A few years back, I read somewhere that something like 70% of the population never reads another book after high school, and I was totally becoming one of those people! Aside from textbooks in college, I think I read one book between the ages of 18-22, and then maybe one book a year after that until 2016 (when I read that terrifying fun fact and decided to start reading again).
Nowadays, I make it a point of reading at least twelve books a year. Last year, I finished a total of 26 novels, comics, and short stories, a new record for me by far!
One of my favorite things about reading is being able to share my reactions and thoughts with other people reading the same books. One of these days maybe I’ll start (or join) a book club, but until then, the best I can do is share my list of favorites from 2018 and, hopefully entice those of you reading to share suggestions for things to read this upcoming year!
So if you love books and are looking for a few to add to your list of “must reads”, below are my top 5 reads of 2018 (keep in mind, this is from the mere 26 books I read during 2018—not a list of all-time favorites):
#5: The Shining by Stephen King
The more King I read, the more I’m beginning to think that no list is complete without him on it. The Shining is not my favorite King book (Sleeping Beauties or the Bill Hodges trilogy might take that title), but as it is a classic, its greatness came as no surprise.
If you’ve seen the movie, you might be thinking to yourself, “there’s no reason to read the book because I already know the story” that would be where you’re wrong, and honestly a huge mistake. Although the film adaptation was terrifying, creepy, suspenseful, and also iconic for a number of reasons, my experience of reading the book felt like an entirely different story.
Whereas the movie focuses a lot on Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), in the book it almost seems like Danny is the main character. All of the scenes of Danny with his imaginary friend Tony, his relationship with Hallorann, and the heightened focus on “the shining”, makes the entire book seemed to revolve around Danny Torrance, his “shining”, and his safety. Perhaps that’s just my take on it, but for that reason alone I was rivetted by this novel!
Have I intrigued you enough? Seriously, go check out the book now! It’s worth it.
#4: Dust by Joan Francis Turner
As I mentioned in my review, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I started reading Dust. I obtained it as an audiobook a few years ago, and then never touched it. But when I needed another audiobook to entertain myself during my commute to work, and I had no money to spend on another audiobook, I flipped through my collection and viola! There it was.
Dust is a zombie story, but it’s told from the perspective of one of the zombies themselves, Jessie, a teenage girl who died in a car crash some years prior. Now, there have been some attempts at this flipped perspective before, and admittedly I don’t even know the half of them, but I though Francis Turner did an excellent job with this one, namely the descriptions! If you’re a sucker for descriptive prose, then this is a good book for you!
Post-apocalyptic zombie fantasy, what more do you need in life?
#3: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
I would not describe myself as a Neil Gaiman fan, not yet anyways. I haven’t read enough of his work, and the few things I have read have been hit or miss for me (sorry, die-hards!). But Norse Mythology I couldn’t put down! In fact, I was so excited about it, when I visited my brother I made him listen to one of the chapters (each is a packaged story), and we wound up listening to the rest of the book together!
Turns out there’s a lot more to Norse mythology than just Loki and Thor. As someone who enjoys Marvel’s The Avenger’s (the movie franchise), I love me some Loki and Thor! And you will find some funny and clever stories about them in Norse Mythology, but you’ll also discover stories of Sif (Thor’s wife), Odin, Freya, Thryim and more, tales of how the God’s weapons were created, who constructed the wall around Midgard, and the real Ragnarok.
You can find my full review here, but suffice it to say that this is a book I could read again and again and again (I actually did read it twice last year!). Maybe it’s just because I didn’t grow up with these stories, or maybe it was because of the enchanting, storybook-voice of Neil Gaiman (who did the reading for this audiobook), but Norse Mythology was purely magical.
#2: Frankenstein Alive, Alive by Steve Niles (illustrated by Bernie Wrightson)
I finished reading Frankenstein Alive, Alive last February, so it is honestly a bit blurry for me now. The story expands the scope on the classic Frankenstein that we all know and love, as we watch Frankenstein’s monster as he is forced to live in the world after his master dies.
But it’s not the story that brought this piece to the #2 spot (sorry Steve Niles), although that’s not to say the story wasn’t good. What really set this graphic novel apart from all others were the illustrations. The entire book is done in black and white, which is not usually a style I lose my mind over, but Wrightson was truly talented in what he did (sadly, he passed away in 2017). I couldn’t believe how much detail he was able to fit into just one page—into one panel! Sadly, he passed away in 2017, not fully finished with this project, so this might be the last you'll find of his genius.
No list of mine would be complete without at least one graphic novel in the mix, and this year Frankenstein Alive, Alive gets that honor. If you’re into graphic novels, or if you have an appreciation for talent, just pick up a copy and marvel at the Wrightson's artwork.
#1: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Finally, we’ve reached #1 on the list, and it is hands-down Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This was one of my Hallowctober reads, and I found it by doing a quick search for “best horror novels ever”, or something along those lines. I wound up placing a hold at the library for about 10 of the novels that came up, and truth be told Bird Box wasn’t one I was counting down the seconds to start. But once it came, and when I did start it, I could not only not put it down, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I did! Bird Box haunted me!
I say this in my review, but I’ll say it again: this book was like reading a mashup of two of my favorite horror movies: The Crazies and A Quiet Place. Bird Box is about some unknown creatures that, if you see them, they make you harm yourself to the point of death (and do the same to others in some cases). The story jumps around in timeline a little, but not in a difficult-to-follow way. We follow our main character, Malorie, both at the arrival of these creatures, when she is just a pregnant woman trying to make sense of what’s happening in the world around her, and then five years later when she’s lost everyone but her two children and she’s making her way to what she hopes is a safe community. But there's a catch: their eyes have to remain closed the entire time!
I can’t rave about this book enough! Mostly, I think I was impressed by what an author could do with only having three senses to use in descriptions! Most books—most writers—focus primarily on sight, and then a little on smell and sound. But for the portions of the book when Malorie was shuffling around the world essentially blind, all Malerman could give the reader was what Malorie was experiencing through sound, smell, and touch. And this made the novel truly terrifying.
And yes, I'm aware I left out taste, but that's because it wasn't used.
I don’t want to give away too much, just know that if you ask me for a book recommendation at any point in the near or distant future, Bird Box will always be amongst my recommendations. Also know that if you ask me what I thought of the movie, I will tell you that it is terrible by comparison. Don't watch the movie, just read the book!
So, there you have it, the top 5 from the 26 books I read in 2018!
If you enjoy reading as much as I do and are interested in reading some of the same books, follow me on Goodreads! For those of you who don’t know what Goodreads is, it’s basically what Pandora did for music, but with books. It’s a website where you can find books you might like based on other books you’ve enjoyed. It also has a social media/community component, so you can follow other readers (and authors), read/rate/leave reviews, and join book clubs. It’s a booklovers wonderland!
What books did you read in 2018? What books are on your top 5 of all-time favorites? Suggest them in the comments below!
author: The Awakened series