Popularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Check out these books popular enough to be Goodreads Winners in 2018.
Every December, the popular website Goodreads puts together the Goodreads Choice Awards. In 21 different categories, you get to vote for your favorite book published that year.
Anyone who has ever voted in the Goodreads Choices awards knows that it’s a glorified popularity contest.
Does the best book win the Goodreads award in each category? Not necessarily. The Goodreads winners in 2018 tell you the most widely read book in that genre.
Think of it this way. When average citizen Sally goes to vote for the best fiction book of 2018, she has likely read only 1 or 2 books on the entire list. And if she hasn’t read any? She just picks titles and authors she’s heard of.
So why would you care about the Goodreads winners? Why did I put it as one of the categories of my 2019 Reading Challenge?
Don’t get me wrong. Popularity contests have their benefits. As I said, by selecting one of the Goodreads winners of 2018, you are reading one of the most widely read books in that genre. That means you will have an easy time finding someone to discuss the book with!
So don’t let popularity turn you away. In our opinion, some of these Goodreads winners of 2018 are the best in their category. The ones that aren’t? Well, they are still really good books.
The third book in the Me Before You Trilogy, Still Me follows Louisa Clark to New York where she takes a job among New York City’s high society. Caught between two worlds, Louisa must discover who she really is. This is what we mean when we talk about the Goodreads choice awards winners being part of a popularity contest. Was Still Me the best fiction book of 2018? Definitely not. But because Me Before You was such a big hit, the third book in the series was probably the most read fiction book of 2018 – or the most recognized. Honestly, I have nothing against this book and plan to read it myself. Just not sure if it deserves top billing.
Runners Up: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Mystery & Thriller Winner
Another extremely popular author, Stephen King delivers another hit with The Outsider. When an 11-year-old boy is found violently murdered, all evidence points to Terry Maitland, a well-respected citizen, teacher, and baseball coach. At trial, the ironclad case starts to unravel, and you have to wonder: Did Maitland do it? Prepare to be shocked by the truth like so many others in this Goodreads winner for best mystery and thriller.
Runners Up: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Historical Fiction Winner
The Great Alone
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 last year’s best reads.
Runners Up: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
One of Amazon’s bestselling books of 2018, Circe got a ton of buzz last 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 the 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.
Runners Up: The Shape of Water by Daniel Kraus, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, Year One by Nora Roberts
The Kiss Quotient
In the vein of The Rosie Project, comes Helen Hoang’s debut novel about love when you have Asperger’s. The protagonist, Stella Lane, is a math genius – great at her job but with no experience dating. To fix this problem, she hires the drop-dead gorgeous escort Michael Phan to teach her all about romance. As they check off all the boxes on her romance lesson plan, Stella begins to realize that she might actually be in love. Romance is not our forte, so we probably will never read this one, but we know lots of people who have loved it.
Runners Up: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, The Thief by J. R. Ward
Science Fiction Winner
V. E. Schwab
Victoria Schwab’s books seem to be everywhere lately! In Vicious, her first book in the series, the story follows former roommates Victor and Eli who experimented with near-death experiences for their senior thesis – with terrible results. Now that Victor is out of prison, the two archenemies are out for revenge. In this sequel, Schwab starts up 5 years later showing the aftermath of Vicious‘s finale.
Runners Up: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Vox by Christina Dalcher, Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
That’s right, master storyteller Stephen King has two Goodreads winners in 2018! For the horror category, we have a story that not at all horrifying. I guess people just hear the name Stephen King and assume his books must be horror. Good guy Scott Carey starts to realize he is losing weight – but not getting any smaller. What will happen if he becomes weightless? Meanwhile, his lesbian neighbors are trying to start a restaurant among homophobic prejudices. In the end, Scott’s affliction will bring everyone together. It sounds horrifying, doesn’t it?
Runners Up: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice
The Last Black Unicorn
Stand-up comedian Tiffany Haddish grew up in a poor neighborhood of South Central LA. From an early age, she realized that making people laugh was the key to avoiding trouble. Her stories of being the high school mascot and becoming a Bar Mitzvah hype woman are side-splittingly funny. However, we must be honest and say we started this one, but did not finish. It reached a point of too much language and way too much sexual detail. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll probably find this memoir hilarious.
Runners Up: Calypso by David Sedaris, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
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.
Runners Up: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, Fear by Bob Woodward, Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Memoir & Autobiography Winner
There is no excuse to not read Tara Westover’s spectacular memoir. In our opinion, Educated was 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. Read more →
Runners Up: Becoming by Michelle Obama, In Pieces by Sally Field, This Is Me by Chrissy Metz
History & Biography Winner
The Good Neighbor
The beloved creator and star of Mister Roger’s neighborhood gets his first full-length biography by Maxwell King. King details Fred Roger’s life and his drive to create the best children’s show he could. Combining teaching kindness and inclusion with best practices by child development experts, Rogers was a force for good in this world and will always be remembered fondly.
Runners Up: Robin by Dave Itzkoff, Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, House of Dreams by Liz Rosenberg
Science & Technology Winner
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
What kid doesn’t love learning about dinosaurs? We both are moms, so we have spent plenty of time learning how to pronounce such names as pachycephalosauros and deinonychus. In his latest work, Brusatte describes the evolution of dinosaurs from their very beginnings to their dominance and eventual extinction. Be prepared to learn all about the different ages of the dinosaurs. Interspersed within are tales of his travels and research, as well as new findings in paleontology.
Runners Up: Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer, Broad Band by Claire L. Evans
Food & Cookbooks Winner
Cravings: Hungry for More
Instagram sensation Chrissy Teigen joins the 2018 Goodreads winners with her new cookbook, Cravings: Hungry For More. Known for her modeling, as a cohost on Lip Sync Battle, and as the wife of John Legend, Teigen shines on her own with her second cookbook. Now that she’s a mom, the recipes in Teigen’s latest cookbook go a bit more on the lighter side but, more importantly, are more likely to factor in time. Read more →
Runners Up: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines, Tasty Latest and Greatest by Tasty, A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh
Graphic Novels & Comics Winner
I never read graphic novels unless I am reading Calvin & Hobbes to my kids, but Sarah Andersen’s 2018 Goodreads winner looks hilarious. With wit and charm, Anderson illustrates the hilarious problems of modern life – like avoiding people and dealing with internet trolls – in a collection of illustrated comics. If you are looking for a relatable and amusing quick read, the 3rd book in her Sarah Scribbler collection is worth your time.
Runners Up: Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd, Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan, Ms. Marvel, Vol 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
The second book in her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series, Amanda Lovelace is back with another Goodreads choice award in poetry. Her protagonist, the witch, is powerful, independent and fierce. Emboldening women to foster resilience and action, nothing others do to the witch can bring her down. She will not burn in this one.
Runners Up: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Useless Magic by Florence Welch, The Dark Between Stars by Atticus
Debut Author Winner
Children of Blood and Bone
The book world was abuzz last 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 attempting 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.
Runners Up: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Young Adult Fiction Winner
Leah on the Offbeat
In the sequel to Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (which became the movie Love, Simon), Leah Burke takes center stage. The girl-band drummer has all the confidence when performing, but none in her love life. She can’t even manage to tell her best friend Simon that she is bisexual. Add in all the senior year angst of friends heading in different directions and you have a hit that was the clear finalist of the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees for young adult fiction.
Runners Up: Sadie by Courtney Summers, What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire
Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction Winner
Kingdom of Ash
Sarah J. Maas
Among the most anticipated book releases of last fall was the seventh book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. In the last book in the 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 last year’s favorite YA fantasy novel. If 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.
Runners Up: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Warstorm by Victoria Aveyard
Middle Grade Winner
The Burning Maze
As punishment, Zeus has cast Apollo out of Mount Olympus to live as an awkward teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. To return to glory, Lester must restore the five Oracles. Having already survived his first two trials, the 3rd book in The Trials of Apollo series sees Lester and Meg fight their way through the Labyrinth to find the third oracle.
Runners Up: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Picture Books Winner
I Am Enough
I Am Enough is a beautiful tribute to loving who you are and being kind and respectful to others. Just look at that gorgeous cover by Keturah A. Bobo. I think that alone would win in the award for best picture book.
Runners Up: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Best of the Best – Past Goodreads Winners Compete
The Hate U Give
This was the first year that Goodreads decided to have voters choose their favorite from past Goodreads winners. Coming out on top was Angie Thomas’s debut novel, The Hate U Give. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter works hard to balance her life between her poor neighborhood and the elite suburban prep school she attends. Yet, when Starr is the only witness to the fatal police shooting of her best friend, she finds herself in the middle of a national headline. With all the recent coverage of police shootings, Thomas’s novel adds a new layer to the conversation on this important topic.
Runners Up: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, A Court of Mist and Fury By Sarah J. Maas, The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Which 2018 Goodreads winners have you read or do you plan to read?