This year has been…a lot. What with the end of my junior year, college applications, the start of my senior year, and everything else, I spent most of 2018 exhausted. Somehow I managed to read 111 books despite all that, but…I will admit a good twenty of them are not conventional novels (whether that be webcomics, short stories, or…uh…AP test prep books?). However, I’m still immensely proud of my achievements this year, the 111 books a part of that.
My top ten books in 2018 are as follows:
I wonder – if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: It was as though Alice Oseman peered into my soul and said, “hmm, what does she need to read at this point in her life?” and then wrote it. Radio Silence is about fandom loving teens who make a podcast and don’t fall in love; it’s about the academic pressure students are under and how university is pushed upon us, even if we aren’t ready for it; it’s about love and the many kinds we can feel that aren’t necessarily romantic; it’s about the different versions of ourselves that we project to the world and how that can sometimes be toxic. I think the words I have for Alice Oseman are thank you, right now. Just, thank you, for I truly feel seen. Review here.
You look like Snow White killed the queen and stole the mirror.”
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab: I’m part of the lucky crowd that didn’t have to wait five years for Vengeful; I only waited…a few months. I know how much trouble Schwab went into writing this book, how trying it was, but also how rewarding it was to her at the end. I am grateful she spent so much time on it because it really shows. It’s a different book than Vicious, but that ended up working for me. I would die for Victor Vale and Eli Ever, thank you and goodnight. Review here.
A heart did not have to be stone to be strong.”
Bright We Burn by Kiersten White: When I finished this beautiful, beautiful, sad novel, I cried, not because the ending was particularly painful (although it kind of was), but because this trilogy that means so much to me was over. I actually got the chance to tell Kiersten White this myself at SD Comic-Con over the summer and her reaction was so sweet. (I love her.) But really, this book means a lot to me. It’s not everyday I feel as emotionally connected to violent rulers. There was something interesting, though, that White said during a panel at SDCC, that The Conquerer’s Saga came about as an answer to the question of how two siblings could react so differently to the same upbringing; the violence of their childhood hardened Lada while it softened Radu. And that is fascinating. Review here.
People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: I cried through the last quarter of this novel, approximately. I can’t really express how much it means to me to read this book, how beautifully tragic it was, but at the same time hopeful. It was one of the more honest approaches to high school that I’ve read, and a painful reminder that not every part of the US is as progressive as my hometown. There shouldn’t even be a default.
Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.”
The All for the Game Trilogy by Nora Sakavic: I suppose an entire trilogy shouldn’t count for just one out of ten, but it does. This trilogy is a dark exploration of broken new adults, their relationships, with just enough sports to be considered a sports book but not too much to make me disinterested. It’s the only self-published series (or singular novel) I’ve ever read, but I no longer will be discounting self-published books as a result. My friends can attest to how long my phase was after finishing this: I would not shut up. Review here.
Scars are not shameful, not unless you let them be. If you do not wear them, they will wear you.”
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: What a year! Two books by Schwab are on my top reads list! So yes, I adored this book, but what else was to be expected? Schwab writes the most fascinating fantasies, the most enveloping stories, the most morally-grey yet lovable characters. I can’t think of a main character I wouldn’t die for, even, regretfully, Holland. Thank you, Victoria, for giving me a place to escape to. Review here.
I was okay just a moment ago. I will learn how to be okay again.”
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: This was the year of finally reading a Nina LaCour book (two actually!) and I can say that the hype is most definitely deserved. We Are Okay is a beautiful exploration of love and friendship and grief, and what the deepest of sadnesses can do to us with no one there to help. I highly recommend it, but it is not a happy novel. I am at least grateful for the light at the ending saying that whatever terrible things there may be, there are always good things as well so long as we accept them. This is a novel about accepting what we so deeply believe we are not worthy of having. Review here.
I can’t find a quote from Heartstopper, so I’m sad” -BookHugger, 9:17 PM, December 31, 2018
Hearstopper by Alice Oseman: So yes, maybe I did spend an entire afternoon reading this webcomic and then angrily refreshing the page to see if it really truly was not complete. And now, I have the release dates written in my planner because I cannot miss a day!! Really, though, Alice Oseman is becoming a favorite author of mine. Sometimes I wonder how she isn’t in my head because her stories are just what I need somehow. No review, just tears.
Because if this is to be my fate, I’m going to walk boldly into it on my own two feet.”
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: I read most of this Asian-inspired fantasy in one sitting curled up on my couch. Girls of Paper and Fire is a beautifully feminist novel, a novel about female friendship and love, about dismantling a dangerous patriarchy built upon female pain. I cannot recommend this enough, especially in this day and age. Trigger warning for rape. Theres no review yet, because I’m doomed to be behind forever.
Sympathy is common. Knowing the exact shape of the hole someone’s loss leaves in your heart is rare.”
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare: QOAAD was an imperfect conclusion to a trilogy I love with every part of me. It both disappointed me and exceeded my expectations. I cried happy tears, I cried sad tears, I wanted to throw my book at the wall (but I thankfully abstained). I now check my calendar every day to see if 2022 (and therefore The Wicked Powers) has somehow moved closer, but alas, time only passes by the day. I am a tad unnerved that I will be 21 when I finally get the answers to everything at the end, but I guess that’s the perks of reading an author who still milks a dead cow. (I kid, I kid). Review here.
There’s a million other books I loved this year, but these were the best of the best. Thank you to every author for putting their words into the world, but most specifically to these.
My resolutions are as follows:
- To read even more diversely than I did last year, even though I definitely read a great deal of diverse books.
- To read 90 books, but hopefully more. We’ll see. College might be hard.
- To read all the books I own (save maybe the Nancy Drew ones) before college in August/September.
- To review more often, to post more often, to be more active on all of my social medias, but not too often that it rules my life. Sometimes a hiatus is okay; I need to learn that.
- In the realm of non-bookish things, to complete high school with As.
- To make friends at college.
- To break out of my very tight shell and have fun.
- To date? Maybe? We’ll see.
- To finish revisions of my novel and maybe start the one I’ve been plotting.
- To write letters to all of my friends and anyone I feel has influenced me in high school around graduation.
- To cut off anyone toxic from my life. I intend to go into my college years without any strings bound around me; my closest and most trustworthy friends are not strings to me, but stars that dot my sky, ever-present.
So, there’s that. 2019 is to be a year of change for me. 2018 was a year of transition into who I want to be; 2019 will be the year I am who I want to be: confident, proud, and happy. Here’s to 2019.