My Favorite Titles of 2018

If you know me, you know I like to read. I’ve always enjoyed books and anything associated with them — bookstores, libraries, public readings, you name it. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve found it harder and harder to fit in time for reading. Some days are just so busy that when I pull out a book to read at night, I get through a few pages — a chapter if I’m lucky — and then fall asleep. Nonetheless, I still try to read as often as I can, and 2018 was definitely a good reading year for me.

I read memoirs, fiction, history books, mysteries, and even some picture books. Today, a little over a week into the new year, I thought I’d reflect on six of my favorite books from 2018 so that when you find your free pocket of time in the next few weeks — and don’t worry, you will! — you can have a few new titles to look for in the library. Enjoy!

1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Quite simply, The Library Book is my new favorite book of all time, aside from Harry Potter. Susan Orlean masterfully weaves together history and memoir as she tells the story of the 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central branch. But beyond telling this hidden piece of history in a gripping and exciting way, Orlean also offers some of her own fond memories of libraries from her childhood. This book, disguised as a history book or even a memoir, really is an ode to the institution of libraries. It shows us how they’re so much more than just a place to circulate books — they’re really integral to an entire community. If you’re a reader at all, I promise you you’ll love this book. And I dare you to read it and not want to be a librarian after!

Read more here!

2.  Notes from a Public Typewriter edited by Michael Gustafson

My favorite bookshop is Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I discovered it in 2016 when I was touring the University of Michigan and instantly loved the atmosphere. The bookstore is filled with hundreds of handwritten staff recommendations, their selection of books is first-rate, and the owners — who are a married couple in their 30s — sent books to each other while they were dating long-distance! In the basement of their store, there’s a real typewriter, which people write messages, thoughts, and ideas on each day. This book, Notes from a Public Typewriter, is a compilation of the most profound, funny, and intriguing passages people have written on the typewriter. One of the owners, Mike Gustafson, supplemented the notes with his own writing, which is equally compelling. This book will remind you why bookstores are so great, and the book’s design is also beautiful.

Read more about it here!

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama

I mean, of course this is on my list — it’s on everyone’s! But I liked this book, not because I like Michelle Obama (which I do!). Rather, I liked this book because, as she has said in her book tours, it represents a classic American story of working your way up from next to nothing. Furthermore, I liked learning more about Michelle Obama, her thoughts on Barack and politics, and her experiences before she met her husband. She’s really a remarkable woman, and this book made me feel even more grateful to have had her as my first lady for eight years.

Read more about it here!

4. West Wingers: Stories from Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House edited by Gautam Raghavan

West Wingers is a compilation of essays from West Wing staff during the Obama era. I first learned about the book when a few of the contributors came to Northwestern for a signing, and I was captivated by tales of their time working in the White House. Many of them were only a few years older than I am now when they started working there, and I was struck by how diverse — racially, socioeconomically, and personality-wise — all of these people were. As I read the book, I felt like I saw myself in many of the different stories, which made me feel good that — for eight years, at least — I actually was represented in the White House. If you read this book, I’m sure you’ll see glimpses of yourself in it, too.

Read more about it here!

5. First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power by Kate Andersen Bower

I’m definitely a history junkie, so if you are, too, this book may be a perfect choice. Bower recounts the relationships between presidents and vice presidents in each administration — including Trump’s — since Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s. Her book gives good insight into the intricacies of the vice president’s role, and how they vary depending on the relationship between him and the president. This book taught me a lot, and even if you’re not into history, you may still find it enjoyable.

Read more about it here!

6. Rescue & Jessica: A Life Changing Friendship written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon​

Based on a true story, this picture book shows the relationship between Rescue, a service dog, and Jessica, a woman whose leg was blown to pieces in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. A Boston native, I remember that day in 2013 well — the fear, the confusion, even the piercing sound of sirens and helicopters I heard pretty much all week. The Marathon bombings are tough to explain to little kids, and I thought Jessica and her husband — two victims — did a fantastic job simplifying it and highlighting some of the good that came out of that terrible week. Even though it’s a picture book, everyone regardless of age should read it.

Read more about it here!

Yes, Malfoy, I do read!

(Image courtesy of GIPHY)