Best Reads of 2018: Fiction.


I have compiled three lists this year. Today, I post the list of my favorite fiction reads of 2018. Next Monday, I will release my nonfiction list. And the following Monday, I will have my Science Fiction/ Fantasy list. I didn’t have a set number in mind when I started making these lists. I just knew that I had read so many good books this year that it was important to spread as much book cheer as possible. Thanks for checking it out, and as alway, Happy Reading!

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Urrea writes of the past, present, and possible future of each cousin, sister, and uncle. The characters struggle with the that eternal question of what makes a person successful and of value to each other. And because Big Angel is terminally ill, he spends most of his days contemplating his value to his family. One of his friends encourages him to keep a journal of all the things he will miss. His list includes the mundane, everyday things of life, but also the special intangibles that make family and life so precious.

The House of Broken Angels is special book about the American Experience. I’ll be thinking about it and recommending it to people for a long time.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

While the first half of the novel may be described as a slow burn, the second half is full of twists on every page and is well worth the wait. Ware expertly threads the knowledge of tarot reading throughout the narrative in a way that deftly furthers both the plot and the characters’ developments. It is very enjoyable to follow the character of Hal as she tries to use her dexterity with the tarot cards to read the people around her. Overall, I definitely recommend this book for its unique twist on the inheritance mystery.

Ohio by Stephen Markley

Ohio is not a book about living in the past, nor is it about trying to change the past, but as Markley so eloquently puts it, it’s about the storm called progress. For me, the narrative combines a Richard Russo novel, Hillbilly Elegy, and Billy’s Long Halftime Walk. It’s an excellent contemplation of small town life in a part of this country, and a war that many people have forgotten about. I wholeheartedly recommend Ohio; it is very important literature.

Katerina by James Frey

Katerina is at once a decent into alcoholism, a blistering tour of Paris, and a chance at reconnecting. It stirred up resentments and old dirty guilt, yet also past loves and memories of a time when we all care less about the consequences and more about the immediate pleasure that life gives. I was constantly questioning my own turning points: When did I shift my focus from the now to the next day to the future? Is it the shock of mortality from a death? Is it having children? It’s a short book, but it is one that left me with countless personal thoughts, and a continued appreciation for James Frey’s writing.

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

At its heart, Dear Mrs. Bird is wonderful little book that posits work, romance, friendship, and a stiff upper lip during a time of great strife, and comes away a very enjoyable experience.

The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco

A vivd cast of characters, a strong decisive style, and a burning tension throughout make The Best Bad Things a book I can highly recommend. Alma Rosales is a smart, savvy character who will not be forgotten any time soon. A great debut novel.

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

A Well-Behaved Woman is a novel told through the eyes of a woman who does not settle for convention. The connections to our current struggles in gender politics are not hard to see. Fowler states in her Author’s Note after the text that she was compelled to tell Alva’s story “to combat the way notable women in history are too often reduced to little more than sensationalized sound bites.” The author masterfully accomplishes this task in A Well-Behaved Woman.

Young Adult Fiction

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

This searing novel can bring truth to everyone who reads it: I found empathy in Moss’s experience with his anxiety. I found a sense of renewal in the strength of the several teachers who stood with the students during tragedies in the book. What truth could a young person see in this book? A parent of a teenager? A member of law enforcement?  Anger is a Gift is a novel that represents an important part of the social narrative that needs to be heard.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud’s Mirage starts with a simple premise, yet quickly becomes satisfyingly complex, and very, very good. I raced through this book, particularly enjoying the complex relationships Amani has with Maram and her fiancé Idris. All Daud’s characters are caught in the bands that hold them to their stations. They all must contend with the pressure that comes with a life of expectation, loyalty, and maybe, love. I predict that Mirage will be a very successful book.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Linked above is my tongue-in-cheek letter to Summers after reading the book. Here’s the last lines:

Seriously, this book will stay with me for a long time. It was so damn creative and important and addicting.

Thank you for the book, and the reading hangover.

The Prodigy by John Feinstein

The Prodigy is an outstanding read. It may be labeled as a young adult novel, but I found topics and themes that would be compelling for any reader. I would say that someone should have some knowledge of golf, yet the author does provide good background info throughout. Very fun read, with great commentary on the game and the roles parents and others should have in the development of young athletes. Highly recommended.

16 thoughts on “Best Reads of 2018: Fiction.

Add yours

  1. I’m bookmarking this Paul! It’s outstanding! The House of Broken Angels and A Well-Behaved Woman would be on my list, too. I finally bought Katerina on audio and I completely agree about Sadie. I see some others I have to add asap. Well-done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Hey!! Thanks for including my post!
      Again, always love your Saturday Roundup.
      And the James Frey review🤣🤣🤣. I looked the book up on GoodReads and there are many on either end of the spectrum. Obviously for this writer with his baggage, can or should the reader separate the work from the author. Interesting. Some reviews focus on that aspect and others on the writing itself. Polarizing book for sure!


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