A new year calls for a new reading list, and wow! Was 2018 was a great year for new novels or what? Many new books received raving reviews and top stars, but there were even more wonderful novels that might have been hidden in plain sight. This article includes many potential bestsellers that you might not have heard of but should definitely add to your TBR pile. While waiting for the 2019 bestsellers to hit the shelves, let’s take a look back at 2018 for exciting releases you may have missed.
A romantic whirlwind of emotion, this New York Times bestseller will have anyone believing in true love. Laurie convinced herself that she didn’t believe in destiny or love at first sight, but when she sees a mystery man standing on the London street and their eyes lock, that belief is driven away. However, the bus she is riding also drives away. . . and her true love is gone forever. Laurie refuses to let him go and searches for him for a year. That is commitment girlfriend! All hope seems to be lost, until on one serendipitous day, she meets Jack, her mystery man. The only problem: Jack is dating Sarah, Laurie’s best friend. Of course. Over the next ten years, Laurie and Jack interact through double dates and celebrations, even though Sarah never knows about the secret connection between the two. This novel makes you feel the way the movie Love Actually does, because it has humor and heartache. The author, Joise Silver, keeps the love connection charming and relatable, even though none of us live in a rom-com. Even if you are skeptical about true love and fate, One Day in December will give you all the sappy emotions.
For any book lover, Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, might just have you in tears. On April 29, 1986, the Los Angeles Public Library raged in a seven-hour-long fire that demolished the entire building, along with thousands of books, which were ruined to the point of no return. Based on a true event, Susan Orlean’s historical nonfiction investigates how the library went up in flames and ponders whether an individual actually had something to do with it. Personally, even thinking about thousands of books being destroy breaks my heart. Almost everyone reading this right now would agree that novels are precious stories that carry a person’s soul. Orlean narrates this true story because she has a deep heart for libraries and what they offer. To Orlean, a library is not a building to hold books, but a place that holds thought, ideas, and emotions, which is like the human mind and soul in a way. Orlean wants to remind us that libraries have souls too. This New Yorker writer’s deep investigation of a burnt down library displays a deep love for books that can never being taken away from her and also reminds readers how important any type of book truly is.
Sejal Badani’s The Storyteller’s Secret is a wonderfully written novel with fascinating cultural details that draw its readers deeper into the story. We first meet Jaya, who is devastated by her third miscarriage and her unraveling marriage. After talking to her parents and hearing that her mother’s father is dying in India, Jaya finds herself on her way there. . . alone. She meets her grandmother’s trusted servant, Ravi, who begins to divulge secrets about the grandmother’s life in India under British occupation in the 1930s-1940s. Jaya is shocked by all the secrets that her mother had never told her, but she also does not know what to do with this new information. Although a novel about family secrets and family struggles, at the heart of this story is Indian customs that Badani portrays so vividly, we feel like we are in India with Jaya, and also with the grandmother in the flashbacks. Not only does Jaya learn about Indian traditions on her journey, but the reader does as well. This is a novel that can be truly appreciated by anyone who loves history (like I do) and who loves following the character on a journey. We are not only following Jaya, but we feel as if we are right next to her.
Sam Hill was born with ocular albinism. Don’t know what that is? Neither did I until I researched it and discovered it is a condition that makes the pupil’s red. This would mean that Sam would forever have obstacles in life, including bullying. However, Sam’s mother, a devout Catholic, called his eyes “God’s will” and was convinced that God had great plans for him. As soon as Sam entered school, he was called names such as “Devil Boy” and was considered Sam “Hell” for the rest of his schooling. Thankfully, Sam finds a friendship with other outcasts—Ernie (who is African American) and Mickie (who is a girl). He finally feels as if he can get through school because he is no longer alone. Robert Dugoni’s episodic novel flashes back and forth from Sam’s childhood to his adult life as an eye doctor. A story about bullying, religion, love, coming of age, and doing the right thing, Dugoni’s novel is sure to capture everyone’s emotions.
In Naomi Novik’s fantastical world, we meet Miryem, who is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders. The problem: Miryem’s father is not the most efficient moneylender because he doesn’t have enough persistence with the people that owe him money. This means Miryem’s family has no money coming in and her family is on the verge of poverty. Miryem refuses to let anything bad happen to her family, so she takes matters into her own hands. We see Miryem going around town collecting money from the people that are past due on paying back her father. After Miryem begins collecting the money, people around town start to notice that she can turn silver into gold. The king of Staryk becomes involved and his motives towards Miryem’s magical powers are anything but pure. Put into a situation that Miryem can’t seem to get out of, we embark on a quest with her and her ally that involves more than a few obstacles. This fantasy page-turner will have you on the edge of your seat!
We are first introduced to Jane Sinner after she has been expelled from high school and seems to be at a loss in what to do with her life. Her devout parents wish she would simply stop being depressed and go to church with them. Jane refuses. Her parents also want her to attend community college in order to finish her credits to graduate, but Jane is not so keen on that idea either. We learn from Jane that the only way she will agree to go to community college is if her parents let her move out of the house. They surprisingly agree and Jane is ecstatic. The only problem: Jane has nowhere to move to. Jane ends up finding a student-run reality TV show, where she can live and be involved in a series that would be similar to our Big Brother series. That doesn’t sound too bad… and Jane even realizes that this is the perfect way to build a completely new life, where nobody knows her. Score! Jane’s story is about coming of age and turning into a young adult that simply wants the freedom to do whatever she wants – don’t we all want that sort of freedom?? Jane Sinner makes us feel comfortable and also makes us laugh with her constant wit and cynicism scattered throughout the story.
In the midst of a war-torn Iraq, this spin-off of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has much to say about humanity and how we treat one another. Frankenstein in Baghdad comes to life after Hadi, a junk dealer, creates that “whatsisname” out of dead human body parts. Hadi created the monster so it would take revenge against all the bombers who continue to attack the city. Saadawi takes us through the streets with the monster, who later receives the name Daniel. We see Daniel meet other citizens, who he knows to be kind to, but we also see him running rampant through the streets. Saadawi includes other characters’ voices to display the distress and terror going on at the time of the novel. Although it might seem like this book would have a dark undertone, Saadawi keeps it witty and satirical with a chilling edge. The monster keeps you on your toes throughout the entire novel because it is never crystal clear if he will attack or be kind. Anyone who loved Shelley’s monster, will love Saadawi’s own creation.
Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth is a masterful retelling of Macbeth—one of Shakespeare’s most infamous plays. Nesbø captures the audience by including the same love and revenge that is seen within the original. Nesbø’s Macbeth is set in a 1970 industrial town and focuses on the local police force’s attempt to remove the drug problem in the run-down town. Also centered around politics and greed, Inspector Macbeth is the head of SWAT and is being targeted by Hecate, the drug lord. Inspector Macbeth will have your heart racing, and you will not be able to put down this novel because of the twist and turns you are put through, much like the police are as well. Due to the overwhelming suspense and tragic darkness surrounding its plot, this New York Times bestseller will have any reader on the edge of their seat, much like Shakespeare’s original.
A story of race, privilege, and identity, Rumaan Alam’s That Kind of Mother teaches each reader that the life we may desire is not always the life we get. Rebecca Stone is a new mother and loves her new son, but she does not know anything about motherhood. She desperately needs help, and she soon remembers Priscilla from the hospital. She quickly meets up with Priscilla, and she, thankfully, agrees to be Rebecca’s full-time nanny. With the two constantly being together, we start to see the two woman’s relationship grow deeper. Priscilla does not only teach Rebecca about motherhood, and all the twists that it has to offer, but she also teaches Rebecca about the world around her. We learn early on that Priscilla is black and Rebecca is white. Rebecca soon recognizes the privilege she has taken for granted. After the heartache of Priscilla unexpectedly dying in childbirth, Rebecca realizes it is her duty to take in Priscilla’s baby and care for it as her own. We witness Rebecca having to quickly learn how to raise two infants, each a different race. A heartwarming, moving novel, That Kind of Mother will surely make you reflect on your own life and your place within society.
Meiling Colorado, one of GenZ Publishing’s own authors, created a fantasy of the apocalypse. In a post-war world that is riddled with chaos, Yeshra must quickly learn the dangers of the new world. Already having lost her son, the rest of the family hunkers down in a shelter known as The Settlement. What happens when a new society is brought up by adults in a world where evolution forces the teenagers to take over? Colorado brings up the idea of an individual’s role within society, while also creating a new future with a fresh start. . . but does that mean ridding the world of adults completely? Only you will discover the answer in Aftermath.
The fascinating novels published in 2018 were filled with new and exciting ideas that could make anyone look at their life and strive for a change. The stories listed are ones that intrigue the imagination, while also offering themes that can apply to real life. This list also offers something for everyone from romance and fantasy to suspense and reality. Although “most popular” lists are beneficial to stay in the loop of what’s new, this list offers books that might have been overlooked in 2018. Each and every one of these novels can be added to your 2019 reading list because they all have captivating stories and are masterfully written.
Written by Lindsey Robideau, 2019