Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I read some great stuff this year. I’ve already shared my top five books from the first half of 2018, so I thought it would be appropriate to give some great ones from the last 6 months some love, too. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these yourself!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: ★★★★★

This book was hands down my favorite of the year. I’d had it on my TBR pile for the longest time, and I really didn’t know anything about it before I put a hold on it at the library. Something about the cover always mesmerized me. What can I say?

And then I actually started reading it and was just enthralled. Mandel’s writing is so compelling without being too much, and her characters resonated with me on a real level. The story is a little dystopian (because zombie apocalypse), mildly Shakespearean (because there’s a traveling theatre troupe), a bit timey-wimey (because you learn about the apocalypse from characters both at the very beginning and 20 years later). And I cannot recommend it more. (In fact, I keep recommending it to coworkers and can’t wait to hear what one of them has to say when they finish it.)

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey

My rating: ★★★★☆

This book is a prequel to The Girl With All the Gifts, which I read based on a coworker’s recommendation. So when he admitted that he thought the prequel was even better than the original, I knew I’d have to read it as well.

Technically, I listed to it on the way to a friend’s wedding in Rochester, and as someone who has trouble getting into , the story had me engaged from the very beginning. This one’s another zombie apocalypse story like its predecessor, but in The Boy on the Bridge, you get the other side of the story: how the first scientific expedition fared, what happened to the crew, where they traveled. I always enjoy getting to know the full side of any story, and the prequel fills in a lot of necessary gaps in The Girl With All the Gifts because those characters simply didn’t know what had taken place.

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser

My rating: ★★★★☆

Last year, I decided it was about time to start focusing on professional development. And what’s the best way to get some first-rate knowledge? Go to the library. (Or so believes Hermione Granger and also me.)

I stumbled upon this book on some list for female professionals and if I’m being honest, it was the title that drew me in. Who doesn’t want to get ahead without becoming one of those corporate sleezeballs that you can’t stand being in the same room as? Hauser was a bigwig at Time, Inc. and other places for a while, and she is now an investor and advisor, helping woman go great things in the world.

I liked her book because it included survey responses from real women in corporate America about the things they struggle with, anecdotes about real women who worked with Hauser to become the best corporate versions of themselves, and actionable tips from Hauser for real women. Did I mention it all felt very real and useful? Because it did.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, Netflix, for forcing me to read this book. It wasn’t on my radar at all before the film adaptation came out this fall, and I knew I couldn’t not see it with the A+ cast it boasted. (Lily James and Michiel Huisman and Jessica Brown Findlay and Penelope Wilton?!)

Epistolary novels are the best if for no other reason than you have easy stopping points, though with this book, they weren’t necessary. I read the entire thing and watched the film in about 24 hours. I loved the main character, Juliet, and the story told a story about World War II that I’d never encountered before: the little island of Guernsey and its occupation by the Nazis from 1940 to 1945. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this story checked every box for me.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: ★★★★☆

I just barely snuck this one in before the end of the year. It was another book that I really knew nothing about until I started reading it (though I had seen the Jordandené shirts and been thoroughly confused by them), and I was pleasantly surprised.

First, by Schwab’s stunning prose, and second, by the two main characters, Kell and Lila. In Kell’s world, there are four Londons within four different realms: Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. He’s from Red London, but being one of the last Antari allows him to travel between them. Lila is a pickpocket from Grey London who is swept up in the unknown world of magic when she steals a dangerous stone from Kell.

I’m currently being the most impatient person as I wait for the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, from the library.

What was the best book you read in 2018?

P.S. I would also recommend a quick peek at my favorite books from 2017. There are some real gems on that list, too!

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