For those that need a break from holiday merriment… in favor of grim, WWII drama.
For those that need a break from holiday merriment… in favor of grim, WWII drama.
BookPage readers voted, and the results are in! These are your 10 favorite books of the year. (Unsurprisingly, our readers have really good taste.)
By Tara Westover
#2 The Great Alone
By Kristin Hannah
#3 Where the Crawdads Sing
By Delia Owens
By Madeline Miller
#5 There There
By Tommy Orange
#6 An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones
#7 The Woman in the Window
By A.J. Finn
#8 The Immortalists
#9 Lethal White
By Robert Galbraith
By Barbara Kingsolver
The voting is done, and Goodreads has announced the winners of their 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards. If you’re not familiar (and didn’t get to vote!), Goodreads releases nominees for the best books of the year in genres like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, romance, sci-fi, YA, and several others. Readers vote, or write-in new nominees, and a second found of finalists is released. Voting continues, and a third round of finalists is released before the big announcement comes in early December. And today is that day!
I’ve included the full list of winners below, but I want to pause and talk about a new category that Goodreads included this year. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Goodreads Choice Awards, they introduced the Best of the Best category, where readers were asked to vote on the ultimate best book from the 170 past winners in the competition. The winner is Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. She took the top spot at an 8K+ lead over the runner up (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr). THUG has been a Book Riot favorite, and we’re psyched to see her book chosen from such a large pool of titles.
A couple of other noteworthy wins: Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone won in the Debut Author category. You might remember that Adeyemi’s book was the inaugural pick for Jimmy Fallon’s book club on The Tonight Show. She claimed the top spot at a whopping 35K lead over the runner up. So, she didn’t just win, she really won.
If no one has told you about The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang yet, do yourself a favor, call out of work, and read it today. Hoang’s book won for Romance in a category that boasted a diverse and exciting group of finalists. Lots of buzzy books from this year.
Speaking of diversity, Goodreads showed a bit of improvement in that category. Winners in the 2017 Awards showed 20% books by authors of color (with Angie Thomas’s THUGtaking two of those spots). This year’s awards round out to 29% books by authors of color.
See the complete list of winners below, and then get your book shopping on!
Still Me by JoJo Moyes
The Outsider by Stephen King
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Elevation by Stephen King
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
Educated by Tara Westover
The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte
Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
The Trials of Apollo: Book Three, The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
Just like that, the holidays are upon us once again. With the trimming and decking, reflecting and jubilating comes, inevitably, at least one moment of stress as your gift-giving intentions threaten to take over the joy of the season. Have no fear – we at Signature have you covered. Herewith, the twenty-two book gifts we’re keeping wrapped and ready to give at a moment’s notice – whether for an unexpected guest with gift in hand, a Secret Santa scramble, or the brother-in-law you just, frankly, forgot about. With books, you’re not just giving a great read – you’re giving context, insight, and intelligence. As an additional bonus, you’ll likely personally enjoy any of the books on this list left under your bed when the season has passed us by. Happy giving (and happy reading)!
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari’s probing investigation into the twenty-first century’s most urgent issues poses the tough questions we need to ask ourselves. How we answer and act on those questions may determine if, and how, we endure. Harari’s book makes the perfect gift for those who don’t want life to just happen to them and for those with a keen interest in what’s happening around them.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Jane Sherron De Hart
If you want to help someone better understand the Supreme Court and the influence it has over our day-to-day lives, offer them the gift of insight into one of the most preeminent voices on the Court. Jane Sherron De Hart’s biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg explores the private, public, legal, and philosophical experiences that shaped one of the greatest minds of a generation.
Seek and you shall find. Scott Kelly did just that as he documented his unprecedented, one-year mission aboard the International Space Station. In vivid, breathtaking, photographic detail, he records the vastness and stillness of space, and the unparalleled and mysterious beauty of the big, blue marble we call Earth. Explorers, science geeks and environmentalists alike will find what they seek in Infinite Wonder, out October 30.
Well-Read Black Girl
There is no better gift for the well-read girl (or boy) in your life than this inspiring and thoughtful anthology of essays by Black female writers. Curated by Glory Edim, the founder of the popular book club and online community Well-Read Black Girl, her new book’s divine purpose appears to be exposure and validation for the rich and layered life experiences of women across the African diaspora. This collection publishes October 30.
Christina Dalcher’s stunning debut dystopian novel, Vox, asks the question: What if women were limited to one hundred words per day – and what if gender restrictions didn’t stop there? A cautionary and frightening tale for our time, Vox is for fans of dystopian fiction who want to be inspired while being entertained.
Beastie Boys Book
Michael Diamond Adam Horovitz
If you weren’t the cool kid coming of age in the 1980s, here’s your chance to be cool to the cool kid who came of age in the ‘80s. How? By gifting The Beastie Boys Book, a memoir-esque experience written by none other than Ad-Rock and Mike D., with additional contributions by Amy Poehler, Spike Jonze, Colson Whitehead, Wes Anderson, and others, and photographs galore. This glorious tome is out October 30.
The latest novel by one of the most renowned thriller writers of our time, The Reckoning is all you need for those thrill-seeking giftees. Pete Banning – a Clanton, Mississippi, resident loved by all – calmly shoots his pastor and friend one cool October morning and offers nothing by way of explanation. This crowd-pleaser of a thriller will have those on your list furiously turning the pages of this whydunit.
Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who has impacted countless readers with her beautifully crafted verse. Devotions presents some of her best work, from her early poetry to her most recent writing, spanning more than fifty years of her esteemed career. This gift will surprise and touch those on your list with a love of language.
Vikki Tobak foreword by Questlove
This book is the perfect gift for music and photography fans alike. Contact High offers an inside look at the hip-hop industry and the legends who built it, taking us through time, from old-school to alternative and from analog to digital. Containing 100-plus photoshoots and interviews, this book is a great conversation-starter, coffee table book, and perhaps best of all, an unexpected gift.
New Erotica for Feminists
Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer
This hilarious, satirical book is a must-have for the feminists in your life. It’s a breakdown of all things that turn feminists on: men who understand emotional labor, an immortal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, equal pay, and more. From a retelling of Adam and Eve to tales of respectful Tinder dates, New Erotica for Feminists answers the question: What do women reallywant? This perfectly curated collection lands November 13.
Editors of MUNCHIES
This could be the perfect gift for both your hip nephew and your favorite aunt. Bong Appetit contains sophisticated recipes with one common ingredient: weed. It’s not just a cookbook, though; it also hits on marijuana politics, dosage, and pairing strains and flavors, and has tips from MUNCHIES’ vast network of friends and experts.
From sports-writing legend John Feinstein, Quarterback –on sale November 13 –is a deep exploration of the most coveted and hallowed position in the NFL. With stories from five top NFL starting quarterbacks, Feinstein maps out what it’s like to play football’s starring role and what that journey looks like from start to finish. This informative book can be gifted to football and history fans alike.
In her forthcoming memoir, Becoming, out November 13, former First Lady Michelle Obama chronicles the experiences that shaped her into one of the most admired and influential figures of our time. If the person you’re gifting tends to dream big – and has a love for life stories beautifully told – offer them this first-person portrait of one of our lifetime’s most remarkable people.
Cook Like a Pro
Ina Garten is the gift that keeps on giving! Cook Like a Pro, the latest in her Barefoot Contessa collection of cookbooks, is as accessible, reliable, and lovely as all the rest. This one has the added benefit of being chock-full of tips and tricks the intrepid home cook will bring to the stovetop regularly. Bonus: Giving this book as a gift may garner you a dinner invite!
Regardless of where your giftee sits on the political spectrum, what they’ll find upon diving in to this 800-plus-page telling of the life of Ronald Reagan is a story for the ages. Bob Spitz’s chronicle of Reagan’s life – from a challenging boyhood through a dreamy rise to stardom and then political triumph – brings to the surface an essential piece of American history. For history buffs, political junkies, and those who just dig a great biography, give the gift of Reagan.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., with Forrest Hanson
Rick Hanson’s Resilient is the perfect gift for anyone who lives in fear of the endless and often unpredictable shifts away from environmental, social, political, and cultural norms. Hanson presents readers with a plan for switching off the brain’s inclination toward the negative and switching on thoughts of compassion, self-worth, and inner peace.
On the Other Side of Freedom
In this day and age, wherein activism among our youth is as important as ever, DeRay McKesson has stepped thoughtfully and purposefully to the forefront of the conversation. His book serves as a call to action to build the kind of world in which we want to live – and it also serves as a most thoughtful gift for those on your list who are inspired to effect change.
Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide
Former editor-in-chief of French Elle and all around cool girl Jeanne Damas offers us a peek into the life of a Parisian woman and what it takes to achieve the elusive and desired qualities only French women seem to exude. This book makes the perfect gift for the “it girl” or the aspiring “it girl” in your life.
The mass appeal of Tara Westover’s stunning memoir, Educated, has a bit to do with why it’s been on bestseller lists for dozens of weeks. So too does its uniqueness in story and its eloquence in telling. For anyone on your list who appreciates a true story that will leave them floored, put a bow around Educated.
A Spark of Light
Though the subject matter within is weighty, Jodi Picoult is as brilliant as ever in her latest novel, A Spark of Light. The setting is a women’s reproductive health clinic on the day a gunman descends upon it. As the day unfolds, so too do the lives of those caught in the crosshairs. Wrap this gift for the voracious readers in your life who appreciate drama as well as depth.
That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras
Do you have a colleague or cousin who is endlessly correcting your grammar? We’ve got the perfect gift for them. Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras will leave them feeling validated and righteous as they get lost in this treasure trove of misused words, their etymologies, and more.
Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)
Rounding out our gift selections for music fans on your recipient list is Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy’s memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). Coming November 13, his is a story of musical influence and creative drive, and will be a sure delight for Wilco and alt-rock music fans alike.
To be a woman is to be a history maker. Although countless names and stories have been omitted, under-celebrated, or redacted from the official record due to the patriarchy’s dominance, the contributions that women have made to the world are impossible to overlook. From the persistence of Ida B. Wells and Ona Judge to the bravery of Harriet Muse and Harriet Jacobs and the intellectual prowess of Brittney C. Cooper and Isabel Wilkerson, history is filled with the accounts of women whose vision and rejection of convention serve as a timeless reminder of how radical living life on your own terms can be.
Take the time to celebrate the history of women whose names you don’t already know. Take the time to honor their truths.
Through Catherine Kerrison’s earnest exploration of the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—Harriet Hemings and Martha and Maria Jefferson—readers are given an immersive look at the way race, class, and gender shaped colonial womanhood. Comprised of previously unseen correspondence between the Jefferson sisters, vivid illustrations, and captivating anecdotes informed by extensive archival research, Jefferson’s Daughters captures the complexity of one our nation’s most controversial figures and the family that called him father. With each page, Kerrison excavates Harriet, Martha, and Maria from the margins of history with tangible empathy and urgency. An illuminating title for any reader, Jefferson’s Daughters is a celebration of American womanhood.
Beth Macy’s Truevine unveils the often overlooked and unbelievable tale of the Muse brothers. Born on the edge of the 19th century to sharecropper parents in Virginia, George and Willie Muse were kidnapped as children by a sideshow runner who lured the boys away from their home with the promise of candy. Billed in circuses and showcases across America and overseas as “Ambassadors from Mars,” “cannibals,” and “freaks,” the Muse brothers, who were African American albinos quickly became celebrities in the eyes the public. Macy’s profoundly moving investigation of the Muse brother’s kidnapping and their mother Harriet Muse’s relentless struggle to get them back shines a spotlight on an underexplored chapter in American history. A story about family, race, and reclamation, Truevine is a stunning example of why freedom and love is worth fighting for.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar resurrects the captivating story of Ona Judge in the pages ofNever Caught. From beginning to end, Dunbar’s prose sheds unflinching light on America’s first president and how his unrelenting pursuit of Judge and refusal to follow the laws of his own nation led to an obsessive manhunt. Never Caught is a revealing portrayal of Washington and a stunning depiction of Judge’s resilience. A page-turner in the truest sense, Dunbar’s award-winning account dispels the myth of Washington’s morality, exposes the corrupt origins of the American patriarchy, and exalts the ingenious strength of Black womanhood.
The Warmth of Other Suns
With heart and dignity, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson uplifts the pioneering spirit and legacy of Black Americans whose desire for true freedom sparked the Great Migration. Enriched by extensive research and a marrow-deep sense of empathy, Wilkerson’s widely celebrated title pays homage to those whose search for a better life could not be stopped by the scars of segregation, the weight of racism, or even the onslaught of redlining. Far too often highlighted solely by a handful of paragraphs in the history textbooks of American schools or reduced to an anecdote during Black History Month, the full scope of the Great Migration rightfully takes center stage in Wilkerson’s necessary and inspiring masterpiece.
Brittney C. Cooper
In Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women, Brittney C. Cooper writes, “In order to take… Black women seriously as intellectuals we must be willing to trust them. By trust I don’t mean always agree. I mean acknowledge, appreciate, struggle with, disagree with, sit with, and question. I mean take Black women seriously.” Throughout the pages of her book, Cooper celebrates Black women thinkers, educators, activists, and innovators whose contributions have remained relatively unsung—within and outside of the Black community—in comparison to the accomplishments of their male counterparts. Beyond Respectability is an invigorating testament to the pivotal legacies of changemakers like Pauli Murray, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell and why the intellectual work of Black women cannot and will not be forgotten.
Too Heavy a Load
Deborah Gray White
Although originally published in the late ’90s, Deborah White Gray’s Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 remains unarguably timely. Tracing a century worth of trials and triumphs through the biographies of trailblazers from Ida B. Wells to Anita Hill, Gray maps the way solidarity and community building among Black women challenged the sexism and racism of synonymous with American culture. An informative and invigorating read, Too Heavy a Load is a refreshing chronicle of perseverance, the transformative power of sisterhood, and the limitlessness of communal vision. A quintessential title for feminists and historians alike, Gray’s well-researched and heartfelt book is one to be read with vigor and revisited often.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Penned during the 1850s, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlby Harriet Jacobs is one of the earliest autobiographical accounts of American slavery. Published after her death in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, Jacobs’ heart wrenching yet crucial narrative gives readers an eye-opening portrait of her life on a plantation in North Carolina, the inhumane brutality of her owner, and the way motherhood inspired her to seek freedom for herself and her family. One of America’s first Black feminist texts, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an invaluable addition to the literary canon.
Paula Byrne’s fascinating biography examines the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the biracial daughter of Sir John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman. Best known as she’s depicted in a double portrait with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, Belle was educated and raised by her great uncle William Murray who served as Britain’s Lord Chief Justice. Murray, who served as Belle’s surrogate father, was instrumental in multiple judicial rulings during the 1770s that ultimately led to the end of slavery in England. Through Byrne’s enlightening prose and thorough research, Belle and her family’s story reveals how revolutionary it is to be a Black woman during a turning point in history.
I’m a mood reader. What this means is that I read whatever my heart desires at that moment. It could mean running to the library to pick up the next book in a series or reading something that’s been sitting on my shelf for years. It’s very whimsical in my mind, but it does have its drawbacks. One in particular is choosing what to read on vacation.
I could be going on vacation for two days or two weeks, but every time I do I always tend to overpack my books. Sometimes it looks like I have more books than pairs of underwear! But after years of packing books for every mood I’m in, I’ve finally put together some tips you can use to pack all your favorite reads and still have room for your shoes.
USE THAT CARRY-ON OR PERSONAL ITEM SPACE
Whenever I travel, I always pack both a carry-on and a personal item. My carry-on is usually a duffle if I don’t plan on checking luggage and my personal item is always my backpack. With those two, you’re able to fit more books without having to sacrifice the space in your suitcase. I also like to pack a couple of tote bags in my suitcase in case I buy more books on vacation. It’s happened a few times and the tote bags have been a life saver.
PACK WITH INTENTION
If you’re like me, then your vacations may be a lot more fun-packed adventures than just sitting around the pool all day. I know that I want to spend all afternoon sunning on a beach, but my husband loves to walk and explore a new city. If you and your family love to be out and about all day long, then your time with books may be cut shorter. If that’s the case, pack with intention.
Think about whether or not the books you want to bring are actually going to get read. This is a tough one for any reader because we have all the best intentions when packing those books. But sometimes it just takes a little honesty with the way you like to read. You may see that one book is enough to get you through that slog on the plane, but perhaps you will sit by the pool all day.
KNOW YOUR GENRES
This is probably the most important tip for packing. While you may be into a ton of different genres, know which ones you typically find yourself reading on vacation. For me, I can only read contemporary romance. I’ve tried reading epic fantasies and thrillers, but I’m never fully invested in those stories. However, I think it’s the vibe of contemporary romances that make me feel like my brain is taking a vacation.
But knowing what genres you tend to lean towards while on vacay will help to make the choices on what to pack easier. After all, there’s no bigger guilt than the guilt of bringing a Stephen King novel and not reading it.
INVEST IN AN EREADER
After the many years of traveling I’ve done for work, I invested in a Kindle. A Kindle or ereader is probably the easiest way to keep a library of books on you while you’re on the go. You can also download different apps to your phone with minimal monthly fees to get whatever books you need right to your device.
And if you’re a traveler for work or you go on a ton of fabulous vacations, then this might be the best option for you. The best part is that it may connect with your local library so you can download more books without having to pay extra. So whether I’m in the mood for a little romance or stressed enough to read a thriller, I’ll always have something on me no matter where I am.
The weather outside is… let’s say sub-optimal. Still, there is no better time to curl up with a new book. How can you make the most of Read a New Book Month?
Well, reading a new book would be a good place to start.
‘When you say ‘new,’ do you mean ‘new‘ as in recently published or ‘new‘ as in we’ve never read it before?’ you ask.
Also, for those of you feeling adventurous, you can read something new AND different. Safe bet books, that you know you’ll love are, of course, a wonderful thing, but sometimes it is exciting to mix things up.
Regardless of what you choose to do, here are the current NYT Best Sellers (Fiction and Non-Fiction) to give you some inspiration.
Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.