My Favorite Books of 2018
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I can’t believe 2018 is coming to a close. It felt like everything changed around me, including Black & Bookish. The site looks very different from the start of 2017 but at the heart of her, this place is for books. I found solace in books when I returned to them and I discovered some new favorites. Most of these books became my go to recommendations. This is a list of my favorite books of 2018, across multiple genres, in no particular order.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Adult contemporary fiction isn’t my go to genre so I read this book based on peer pressure. Actually I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla digital and I’m happy to say it became one of my favorite books ever! The story is centered around Roy and Celestial in their rocky first year of marriage. One terrible night turns their whole lives upside down when Roy is accused of assaulting another woman and goes to jail. Will their marriage last or will they have to make some tough decisions during the hardest time in their lives? This story is timely and the writing is incredible. You can read my full Black & Bookish review here.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I couldn’t stop talking about this book. I told everyone I knew to read it and I posted about it constantly. I even got a book group started at my local church and we’re all reading this book together. So You Want To Talk About Race is a guidebook for non-POC looking to really change our race relations in the U.S. Also part memoir, Oluo’s book is straightforward and approachable. Go. Read. This. Book. She is not willing to let you sit in your ignorance and for that, I am grateful. You can read my full Black & Bookish review here.
Courage is Contagious ed.by Nick Haramis
I bent the rules a little with this book since the editor isn’t Black. But my reasoning is that many of the articles featured ARE written by Black people, like Chimamanda Adiche and Tracee Ellis Ross. And it’s love letter to Michelle, who many felt was a love letter to Black women. Each essay recounts touching memories the writers have with Mrs. Obama, reminding us where we (the reader) were when these events were happening. It’s a short read and will have you feeling ALL the emotions. You can read my full Black & Bookish review here.
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
This is one of the few books I read this year that wasn’t released in 2018. Published in 1980, Wild Seed is the first book in the Patternist series, even though it wasn’t the first one written. I didn’t think Butler could be more imaginative, and then I learned that this series was written out of order. I’ve been reading the collection as Seed to Harvest, which was rereleased in 2007, and placed in chronological order based on the Patternist stories (not the dates the 5 books were published). I know, confusing. Wild Seed follows Anyanwu and Doro as they search for more special beings like themselves. Doro has a plan that includes Anyanwu, but he isn’t prepared for how independent she is. He needs complete devotion and she wants to live her life. Butler gives us a story of womanhood and Black strength in the face of the ones you think love you the most. You already know how much I love Octavia Butler and Wild Seed is no different.
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
This is a late comer to the fave list because I read this book just last week. And in 2 days. It’s a middle grade book set in present day Brooklyn. Jaxson has been dropped off at the apartment of Ma, a woman he just met and was told is his grandmother. Ma and Jaxson don’t really hit it off but Jaxson notices a package on Ma’s table won’t stop moving- on it’s own! What could be in the box? And why is Ma so protective of it? Elliott takes young readers on a magical trip through multiple dimensions, as well as through Brooklyn in this fantasy based novel. I loved all the characters. Great for a young reader in your life.
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body. by Jessmanyn Stanley
If you’re hesitant about trying yoga because you have the wrong body, you have been following the wrong people. I learned of Jessamyn Stanley on Instagram a few years ago (in the mist of restarting my own yoga journey) and was ecstatic when she put out a book earlier this year. Part yoga guide, part memoir, Stanley includes pictures of each pose, as well as background into her life and what lead her to her yoga path. Every Body Yoga lets you feel comfortable bending and stretching to your heart’s content- no matter your size.
Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward
Another last minute add that I devoured in a day or so at the end of December. This writing guide is for anyone who wants to create diverse stories and characters. And what’s so great about this practical writing guide? It’s written from a place of understand and not contempt. Shawl and Ward use their decades of writing and teaching experience to lead writers to the stories that bring us in because they look like the places we live and are populated with the communities we exist in. They also mention many bad examples so a novice to see what makes a great story instead of an offensive one.
Honorable mentions that were amazing and featured diverse characters, but were not written by Black authors:
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Home” starting Rihanna which is based on this book. I loved this YA book about an Afro-Latina traversing the US looking for her mother who has been abducted by aliens called the Boov. It helps that she has her own Boov guide, one that is trying to hide from his own species. I listened to the audio book narrated by Bahni Turpin, and can’t recommend it enough. It’s hilarious and she does all the voices- including the Boov.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
OMG. I was blown away by this (very) graphic novel. It is full of NSFW adult content. And a great love story between two people who are forbidden to be in love because their groups are at war. So what do they do? Have a baby of course. And now they are on the run, hunted because their family is illegal. There were already 7 volumes when I started reading them earlier this year, and it’s up to 9 as of this post. Even if graphic novels aren’t your thing, this series is something you should investigate. I was able to read most of them on Hoopla, even the most recent volume.
Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson
This book is on the list because my oldest wanted to read it over and over. She was mesmerized by the subject and the bravery of the children. It recounts the Children’s Crusade of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. King asked for adults to march for desegregation, and the children did it instead. This was to save the jobs and houses of the Black families that would have been jailed for marching for their equal rights. The illustrator, Frank Morrison, is Black and his artwork is strikingly powerful. It’s never too early to share little known American history with your children.
Want an even more comprehensive look at what I'm reading?
Check out my Goodreads page at www.goodreads.com/blackandbookish.
Did you read any of my favorites this year? What’s on your list for next year?