her poems in droves, buying her books and sharing her words via social media. Both of her published collections of poetry have been #1 New York Times Bestsellers. No matter your stance on Internet poetry, it is undeniable that Kaur and her words are a force to be reckoned with and respected.
“The Carrying” by Ada Limón:
Featuring 62 poems split into three parts, this collection is one that prompts contemplation. Limón often draws upon elements of nature in her poetry — plants, the land and animals — to create a poignant atmosphere that draws the reader in. Many of the poems express the tangle of emotions people experience as they grow older and have to face loss.
“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo:
This moving story, told through poetry, is the winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. That comes as no surprise, as Acevedo is already an accomplished slam poet. Her debut novel tells the story of Xiomara, who feels out of place in her Harlem neighborhood as she struggles to find a way to express her thoughts. Each line of poetry within this story is deeply emotional and will enthrall even readers who don’t like poetry.