Props to the proactive people who prepared their Best Of lists in advance.
I wasn’t going to make a list, but today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) required one.
And I’m a joiner.
I didn’t order these in any way, as it was hard enough to narrow down all the books I read last year.
Some of these I’ve posted about multiple times, so I won’t have as much to say.
Best Books I Read in 2018
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This book had the most creative worldbuilding. I like that it took me a while to catch on to the plot.
As I’ve mentioned, I screamed multiple times while reading this in public.
I also like it when I enjoy the protagonist as much as the side characters.
The romance was the most boring part, but it managed to win me over in the end.
Normally, I hate cliffhanger endings, but this one was a DOOZY.
2. Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son by Brad & Drew Harper
This choice might surprise some, as I disagree with some of Brad Harper’s beliefs.
I was surprised, too; even though I disagreed, I didn’t want to throw this book across the room! PROGRESS!
After a few months of distance, I wish they’d gone with a different subtitle. The current one makes Drew sound unqualified, e.g., “A CONVERSATION BETWEEN A BIBLE SCHOLAR…AND HIS SON, A HOMOSEXUAL.”
ASIDE FROM THAT.
Brad Harper, a white Oregonian pastor, does his damnedest to educate Christians about LGBT issues.
Some of his statements are a little behind the times, but still VERY NECESSARY in churches that avoid discussing non-heterosexual sexualities.
Brad is so compassionate towards his son and honest about past regret.
I initially believed the promised “conversations” took place between an estranged father and son.
In fact, Brad and Drew Harper are best friends.
Whether we’re woke or not, we need to have more conversations like these.
(I didn’t say much about Drew, so I’ll finish with this: Drew’s writing voice is wonderful, his struggles compelling. He turned me on to some excellent theater, making him Person of the Year in my book.)
3. Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes
I talk about this book too much.
Or, perhaps, not enough.
We do a disservice to pregnancy when we try to reduce it to a miracle, a woman’s duty, or a natural phenomenon.
The many emotions and cultural expectations pregnancy contains make it hard to examine.
Angela Garbes breaks down the effects of pregnancy on women, weaving in her own experiences, and challenges the health care system to shift their focus to improving maternal care.
I see someone carrying a copy of this book every time I enter a book store.
That encourages me.
4. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
I liked this book enough to buy my own copy after borrowing one from my friend Claire.
I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE USING POETIC LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE A BOOK OF POETRY, SO GO READ THIS ONE YOURSELF.
I will note that, of the three poetry books I bought this year, this was the only one where I appreciated every single poem.
Best line: “Don’t come here with expectations and try to make a vacation out of me.”
5. Chemistry by Weike Wang
Introspective first-person stream of consciousness: YES.
I like books that confront the relationship between failure and mental health.
I love everything about this book: its size, its shape, its feel, its color, its cover art, its font, its story…
I also like an ambiguously hopeful ending.
Good. On. Ya. Weike. Wang.
6. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
I held off on reading this for years.
I’m glad I read it when I did.
It’s oddly similar to Chemistry in tone and writing style, which might be why I liked it so much.
Again, I love stream-of-consciousness, as well as studies in grief.
This book is the closest I’ve come to living in someone else’s head.
7. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee
Plenty of authors promote the beliefs they think I should hold.
Few tell me how they came to their conclusions.
In contrast, Justin Lee walks through his childhood as the annoying “God Boy” (oof, I feel you there, sir), coming out in college, struggling for acceptance, and reconciling his faith and sexuality.
Coming from my own experiences as the most “tolerant” (read: condescending) Christian alive, it helped me to know that Lee went through a similar shift in opinion over the course of many years.
He reminds us to hold to the spirit, rather than the letter, of the law: everything – EVERYTHING – depends on God’s love.
And He does love us.
ALL of us.
8. Hey Ladies!: The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss
Forgetting the super-sexual My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel and the insanely dramatic The Heir, reading this book was the most fun I had all year.
Though I finished it only a few weeks ago, I’m itching to reread it.
(I will admit that this book made me hyperventilate…in a good way? Call it “positive stress.”)
9. Ship It by Britta Lundin
I need to reread this one, too.
Slow start, huge payoff.
I usually hate books predicated on “geek culture” (ugh), but the sweet love story and enjoyable antagonism in this tale excused any mentions of “the fandom.”
(Note: I don’t have a problem with the concept of fandom. I’m more bothered by authors using fandom jargon to show proficiency in a culture they don’t actually understand. Knowing the lingo doesn’t make what you’re trying to say interesting.)
10. Would You Rather?: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney
I called this my favorite book of the year.
Of course it made the list.
This book inspired me to watch The L-Word (I gave up on that project pretty fast) and encouraged me in my life choices.
It makes me feel all warm inside…like Tuxedo Mask. (I just read the new translation of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.)
Yay, yay, yay.
- Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY!
- Dear Emma by Katie Heaney – Someone turned my college experience into a novel!
- Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry – Gotta love Catholic school rebellion.
- Comics for Choice by various contributors – Worth checking out.
That was 2018. I better find more excellent titles to yak about in the coming year.