I think many of us are looking forward to the new year – after all, 2016 was a dumpster fire, 2017 has been much of the same, surely…SURELY, 2018 has to be better, right? Right?
At the very least, there will be amazing books to read. I have piles of books that have been sent to me that will be coming out in the coming year, and it was hard to choose only 5. But for early 2018, these are my top 5 books that I’m excited about. If the rest of the year is anything like what I’ve seen so far, we’re in for a really, really great year with books.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (2/27/18)
I don’t normally go for true crime books: I’m kind of a wimp, and the last thing I need while trying to fall asleep is a scary story I’ve read to come back to me. But I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this, and I can’t wait until it comes out. McNamara, a journalist, was married to Patton Oswalt, who wrote the Afterword to this book, since she passed away before it was finished. This book is a well-researched, well-written account of her search for a serial rapist-turned-killer whose career spanned more than a decade. It would be easy for the book to turn into a laundry list of crimes, but McNamara crafts a personal story, braided with that of a community, including survivors, family members, and investigators. She never loses the humanity embedded in the stories, and the many voices shouting to be heard. After I finished the book, I immediately wanted to start researching it myself – which, to me, is the hallmark of a great nonfiction book.
Stray City by Chelsey Johnson (3/20/18)
Artist Andrea Morales moved to Portland after her Catholic family refused to accept that she was a lesbian, and she’s made a pretty decent life for herself – friends, lovers, art. After a breakup, she finds herself drawn to…a guy. When she becomes pregnant and decides to have the baby, life changes in ways she never expected – especially when Lucia, her daughter, starts asking questions about her father. I read this in one sitting, because the characters were so vividly created, the story so well-done, and the point of view so unique. I didn’t want it to end.
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell (4/10/18)
I’d like to think that O’Connell and I would be friends, if we met in real life. When I read the copy for the book where it said she wanted a “brutally honest, agenda-free reckoning” with the impact of motherhood, I thought yes, finally. Motherhood has the capacity to blow your life apart, but no one talks about that. Her memoir about motherhood from an unintended pregnancy, the HUGE change in identity that happens, and all of the emotional and physical issues that come along with pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, is high on my TBR list for sure. It’s sitting next to my bed, just waiting until I can find enough hours in the day to dive in.
Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings by Jez Burrows (4/10/18)
The first thing that stood out to me with this book is the way that it’s organized: alphabetically, by theme. It reminds me a bit of David Shields, the way he plays with language and genre. This book is a remix, if you will – it started out as experimental stories on Tumblr, and it shows. Short observations, vignettes, quotes, lists – it’s all here. It may look easy and straight-forward, but that’s just the surface. There’s a lot more hiding underneath, if you’re willing to dive into this gem of a book. This was just what I needed to get out of my reading slump.
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman (3/20/18)
I love a good book about friendship, and Kauffman is back with a book that doesn’t disappoint, and manages to avoid the hackneyed tropes that many books about friendship fall back on. As children, they were “The Gunners,” and when one of them commits suicide, Mikey, who at 30 is dealing with macular degeneration, reconnects with the group. Friendship is its own kind of love, and Kauffman captures the messiness of long friendships that span years, along with reconciling past histories, in such a way that feels new. If you liked Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, you’ll love this.