This stock image model with cute socks and a cat is living her best book-reading life, but did Kelli, Susan, Mary, and Emily live their best book-reading lives in 2018? Read on to find out our opinions (good, bad, and everywhere in between) on all the books we read in 2018 and the books we’re looking forward to in 2019.
Thanks to Jamie over at Perpetual Page-Turner for the end-of-year survey questions. if you end up posting this on your own blog, be sure to send us the link to check it out, and of course, credit Jamie for all her hard work putting this together! Oh, and happy 2019, everyone.
2018 Reading Stats
Number of Books You Read:
Kelli: 20. My goal was 25, so. I suck.
Mary: Goodreads says 30, but I suspect it’s more. I’m bad at keeping track!
Emily: Dang, I won? I did 50.
Number of Re-Reads:
Kelli: Just one: A Wrinkle In Time.
Mary: I also re-read A Wrinkle in Time, but it was the graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson (which is excellent), so I don’t know if that counts or not.
Susan: Oh, wait! I forgot A Wrinkle in Time. I read it for the first time this year. Need to change my total in the previous question. :)
Emily: A Wrinkle in Time was my only re-read as well.
Genre You Read the Most From:
Susan: I guess “literary” fiction
Kelli: Same as Susan.
Mary: Probably young adult fiction, if I’m being honest, but I’ve read a lot of literary fiction too!
Emily: Young adult fic for me as well.
Best in Books
Best Book You Read in 2018?
Susan: I think the book I enjoyed the most this year was In the Woods by Tana French. Currently making my way through the rest of her books.
Kelli: I gave my highest ratings this year to The Mothers by Brit Bennett and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, but I also really loved reading Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Sorry, that’s cheating; my answer is Station Eleven.
Emily: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is one of the only books I rated 5 stars this year.
Mary: I think I’m going to go with An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, which will be featured on the podcast in 2019!
Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Mary: Super Extra Grande by Yoss has infuriated me more than anything. I wanted to love it and expected to love it but I hated it so, so much.
Susan: I thought I’d enjoy Bachelor Nation a lot more than I did. Not enough dirt.
Emily: Yes, I agree with Susan. Also They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I’ve heard such great things about Adam Silvera, and I really wanted to like this book because he seems like a nice dude, but ugh… it was just painful.
Kelli: I’ll go with Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which was a recent but devastating blow...
Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Kelli: I’m going to say My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. I wasn’t surprised that it was good (it was), but rather by how much it affected me on a visceral level. I don’t read a lot of horror, but when I do, I never really get scared the same way I do when I watch horror films… but there was a section in this book that gave me a legitimate panic attack while I was reading on the train. I thought I was going to throw up, and I had to get off the subway and run up into the open air to catch my breath! Good job, Grady Hendrix. I say that sincerely.
Emily: Kelliiiii I’m so glad you liked this book. I still think we need to do a My Best Friend’s Exorcism episode. I think I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero, one of the first books I read this year. That book was fascinating and really enjoyable.
Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Mary: ANNIHILATION!!!! I’ve been pushing Jeff Vandermeer’s masterpiece on people forever but this year, because of my gentle goading (or because the movie came out), people actually listened to me.
Susan: I’m still pushing Room onto everyone. Also, I feel like we could have all answered for Mary on this one. ;)
Kelli: I listened to you, Mary! I am a convert! I don’t recommend books to people very often because I’m always afraid people won’t have the same taste as I do, but one book I very often push people to read is The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. It’s endlessly interesting, and I always finding myself bringing it up in conversations with a wide variety of different people. Especially when discussing, say, our current president.
Emily: Yeah, I think we all read Annihilation this year, thanks to Mary. Obviously, I force everyone to read My Best Friend’s Exorcism, this year and every year. Susan, you’re next.
Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?
Mary: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. It’s the start of what’s bound to be a really inventive, fun series.
Kelli: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (which actually comes out this month, but I was able to read the ARC)! It’s magical and gorgeously written, and I’m so excited to follow along with the adventure. Also, super diverse in a non-showy way.
Susan: The Dublin Murder Squad Series by Tana French. I really like that you don’t have to read these in publication order and that they all exist as standalone books.
Emily: IDK I think this is the year I decided I don’t really like series(es?) that much. I started quite a few series(es?) this year, but I’m not sure how many of them I’ll follow through with. I guess it’s most likely I’ll continue reading the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson. I’m here for boarding school murder mysteries every day of the week. And the second book is coming out this year, so I guess we’ll see if 2019 is the year I decide to commit.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?
Susan: Tana French! Thanks, Emily!
Emily: Ahhhh you’re welcome! I love her!
Kelli: Tom Perrotta (not a new author, but new to me)! I am really looking forward to reading more of his work after loving The Leftovers so much.
Susan: Kelli, I will second Tom Perrotta! I definitely want to read more of him in 2019.
Emily: Neither of those authors are new to me. I was reading them before they were cool. JK, but really. Umm.. let’s see… I read a lot of new authors this year, but I guess I’m most excited about Celeste Ng, even though I was just sort of meh about Little Fires Everywhere.
Mary: Emily St. John Mandel, who wrote Station Eleven. I really enjoyed her writing.
Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Kelli: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I am REALLY not a thriller/suspense/mystery kind of girl, but I was really impressed by this book and how much ground Flynn was able to cover in so few pages. Also, Annihilation, because I don’t think anyone “typically” reads whatever wild genre that book is classified as.
Susan: I’m not a big “self-help” book fan, but I really enjoyed Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola Behrendt’s It’s Just a F***ing Date. (Greg is one of the authors of He’s Just Not That Into You, probably the most cited dating self-help book of all time.)
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Kelli: Gonna go ahead and say Sharp Objects for this one, too. Listen guys, I only read 20 books, and I didn’t like all of them.
Susan: I’ll say Sharp Objects too, but I’m going to add Flynn’s Dark Places to my answer as well. I zipped through that audiobook.
Emily: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli for me. I seriously read it in a day. I could not stop myself.
Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Kelli: I could see myself re-reading Station Eleven again soon because it’s so rich and sprawling that I think I’d get new things out of it upon a second read.
Mary: Obviously An Absolutely Remarkable Thing because we’re covering it!!
Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?
Susan: I’m going to cheat just a little bit here -- I haven’t actually read The Gunners yet, but I’ve ordered it, and it’s so beautiful!
Kelli: Oh man, this is tough for me. I absolutely love the cover of The Mothers (designed by Rachel Willey), as well as The Gilded Wolves (shoutout to Kerri Resnick, who designed this cover and is incredibly talented), but my favorite has to be the paperback cover for My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is so fun and kitschy and beautifully done. It was designed by Doogie Horner, which… what a name.
Emily: Man, I wish I’d read My Best Friend’s Exorcism this year so I could say that one! Haha. I’m going to go with Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao. OR An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. They’re both beautiful books, on the inside and out!
Most memorable character of 2018?
Kelli: Maybe it’s because I got to see her played by the inimitable Amy Adams shortly after finishing the book, but Camille from Sharp Objects really stands out to me. She’s such a harsh character, but by the end of the book I felt for her so much.
Susan: I’m going to go with Libby Day, the protagonist from Flynn’s Dark Places. I think she might be one of the darkest and most haunted characters Flynn’s written, even if this isn’t Flynn’s best written novel. I love that her female characters are so unapologetically dark and twisted.
Emily: I’m going to cheat a bit here and say Tommy Wiseau from The Disaster Artist. I know he’s technically a “real person,” but also he’s a character.
Most beautifully written book read in 2018?
Kelli: This one goes to The Mothers by Brit Bennett. You’ll see why in the ‘favorite passage’ section.
Emily: So many. The Mothers was great. Girls Burn Brighter was great. Also An American Marriage.
Mary: there’s a lot, and it’s honestly hard to pick when there’s so much difference in the tone of different books. I’m going to go with Goodbye, Vitamin.
Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?
Susan: This is going to sound kind of lame, but It’s Just a F***ing Date helped me re-frame the way I thought about some aspects of dating and relationships. Plus, it was funny in a time when I needed some humor in my life.
Kelli: I’m going to say Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This book changed the way I think about what the future might look like. Also, some really bizarre coincidences occurred while I was reading it. Here’s one: before I started the book, I happened to be carrying it around in my bag (as one does) when I showed up early for a performance of King Lear. While waiting for my friend to arrive before the doors opened, I started reading the book to pass the time, only to discover that the book begins… with a performance of King Lear. I know it’s crazy, but when that happened, I knew the book was going to be important to me.
Emily: This is kind of a personal choice, but Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden was really helpful for me in this year of grieving my brother. I was amazed at how similar his experiences with grief were to mine, considering how different our lives are. And the way he spoke about grief and finding hope through loss brought me to tears. Also it’s no secret that I am in love with Joe Biden.
Mary: You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar was so wonderful. Not only could I not put it down, but I couldn’t stop talking about it either. She writes so articulately about how fat bodies are treated and deserve to be treated (spoiler, it’s just like everyone else), and she puts a lot of careful thought into the power structures that influence how we view fat people.
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?
Mary: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. It’s the first book in the Wheel of Time series. I started reading the series with my boyfriend (who loves it from childhood) and was pleasantly surprised by how it both reinforces and breaks fantasy stereotypes.
Kelli: The Leftovers, which was published in 2011 and which I distinctly remember my stepmom recommending to me back when I was in undergrad. I mean, there was a whole TV show!
Emily: I’m going to agree with The Leftovers. I went to see Tom Perrotta read from this book the month it came out back in 2011. I bought it back then too. And yeah… just now read it. It was great!
Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?
Kelli: Hello, here is the passage I promised from Brit Bennett’s The Mothers: “Oh girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”
Susan: Kelli, I looooved that passage too. Again, I’m cheating a little because I haven’t finished it, but this from a book I started in 2018, The Likeness by Tana French. On memory and experience: “I'd thought I remembered what it was like, every detail, but I'd been wrong: memories are nothing, soft as gauze against the ruthless razor-fineness of that edge, beautiful and lethal, one tiny slip and it'll slice to the bone.”
Emily: I love both of these books. I got nothing.
Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?
Mary: TECHNICALLY, The Eye of the World is the longest book I’ve read this year, but Children of Blood and Bone has to be up there, too. Super Extra Grande was the shortest but felt the longest.
Kelli: The shortest book I read was Annihilation, and the longest was The Gilded Wolves.
Emily: According to Goodreads, My Plain Jane is the longest book I read this year and The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up was the shortest.
Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Kelli: There’s a character death in The Gilded Wolves which I will not spoil but which definitely shook me 2 DA CORE. Bold move for a series opener.
Emily: I was shocked by how stupid Super Extra Grande was. Does that count?
Mary: Yes. It counts.
OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Mary: LAN AND NYNAEVE!!! I’m late to the ship since these books were published in the early 90s, but I stan Lan and Nynaeve, the Wisdom of Edmond’s field hard. (Yes, I’m talking about Wheel of Time again).
Kelli: Maybe it’s because they’re played by Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac in the movie, but I really loved the Biologist and her husband in Annihilation. We discussed on the podcast that their relationship was actually even better in the book than it was on screen, and I still stand by that assessment. There were so many little romantic touches that made me want to root for them, even knowing it was too late — the way he called her “ghost bird,” and how she described his hands, like a sailor’s.
Emily: I loved that too. “Ghost bird” specifically. I thought the relationship in the book was sooooo much better than the movie, and I love that movie (it was my fav of the year, turns out).
Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Susan: Going to go with In the Woods again. I read it because we covered French’s The Trespasser on the podcast, and I wanted more!
Kelli: Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson. This book is a mishmash of Ronson’s journalism, including pieces covering everything from a town where it’s always Christmas to conversations with humanoid robots. I listened to the audiobook because I love the way he reads his work, though I’m sure Mary would detest his accent.
Emily: I’m going to say it’s a tie between We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Y’all know how I feel about My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and We Sold Our Souls was a lot of fun and very dark, which I was into. And Mary and I previously discussed how adorable Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited was. Simon was EVEN BETTER.
Mary: Nope, Upside of Unrequited 4eva!
Emily: They’re both so good though! Agree to disagree.
Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:
Emily: Come on, all of us should have an answer for this. We all have read things based on recommendations from others (like, including each other). I’m going to go with This One Summer, which I read because Mary forced me to (even though I don’t normally like comic books). I ended up liking it a lot.
Mary: Yeah! That one is so good. I’ll go with Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh (of Great British Bake-off fame). It’s a lovely tribute to the joys of food and eating.
Kelli: Omg Mary I want to read that book! And I'm going with My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I won't say who recommended it to me; you probably don't know her.
Emily: Yeah… Susan, your answer is going to be My Best Friend’s Exorcism next year. Watch.
Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?
Emily: Joe Biden. Wait…
Kelli: “Fictional,” uh huh. Obviously, mine was the dude from Super Extra Grande. I mean, come on. He's irresistible.
Best 2018 debut you read?
Susan: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao.
Emily: <3 <3 <3
Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Mary: It should be cheating at this point, but Children of Blood and Bone, again.
Emily: I’m going to go with the murder mystery boarding school again… Truly Devious.
Kelli: It’s a tie between Gilded Wolves and Station Eleven. Oh, and maybe American War by Omar El Akkad.
Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Emily: I’m going with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda again here.
Mary: I laughed out loud at An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.
Kelli: Lost at Sea, because I think Jon Ronson is hilarious.
Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?
Mary: Ada Limón’s The Carrying. This collection of poems is so moving and beautifully written. I suggest everyone pick up a copy, even people who say they don’t like poetry. Also worth mentioning, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.
Emily: To be fair, EVERYTHING makes me cry. I cry easily. But Joe Biden’s Promise Me, Dad had me sobbing.
Kelli: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. I cried on the subway. (Have you noticed I read a lot on the subway?)
Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Susan: The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein.
Emily: What makes something a HIDDEN gem? I’m going to say Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling, a middle grade book I randomly read for a group read thing on Book Riot. I don’t normally reach for middle grade books, but this one was delightful and I haven’t heard very much about it.
Mary: Oh yeah! I read that one too and really enjoyed it.
Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Emily: They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera crushed my soul because it was SO BAD and the main characters were just not dying fast enough. I was like, “I was promised death and I know I have to wait until the end, but damn why is it taking so long?” I know this sounds harsh, but seriously.
Mary: I would agree with you, but I had no soul to crush by the end of that book.
Kelli: Honestly, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara crushed my soul because of the circumstances surrounding it. The mere creation of it was partly responsible for both a tragedy (her death) and a victory (the arrest of the Golden State Killer).
Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?
Emily: Probably Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. A distant second would be Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson, but I want to give it a shout out just because I feel like I keep mentioning the same books over and over again. Undead Girl Gang wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year, but the premise was so fun. I mean, Veronica Mars meets The Craft? Sign me the F up.
Kelli: I would agree with Annihilation - but also, Fledgling by Octavia Butler. That was a pretty wild take on the “vampire” (but not really) mythology.
Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Susan: Super Extra Grande. Or Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman
Mary: Super Extra Grande, but also 45 Pounds More or Less, which I’m reading for my dissertation.
Emily: Super Extra Grande was misogynist trash.
Your Blogging/Book Life
New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?
Emily: I add so many Instagrams and Booktube channels to my feed on a weekly basis. Who even can keep track?
Kelli: I started following some great book design publications on social media - Spine (@spinemagazine) does great interviewers with designers and features a lot of gorgeous covers, and @shedesignsbooks focuses on book design by women. Also, Girls at Library (@girlsatlibrary) interviews all kinds of awesome ladies about their taste in books, and includes absolutely gorgeous photography of said women in their dreamy apartments with their dreamy bookshelves. I’m obsessed.
Favorite post you wrote in 2018?
Susan: I think my blog on It’s Just a F***ing Date was my favorite post of the year because it was part personal essay, part book review, and I had a good time writing it.
Mary: It’s so hard to pick! It’s probably the post I wrote about John Green with Todd, though. I’ve disliked John Green for so long, and it’s nice to see him from a different perspective.
Emily: I think I have to say writing about The Cursed Child with Kelli. I read The Cursed Child when it first came out, and really if you stop to think about it, The Cursed Child is how BookSquadGoals started because it’s the first book Mary, Kelli, and I read together. But yeah, getting to see the show this year was so special. Getting to write about it felt special too.
Kelli: AWWW Emily. My fave post I did was my Buffy post, because I'd been talking about it for so long and that show means a lot to me.
Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018?
Emily: I mean, take your pick from any of the ones on Instagram, fam.
Kelli: All the ones with cats in them.
Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, etc.)?
Mary: I got to hear Ada Limón read here at USM. She was delightful. I also got to hear Hanif Abdurraquib and he is just a gem of a person and author.
Emily: Again, I have to say seeing The Cursed Child with my boo Kelli.
Kelli: Agree with Emily. Also, getting to hear Tavi Gevinson (and other amazing women) read at the Strand for Rookie on Love was really special. I met her and she is so smol.
Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?
Emily: Just podcasting with my favorite people on the reg. It’s always the best moment.
Kelli: Absolute same.
Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Emily: Well, I know for us as a group, the most challenging thing about blogging has been getting posts up during holidays and special occasions when we’re all busy AF. 2019 is a new year though!
Mary: yeah, it’s super hard to do everything, but ultimately really rewarding!
Kelli: yes, and for me, just the writing of the posts. It's no secret between the four of us that I am the SLOWEST writer, which is why I tend to write the least amount of posts. I feel like I'm getting better at it though. A little. Mostly because I'm forcing myself to take Emily’s advice, which is to stop editing as I go.
Emily: I’m so smart!
Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Susan: For me, it was the It’s Just a F***ing Date post, but maybe that’s because people were hoping for divorce gossip. ;)
Kelli: Again, probably my Buffy post. Or maybe Fantastic Beasts?
Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Mary: Every Riverdale post ever.
Emily: ALL OF THE POSTS.
Kelli: A hard agree with Mary.
Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Susan: I stumbled upon Ernest & Hadley booksellers in Tuscaloosa, AL and found it to be absolutely delightful! On a trip to Savannah, I had a fun time exploring E. Shaver. I’ve also become a Book Riot devotee over the course of the year, though I guess it’s not a brand new discovery.
Emily: Aw, thanks for checking out Book Riot, Susan. That makes me happy.
Mary: Can I count MyTBR?
Emily: YES! THANKS MARY! <3
Kelli: same about Bookriot!
Emily: Y’all are the best! Thanks for the love and support.
Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Mary: Honestly, I’m proud of us for keeping the podcast going! We all work and have lives outside of the podcast, so it’s wonderful we do this. It gives me an excuse to talk to Kelli, Susan, and Emily more than I would otherwise and I’m really thankful for how much it’s grown our friendship.
Emily: Aw, how can I follow that up?
Kelli: *strangled weeping*
One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?
Susan: I started Tana French’s The Likeness (Emily’s recommendation) in 2018, but I’ll be finishing it in 2019, so it’s already my top priority! I made some serious progress last night, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Mary: The Power. It’s up next on our podcast, and I’ve been waiting forever to read it!
Emily: I need to finish reading Children of Blood and Bone so that Mary and I can finally blog about it! I’m the worst.
Kelli: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I've been meaning to read it forever and I finally bought it over the winter break, so I'll definitely be returning to it between BSG books.
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019?
Susan: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
Kelli: Circe by Madeline Miller. (Emily I know I stole this)
Emily: Yeah, I told Kelli I was going to say Circe, and then she popped on here and said it before me! I’m super excited that we’re going to be reading/podcasting about this book because I’ve heard it’s awesome.
2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Kelli: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes! I'm a huge fan of her podcasting work and her culture writing, and she's been talking about this book for a long time, so I'm really eager to read it.
Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?
Susan: More Dublin Murder Squad Series books!
Emily: Like I said, I’ll probably read the sequel to Truly Devious, especially since the last one ended in a cliffhanger. So annoying.
One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?
Susan: Read 25-30 books this year.
Mary: Same as Susan! I set a goal for 30.
Kelli: Get my blog posts done in a timely manner! Also, actually hit my 25 goal. It really shouldn't be that hard.
Emily: I’d maybe like to read more than 50 this year. We’ll see.
A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):
Kelli: One last time: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, which comes out this month. Y'all know I don't read a lot of YA, but this book is so much fun. I really hope they adapt it for film because I think it would be fucking spectacular.
HAPPY 2019, ALL! <3