If there is any sort of year-end list that actually appeals to me, it would have to be the “best books I read this year” list. I managed to whittle mine down to the top 10 (well, 11, technically) books I read in 2018. That isn’t to say these books were published in 2018; some of them were, but many of them weren’t (because I’m slow, damnit, and I can hardly keep up with everything published every year).
So here it is: my top 10 2018 books (with an honorable mention).
The order in which they appear is only the order in which I read the books; I am hardly decisive enough to put them into an actual order of preference, but I like the countdown method, so we’re starting at 10 anyway!
10. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This might have been the very first book I read at the start of 2018. I was in Belize, on my honeymoon, on a hammock on the beach, listening to the tide roll in and reading a moving and engaging literary take on the apocalypse.
9. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Sure, it might be cheating to count three books as one, but I read them all back-to-back, and it’s a continuing story through all three books. Fun fact: my short story, “We Are Turning on a Spindle,” was listed as a notable selection in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by N.K. Jemisin. I’m not even mad she didn’t choose the story for inclusion; that means N.K. Jemisin read one of my stories!
8. Revival by Stephen King
I really like what he did here. It didn’t feel like your typical Stephen King story. The characters and setting were so richly wrought, and the conceit was subtle—not really horror, at all, but entirely engaging.
7. The Historian by Elizabeth Kosova
This one had been on my to-read list for years, and what an enjoyable literary romp it was. As far as vampires go, I’m a classicist, and I do love all things Vlad the Impaler.
6. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Riveting. Horrifying. At first I found the conceit a little silly, but the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more brutal everything gets. Possibly the scariest book I read this year, with an absolutely killer ending.
5. Florence & Giles by John Harding
I can see how others might find the voice grating, but I found the precocious voice of Florence utterly delightful in this atmospheric Gothic.
4. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay really knows how to get inside your head and amp up the uncertainty in this home invasion slash apocalypse story. Fun fact: I got this one signed at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, where I awkwardly told Paul Tremblay that we were in an anthology together several years ago (and then made him sign that one, too).
3. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Who else is sick of fantasies set in western European locations? Holy hell, get your hands on this book. It’s an African fantasy that will break your heart while thrilling you with the ride.
2. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
Absolutely fascinating: a nonfiction work examining the history of zero, how the concept came to be, and how various cultures have responded to it over the years. Sometimes I realize I am SUCH a nerd.
1. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
As a lover of long-form storytelling, I’m not usually inclined to include a book of short stories on my list, even though I read several anthologies and collections this year that were utterly fantastic (honorable mentions here would have to be A World of Horror and The Five Senses of Horror, both edited by Eric J. Guignard and published by Dark Moon Books). Machado’s collection, however, is raw, powerful, surreal, and disturbing.
Honorable Mention: Fear by Bob Woodward
This book confirmed my suspicions that our president is an idiot. Thanks, Bob!