It’s been a bit since I’ve done a Monthly Recommendations post (be sure to check out the Goodreads group here!), but I’m back with a really fun one asking us to spotlight one book from each of the 11 topics that have been featured this year!
There are a lot of great ways to interpret this prompt, but I’m going to respond with the best book I’ve read this year for each topic. If you want more recs, be sure to click on the prompt to check out my original posts! And of course, you can always go through the Goodreads group and see what other members are recommending.
January: Best First Book in a Series
Probably Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff! I devoured this entire trilogy this year and loved all three books, but I think the first one is still my favorite. It just introduced a really novel format and premise and really hooked me and took me along for the ride. Plus I think Kady and Ezra are my favorite of the three couples we meet in the series!
February: Graphic Novels/Mixed Media
I read some great graphic novels this year, but I have to recommend the March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. The series covers Lewis’ role in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington and the Selma March, and it’s a part of history that I think not nearly enough people know about or properly appreciate today. I know I didn’t! Plus the execution and artwork of this trilogy are amazing. I really can’t recommend these books enough.
I think the only duology, or part of a duology, that I read in 2018 was The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, the sequel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, though I would hardly say this book wins only be default. I was unexpectedly delighted by the first book, and Lee delivered everything I could ask for out of the sequel that came out this fall. It’s such a great, funny read, and Lee included so much spot-on commentary in it. I loved every minute of it and highly recommend this pair of books if you haven’t read them already!
April: Mental Health Representation
Hmmmm, I think my favorite discussing mental health might be A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole. Or maybe The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang? I can’t pick! I love A Duke by Default for so, so many reasons, and one of them is definitely the portrayal of Portia’s ADHD and how she discovered it and learned to live with it. It felt really raw and authentic, and I saw a number of people on Twitter discuss what great representation the book included. I was super impressed with The Kiss Quotient, too! It talks a lot about what it’s like for Stella to live with autism and how she interacts with the world and navigates a relationship, and it was so, so well done. Definitely some of my favorites of the year!
I feel like there are so many I could pick for this answer, but for the sake of not repeating any of my other answers, I’m going to go with They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Literally all of the booktubers I follow read and loved this book, so of course I had to read it too. No surprise that I loved it as well! I’m actually really impressed because normally these one-day type stories don’t work all that well for me, but I thought this one was really impressive and I can definitely see why it was so hyped.
I listened to some impressive audiobooks this year, but I think my favorite by far was Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I started listening to it in the car with my husband, and we both got completely hooked. We needed to know what was going to happen next and figure out what was going on! Plus the full-cast narration was great. We found ourselves turning the audiobook on as frequently as possible because neither of us could stand not knowing what was going on! The story was addicting and the production was amazing, and I highly recommend these books on audio.
July: Books Worth a Reread
I made it a point to reread more books this year than I usually do, and while I enjoyed all of my rereads, my favorite was definitely A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I did reread the entire trilogy and I do like the other two books, but I can definitely see myself rereading this one repeatedly on its own and skipping the rest of the trilogy. It’s just that good! I got to slow down and savor it a bit more on a reread, and I loved it even more than the first time I reread it. This book is absolutely worth a reread! (Though shoutout to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which I already reread this year and is pretty much my ultimate reread ever.)
August: Underrated Books
I’m actually thinking of doing another post about underrated books after Mackenzi Lee made a great point in her Instagram stories about the books with all of the marketing money behind them being the ones that make the best-of-the-year lists and asking people to recommend their underhyped books. I can definitely tell you that one of the books I’ll include (again) in that post is going to be The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It’s an amazing essay collection that brings together just a handful of the multitude of experiences that refugees encounter, and it’s such a powerful read. I encourage everyone to check it out, even if you’re not a big nonfiction reader. The essays are pretty short and really easy to get through, and you can easily read it in a day or two, though the length in no way detracts from the quality of this collection.
September: Marathon-Worthy Series
I’ve binged my fair share of series this year, but I have to give a shoutout to Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series! I’m not much of a paranormal romance reader (historicals are definitely my preference), but I picked these up after seeing Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader rave about them, and I’m so glad I did. They’re so addicting! I’m not sure how you can read just one and not immediately go out and get the next book. I made it through the first eight before I had to force myself to stop and take a breather so I don’t get burned out on them since I have another nine to go! The premise for these books doesn’t sound like anything special and the covers are super cringy, but if you give them a try, I’m sure you’ll get just as hooked as Jenica and I did.
October: Witchy Reads
I still haven’t really read any witchy reads this year other than the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, so I’m going to pick my favorite book in the series for this answer, The Book of Life. I loved this whole series and all of the history that was woven into it, but the third book really knocked it out of the park for me. Harkness just did such a great job bringing the whole series together. I’m a big fan of these books, and I really need to see the TV show already!
November: Relatable Characters
This is a tough one for me, as I see elements of myself in all sorts of characters that I read, but I’m not sure there are ones that really jump out at me as ones that I most relate to. I’ll go with Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I think part of the reason this series is so popular is that so many people can relate to different aspects of Lara Jean. For me, it’s that she likes spending time with her family and doesn’t like to go outside of her comfort zone and can be seen as old fashioned in a lot of ways, things I can definitely connect with. I loved seeing the possibilities of her trying something new. I wasn’t as big of a fan of this series when I reread it this year, but I still love Lara Jean, and I’m more than happy comforting myself with the movie. And while I still maintain that I don’t want a sequel, I’m excited to see what they do with it!
I almost forgot how many great books I’ve read this past year, and now I feel like I need to go back and reread a bunch of them. I found a lot of new favorites in 2018, and I can’t wait to see what new favorites I discover in 2019! Let me know in the comments what some of your favorites books were from this past year!