My Top 20 Reads For 2018

In 2018 I read 200 books. It blows my mind whenever I write that or read it out loud. Of the 200 books I managed to narrow down to my Top 20 in no order. I did not include the books I re-read in 2018 which was 38 in total. This list include books I read in 2018 not just books published in 2018.

Instead of writing about what the book is about, I will be writing why it made the list- what made it memorable, what it taught me and how reading this book impacted my life.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

I mean it is Michelle Obama, do I need to say more? Becoming  made it on “my absolute favorite book of all times” list. In reading this book I cried, l laughed and I closed it feeling hopeful. I have always had a fascination with the Obamas and what their life was like before they made it into the White House, more specifically how they coped with all the fame. In Becoming Michelle Obama spoke all about it. This is Michelle like we have never seen her, she was human, relatable and reading this book moved me in ways I didn’t expect.

What really stood out to me was Michelle’s impeccable work ethic, it is clear she wanted to make an indelible impact on this world (which she did) and she would stop at nothing. I also loved that in this book we see that women can have it all and nothing is impossible. This book is a reminder that as a woman, it is a great time to be alive and we can achieve. The only thing I wasn’t clear on was…. How do I land myself a man like Barry?

 

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  1. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Do you know those books you pick up purely for light entertainment and you know you will forget every character and everything that happened in the book once you close the book? That is how I felt about My Year of Rest and Relaxation. This turned out to be my most surprising reads for 2018. What I thought would have been a three-star rating, I could not stop thinking about weeks after finishing it. I think the main reason for this was the simplicity of the plot and how deeply flawed the characters were. The premise, a millennial whose got it ALL decides she is going to take a year off from life to just sleep. This is something I wish I could get up and decide to do, however we all don’t have an inheritance. Aside from the premise, I love reading about characters who are more flawed than me and the protagonist is the most flawed character I’ve meet all year. A delightfully surprising read.

 

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  1. Factfulness Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund  

I do not watch the news on a daily basis, I find the news is generally doom and gloom. One can get bogged down by being constantly bombarded by atrocities of what is taking place in the world. It is for this reason that I adored reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think . In this book Rosling gives us solid, irrefutable evidence on how great the world is actually doing in technology, health, education, economy, women’s rights and literacy. This book isn’t about painting a positive picture because we all know there are areas we still need to work on. However, reading about the progress we’ve made does make you hopeful that we can achieve and meet other milestones. If you are looking for a great conversation starter, this is definitely book you should pick up.

 

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  1. Pain Tree by Olive Senior

This is the first book I have ever read by Olive Senior and I kicked myself for not picking up her books sooner. For 2018 my aim was to read more Caribbean Authors and books about the Caribbean. Pain Tree made it to the top 20 list because of the writing was exceptional and because Olive Senior captures Jamaica and Jamaicans in the most authentic way. While I do love a great collection of short stories, I also know that it takes a great writer to evoke a range of emotions in just 8-10 pages and that is exactly what Senior did. Pain Tree is one of those books I could not shut up about.

 

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  1. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

I received this ARC from the lovely people over at Riverhead Books. Black Leopard, Red Wolf  by Marlon James will be released in February 2019 and I cannot wait for everyone to experience what James thought up. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first in a trilogy and is being dubbed “the African Games of Throne” and I am here for it. This massive book brings to life off the pages characters and a plot that will keep your enthralled for the entire time. I am such a major fan of Marlon James’ writing, I was a bit worried that his book might have boomed but…man, was I wrong! Please add this book to your 2019 TBR list.

 

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  1. She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore

She Would Be King was that book I could not stop recommending for the last quarter of 2018. While reading this book I thought, “why isn’t there a bigger hype around this book?!” and I made it my personal mission to create said hype. I called this book Homegoing on crack because that is exactly what it felt like reading it. While I am not a fan of magical realism, the way in which Moore wrote this captivating tale made me forget my preferences. This debut novel shook me and if you haven’t picked this up as yet, I suggest you do.

 

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  1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I love picking up a book and learning about a time in history I had no clue about. In reading Pachinko I learned so much about how it was for Koreans living in Japan. Aside from that, this sweeping multi-generational tale captivated me from the very first sentence. I love books that explores Japanese and Korean culture and this book did it in the most beautiful way. This was a winner for sweeping generational tale.

 

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  1. The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis

This is not your Grandpa’s memoir and that is exactly what I loved most about this book. Jenifer Lewis is the Mother of Black Hollywood and you will find out why when you read this book. What I loved most about this book was how unapologetic Lewis is about the life she’s carved out for herself. She lived and lives boldly in an era where women were always being pushed into the kitchen. She speaks about her dedication and drive to be the best always and that is something that resonated with me. It takes a lot to speak openly about mental illness and Lewis does it in the most heart-warming way. This made the list of one of my favorite memoirs for 2018.

 

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  1. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

The Sun Does Shine is about Anthony Ray Hinton’s time on death row for a crime he did not commit. This book is timely, sad and an eye opener into the justice system and how it operates towards those who are black and poor. This might have been my most heart breaking read for 2018. Hinton spent almost thirty years on death row for a crime he did not commit but his spirit was not broken and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I think the one thing that stood out for me was his friendship with Lester. His friend visited him every week for over thirty years and did not once doubt his friend’s innocence. This book will break your heart into a million tiny piece but I consider this necessary reading.

 

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  1. Bad Blood Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Several times while reading this book I had to check if it was actually non-fiction because the things Carreyrou wrote about blew my mind. I have a bit of fascination about Silicon Valley and all the startups there, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. Nothing could prepare me for the absolute madness- cause that’s what is was, madness that happened. This was one of those books I could not shut up about because I could not believe it actually happened in real life. The contents covered in this book will be made into a movie and I cannot wait to see this drama unfold on the big screen. This book taught me that white female privilege is alive and kicking.

 

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  1. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by edited Roxane Gay

Reading this book exhausted me. Rape Culture and the perpetrators of it aren’t being held accountable and until they are, books and stories like these needs to be told. This collection is timely and explores the various nuances of rape culture in the 21st century. The title itself is heart-breaking because a lot of persons, specifically women who experience it tells themselves “its not that bad”. This anthology is a must read, by everyone.

 

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  1. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering is that book I picked up for light, mindless reading but turned out to be that book I could not put down or shut up about. I think my most passionate review for the year was done for this book. Reading this book and reading about the toxic relationship covered in it enraged me. Lovering writes from the male f*ckboy perspective like I have never read it before. The characters were so deeply flawed yet so relatable. This book made the list because sometimes we need a reminder of how to spot those toxic relationships and exit immediately.

 

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  1. Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

I finished this 207-page book in 4hrs, I could not put it down. After I finished it, this book would haunt me for weeks. I could not shake the characters and how the plot turned out. This is one of those books that infuriated me to no end because, while what happened was all fiction, every day you hear the news, something like this is taking place. A lot is explored in these 207 pages and while the book is short, the effect it had on me was long lasting.

 

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  1. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Yes, The White Tiger that was released ten years ago made my 2018 top favorite list because clearly this is a timeless read. It doesn’t take a lot to have me laughing out loud but for majority of this book I found myself crying with laughter. Adiga’s main character is hilarious, interesting and unforgettable. I cannot get over how pronounced the narration was in this book, I could feel the character’s joys and pain because of the impactful writing. If you are looking for a book set in India filled with unforgettable character and an enthralling plot, this is it.

 

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  1. How To Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

 This collection of short stories as one of my favorites for 2018, mainly because I love picking up a book and reading about Jamaica and Jamaicans. Being able to see yourself in a character makes reading a book even more personal. I think Arthurs brought to life the Jamaican immigrant experience in a new and refreshing way. She perfectly captures the nuances of Jamaican life abroad and that in itself is a huge feat. I cannot wait to hear more from Arthurs.

 

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  1. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Talk about stand out read for the year and the book that instantly comes to my mind is The Heart’s Invisible Furies. This book had me going on knocking on very reader’s door telling them, “you have to read this now!”. I love a big book that is able to pull you in from the first page and hold your attention for the entire read and this is what you get with this book. I learned so much about Ireland and the Catholic influence on the Irish while reading this book. Aside from that, the characters and events in this book will keep you entertained from cover to cover. A sweeping and enthralling tale. This is now one of my absolute favorite book ever!

 

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  1. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

I was told this book read like Glass Castle but worse and I could not fathom what “worse” could possibly be, man was I in for a heart-wrenching read. I think Tara Westover’s story is one that deserves to be read and read widely. We meet Tara who is “home schooled” and is trying to get an education however that proves to be very difficult considering her family history. In some ways I am surprised that this took place in 2000 in the USA but in other ways I am not. Reading this book made me appreciate my family and how seamless my education process was. This memoir is definitely a standout for me for 2018.

 

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  1. Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

It is only recently I see mental illness being addressed as it should. We still have a long way to go to shake the misconception of mental illness however I’ve seen some progress. It is for this reason that I loved reading Everything Here is Beautiful, in the novel we meet two sisters, one suffers from mental health issues. The writer gives a realistic look of what it is like for someone living with this disease and the impact its got on the family. Well researched and beautifully written. If you struggle to empathize with someone who suffers with mental health issues I strongly suggest picking this up.

 

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  1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage made me question everything about marriage and what it takes when you say you are going to be with someone till death do you part. This was one of those books that was all over my timeline. I could not open bookstagram or my Twitter page without seeing An American Marriage. I generally have reservations about books with so much hype surrounding it but this lives up to all the hype. The book focuses on the marriage of a young couple, after getting married the husband gets locked up for over 20 years for a crime he did not commit. What should the wife do? What will become of the marriage? How do you move forward? Relationships are tested, families fall apart and come together. Overall a beautifully well written novel.

 

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  1. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

A whole eleven months after reading this book I am still unsure how to put into words what this book was about and the experience I had reading it. I think this is one of those books you have to experience for yourself and I suggest you do so. The fact that it made my top 20 list means this debut novel was insanely good.

 

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Honorable mention goes to The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ovuerture and the San Domingo Revolution by C.L.R. James.  There is no possible way I can convey how important this book is. I am not a major reader of history books but in reading this I learned so much.It is a difficult book to read because of the timelines and numerous persons mentioned, but it is worth going through. I know about Toussaint L’Ouverture in passing, in reading this book I got a better idea of who this man is, what he stood for and how he impacted history in a major way.

There you have it, my top 20 reads for 2018. It was an amazing reading year and I am looking forward to a better 2019… if that is even possible.

 

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2018 Book Year In Review

I Read 200 Books In 2018- This Is How