2018 was a crazy year, but we still got a ton of reading in. Even though we’re well in to 2019, we thought we would share our the best books we read in 2018. While there were a lot of great books that fell into our laps, these are the best 12 that we delved into over the past 12 months.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One is the very first book I read for the year, and for our podcast, and I really enjoyed it. The book sets around Wade Watts and his hunt for the mysterious Easter Egg in OASIS that James Halliday left, and whoever finds it gets to inherit OASIS.
I enjoyed the 80s references and even turned on Pacman Fever at one point. It was fast paced and witty, and just a fun popcorn read. The movie is enjoyable (which we also talked about on our podcast), but I liked the book better.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This is the first of two appearances by author Ruth Ware on our list. In a Dark, Dark Wood centers around the main character Nora and her trip to her old friend Clare’s hen party (that’s a bachelorette party for us US folks). Ruth Ware is a master in the thriller genre, so needless to say the hen party doesn’t go according to plan.
I finished the book in about a day and immediately handed it off to my father who is a big fan of thrillers and mysteries as well. He finished it quickly too and enjoyed it as well. If you like a quick suspenseful read, give this a go.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder
We read this for Book Club, and almost everyone in our pretty big book club enjoyed Red Notice. It’s a real-life political thriller centered around Russia (pretty timely, right?) and Bill Browder, who is a hedge fund investor.
Browder and the Russian government do not get along, he particularly had an axe to grind with corrupt Russian oligarchs. It’s through this fighting that one of his colleagues, Sergei Magnitsky, gets embroiled in investigating and testifying against corrupt officials. This does not end well for him, but Browder then goes on a mission to pass the Magnitsky Act.
They’ll be making a movie based on the book, which I frankly can’t wait for. This is a great pick for you if you are looking for a timely read on the nature of Russian politics with a suspenseful twist.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware makes her second appearance on this list with The Woman in the Cabin 10. While In a Dark, Dark Wood is quite good, I think The Woman in Cabin 10 tops it. This was another book club book, and our entire group loved it. We were going over the different theories we had when we were reading it and our thoughts on the culprit.
Lo, the main character, is a travel journalist who is invited on a new cruise, and because Ruth Ware wrote it, things go terribly awry. It’s another popcorn thriller book that will keep you riveted.
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
I read the first book in this trilogy, Shadow and Bone, and then quickly devoured the next two books in the series. This is also the first of two appearances by Leigh Bardugo on this list, and she is that good.
The trilogy follows Alina as she discovers powers that make her like other Grisha, which are people with magic-like powers. She is sought out to help destroy The Fold, which is the area of darkness where flesh-eating monsters roam. There’s love, betrayal, battles, and much more throughout the series. It’s a fantastic trilogy, and rich in descriptions and characters.
I’m incredibly excited because there is a spin-off series coming centering around the Ravkan prince Nikolai Latsov called King of Scars. And Netflix is making a series based on the Grishaverse. Seriously can’t wait for that to come out.
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton
American Kingpin is another book club book that I actually suggested for our group to read, which always makes me nervous because if everyone hates it they’ll never take one of my suggestions again. Nevertheless, everyone really enjoyed it (thank God).
I had always heard of the Silk Road on the internet, but didn’t really think much of its origins until I happened upon this book. The entire website was built by this 20-something libertarian kid named Ross who was very passionate about people having access to drugs. Unfortunately, the website takes a turn and you can buy anything you want on it: guns, poison, and there’s even talk about selling organs on it.
The book intersects stories from the FBI, other people investigating Ross, and from Ross’s life. It’s incredibly intriguing, and the Coen brothers think so too because they are writing a script based on it. I’m hoping that they make the movie sooner rather than later!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove is another book we read for the podcast. The book is about Ove (I know, shocking right?) and his failed attempts to kill himself. I know it sounds dark, but it’s a comedy! He gets to know and bond with the new family next door, and is roped into their problems and drama.
The book made me laugh and cry, which is a hard feat for a book to do. I really recommend this book, it’s a fantastic read.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This was another book club pick and I really enjoyed, and boy does it make you think. An American Marriage tells the difficult story around Roy and Celestial. Roy is wrongly convicted of rape and is sent away to prison, while Celestial is trying to handle life on her own. The story is full of depth, intense emotions, and investigates how far our emotions will carry us.
Oprah picked it for her book club, so you know it’s good, but it also get my stamp of approval.
Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
And here comes Leigh Bardugo for the second time on the list. I started Six of Crows on a vacation and then immediately downloaded the second in the duology. For lack of a better word, the characters in Six of Crows is just so cool. There’s Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Matthias, and Nina—that is the Six of Crows.
Kaz is offered a job that could make him rich and help him on his path for revenge. He has to assemble a crew, so there comes the Six of Crows. The books follow plans and crimes, and then the fallout. It falls into the Grishaverse, so there are characters from the Shadow and Bone trilogy that make appearances. This duology will also be worked into the Netflix series being made, which really excites me.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The Woman in the Window is another thriller that makes it onto this list. Anna lives in her house all alone, with a tenant in a unit in the basement and a physical therapist that comes over. She never steps outside, unless she wants a severe panic attack. She watches all her neighbors and takes interest in new family that moves in.
Anna proves to be an unreliable narrator, but it’s the twist and turns are intriguing and keep you interested in what will come next. If you liked The Girl on the Train, this will be up your alley.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
We read this one for the podcast, which we will be recording soon, and it was a great read. I won’t say too much about Sadie, but it had a really interesting structure. Every other chapter was an episode from the fictional podcast that the book was centered around, and the other chapters were told from Sadie’s point of view.
I enjoyed the different storytelling the book utilized and how it used podcasts, which I can’t stop listening to. Subscribe to our podcast to get our next podcast when it drops soon!
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
This has been on my to read list forever. I know, you’re probably thinking this is some off shoot of 50 Shades of Grey (that’s what my boyfriend thought when he saw the book on the table), but Between Shades of Gray couldn’t be more different.
The book tells a story that I knew nothing about. It follows Lina, a young Lithuanian girl who in WWII is arrested, along with her family, by the Soviet police and sent in a train to Siberia. The books tracks her and family’s challenges to survive. It was dark and heartbreaking, but a story that needed to be told.
Are there any really good books you read in the past year that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
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