Share The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

This past year, with the help of Off the Shelf’s 2018 Reading Resolutions, I made an effort to expand my reading horizons. I tried genres I seldom read, like memoir, discovered exciting debut authors, and finally tackled a hefty book that had been on my TBR pile for a very long time. Here are five of the best books I read last year and the reading resolutions that led me to them.


Pretend I'm Dead
by Jen Beagin

Read more books by women
This debut novel took me by surprise and was truly like nothing I’d ever read before. It follows Mona, a woman in her early twenties who cleans houses to get by and volunteers at a needle exchange, where she meets and falls for an addict she calls Mr. Disgusting. The twists and turns her life takes and the characters she meets along the way are as quirky as they are deeply sad, as haunting as they are strangely beautiful. This one will be with me for a long, long time.

Read Sarah Jane's full review of PRETEND I'M DEAD.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Pretend I'm Dead
Jen Beagin

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Books We’ve Read So Far This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 16, 2019

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 13, 2019

A Novel as Delightfully Offbeat as Its Cover

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 1, 2019

9 Book Club Picks to Cozy Up with This Winter

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 21, 2018

10 of the Best Books We’ve Read So Far This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 16, 2018

Summer Reading Recommendations from Off the Shelf

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 21, 2018

Close

Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah

Read a memoir
I don’t read a lot of memoir, but this one came highly recommended by multiple friends and I absolutely loved it. The story of Trevor Noah’s journey from being a mischievous young boy growing up in apartheid South Africa, where his very existence as a mixed-race child was a crime, all the way to his comedy career and hosting The Daily Show, was at times hilarious, at times deeply moving. I especially enjoyed stories about his relationship with his fearless, independent-minded, stubborn mother. Hearing the whole story read by Trevor Noah himself only made the experience more affecting.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Indiebound logo
Born a Crime
Trevor Noah

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 13, 2019

The 5 Best Audiobooks I Listened to Last Month

By Tolani Osan | July 10, 2018

12 Audiobooks Perfect for Your Holiday Travels

By Tolani Osan | November 21, 2017

Close

Orphan #8
by Kim van Alkemade

Read a book with a LGBTQ theme
I got this book from the library based on a recommendation from Off the Shelf and I could not put it down. In 1919 New York, Rachel Rabinowitz is a four-year-old living at a Jewish orphanage who becomes the subject of disfiguring medical experiments. As an adult, she is a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and realizes that one of her elderly, cancer-stricken patients is none other than the doctor who inflicted so much suffering on her. This enthralling novel weighs revenge against mercy and is a moving story about a young woman coming to terms with her painful past, who she has become, and whom she loves.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Orphan #8
Kim van Alkemade

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 13, 2019

10 of the Best Books We’ve Read So Far This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 16, 2018

Excited for the Hot New Books of Spring? Read These 12 Favorite Novels First!

By Taylor Noel | February 16, 2018

12 Book Club Books to Celebrate National Reading Group Month

By Taylor Noel | October 24, 2017

Close

The Queen of the Night
by Alexander Chee

Read a novel over 500 pages or
Read a book you’ve had on your shelf for years but haven’t gotten to yet

When I heard about this novel, it was as if everything in it was tailor-made to my interests: Opera! Dark secrets! Revenge! Lush descriptions of period costumes! At over 500 pages, the thought of carrying it around on my commute had kept it sitting on my TBR pile, but once I picked it up I devoured it in a week. Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, looking for an original role to make her an operatic legend. But when she is offered one, she realizes with horror that it is based on her deepest secret—one only four people know. Who has betrayed her and why?

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Queen of the Night
Alexander Chee

Lilliet Berne, legendary soprano at the Paris Opera, is offered a coveted original role, but realizes with horror that this new opera is based on the dark secrets of her own past. Who betrayed her? This thrilling historical drama is filled with so many things I love: mystery, political intrigue, opera, and treachery. —Sarah Jane

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Paris Je T’aime: 6 Books for Francophiles

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 6, 2019

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 13, 2019

Steeped to Perfection: 11 Divine Book and Tea Pairings

By Sarah Jane Abbott | January 7, 2019

14 Long Novels for Long Winter Nights

By Sarah Jane Abbott | February 19, 2018

13 Books We Wish We Could Read Right Now

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 21, 2017

Close

The Merry Spinster
by Mallory Ortberg

Read a short story collection
This short story collection of fresh spins on classic fairy tales and children’s stories was a dark, witty, feminist delight from start to finish. Mallory Ortberg strips every tiny speck of Disney-fication out of these familiar stories and makes them as sharp and grim and subversive as they can be. A VELVETEEN RABBIT retelling in which the rabbit is a malevolent soul-sucking monster? A WIND IN THE WILLOWS take involving a big, sinister dose of gaslighting? Subversions of the traditional roles of fairy-tale daughters and princesses at every turn? Sign. Me. Up.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Merry Spinster
Mallory Ortberg

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

By Sarah Jane Abbott | March 13, 2019

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.