2018 has been a great literary year so far. Which means there are too many great books to list them all here. So, instead, in this article we’ll focus on the standouts from categories that are popular among our readers.
We’ll also take a look at the best-selling books of 2018 so far.
If you’re looking to read more books this year, you have lots of great options.
The Best Literary Fiction of 2018
Want to get swept up in a story and expand your perspective at the same time? Then you’re in luck. 2018’s literary fiction reflect modern culture and current events in a way that’s especially relevant.
1. An American Marriage hits hard with its story of wrongful imprisonment and the effects incarceration has on love and relationships.
2. Prison also features strongly in The Mars Room. Romy Hall is in prison for a crime she did commit. This story of forgotten women in a California prison is as poignant as it is surprising.
3. Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion takes a view on a different kind of female relationship. Greer Kadetsky thinks her life is on track when her idol becomes her mentor. But this story of power, ambition, and relationships is more complicated than you might expect.
4. Women’s relationships are put to the test in Girls Burn Brighter, as well. Two Indian girls are torn apart by an act of cruelty, and one sets out to find the other. Many reviewers use the word “harrowing” to describe Shobha Rao’s debut novel. It’s a story of friendship in a part of the world that our American and British readers likely know very little about.
The Best Sci-Fi Books of 2018
We’re in a great time for science fiction. Authors are exploring new ways that alternate universes reflect our own, and many are striking out on paths that haven’t yet been explored.
5. Sue Burke’s Semiosis, for example, isn’t the first book to tackle sentient plant life… but it’s certainly one of the best. What if intelligent plant life isn’t just out there, but actually superior to the human race? It’s a strange question, and worth exploring.
6. Of course, real events on our own planet fuel sci-fi as well. Blackfish City takes place after the predicted climate wars. The titular locale is a floating city in the Arctic Sea. When it starts to unravel, a strange woman riding an orca appears. The story touches on resistance, technology, and corruption.
7. If you’ve been following sci-fi hits over the past few years, you’ll know that Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun was released this year. The Machineries of Empire trilogy might be the most mind-bending thing I’ve ever read: calendars power starships and warfare. If you haven’t read the first two books, start now.
The Best Fantasy Books of 2018
Fantasy books have always helped us learn about new cultures and perspectives. New voices and cultures have been showing their narrative power in recent fantasy, and this year’s books are a fantastic example of that power.
8. Children of Blood and Bone, a West-African-inspired fantasy novel, follows two sets of siblings in a dark land where magic has been lost and a cruel king rules with an iron fist. Zélie’s quest to return magic to the land is a sweeping adventure that’s received high praise from all corners. It’s the beginning of an epic series of injustice, adventure, friendship, and love.
9. We travel to another side of the world with The Poppy War, R. F. Kuang’s fantasy retelling of Chinese history. Mixing shamanism with 20th-century warfare creates something totally new.
10. Johnathan French brings us back to the world of high fantasy with his dark and witty The Grey Bastards. A group of half-Orc warriors travel the Lot Lands brawling and drinking. But there’s much more to this world than is at first apparent. And Jackal, one of the Bastards, is about to find that out.
The Best Thriller Books of 2018
As such a popular genre, the thrillers section of the book store sees a lot of great releases every year. But there are some standouts this year.
11. Two newlyweds on their honeymoon in Bora Bora find Something in the Water, and their discovery leads to a thrilling tale of decisions and suspense. What did they find? What does it mean? The answers have captivated readers through 2018.
12. The French Girl also contains an alarming discovery. A group of Oxford students’ vacation to France ends poorly—but it’s the appearance of the neighbor girl’s body years later that brings revelations to light.
13. Our Kind of Cruelty brings a new voice to the thriller genre: that of the unreliable male narrator. Unreliable female narrators abound in recent thrillers, but Mike Hayes is a fresh (and disturbing) character. Is he a lover? A stalker? A murderer? Or something else? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The Best Young Adult Fiction Books of 2018
Don’t be fooled by the phrase “young adult.” These books may be centered on teens, but the stories are for everyone.
14. A Girl Like That shines a light on a world formerly hidden from many of our readers. Two Indian teens end up dead in a car crash in Saudi Arabia. The telling of their story explores race, culture, class, and religion in the Middle East.
15. Arvin Ahmadi’s Down and Across tells the tale of a relationship as well, but this one is quirkier and will appeal to anyone who’s spent time searching for their purpose. (And, of course, to crossword fans.)
16. There’s a history of mysteries set at girls’ schools, and People Like Us is this year’s YA continuation of the theme. Will the trail of clues left on a murdered girl’s computer lead to the soccer star protagonist? This well-received book will keep you guessing to the end.
The Best Business Books of 2018
If you want to learn the ways of business greats, you’ll love this year’s selection of business books.
17. Gary Vaynerchuk has made a name for himself as a successful online entrepreneur and an engaging personality. His new book, Crushing It!, distills lessons from entrepreneurs into advice that you can use to launch your own business.
18. A counterpoint to masculine, startup-bro vibe of “crushing it” is The Myth of the Nice Girl. The subtitle, “Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate,” sums up the book’s ideas. This is a must, both for women, and men who work closely with them.
19. While Rand Fishkin appears to have always been successful, that’s not at all true. And in Lost and Founder, he shows you the ups and downs of being a business founder. It’s a look into the part of entrepreneurship that few are willing to share.
20. You might debate its classification as a business book, but this section wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The Theranos scandal was a suspenseful drama played out in the public eye. And John Carreyrou’s retelling of it is masterful.
The Best Culture Books of 2018
Culture is as broad a subject as you can find, but there are a few books which tap into modern culture we can heartily recommend in 2018.
21. The Line Becomes a River is one of the most relevant non-fiction books of 2018. Francisco Cantú is the grandson of an immigrant and a former Border Patrol agent. He’s sent countless people to “justice.” His reflections on the effects of the US-Mexico border are essential reading for anyone on both sides of the current immigration debate.
22. Addiction is another issue that’s getting a lot of coverage. And while the addiction memoir is seriously overplayed, The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath brings a new formula to the genre. Combining history, memoir, and cultural reflections, this book shines a new light on a dark party of society.
23. Want something a bit lighter? Captive Audience: On Love and Reality TV is both a book about reality TV and a love letter to the author’s wife, who shares his love of the medium. It’s equally unexpected, insightful, and sweet.
The Best Essay Collections of 2018
While this genre doesn’t always make it onto lists like these, 2018’s entries are too good to miss.
24. Zadie Smith has been recognized as an important modern voice, both as a novelist and essayist. Her latest entry, Feel Free, covers everything from Facebook to climate change with her signature wit.
25. Sloane Crosley, famous for her previous collection I Was Told There Would Be Cake, made another splash with Look Alive Out There. Her razor-sharp observations, hilarious misadventures, and a great deal of wit are difficult to match.
The Best-Selling Books of 2018 (So Far)
As of the beginning of July, here are the top 10 best-selling books of 2018, according to Amazon:
- Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
- A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
- Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
- The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners by Amy Ramos
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
If you’re looking for more book recommendations, be sure to check out the best YouTube channels for book lovers, these awesome podcasts for bibliophiles, and this selection of subreddits for finding new books.