News flash: reading when you’re no longer a student is the best. When I was in college, I always had my Kindle with me, but I felt guilty whenever I tried to read for pleasure. There was homework to do! Applications to fill! People to see! Now that I’m more than a year into my “adult” routine, I still manage to get a lot of reading done even when I think I’m devoting little time to it. Plus, I just get to read what I want to, and I’ve become totally comfortable with deserting books if I’m not loving them.
I feel so passionately about my favorite reads of the year (check out the posts for my picks in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017). Honestly, if I had to pick a few books that sum up my interests and personality at this time of my life, the six titles below are probably the most accurate representatives. It’s just the best feeling ever when you find books that feel so specifically catered to you, and I feel lucky to have found these along the way in 2018!
Disclaimer: these are books I read for the first time in 2018, not necessarily ones published this year (although, I believe the majority of them actually were!).
1) Until the Last Star Fades, by Jacquelyn Middleton
“Big dreams are never silly. They help soothe a bad day and give us something to reach for.”
Jacquelyn Middleton won my eternal love when she wrote two amazing contemporary books set in London and featuring an American’s perspective. Her standalone third book, taking place in New York City, was just as wonderful. If you’re looking for books about characters in their early 20s as opposed to being teenagers or older adults, Until the Last Star Fades is a perfect new adult mix of independent people who are still trying to figure it all out. Middleton’s first two books excelled in pop culture references and creating a world that already felt so familiar to me, and and she pulled off the same in Until the Last Star Fades. Someone tell me where I can find boys like her Ben and Mark, okay?
2) Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro
“When chronology is eliminated, when life is shuffled like a tarot deck, it’s hard to keep track. Was that the summer before last? Whose dining room, what candlelight? I can locate us in time only in one way: by watching our boy growing up.”
Gorgeous writing can lead a book right into the depths of my heart. I flew through Shapiro’s memoir about her marriage and family in a single day, devouring her words as if they were a fine meal. Reading about topics that are so beyond my own circumstances, such as marriage, can be hit or miss for me. In this case, Shapiro was such a skilled, beautiful writer that my age and inexperience had no negative effect on my reading experience. If you’re fascinated by love and how it shifts over time, I highly recommend Hourglass.
3) The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn
“An excess of caution, Miss Ravenswood, can be more fatal than its opposite.”
I zoomed through this over the course of a snowy weekend last January. The adventure story is so unique, sending two researchers from the near future through time to find Jane Austen, infiltrate her circle of friends and family, and track down a mysterious manuscript that they suspect will have a crucial effect on their own timeline. I couldn’t put it down, and because it ended a little ambiguously, I hope that some kind of sequel is in the works. In the meantime, I guess I’m on the search for more books involving time travel.
4) Roomies, by Christina Lauren
“I need to fill my life with accomplishments I create, not just witness.”
I understand the stir this book caused with its focus on a white European immigrant dodging the law, and I think it’s wise that the co-authors are changing the love interest to a Latino man for the movie adaptation. But political context aside, Roomies and its characters were such a delight. I adored the narrator’s world of theater and writing in New York, and the family and friends surrounding her were so lovable. I like how Christina Lauren books always include developed secondary characters to balance the focus on the romance, because I read way too many books this year with interchangeable, forgettable friends. If you want a story that will make you swoon and hit you in the gut with its relatability, this is one to pick!
5) Someday, Somewhere, by Lindsay Champion
“…in New York City you can be absolutely anyone you want to be. You don’t need a lot of money or status to be glamorous and captivating and magical. So get your gorgeous, captivating, magical butt on that train, track down Violin Boy and never look back.”
Someday, Somewhere was the first YA book I’d read in a long time. I had grown so sick of the genre’s typical formula that I stepped away from it for years, but as any reader can tell you, these books aren’t exactly your mom’s YA anymore. There’s a story covering nearly any facet of life nowadays, and this book taught me that I’m overdue to explore some more recent hits within this tag. I wasn’t expecting the emotional second half of Someday, Somewhere or its lovely portrait of New York, music, and friendship, but I can’t wait to read more from this debut novelist.
6) My Oxford Year, by Julia Whelan
“I can’t help but smile at the contradiction of academics. He can discuss the minutiae of his research after however-many-shots and two pints but the act of hailing a cab proves too difficult.”
If you were an English major or are a total Anglophile, reading this book will make your year. I finished this over the summer and I still think about its absolutely beautiful prose and immersive story. I’m such a sucker for Americans-in-England books, and My Oxford Year quickly became one of my favorites in this category. Think of it as a mashup of Me Before You and Dead Poets Society.