2018 was a great reading year. I made some changes in my reading life. In 2017, I made too many reading goals, and, too much space for books that other people suggested. This year, I took every review and book list with a grain of salt and I read what I wanted to read. This choice totally paid off. While all of my reading goals weren’t met, I am happy with what I did find the time to read and enjoy. Here are my top five favorites of the year.*
*Please note, Becoming by Michelle Obama is not on this list because I have NOT finished it yet. This is no shade to Queen First Lady, Michelle Obama.
5. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I decided to listen to this audiobook. When Claudia comes home to D.C. after spending the summer with her Grandmother in Georgia, she thought she’d go through the trial and tribulations of the eight-grade with her best friend Monday. Unfortunately, Monday never showed up on that day or the next. While I thought the plot and storyline were going to be predictable I was wrong. This YA novel left me in tears. I still find myself thinking about the Claudia’s and Monday’s of the world and how I could offer support to those like them in the real world.
4. Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
I loved this story so much. I wanted to read another story involving a love triangle but I received so much more. It was a touching narrative about love, loss, grief, and how you don’t “get over” the death of a loved one, but, move forward and live with the grief you feel. There was so much love in the novel that I found myself sometimes jealous of Evangeline, the main female protagonist. This book was a strong debut and I can’t wait to read more by Lessa Cross-Smith in the future.
3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Seeing Tayari Jones get the attention and acclaim she deserves was beautiful to watch. I found this book to be the book club favorite of the year as in many book clubs read it and there was so much to talk about. This is the only book where readers were taking sides. I still have beef with #TeamRoy. Although I am not #TeamCelestial, the treatment of unlikable female character is similar to the treatment of unlikable women, people don’t think twice about dragging you. Overall, I learned what happens when two people who should’ve never gotten married do just that, and, what happens when you throw an unexpected and undeserved prison sentence into the mix.
2. Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
Dr. Cooper wrote the feminist book I never knew I needed. A blend between memoir and essay, it was the first time I closed a book and felt like I received a warm hug from a good, good girlfriend. In Dr. Cooper opening up about her life, I saw glimpses of mine. I saw the lives of the black women around me. Despite the struggles we go through, there is just as much love and joy to be had.
1. Heavy by Kiese Laymon
Y’all… First, let me say that I anticipated this memoir, however, I did not know how much of an impression this book would leave on me. I received the audiobook a month early and I was in for a true surprise. Kiese put his ‘foot’ into this book along with his heart and soul. This is more than a memoir about a black man growing up in Mississippi but a reflection on how trauma manifests in many different ways. How emotional manipulation and abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. How going through abuse as a child does not give us the right to abuse others. Did I mention he is writing directly to his mother? Did I mention she wrote a letter in response to his book? I’ve never read anything like it. And that is why this is my favorite book of the year.