Favorite Books For The First Half of 2018

At the outset of 2018, I set a not-so-ambitious goal to read 100 books this year. Yes, I know. That’s more than even Bill Gates reads per year. I set a low target just in case my year gets hectic or helter-skelter and I can’t meet it.

But, guess what? As of July I have already read 100 books!

So now I will increase my goal to 150 books which is less than last year’s 166 successful reads. So secretly, I will try to beat even that. Let’s see how the latter part of the year goes.

Since January, I have read some amazing books, books that have changed my life, made me questioned my life, left me feeling exhausted and hungover… you know those types of books. I have put together a highlight list of the stand-out new reads so far. Tried as I might to narrow the list to 10, I couldn’t help myself—here’s 13!

1. The Immortalist by Chloe Benjamin
This book made me ask the question, “If I knew the date of my death, how would I live?” Yes! Even though this was a fictional book, it made me question so many things about my life. Set in 1969 in New York City, four siblings went to traveling physic who told them the date of their death. We see how each sibling uses that information to their advantage…or disadvantage.
I loved the premise of the book and more importantly how Chloe Benjamin documents how each child was affected by the revelation of the traveling physic.

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2. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
We all know that time is the only thing we lose that we cannot get back, which is why reading “When” blew my mind. In “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” Daniel Pink gives us tips and tricks on when we should get things done. I discovered that I am a lark (essentially a morning person) so I should do my most important work in the mornings, leave the menial mindless tasks for the evening. Also, since reading this book, I haven’t made any life changing decisions after 12noon–yes! That is a thing.
If time seems to be slipping out of your hand, pick up this book and get some control of your time and life.

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3. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
I read this book early in February, and I am still having ‘all the feels’ when I think about it. Four months later and I cannot exactly tell you what this refreshing debut novel is about. What I will say, you HAVE to experience this book and Awkaeke Emezi’s writing for yourself. I was blown away about with the writing, I was so moved by the experience I received reading this book. One of my favorite debuts for 2018.


4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The hype was real for “An American Marriage” and it wasn’t just because it was from Oprah’s book selection. Tayari Jones made me question if I could really commit to marriage–I saw marriage and what it means when you say you are committing your life to someone FOREVER.
Imagine, you marry the man of your dreams, you’ve been living blissfully and then your husband gets thrown into jail (innocently) for 20 years. What next? Do you stay? How do you stay?
This was such a captivating read for me.


5. Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
This book broke my heart to a million tiny pieces. Every day we meet people that silently suffer and are coping with mental illness and we have no idea. In “Everything Here is Beautiful” Mira T Lee showcase the difficulty in dealing with someone who suffers from the disease, how strained a relationship can get. She writes from the POV of someone who is suffering from the disease and it evokes a lot of emotions for me. My key takeaway is empathy is needed every day to help someone who suffers.

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6. Educated by Tara Westover
“Educated” was compared to “The Glass Castle” a lot and seeing that I thoroughly enjoyed the latter I knew I would enjoy the former. “Educated” by Tara Westover is a must read for me. As someone who strongly believes in education and the opportunities that it opens up for you, I felt for Westover and her struggle to be educated.

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7. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
You know that book you want to tell every single person you meet about? “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne is that book for me. I bought this book and since I’ve read it, I’ve loaned it to at least 5 persons and everyone loved it. I want to scream about the amazingness of this sweeping tale. The plot spans over a decade, mostly set in Ireland we meet some brilliant characters who will stick with you forever. If you plan on reading just one book for 2018, let this book be it… yes! It is THAT good.

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8. Ayiti by Roxane Gay
I am a big fan of Roxane Gay’s writing and I found this gem recently. It was re-released recently so I got a copy from Netgalley. I enjoyed this collection of short stories so much. Much like “How To Love A Jamaican”, “Ayiti” is an ode to Haitians living at home and in the diaspora. I love how all the stories unlocked a bit of Haiti’s culture and history. A solid collection of stories as usual with Roxane Gay.


9. How To Love A Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
If you are a Jamaican, this book is literally dedicated to you. “How To Love A Jamaican” by Alexia Arthurs is a collection of stories about Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora. I absolutely loved this collection because of how authentic it is, and how it truly speaks to the nuisances of Jamaicans. They say, to be a Jamaican is an experience, reading this is the closest I’ve come to this experience being described. This too is a strong stand out for me.

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10. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
I have an affinity for books set in India and “White Tiger” reaffirmed my love. While a lot of the issues covered in this book can be gruesome at times, the narrator is absolutely, charming and engaging. I loved the main character so much and I think it had a lot to do with how great a writer Aravind Adiga is. This was such a delightful read for me.

 

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11. Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
This book is short in pages but packs a gigantic punch. So many issues are tackled in this book. Usually when an author tries to do too much it turns out flat but this isn’t the case. We meet a well-to-do Nigerian Family who seem to have it all. Their younger son is on track to getting into an Ivy League school, is a scholar and an athlete. His major issue is that he cannot come out to his parents… it happens that his father finds out about his secret and all hell break loose.
Honestly, this book had me thinking about it a good three weeks after I finished reading it. This is an absolute must read for me.

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12. Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin
Here is something I learned reading this book- every year the USA hosts a Green Card lottery, where persons can enter and they get a one in a million chance to win a Green Card. The author of “Call Me American” – Abdi Nor Iftin won this lottery! We find out about his journey before winning the lottery and after. Honestly, this was a heart-wrenching read for me but well worth it.

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13. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Isn’t being vulnerable the most uncomfortable feeling ever? In “Daring Greatly” Brene Brown pushes us to do the uncomfortable and be vulnerable. I am a sucker for a great life help book and this is definitely one of those books that offers us teaching to get us through life.

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There you have it, some of my favorite reads for the year so far!

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