In 2018, I hit 100 books read, just under the wire. I opened and ended the year reading trade paperbacks of Saga, volumes 8 and 9 respectively.
I also attempted to do a book a week (52 books) challenge. I made it 33 weeks, or 63% in my completion of this challenge. I, of course, read comic books too, and a few other books. I stretched myself to review the challenge books, which I ended up finding a bit too daunting and slowing down my progress.
I’ve upped my level of grading — on a 1-5 scale — and what I consider a 5 vs a 4 vs a 3. I had far less 5 star books in 2018, and it wasn’t because I read less books.
My goal #1 in 2018 was to read more full prose and less comic books, success. Goal #2 was to clean up my comic to-read pile. I feel failed at that after I got sick this summer.
This year, I’m looking to read 100 books again, and I’d like 40 of them to be books I already own. My single issue comic book pile does not count, but graphic novels and all my other books do.
Here are my book recommendations for those I gave 5 stars to in 2018:
1. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan
Genre: pink lions who don’t wear pants, personal is political, 1950s, comics
Recommended for: those who felt everything in 2018
Impactful. Exit Stage Left was impactful and left a mark each time I read it. I smiled. I cried. I felt things. This book follows Snagglepuss who navigates the Cold War as basically Tennessee Williams.
2. The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran
Genre: socio-economics, history of the United States, fix our banking systems and systemic oppression, nonfiction
Recommended for: those who want to find a new economic system, but need to learn the lessons of the past
Take notes as you read this as it’s a lot, and you’re probably only going to retain bits of it. Baradaran lays out the entire US history of black banks and wealth. She dives into the gritty of why segregated economics and trickle down economics are a bunch of bullshit, only meant to oppress. Though she’s much kinder than I am. This should be required reading for any politician, or wannabe political hack, as both parties keep getting it wrong when they mean well and when they mean to harm.
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Genre: YA fiction, Gen Z, social justice, black girl magic
Recommended for: those looking for the next Great American Novel
I felt every bit of Star’s story. Some of it, we had in common. Other bits, we inhabit very different worlds. But Thomas’ prose circles back and covers so much ground at the same time that it’s a feat. As a writer, it’s something I admire, and as a person, it allows the story to sink in.
4. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy, magic, heists, team books
Recommended for: those seeking a true heist story in a fantasy world with delightful characters
I’ve read quite a bit of Bardugo’s work at this point, and Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are by far my favorite. They take an incredible world and play with it in ways that feel fresh. This is a heist book. This is also about teenagers fighting their own emotional turmoil and weaknesses. It’s also a lot of dang fun.
My full review coming soon!
5. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Genre: social justice, nonfiction, let’s talk about race
Recommended for: those who are looking to do better on understanding race in America and being proactively anti-racist
Hats off to, Oluo. The way she writes about race and connects the personal, political, and systemic together are incredible. She’s another person who I admire her craft as much as what her book says. And Oluo has a call-to-action ending, so don’t think you’re getting away with just talking.
My full review coming soon!
6. The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Genre: middle reader, tea and dragons, finding your purpose
Recommended for: everyone
I adored this sweet and knowing middle reader comic book. O’Neill is a super talented writer and artist. Here two girls discover their paths together as keepers of tea producing dragons. It’s so delightful.
7. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Genre: sci-fi, fantasy, space travel, intersectionality
Recommended for: those seeking a bit of hope and something new in their sci-fi
Okorafor sends the young Binti where she and we have not been before: space. This novella packs a punch, and I don’t want to give away anything in my reviews. Read it for yourself.
8. The Wee Free Men: The Beginning (Discworld – Tiffany Aching #1-2) by Terry Pratchett
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy, witches are the best
Recommended for: those learning to find their inner witch
I adore the Discworld novels from Terry Pratchett, and I’m so happy to be finally reading the Tiffany Aching books. (I’ve read the Discworld in order, which if you know me, shouldn’t surprise you.) Tiffany is an unlikely witch who gains the assistance of little blue men, a talking frog, and occasionally other witches. She understands the power of seeing things for what they truly are. True witching.
My full reviews coming soon!
9. Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
Genre: magical monsters, cats, post-war, surviving, comics
Recommended for: those who like their epic fantasies with a dose of dystopia
For the third year in a row, I’m recommending Monstress. If you hadn’t picked up on my recommendation yet, I’m not sure what else to say. A few people have noted that the story is dense, and the world’s sometimes hard to parse, especially early on. Keep going! It all comes together.
10. My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 by Gengoroh Tagame
Genre: YA manga, family, LGBTQIA acceptance
Recommended for: everyone
My Brother’s Husband is the story of Yaichi, a single father, whose twin brother dies and one day, his brother’s widowed husband, whom he’s never met, shows up on his doorstep. Mike is Canadian, and over the two volumes, Yaichi, Mike, and Kana relearn what it means to be family and what it really means to accept your queer family members. The first volume is great too, but the second was stronger as their relationships deepen.
8 bonus books that I also loved:
Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #3) by Chelsea Cain
Genre: crime, serial killer, thriller
Recommended for: those who cannot get enough of the PNW and murder
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 9: Teenage Wasteland by G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon
Genre: YA fiction, superheroes, comic books, Jersey City and Gen Z
Recommended for: those who need something else in their superhero books
Injection, Vol. 3 by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Genre: supernatural, crime, adults only, comics
Recommended for: those who wish Mulder and Scully had a bit more magic and Sherlock investigated ghosts
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Genre: YA fiction, queer lit, coming of age and coming out, rural kids, Christianity
Recommended for: those who wonder what it’s like to grow up a rural queer kid and sent to conversion camp
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 2: Masks by Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero
Genre: superheroes in LA, comics, young adults getting serious
Recommended for: those who need to remember that superheroes can be fun
Giant Days, Vol. 9 by John Allison and Max Sarin
Genre: college times, winter break, female friendships, sleepy English villages
Recommended for: those who want more female friendships in their lives
The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 7: Mothering Invention by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Genre: supernatural, rock stars are our gods, YA fiction, comics
Recommended for: those who understand the power of our musical gods
Ruin and Rising (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy, magic, the young woman who is the one
Recommended for: those who’ve felt weak and then rise above
What did you love in 2018? What are you looking forward to reading in 2019? Any special challenges?