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My top six favorite reads of 2018

book // ring // blanket // marble tray // coffee mug

2018 was a fantastic reading year for me. It was my best year yet in terms of both quantity and quality. As of this blog post's publication, I have read 55 books, and my goal was 50.

Not only did I read more than I ever have, I challenged myself outside of my thriller and historical fiction comfort zones that I like to settle into. I read much more nonfiction than normal, more realistic fiction, and I broke into young adult fiction written in verse. My 54th book of the year was young adult science fiction/dystopian (Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman). I obviously want to read as much as I can—after all, there are SO many good books out there—but I also think it's important to focus on the quality and diversity of what we read, too.

Over the past few weeks I have been sharing all the books I read this year, in order, on my Instagram stories (@becca_culotta) and saving them to a highlight on my profile. People often ask me for recommendations, and what better way to share those than by having them all in one place? However, a few people have asked for my top five list from the year, so I thought I'd share those here. You may have noticed from the title, but I could not settle on five, so I am sharing my top six, as well as four honorable mention titles.

These are listed in no particular order. They are all wonderful!

The Top Six

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Genre: Fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.41/5

If I had to recommend just one book from my 2018 reads, it would probably be this one. I went into it thinking it would be your typical love story—a woman falls in love but is tormented by her feelings for a man from her past (that's how it's marketed, after all). But it is SO much more than that. Hoover does the difficult thing of exploring domestic violence and why it's so difficult for women to leave. I have [thankfully] never been the victim of domestic violence, but Hoover's storytelling allowed me to truly understand what it must be like to find yourself in an abusive relationship. Through the first person narrator, I felt connected to her fear and desire to work things out, and I never once found myself annoyed or frustrated by her decisions. I understood. I empathized.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.33/5

Ever since I read (and loved) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, I've been intrigued by her other books, but also hesitant. When you love a book and consider it to be your all-time favorite, your experience with the author's other works may be clouded by your highhhh expectations. I decided to give The Great Alone a shot, and I am so glad I did. I loved how Hannah brought 1970s Alaska to life, and she kept me on my toes with her captivating storytelling and likable narrator. Extra reading for you: My review of The Nightingale.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Genre: Young adult realistic fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.31/5

When I first heard about Far From the Tree, it was sold to me as a the young adult book version of the TV show "This Is Us." That is now how I describe it to anyone I recommend it to. This is probably my most recommended book to students, and every student who has picked it up has loved it. Far From the Tree won the National Book Award for young adult fiction in 2017, and rightfully so. I laughed, cried, and rooted for all three narrators.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Genre: Historical fiction with a side of murder mystery

Goodreads rating: 4.53/5

This is a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, and girlfriend has never led me astray. Empathy runs rampant in this historical fiction + murder mystery beautiful piece of literature. Similar to how Kristin Hannah brings Alaska to life in The Great Alone, Delia Owen brings the 1960s North Carolina marsh to life through "the Marsh Girl," Kya Clark. The resilience, determination, pure grit, and soul portrayed through Kya's character is unlike anything I've read before. It was simply a beautiful reading experience.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

Goodreads rating: 4.69/5

Okay, guys. This book. It was one of the most personal reading experiences I've ever had. I bought both the audiobook and the print version because I needed both. Mrs. Obama reads the audiobook, so it adds an extra layer of personality and intimacy you wouldn't get had it been read by someone else. Her story is so important, interesting, and inspiring. I hate to admit this, but I didn't know much about Mrs. Obama's life, the major details even, until I read this book. For example, did you know she was President Obama's mentor when he was a summer associate at the firm she worked at? I loved learning about every single detail; I have a feeling I'll read this one again.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Genre: Historical fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.22/5

Honestly, this blog post was a top five books of 2018 post until I finished this book halfway through December, and I just had to include it in my list. Calling Me Home had been on my shelf at home for a few years, and I don't know how I kept passing it up. I am SO glad I finally read it, because this is a book that leaves a lasting impression on you. I experienced so many different emotions while reading, ranging from awe, to joy, to pure anger. I highly recommend this one for absolutely everyone.

Honorable Mention

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Genre: Fiction

Goodreads rating: 3.91/5

Educated by Tara Westover

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

Goodreads rating: 4.47/5

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Genre: Historical fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.41/5

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Genre: Fiction

Goodreads rating: 4.09/5

One of my favorite things that has come out of me sharing my 2018 reads on Instagram stories is my friends' recommendations for me! I love when y'all reply with your favorite books so I can add to my list. So, what were your favorite reads of 2018? Spread the #booklove!




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