Whether you're a bookworm or shopping for one, you'll appreciate this list of the best books we read in 2018. And since we read a lot around here, you know they're good. Some are new, some are old, and together they span most genres. Chances are you or your giftee will find at least one you love.
This beautiful book pretty much tore my heart out. I couldn't stop thinking about it well after I was done. Jesmyn Ward brings this story of a family to transcendent levels. The novel follows JoJo, a 13-year-old boy in Mississippi who is grappling with his identity, what it means to become a man, and the limits of his own family. Ward takes a dark look at racism, poverty, grief, addiction, and America's ugly history—and miraculously writes so much hope into all of it. — Dria de Botton Barnes, editor in chief
Nextflix made a movie version of To All the Boys I Loved Before this year, and it made a very understandable splash—lots of cute actors played cute characters in a cute high school love story. I read the book after seeing the movie and enjoyed it just as much. It maybe wasn't the best book I read this year, but it was a fun break from my usual lineup and I'd definitely recommend it to people looking for the same. — Caroline Olney, platforms editor
This is a beautiful and, at times, tragic story about the challenges of growing up (especially as a black girl in the 70s and 80s) and the unique and impactful relationships we have with our mothers. I highly recommend for anyone who's a fan of Smith's poetry or coming-of-age memoirs. — Suze Kaufman, assistant social strategist
Roland Deschain—the last of the gunslingers—is chasing a man in black to the ends of worlds, hoping to find a mysterious dark tower for some unknown reason. I know that doesn’t say much, but it's all I can reveal without spoiling this mysteriously epic intro to Stephen King’s masterpiece, The Dark Tower. The Gunslinger blends some of my favorite genres (Western, horror, sci-fi, fantasy) and made me ask what the hell was going on the whole time. — Brandon Doerrer, platforms intern
I love any book that makes me cry on the subway, so it's not surprising this YA novel is at the top of my list. Told from the perspective of three bio siblings who grew up in different homes, it tackles complex topics like teen pregnancy, alcoholism, transracial adoption, and the foster care system, but at the same time is funny, endearing, and hard to put down. — Jay Blades, head of content development
If the title has you thinking this is a glorified Lifetime movie, give it 20 pages and you'll be hooked. The story combines crazy suspense and drama that tugged on my heartstrings and had me ripping through the pages. You'll find yourself thinking about the relationship between mothers and daughters and what makes a family a family. If sleep wasn't so important, I would have read this entire book in one night. — Jamie Webber, senior food editor
The memoir of Canadian restaurateur and activist Jen Agg takes you into the male-dominated restaurant industry, where her independence and vision are not always well received. The book is about feminism, confidence, persistence, and very good food. — Andrew McMaster, editorial intern
If you loved fairy tales as a kid, this retelling of Rumplestiltskin should be on your must-read list. Not only is it filled with kings and queens, gold-seeking frost demons, and a kick-butt female lead, it's also set in the heart of a charming snowy village—ideal for reading under a giant blanket with some mulled wine. — Ashley Sepanski, branded content editor
You know those books you can’t stop thinking about, even though months have passed since you read the last page? This is one of them. The compelling novel follows two divergent lines of an African family from 18th century Ghana to present day. Gyasi artfully depicts the long-lasting effects of colonialism and the slave trade through every generation. It’s breathtaking, heartbreaking, and something you’ll never forget. — Jenna Haufler, associate video producer
I’ve read this book like five times since I was 19, but every single time, I have a completely different relationship with the characters—especially the narrator, Lucy Snowe. Snowe is such a masterful example of an unreliable narrator, which I love because, you know, reality is subjective and all our truths are so different.
Her viewpoint, warped from trauma, colors how she tells the story, so noticing what details she focuses on and which she omits becomes kind of a game. Yeah, I think I’m going to have to reread it again next year. Strongly recommend going for an annotated edition unless you’re super fluent in French, BTW. — Jess Novak, senior lifestyle and beauty editor
I was late to the party with this book (and no, I haven't seen the movie!), but holy guacamole. It's a gut-wrenching page-turner about a mother and son who, after seven years of being held captive in a man's shed, finally devise a plan to escape. Told from the perspective of the 7-year-old-son, Jack, it's not a story for the faint of heart, but it's definitely worth reading. — Jamey Powell, associate fitness editor
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