2018 was a good year for reading. While I didn’t have as many “this is the BEST BOOK EVER” reading experiences as I sometimes do, I did like nearly everything I read. So there may not have been as many highs, but there weren’t that many lows either. With picture books included, I read over 400 books this year, which makes this my highest volume reading year since 2015. Being a Cybils judge for Graphic Novels definitely boosted my numbers! Here are 18 favorites in no particular order:
The most satisfying fiction experience I had this year. I read it months ago and still think about the characters.
Murderbot, how I love you. This was my favorite series of the year.
In a year where I read dozens of stellar graphic novels, March Book 3 still stood out.
Allen Say’s picture book biography of artist James Castle introduced me to a new artistic in the most powerful and affecting way possible.
What could have been a stunt (100 chapters; 100 words each) turned out to be a moving and ultimately hopeful novel about surviving grief through kindness and connection.
I’m not one to buy stuffed animals based on books. No Elephant or Piggie dolls here. But I totally need a tea dragon doll (or better yet, a real tea dragon!). Katie O’Neil’s quiet story of delicate little tea dragons thoroughly enchanted me.
Nightly read-alouds were a thing of the past, but then my son saw Rebound on the shelf and wanted me to read it aloud to him. Which led to The Crossover and several more sports books and a long trip into Gordon Korman’s backlist.
Textbook came along just as I needed some writing inspiration. Such a creative delight.
It’s rare to read a verse novel with poetry this good. I can’t wait for Elizabeth Acevedo’s next book.
I felt so invested in the stories Helen Thorpe tells about students in a Denver-area class for recent refugee and immigrant arrivals.
I spent several day happily ensconced in the world Kelly creates in her Newbery winner. And started You Go First, which I liked nearly as well, right after I finished Hello Universe.
It took me several weeks to read Birds Art Life because I only wanted to read a few paragraphs each day to savor this meditation on birdwatching and creativity.
What an unlikely story! Grand Theft Horse introduced me to a character I loved rooting for and a world (horse racing) that horrified me.
If you haven’t read Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver, be sure to put them on your list for 2019. Incredible world building, character creation, and sentence-level writing.
I liked several books by Richard Van Camp this year, but the one that sticks with me most is the quirky What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?
My favorite David Sedaris collection in years.
I wasn’t expecting to be so affected by Krosoczka’s art in Hey Kiddo, but it’s really beautifully done.
In a year of kind of meh (for me) middle grade, Front Desk stood out for its setting and strong characters.