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18 Nov 2019
The best books I read in 2018

Sorry for the delay! I’m just barely slipping this in before I have to start working on my 2019 list, whoops!

Series[eseseseses…] I loved reading in 2018

  • Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow - Children of world leaders are raised as hostages by an AI to ensure world peace. Obviously war and rebellion come. (For Molly: there’s at least one scene I’d tag with #entrailsfromchandeliers for you.)
  • The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone - Everyone recommended these to me for years, because they’re fantasy novels about law and magic. I bounced off hard the first time I tried one a few years back, but when I went back to the series last year, I fell in love. I think I needed to get further away from lawyering before I could truly appreciate these.
  • The Brothers Sinister by Courtney Milan - I was promised romance novels that tackle a wide range of heavy issues while still remaining fairly light and fun but somehow not too glib, and these delivered.
  • The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce - The ultimate reread, of course. The Alanna books meant the world to me as a kid!
  • The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones - Another fantasy YA reread from my childhood, which I loved back then and continue to love now.

I have fond memories of the Little House books, so it was fascinating to read about the author’s real life and then reread the best of the stories.

  • Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Carolina Fraser
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Still super nostalgic and great, even given the rather darker context from the biography above.

Other scifi and fantasy I loved reading in 2018

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - Creepy, fucked up fantasy novel - magic and gods and abuse.
  • The Daevabad Trilogy #1: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty - Somewhat antihero protagonist has healing powers, discovers she’s maybe part djinn, gets taken to djinn city full of dangerous politics.
  • Lexicon by Max Barry - Gory, words and persuasion and manipulation, really quite interesting and fun in a bloody sorta way.
  • Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi - It was such a pleasure to read about an engineer who’s also an autistic woman of color.
  • Way Station by Clifford D. Simak - Reread - such classic scifi, from back when it was closer to Dunsany.
  • Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke - Also a reread, also very much a classic for good reason.

Other YA I loved reading in 2018

  • American Panda by Gloria Chao - YA romance, sure, but what hit me really hard here was the ongoing theme of dealing with perfectionist critical immigrant parents, and complicating sibling relationships when dealing with parental emotional abuse.
  • Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - Fat protagonist who isn’t focused on getting thin, lots of Dolly fandom. Really charming, and the movie was pretty fun too.
  • The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee - Monkey King inspired YA novel! Really fun brain candy.

Other books I loved reading in 2018 that related to gender, race, and class

  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See - I love both Lisa See and puer tea generally, so I was absolutely the target audience here.
  • The Neapolitan Novels #3: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante - I’ve been continuing to slowly work my way through this series. It stays astonishingly strong.
  • Faking It: The Lies Women Tell About Sex - And the Truths They Reveal by Lux Alptraum - Disclaimer, Lux is a good friend of mine. She’s also a great author! In a lot of ways, this felt like an expanded summary of many of the conversations we’ve had over tea, which made it extra fun for me.
  • Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Pretty dark for Rowell. Poverty, abusive stepfather.
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang - Female mathematician on the autism spectrum hires a male prostitute to teach her how to kiss &c. Super cute romance!

Other non-fiction I loved reading in 2018

  • Alibaba’s World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business by Porter Erisman
  • Where India Goes by Diane Coffey and Dean Spears - On toilet usage in India, of course.
  • Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Jonice Webb, PhD - The title sounds dire, but it’s more generally full of useful advice on how we can take better care of ourselves.
  • The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee - The kosher peking duck bit was of course my favorite.
  • Stiff and Grunt by Mary Roach - Basically everything she’s ever written is fantastic and fun, light but full of super interesting tidbits.

Total number of books read in 2018: 185

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