Layne’s Top Reads of 2018

So many amazing books came out this year, it was tough to choose! But these are my top 10 favorite books released in 2018, in the order I read them, most recent to least:

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab – I enjoyed Schwab’s Vicious when I read it a few years ago, but to be honest I never totally understood its obsessive cult following. But for me, her long-awaited sequel Vengeful was completely obsession-worthy – not just because of what a badass bitch new character Marcella is, but that definitely helped!

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Fried and Hansson are the founders of the tech startup Basecamp, and this book reveals the details of how they keep their company low-stress while still enjoying massive success. It contains a ton of valuable advice to live by, even if you work for yourself.

Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard – Wendy was a guest on the Deb Ball earlier this month, and is also a close friend and colleague of mine. But even if I didn’t know her, this dark and twisty debut would undoubtedly be one of my favorite reads of the year! I dare not say more lest I risk spoilers, so you’ll just have to trust me: read it.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott – My favorite Megan Abbott book, and that’s saying something. This novel about rival scientists is masterfully written, threaded through with palpable dread and scalpel-sharp feminist insights. It gripped me from beginning to end.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – This book was so fucking creepy!! It’s about a psychopathic child determined to get rid of her mother, and the chapters in her POV may give you actual nightmares (and/or make you offer up prayers of gratitude for your birth control method of choice). If you like scary stories where the threat is all too human, I can’t recommend Stage’s novel enough.

Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber – Warning: if you work in the corporate world, reading this book may make you so enraged, you’ll throw it across the room. But then you’ll pick it up again and nod along at Graeber’s genius indictment of what’s wrong with our soul-sucking economy, and what we might be able to do about it. This wasn’t just a good read, it was a full-on paradigm shift for me.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – I do sometimes read sweet and fun books too, and this one was a standout! I bought The Kiss Quotient at an airport and finished it before my flight landed, smiling the whole time. Even if you’re not a big romance genre reader, I dare you not to be charmed by Hoang’s delightful debut.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – Another case where I liked but didn’t love the author’s earlier work (Uprooted), but fell head over heels for her latest release. This book has that classic folklore feel, but it’s refreshingly modern and consistently surprising. Plus Novik’s command of multi-POV writing is downright awe-inspiring.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – My favorite book of the whole year, maybe even the past several years. The only thing wrong with it is that I didn’t write it myself. Burton’s writing is so captivating and confident, I think I’m going to be re-reading this one (and pushing into the hands of all my friends) for many years to come.

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine – This book is a unique and engrossing contemporary fairy tale with thought-provoking feminist themes and lyrical writing that never turns pretentious. I absolutely loved it, and I can’t wait to see what Julia writes next!

(I cribbed a few of these from the 2018 book recommendations episode of the podcast I co-host, Unlikeable Female Characters. So if you want to hear me talk about my favorite books of the year with more giddy run-on sentences, give that a listen!)

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Layne Fargo

Layne Fargo has Master’s degrees in theater and library science, which seem slightly less useless now that she writes very dramatic books. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor and a member of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets. Her debut, TEMPER, will be published by Scout Press in the summer of 2019.

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