This year, I read a LOT of books. For me, at least. Like most writers, I have always been a voracious reader—when I have the time. But between my day job, my writing, sleep and an attempt to have a social life, there isn’t always much time to sit and read.
But then I discovered Audible.
I know some people say it’s cheating—that it’s ‘listening’ not ‘reading.’ I understand the argument, there’s a part of me that almost agrees with it for a similar reason that the book is usually better than the movie.
When it’s just the words printed on the page, you bring something to the story as the reader. You hear the characters voices in your head, their tone, their accents and inflections. You don’t get to do that with audio books since a lot of that is interpreted by the performance of the actors.
There have been a few audio books like ‘An American Marriage’ where the actors’ performance added another layer of amazing depth to the story. And there are others (which I won’t mention) where the narrators voice annoyed me so much that it kept me from connecting with a story I otherwise might have loved.
But for me, audio books were the only way I could achieve the 50 book Goodreads goal I set for myself. And for me, that was a big stretch. I picked the number because two of my writing friends set a goal of reading 100 books. I should note that they both have four kids, one of them also works as a doctor, and they both also have to make time for writing. I don’t have any kids, so I figured I could try and at least read half as many books as they did.
I made it, barely. As of the first of December, I had 9 books left to reach my goal. (I admit, I looked for shorter books to power through at 1.25 speed.) But I know I wouldn’t have come anywhere close if I hadn’t traded listening to podcasts for audio books.
I listened in the morning while I got ready, on my walk to and from work, in Ubers, while doing laundry, cleaning around the house. If you think about it, it’s a dream for a reader—I could read while doing pretty much everything! Except for drying my hair, I never figured that one out.
But I digress—the real reason most of you are here is to find out which books made my top list this year. There were so many good ones that I had to make it a Top 14 list instead of a top 10. And with that, here are the Top 14 books I read in 2018! Keep reading if you want to hear more about each one and why they found a place on my ‘best of’ list.
It would be impossible for me to list the the books in order of preference (there are a few vying for the number one spot) so I decided to group them by categories I’m making up 🙂
BOOKS THAT ARE SOCIALLY IMPORTANT
My friend and fellow writer, Nancy Johnson, wrote a powerful article about writing as resistance and using the power of words to foster understanding and build empathy. And that’s exactly what the authors of the first three books on my list did.
“This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel
If I was forced to pick my favorite book of the year, this might very well be it. Not only does it tell an important story of a family with a Transgendered child, but oh my. The writing was beautiful, but not in an over-your-head literary sense.
Frankel uses very approachable language and manages to create a rollercoaster of emotions in a single paragraph. You can go from feeling the characters’ stress and sadness to unexpectedly laughing out loud in the next sentence. It reads like real life.
Rosie and Penn have a busy, noisy house in the Midwest where they are raising their six boys, including the youngest Claude who dreams of being a princess. This story made my heart swell and it made it break, watching this family love their daughter and do what they believed was best for her. But secrets kept with the best intention are still secrets.
Words have so much power, and this book has the power to open minds, create compassion and understanding if it gets into the right hands. One of my favorite reads this year.