Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2018 So Far

Posted July 10, 2018 by Lory in lists / 38 Comments

It’s been a while since I did Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. But seeing others’ posts about their top reading of the first half of the year made me want to join in. Here are my picks:

  • The Sixth Extinction explored our environmental disaster-in-process, scary but strangely heartening in that it reminded me of our human power for good as well as evil.
  • The Art of Waging Peace gave some useful tools for activating the good part.
  • The Ghost of Thomas Kempe was a beautifully written, deceptively simple child’s-eye meditation on time, memory, loss, and growing up.
  • Journey to the River Sea was another lovely children’s book, an adventure story set in the Amazon region.
  • The Maze at Windermere was a brilliant time-switching novel from one of my favorite college professors.
  • City of Gold took Old Testament stories and brought them to life by vividly imagining their narrators and time periods.
  • Animals in Translation gave fascinating insights into the brains of animals and humans, from the viewpoint of an autistic person.
  • The Shuttle was a fun romantic tale with an empowering message.
  • Invisible Man presented a powerful picture of racial injustice, brought to mythical proportions.
  • The Kingdom Within brought together a survey of Jesus’s teachings on “the kingdom” with the insights of depth psychology.


What have you loved so far this year?



38 responses to “Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2018 So Far

  1. This is a wide-ranging list, Lory, many of which I remember from your thoughtful reviews. My list would be a lot less diverse and rather more self-indulgent I fear, after glancing over the 25 titles I’ve covered so far in 2018.

    Rereads first: Joan Aiken’s ‘The Cuckoo Tree’ and the first two Earthsea books top the list, hinting at a predilection for fantasy that I haven’t inhibited, joined by Pratchett’s ‘A Hat Full of Sky’.

    SF is represented by Christopher Priest’s ‘Inverted World’ and that’s sort of joined by two of three classics, Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Stevenson’s ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ — the other being Conrad’s ‘The Secret Agent’.

    That leaves one children’s book, Farjeon’s delightful ‘The Little Bookroom’, and one non-fiction title, Grayson Perry’s ‘The Descent of Man’.

    As I’ve suggested elsewhere, the preponderance of what might be seen as escapist literature is not actually an escape per se from news of horrible world events but a necessary corrective — I couldn’t bear to think that my daily gleanings of man’s inhumanity to man needed to be supplemented with earnest reading of more of the same. I need to know that good, positive creative achievements abound in order to restore my faith in human nature.

    And so do we all.

    • Hear, hear! The forces of evil are loud and thrusting themselves forward, but paying attention exclusively to them reinforces their strength. Let’s seek out and celebrate the counter-forces wherever we can.

  2. Ren

    It’s good to hear that The Sixth Extinction is strangely heartening. I’d avoided reading that one thinking it would be too much of a bummer to handle (a bad reason, I know.) Great list! Some of my favorites so far this year are Susan Orlean’s upcoming The Library Book and Just Mercy.

    • I may be the only person in the world who finds it heartening in any way, but it reminded me of our human quest to know, to understand, and to create. Yes, what we’ve created at the moment is a world in a mess, but if we can turn that ability around and become self-understanding and self-creating, we may become what we are truly meant to be.

  3. Lizzie Ross

    Great list, Lory. I, too, loved Journey to the River Sea, and because of your review, I’ve moved The Shuttle to my TBR-soon list.
    As for my faves so far this year, I can’t say it often enough: George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo! I’m also having fun reading my digital collection of The New Yorker (1925-2005). I’m still in 1925, so I expect finishing this particular project will take a while.

    • That is a big project indeed. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through even an entire single issue of the New Yorker — though browsing is always fun.

  4. Thanks for reminding me about The Maze at Windermere! I’m frequently working to keep up with Carleton in terms of their writing center.
    My most recent favorite is All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

  5. Great choices, giving me ideas for more books to add to my TBR list! I think my top read so far this year is The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. I love that it mixes together both historical and dystopian fiction, and manages to be hopeful.

  6. I’ve not read or heard of any of these books! I need to do some research now. Haha. Great list though, it’s always nice to see some different things pop up.

    This is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

    • Yes, I’ve already gathered a whole list of books I hadn’t heard of just from the comments! Thanks for visiting.

  7. An interesting and wide-ranging list, Lory – thank you for sharing and I hope you thoroughly enjoy your reading for the rest of the year.

  8. As always you have a really interesting list! I’m not familiar with most of these, though I remember Invisible Man being very powerful – and probably a very timely read as well. You’ve given me some good ideas here, particularly The Sixth Extinction and Animals in Translation.

    • I have been reading a fair amount of nonfiction, quite unconsciously, and most of it has been outstanding.

  9. Kat

    I loved The Shuttle! Diana Birchall wrote posts about it before Persephone reissued it, and I have a moldy old copy I found on the internet. I should get back to this one. And I do want to read The Sixth Extinction: I am more and more concerned about the environment.

    • Read it and weep — but you will know more than you did before, and if nobody knows anything, nobody can do anything.

  10. Lory, I have been blessed with some great reading this year, so far, which has included The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Here’s to even more great reading for us both in the next six months. 🙂

  11. Such a diverse list! I have heard good things about The Maze at Windermere from other quarters as well. I am hoping it gets at least Long Listed for the Tournament of Books 2019 to “make” me read it sooner rather than later.

    I have read a lot of good books this year. I think the best that I have read so far were chunksters: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (as good as everyone says it is) and The Tin Drum by Guenther Grass (difficult in the same way The Invisible Man is difficult, but worth the effort IMO).

  12. I think I will do a Best of 2018 so far myself. At or near the very top would be Kill the Boy Band, which I listened to on CD, after my sister recommended and I found it extremely entertaining and at times hilarious. The premise is four teenagers who are friends only because of their shared obsession in a boy band. The band is in New York for a concert and the girls get a room at the same hotel in the hope of catching a glimpse of the boys – and then they kidnap one of the band members! You know you have a good audiobook when you hate the end of each car trip!

  13. Aw Journey to the River Sea is so sweet. It’s a very reliable reread for me when I’m feeling blue. I’m trying to think of my best reads of the year so far — I know Jade City was one of them, and the third Machineries of Empire book, and I’m really into Alejandro Zambra this year too! The Private Lives of Trees was extremely sweet.

    • I’d been meaning to read Journey to the River Sea for such a long time and was glad it didn’t disappoint. I hope my son will read it as well, he’s just the right age.

  14. I loved The Sixth Extinction – I thought it was fascinating. And I would love to read Animals in Translation sometime. Or one of her other books. Is this your first book by Grandin?
    A favourite book I’ve read so far this year is Small Island by Andrea Levy. And for nonfiction (one I think you’d like) – In Pursuit of Memory by Joseph Jebelli.

    • This was my first book by Temple Grandin. I picked it up at a library book sale and now I definitely want to read Thinking in Pictures.

  15. The Sixth Extinction has been on my radar — so many encouraging reviews/recommendations. I hope I can get to it soon, but as we’re about to head into a new semester, I know my reading tends to slow. It also tends to get, well, wimpy.