It’s that time of year again, when the book lists come out. Your favorite bibliophiles and bookish organizations have selected their top picks for the year and so have I.
Before I share my list, I would like to highlight a few of the places that I use to build my endless hold list. NPR’s Book Concierge is fantastic because they select so many books and you can narrow it down by choosing different categories, like maybe you want to read something short, about identity, that’s written by a woman. Bam! The Book Concierge can deliver. Plus, if you want to check the previous list from 2017 or older, you can access those too.
For poetry recommendations, I check in with Entropy. Many of the other book lists, only add a few poetry books and it feels like an afterthought, or an obligation. Entropy makes poetry a priority and has a list of 60 books to choose from with thoughtful reviews.
Literary Hub’s Book Marks is another place I like to visit because they have a wide variety of genres, and what makes them unique is that they have a rating system – from “Rave” to “Pan” – that compiles reviews from different sources. The books with a bunch of rave reviews end up on the “best of” list and the mixed reviews are also available so you can read opposing opinions.
Ready for my recommendations?
In the young adult category, I suggest you listen to the audiobook version of Pride, by Ibi Zoboi. The book is narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo, (author of The Poet X) and with her expertise in spoken word, she did an excellent job voicing the characters. I haven’t the slightest idea about it’s connections with Pride and Prejudice – I’ve never read anything by Jane Austen – but it isn’t required to appreciate this story.
For a picture book suggestion, try The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. The illustrations are sweet and it’s a good reminder of why it’s important to listen to someone when something terrible happens instead of attempting to solve the issue.
Full disclaimer, for the adult fiction category, I double-checked Good Reads to see which books I read during the year, and this was the only one I completed. Keep in mind, that I started reading several books in this category, but this is the only one that held my interest to the end, and it’s a collection of short stories called Heads of Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires.
Side-note: I read an ARC of An American Marriage in 2017.
Just last month, I would have suggested Saga, Volume 9 as my graphic novel pick for 2018, but after reading Bingo Love, by Tee Franklin, I had to make a switch. It’s not everyday you get to read a graphic novel with Black, Queer protagonists. And I may or may not have teared up at the ending.
Related to Black and Queer, my poetry selection is Black Queer Hoe, by Britteney Black Rose Kapri, a poet from Chicago that I follow on Twitter. Her collection explores the intersection of identity and sexuality. It’s raw, it’s vulnerable, it’s funny, and she rides hard for her city.
And for my final selection in the nonfiction category, I choose Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon. If you only have time to read one of the books on my list, then this is that one. Days after I read this book, it sat with me, it’s a deeply personal book, and I am thankful that Laymon was willing to share this truth with us. It’s the kind of book I will eventually reread, and since it recently won Audible’s Audiobook of the Year, I’ll probably listen to him read it.
Happy reading for 2019!
Bonus Content: Top Five – Poetry Edition 2018