My Favorite Books of 2018



While I did succeed in my goal to read over forty books this year, I’ve decided to keep it simple for my favorites list. So, I’ve come up with some rules:

A) One book per genre.

B) The book need not be published in 2018, but did need to be read by me this year.

C) I will write a brief review summarizing my reasoning for why this is my choice.

Let’s get started!


Misery by Stephen King (1987). To be honest, I’ve owned this book for almost a decade and it wasn’t until this year that I actually read it. Immediately, it became one of my favorite horror novels, King books, and character studies. Part of the mystique is how well I can relate to the protagonist, Paul Sheldon, as a writer who is trapped not only by his circumstances but also by his urge to finish the story and also the antagonist, Annie Wilkes, as a woman who has the chance to spend time with her favorite writer and feels misunderstood by the world. This is a must read and I regret not getting to it sooner.


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (2017). I read this short story collection and novella in about a day—that’s how good they are. They’re original, spooky, and authentic to Machado’s voice. My favorites would have to be “The Husband Stitch” and “Eight Bites”; one story weaves together urban legends and the other deals with body image so those are right up my alley. These stories are feminist, LGBT-friendly, body positive and deliver in so many ways.


The Mobius Strip Club of Grief by Bianca Stone (2018). I read more poetry this year than ever before but it was Bianca Stone’s collection that came to me in my time of need. This collection is both a tribute and a period of mourning for her grandmother. There’s a dark sense of humor threaded throughout and some haunting and beautiful imagery. My favorite poems are “Making Applesauce with My Dead Grandmother” and “How Not.” I recommend many of these poems for those who are mourning the death of a loved one.


Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington (1995). You might be wondering: why would I, a person who is very afraid of snakes, read a book about snake handling? Technically, it’s research for my thesis, but I’m so glad I did because this book is a revelation on so many levels. The writing is beautiful, the author’s spiritual journey into this community is interesting on many levels, and the different types of churches and the subtle differences between them are awesome. This toes the line between a memoir and a journalistic inquiry, but I prefer it that way.


Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; art by Alberto Ponticelli, Vanesa Del Rey, Leonardo Manco, Mateus Santolouco, Sebastian Cabrol, Paul Pope, Irene Koh, Francesco Francavilla; color by Jose Villarrubia with letters by Sal Cipriano (2018). This collection of the four Hungry Ghosts comics revolves around a group of chefs gathered to feed a rich Russian oligarch and his guests who are then invited to play Kaiden, an Edo-period game which involves each member sharing a scary story and then blowing out a candle until the room is in darkness. What really makes this collection work is the variety of stories (even though they’re all creepy and revolve around food or eating in some way) and the different styles of art used to interpret them. My favorites are “Salty Horse” and “The Snow Woman.” If you miss the legendary chef and love food and horror then this is a comic collection you should sink your teeth into.


Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration by Carla Hall and Genevieve Ko (2018). When you write a seminar paper on soul food, you’re bound to have some nice things to say about what contemporary chefs are doing. That said, I really like what Carla Hall is doing in her latest cookbook and how she backs up what she says in interviews. There are “everyday” kinds of soul foods and then there are “celebration” soul foods, and she clearly distinguishes between the two. This is a beautiful cookbook with gorgeous pictures, clear instructions, and lots of personal touches to make it unique. My favorite recipes are “Pineapple-Habanero Honey Fried Chicken” and “Skillet Cornbread.” I highly recommend checking out what modern chefs are doing with soul food—it’s not the same unhealthy stereotypes you might know or the fast food you get from the drive through.

This has been a good year for reading, and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring in its pages.