Favorite Books of 2018

Read any good books in 2018? I definitely did. Here are a few of my favorites!

Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson

everythings-trash

It’s hard to write a book that dissects feminism, cuts to the heart of racism and sexism, and also makes you want to pee your pants because you’re laughing so hard. “Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay” is very that, though. Phoebe Robinson is brilliant and hilarious, sharing personal essays that will make you laugh until tears are streaming down your face while you’re on your miserable 45-minute commute to your job driving through the country backroads of western Massachusetts (Amherst is not easy to get to, guys). Each essay was excellent, but I’ll admit it: hearing all about meeting Bono was my absolute favorite. I highly recommend the audiobook for this, too. Though you miss out on some of the photos (you can just stalk her on Instagram to find them!), you get to hear Phoebe read this aloud as it’s intended. Plus, there’s nothing better than when she starts to laugh at her own jokes.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words by Michael Ausiello

spoiler-alert

You’ll need tissues for this one — a moving, real-life love story of TV writer Michael Ausiello and photographer Kit Cowan. Ausiello moves seamlessly between the building blocks of his relationship with Cowan to the present-day horror of what it’s like to find out that the love of your life is dying from cancer. This book will gut you and you’ll find yourself hoping that the title was a mislead, that the hero really doesn’t die in the end, and you’ll be shaken to the core when he does. Still, it’s a beautiful story about life, love, grief, and the adventure of being in a relationship with your person. It devastated me; I loved it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

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Michelle McNamara has a way of weaving together details about the Golden State Killer in such a way that, at times, you forget you’re reading about a serial killer — but in the best way. Though the book is a true depiction of McNamara’s obsession, it also tells a lot about McNamara, too, from her childhood to what attracted her to this case to her process. Learning about her search is every bit as interesting as the details of the case itself. But fear not: if you’re a true crime lover, the book is every bit as chilling as you think it is; there were parts that gave me chills. I only wish McNamara was around to know how influential her work was.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

shadowshaper

I’m so pleased that this will be a series. “Shadowshaper” is a fantasy young adult novel that tells the story of a young girl named Sierra who uncovers a supernatural world. It’s hard to describe the plot without spoiling anything, but the Goodreads description had me hooked:

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “Lo siento” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra is a great YA character, the kind that you can see so much potential in and root for over and over. The pacing of the book is great, with a great balance between the action and focus on the story’s relationships. The book is exciting and spooky and has supernatural elements that feel pretty believable. All in all, a great read!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

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It is can be tricky to tackle mental health in a tactful but real way in YA novels. Erika L. Sánchez does it beautifully. She writes of grief and loss, of loneliness and despair, of family and growth in lovely ways. But I am truly grateful for — and impressed by — her no-holds-barred portrayal of what it’s like to deal with depression as a teen. Julia is an unforgettable character with wit and spunk; she’s tough, but lovable as she searchers for the truth about her older sister Olga, who passed away, and may have a secret life Julia never knew about. The book perfectly combines grit with humor as it covers important themes like the immigrant experience, mental health, cultural expectations, family pressure, and chasing your own ambition.

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

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This was perhaps my favorite book of the year. It was a book that truly transported me; I could picture and feel everything Nicole Chung experienced so fully, despite my life being nothing like it. The book is a memoir of Chung’s life and of her search to learn more about her biological family, set against the backdrop of her own life and motherhood and experiences with her adoptive family. The writing in this book is breathtaking at parts and so vulnerable. Chung’s feelings are ripe and raw for the reader’s consumption and her story truly moved me like a memoir hasn’t before.

What were your favorite reads from 2018?

(Book photos credit to Amazon.com)

Things I Bought That I Love: The Book Fair Nostalgia Kit

While looking up ’90s-inspired gift ideas for my cousin, I stumbled across something called “The Book Fair Nostalgia Kit.” I thought only one thing: I must have it.

It’s a collection of book-related items, including a vintage book popular in the ’80s or ’90s, meant to tap into that Scholastic Book Fair nostalgia.

And with me, the Scholastic Book Fair nostalgia is strong. Those book fairs were essentially the best part of my life as a child. First, I received the flyer, where I’d pore over all of the books, reading each description, and circling each and every book I wanted to read.

Photo credit: childhood-nostalgia.tumblr.com.
Photo credit: childhood-nostalgia.tumblr.com.

Then I’d skim through the flyer again and reaffirm that my choices were great. They always were. By the time the book fair itself rolled around, I could barely pay attention to my classwork. The book fair was happening, people!

They’d clear out the cafeteria and set up the book fair, which I’d go to as soon as I could. I’d rush through the fair, completely forgetting about my list, grabbing more books than I could hold, and then spending a painstaking amount of time determining which ones I’d take home (while also deciding I also needed bookmarks and pens and whatever other items they might be selling).

I always walked away with an armful of books, thanks to a wonderfully generous grandma, who fully endorsed my obsessive reading habits. For me, it was heaven.

So you can see why I needed this nostalgia kit. It’s an item available from an Etsy shop called sweetandlovely, based out of Princeton, NJ. For $16, I got:

  • A pencil (mine was SCENTED and smelled like STRAWBERRIES)
  • An eraser
  • Three bookmarks (BOOKMARKS! The kind you could get at the Scholastic Book Fair!)
  • A handmade button with stickers
  • A handmade reading list booklet
  • A hand-stamped canvas carrying case
  • A vintage book (mine was The Baby-Sitter’s Club #31, “Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister”)

As someone who was clearly obsessed with those goddamn childhood book fairs, and as someone who loved the BSC as a kid, this was a total win for me. The handmade items were well crafted, the pencil was SCENTED, and the (used) book was in excellent condition. Pretty much the only downside was the fact that I couldn’t peel off the adorable “I love reading” sticker that came on the outside of the package.

Get yours here.

 

xo.