5 Must Read Books from 2018
2018 has come and gone and with it so many bookish memories and beginnings! This year I’ve launched this site, read some incredible books and made some bookish friends in the processes. It’s been a heck of a ride and summarizing it in one list is difficult but I did want to share some highlights of the year with you. It was incredibly hard to narrow down my list as I looked back on my Goodreads, there are so many outstanding authors and books that deserve a special shoutout. But eventually I decided to narrow it down using two criteria 1) The book had to have been published in 2018 and 2) The book must have made a lasting impact on me. It came down to this selection of 5 excellent reads from 2018 that you should not miss!
1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Contemporary YA, Poetry
This YA book in verse exploded onto the literary scene in early 2018. Elizabeth Acevedo an award winning slam poet’s story in verse reverberates with power, pain and passion as we follow our teenage Afro-Latina protagonist as she struggles to come into her own under her traditional mother’s upbringing. I don’t know a lot about poetry but I got chills reading The Poet X at several points and if that is not the sign of an excellent read, I don’t know what is.
2. Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Next Year in Havana is an indulgence of a book. Blending meticulously researched Cuban history, family tales, romance and adventure, this book is a true crowd pleaser. Cleeton is an immensely talented writer, her prose is beautiful, her plot is well-crafted and her handling of sensitive topics is nuanced and empathetic. I am so glad that the second book in this series is coming out this year because I can’t wait to get more of the incredible Perez sisters!
3. Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez
Genre: Short Stories
Full Disclosure, Ivelisse Rodriguez and I are part of the same Latina organization, although I had not met her in person before attending the Harlem launch of her book. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible when reviewing her work and I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding reads of 2018. Love War Stories are magical, angry, and heartachingly beautiful at times, it offers the best of short fiction format, creating unique characters to dive into while at the same time weaving a wider meditation on the central themes of culture, love and womanhood.
4. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Usually I have no problem picking up a book as soon as I have finished one. Not this one, I remember the moment I finished this book. I was sitting in the train feeling so full emotionally, crying and trying not to alarm by fellow passengers. Partially inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in Colombia during intense cartel violence, Contreras’ managems to craft a powerful and gripping narrative while retaining a child’s perspective on Colombia in the 90’s. I couldn’t put the book down! It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel, she is certainly an author to watch.
5. The Cost of Our Lives by Linda Gonzalez
Linda Gonzalez has written a memoir that feels highly personal (how many people have discovered that they are their father’s other family?) and at the same time hits some widely relatable themes of coming into adulthood, building family bonds and, testing tradition. Gonzalez is not only an engaging writer, she is also a keen observer of human behaviour and incredibly honest in her own self analysis.