What are the best books of 2018? From The New York Times bestsellers to the most popular young adult releases, I have you covered with all of the year’s must-read books.
The year is quickly coming to a close and what a year it has been! I started my first blog in March 2018 not realizing that books were my true calling in the blogging world. Luckily, I have since found our niche.
Since I started focusing on books in September, I’ve been giving you peeks at the hottest new releases: This Fall’s Most-Anticipated New Books and The Best New Books to Curl Up With are just a few examples.
Let’s be honest, who has time to read every new release? That’s why I’ve decided to help you out by identifying my picks for the cream of the crop: the best books of 2018.
And no, I didn’t just list every New York Times Bestseller, though I have a number of those.
Instead, I tried to strike a balance between bestselling books, popular new releases, and the top fiction books that have been buzzing about the book blogging world. I also have some surprise favorites I heard about through word of mouth.
I wish I could say I’ve read every book on the list, but I can’t. (Sounds like a fun goal for our 2019 Reading Challenge, doesn’t it?) However, if you want to know which 2018 books I did read but didn’t make the cut, see my list of the books I read in 2018.
For now, I hope you enjoy perusing our selections for the best books of 2018. And, as always, I am curious to hear what you think, so leave me a comment!
New York Times Bestsellers 2018
A. J. Finn
Imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window meets the novel The Girl on the Train. This year’s hottest psychological thriller peeks into the life of Anna Fox, a New York City recluse who, spying on the family across the street, witnesses a shocking event. With its unreliable narrator and layers of secrets, The Woman in the Window will keep you guessing to the end. We can’t wait to read this best-selling book and hope it is worthy of our list of the best books of 2018. If you’ve read our Read This Not That article, you’ll know that we’ve been burned by bestsellers before.
Coming off The Nightingale, her wildly successful World War II novel, Kristin Hannah’s next book explores the untamed wilds of Alaska. A recently returned Vietnam War POW, Ernt Allbright decides to move his family to the Alaskan frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers and just what Ernt needs. But when the harsh Alaskan winter approaches and Ernt’s mental state begins to deteriorate, his wife and daughter must fight to survive. A captivating, stay-up-all-night novel that is one of the year’s best reads.
J. K. Rowling is back with her fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series (written under the pen name Robert Galbraith). With Robin Ellacott, now his partner instead of his secretary, Strike must investigate the case of a troubled young man who remembers witnessing a murder in his youth. However, Strike’s newfound fame complicates the matter, as does his relationship with Robin. Of all the new books to read this fall, we have to admit, we are most excited about this one.
James Patterson and Bill Clinton
A thriller co-written by a former president and one of the kings of thrillers! That combination alone should have you intrigued. (I’m sure that’s what the publisher was counting on. The publisher even used the phrase “set in real-time.” Cue the Kiefer Sutherland narration.) From what we’ve read, its premise sounds like a season of 24. Right after evidence is revealed that the President could be a traitor, he goes missing. If you like a good James Patterson thriller, give this book a try. I mean, it did sit as the New York Times #1 fiction bestseller for 6 weeks this summer.
Jodi Picoult has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and her latest book release is no exception. A Spark of Light begins with a gunman entering a women’s reproductive health clinic and taking all inside hostage – including the 15-year-old daughter of the hostage negotiator. With an abundance of characters all with different views on abortion, Picoult wants to encourage discussion on this hotly debated issue. If you’ve loved her other books or are interesting to see her take on the subject, you won’t want to pass up her latest book release.
Amazon Best Selling Books 2018
If you could know the day you will die, would you want to? And if you did know, how would that affect you? In 1969, the four teenage Gold children sneak out to have their fortunes told by a fortune-teller without realizing how that one encounter will affect the rest of their lives. Exploring the line between fate and free will, The Immortalists is an intriguing novel that will have you question your destiny. Content warning: the tale of the youngest brother is rather sexually explicit in sections.
One of Amazon’s bestselling books of 2018, Circe has been getting a ton of buzz this year. In this retelling of the Greek myth, Circe, the daughter of the sun god, feels out of place among the gods of Olympus. Yet, among mortals, she has magical powers of witchcraft. Banished by Zeus, Circe must decide where she belongs – with the gods of her birth or the mortals she’s come to live among. An intriguing premise and the perfect book for anyone who loves stories that give a different take on classic tales.
For years, Kya Clark has survived alone in the marshes of the North Carolina coast. Dubbed “The Marsh Girl” by the locals, she was abandoned by her family and has been raised by nature itself. Now, as she comes of age, she begins to yearn for something more than her loneliness – maybe even a connection with the locals. An exquisitely written tale that quickly became one of 2018’s bestselling books, Where the Crawdads Sing is one of this year’s must-reads.
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
If you are looking for an exciting new thriller, try Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s tale The Wife Between Us. As the book jacket notes, from the beginning, you will assume you are reading a book about a jealous ex-wife obsessed with her replacement. But appearances can be deceiving. We haven’t read this one yet, but it was among Amazon’s bestselling books of 2018 so we knew it belonged on our list of the best books of 2018.
Considered one of the best audiobooks of the year, Tommy Orange’s debut novel tells of the lives of urban Native Americans. Centered around the Big Oakland Powwow, There There peeks into the lives of twelve characters as each is drawn by their Native American heritage to visit the Powwow. Orange delivers a striking look at many of the issues that have plagued so many Native Americans – alcoholism, addiction, suicide, and abuse – as well as topics more specific to them. If you’ve never listened to a full-cast audiobook, you definitely should give this book a try.
Best Books 2018 Nonfiction
There is no excuse to not read Tara Westover’s spectacular memoir. In our opinion, Educated is simply the best nonfiction book of 2018. Westover grew up in the rural mountains of Idaho with no formal education. Despite her extremist survivalist parents and violent older brother, Westover managed to make her way into college, eventually earning a PhD. Her amazing determination is inspiring while the circumstances of her childhood are incredibly sad. Definitely one book that will stay with you for a long time.
For over a decade, a violent serial rapist plagued Northern California and then went on to commit 10 sadistic murders, never to be caught. 30 years later, journalist Michelle McNamara took on the cold case, obsessively determined to find the Golden State Killer. Posthumously published two years after her death, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is McNamara’s masterpiece of her search for the truth. Even more fascinating, only two months after this book was published, a suspect was formally charged in the murders.
One of the most popular books of 2018, Rachel Hollis’s motivational book Girl, Wash Your Face, seems to be one of the most talked-about books of the year. Honestly, Hollis’s writing seems to provoke extreme reactions – you’ll either love it or hate it. Honestly, Rachael loved it. It was just what she needed to hear at the time. Jaclyn did not. If you ever feel like you aren’t enough or tend to be too hard on yourself, give this book a try.
We can’t begin to describe how incredible this book is. Instead of telling you her life story, Maggie O’Farrell gives you glimpses into her life through separate incidents where she brushed against death, which has occurred surprisingly often. From a childhood illness to near-fatal accidents to miscarriage, O’Farrell gives you such an intriguing look not just at how she has almost died, but more importantly how she has lived. If you only read one book on this list, we suggest you pick this one.
Young Adult Releases 2018
Holly Black (author of the Spiderwick Chronicles) kicked off 2018’s best young adult books with The Cruel Prince, a book destined to develop a huge fandom. Stolen away by her parents’ murderer, twin sisters Jude and Taryn are raised among the magical folk of the fairy world. Being a mere mortal, Jude suffers under the senseless cruelty of the other young adults – especially the cruel Prince Cardan. Now, with the King of the Faeries abdicating his throne for one of his children, Jude is swept up into the complicated intrigue of court life. For its political machinations and young adult drama, The Cruel Prince is the perfect example of young adult fiction in 2018’s best books.
The book world was abuzz this year with excitement for this fantasy Young Adult novel, and rightfully so. Zélie Adebola watched as a ruthless king ordered the death of her mother and all the other maji in an effort to rid the world of magic. With one last chance, Zélie must use the help of a rogue princess to restore magic before the crown prince manages to eradicate magic for good. Beautifully blending Nigerian mythology, symbols from the Yoruba religion, and young adult fantasy, Tomi Adeyemi shines in her debut novel.
Sarah J. Maas
Among the most anticipated book releases this fall would have to have been the seventh and last book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. Aelin Galathynius has gone from slave to assassin to queen and now must fight to the last. As the final battle approaches, the fates of your favorite characters are revealed. For all you Throne of Glass lovers, you are sure to agree that Kingdom of Ash was one of the most hyped new novels. If, like me, you haven’t tested the series yet, there is no better time than now to pick up Throne of Glass, the first book in the series.
So many of our favorite authors had new books out this fall that we aren’t sure where to begin. But no list of the 2018’s best novels would be complete without Markus Zusak’s latest novel. The five Dunbar boys are a (mostly) united force against the world. When they discover the secret behind their dad’s disappearance, can Clay build a bridge to overcome the past? From the description, I’m not sure what this book is about, but we can’t tell you how much we loved The Book Thief, so we hope his newest book can measure up.
Best WWII Historical Fiction Books to Read
I can’t help but notice new WWII historical fiction, and this one, in particular, has been getting great reviews. In April 1942, Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov is imprisoned in Auschwitz. Instead of being forced into manual labor, he is given the task of tattooing the numbers onto his fellow prisoners. Not only is this haunting tale based on a true story, but Heather Morris interviewed Lale Sokolov for the book. If you love reading about World War II as much as I do, be sure to check out this stunning new novel.
When his plane is shot down over Tuscany, British pilot Hugo Langley takes refuge in a ruined monastery. There he falls in love with and is then betrayed by the beautiful Sofia Bartoli. Now, 30 years later after Hugo’s funeral, his daughter Joanna finds an unopened letter to Sofia. Joanna decides to set off to discover her father’s history and maybe discover something about herself in the process. Another of 2018’s best World War 2 novels, The Tuscan Child is the perfect choice if you enjoy novels that are partly set during WW2 and partly set in modern times.
Top Fiction Books on our To-Read List
Selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club, An American Marriage is one of the top fiction books of 2018. At first glance, newlyweds Celestial and Roy seem like the perfect American couple. He’s a young executive, and she’s an emerging artist. However, as life comes into play and Roy is unjustly imprisoned, their marriage begins to fall apart. Discussing love, marriage, and race, this thought-provoking read is one to add to your to-read list.
In the ultimate what-if scenario, Vox is set in a terrifying depiction of a future America. One day, the government decrees that women are only allowed to speak 100 words daily. At first, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. How could this be happening? Quickly she must adjust to this scary new reality and do everything she can to fight for the rights of herself and her daughter, along with the rights of all women. A haunting premise that will leave you pondering what you would do if it happened to you.
In 1862, a group of young artists summer together at Birchwood Manor to enjoy a season of joint creative endeavors. Instead, they are left with the murder of a young woman and the disappearance of another – along with an irreplaceable heirloom. In modern times, archivist Elodie Winslow discovers a haunting photograph of a young woman. Her search for the truth of the long-ago past leads her into a forgotten history and a thrilling journey through time.
Shobha Rao’s debut novel is making waves this year. Chronicling the lives of two Indian girls, Girls Burn Brighter tackles many of the pressing topics facing women today: domestic abuse, human tracking, immigration and women’s rights. Poornima finds a kindred soul in Savitha, one of her father’s new employees. Yet, when an act of violence sends Savitha away, Poornima will go through the underbelly of India and all the way to America to find her.
Radio personality West McCray stumbles on the story of Mattie, a young girl horribly murdered. He can’t get the tale out of his head and becomes obsessed with finding Mattie’s older sister Sadie. Yet, Sadie has disappeared, determined to find her Mattie’s killer. With no desire to be found, Sadie only wants one thing – revenge. Of all the top fiction books to read, the dark themes of Sadie make it the hardest one on the list.
Popular Books Recommended by Book Bloggers
In her latest book, Pat Barker takes you back to the Battle of Troy. Instead of Achilles, Helen, Paris or Agamemnon, The Silence of the Girls chooses Briseis as its main character – the captured queen forced to be one of Achilles’s concubines. When Agamemnon demands her for himself, Briseis finds herself in a unique position between two extremely powerful men. If you love fiction that brings history to life, try Barker’s look at the Trojan War from a new perspective.
I have to admit, this book was not on my radar at all. I would never have considered adding it to my list of 2018’s best books if I hadn’t seen it among the recommended books to read from my blogging friends. This interesting retelling of the famous Frankenstein tale focuses on Elizabeth Lavenza, a woman who is taken in by the Frankenstein family and eventually becomes inseparable from the infamous Victor. As Victor descends into darkness with an increasingly dangerous temper, Elizabeth must use all her cunning to survive. One of the best new books out if you are in the mood for a dark and intriguing premise.
After nearly drowning (or possibly actually drowning), Cass has been able to see beyond into the realm of spirits. An extraordinary ability to be sure, but one she is learning to live with. However, when her parents take her on a tour of Scotland’s most haunted locations, Cass quickly learns how much she doesn’t know and how dangerous that is. An intriguing middle-grade pick, City of Ghosts is one of 2018’s best books for younger readers.
Latest Books 2018
Marketed as the perfect spot to turn over a new leaf, Tranquilium House is a luxurious and remote health resort. Ready for a change, nine strangers gather together for their life-changing stay. Could these ten days of pampering, relaxation, and mindfulness have all the answers they are seeking? Or is much more going on? Would it be better to leave this resort and never look back? Or is it already too late? As with her other novels, Liane Moriarty has likely penned another book club favorite.
New to the Young Adult fantasy genre is Natasha Ngan’s latest book, Girls of Paper and Fire. Lei, a typical country girl, is selected along with eight other girls to be a Paper Girl, the King’s consorts. Although Lei may be from the paper caste, she has a heart of fire. Instead of succumbing to her fate, she will fight for her rights to love and to be her own person. An exciting new entry, time will tell if Girls of Paper and Fire will live up to 2018’s bestselling YA fiction.
One of the most anticipated releases of 2018 is former First Lady Michelle Obama’s new memoir. Detailing her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her success as a working mother and her years in the White House, Obama shows how her past has shaped her into who she has become today. No matter your personal political views, Michelle Obama’s dedication to improving the lives of women and girls makes her an inspiring individual and earns her memoir a place on our list of the best books of 2018.
George R. R. Martin
Set centuries before A Game of Thrones, this latest release from George R. R. Martin records the history of the Targaryen clan, answering many unanswered questions about such things as the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs. At 736 pages, this first volume in the two-part history is not for the faint of heart. However, if you are a die-hard George R. R. Martin fan, I’m sure you will lap up every word.
Finally, one of the last YA releases of 2018 we want to highlight is Emiko Jean’s Empress of All Seasons. The kingdom of Honoku has a tradition. Every generation, all eligible maidens are allowed a chance to marry the prince. All they have to do is survive the palace’s four enchanted rooms – one for each season. Mari has been training her whole life to become empress. Except she has a secret. She is a yōkai – a person who can transform into a terrifying monster. Can she hide her secret, especially after meeting Taro, the prince who does not want to become emperor?
What do you think are the best books of 2018?