Looking for a great read to tide you over until you can get your hands on your most-awaited book of 2019? I've got 20 books you may have overlooked in 2018, and any of them could make the perfect ending to your annual reading list — or a great beginning for the new year.
Y'all, this year has gone by fast. Do you remember that we had the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang this year? What about the World Cup — do you remember who took home top honors? Everything is happening all at once these days, and at breakneck speed. Between those sporting events, a royal wedding, 12 teenagers trapped in a cave in Thailand, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it's natural that some movies, TV shows, moments, and books got lost in the constant shuffle.
If you're worried you might have missed some of the year's underrated reads, don't be. You still have plenty of time to read 2018's best books. I've got 20 fantastic titles that might have flown under your radar, and there's something here for every reader. Whether you're in search of a lighthearted YA novel, an escapist fantasy, or a gripping thriller, I've got you covered.
'American Panda' by Gloria Chao
Seventeen years old and in her first year at MIT, Mei appears on track to achieve her parents' dreams, which include finishing med school and landing a successful, Taiwanese husband. In reality, Mei hates her studies and is carrying a huge torch for her Japanese-American classmate, Darren Takahashi. What's a girl to do?
'Song of a Captive Bird' by Jasmin Darznik
Based on a true story, Jasmin Darznik's Song of a Captive Bird escorts readers through the life of Forugh Farrokhzad, who becomes a famous — and infamous — poet in her home country of Iran after her marriage at age 16 leaves her unhappy and unsatisfied.
'Woman World' by Aminder Dhaliwal
What if men suddenly stopped being born? That's what happens in Aminder Dhaliwal's fantastic graphic novel, Woman World, which imagines women's attempt to rebuild society after the mass chaos caused by men's departure from the Earth.
'Scribe' by Alyson Hagy
Set in Appalachia in the aftermath of a civil war, this slim, creepy novel centers on an unnamed protagonist who trades paper and ink — and her skill as a scribe — for basic necessities.
'Coyote Doggirl' by Lisa Hanawalt
In this feminist graphic novel from BoJack Horseman producer Lisa Hanawalt, a half-dog, half-coyote on the run rides her horse across the desert landscape, until she is waylaid by the arrows of a not-entirely-unfriendly wolf clan.
'The Mere Wife' by Maria Dahvana Headley
In her first novel for adults, Maria Dahvana Headley tackles Beowulf in this modern retelling, which focuses on two mothers — the suburban socialite Willa, and the reclusive veteran Dana — whose lives come crashing together when their sons, Dylan and Gren, become friends.
'She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)' by Ann Hood
This YA novel from The Book That Matters Most author Ann Hood centers on 12-year-old Trudy, a hardcore Beatles fan, who clings to the Fab Four when the rest of her life — at home and at school — begins to fall apart.
'The Loneliest Girl in the Universe' by Lauren James
Born in space, and now destined to live and die alone, Romy is the last surviving member of her crew, gliding through the void on a ship headed for a new planet. When she begins receiving transmissions from Earth that tell her another ship has launched to join her, Romy is overjoyed. But why are the messages arriving now? And why is Romy the last person alive on board?
'Riddance: Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers and Hearing-Mouth Children' by Shelley Jackson
When she receives a letter welcoming her to the Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children, 11-year-old Jane Grandison believes she may have finally found the people who can cure her stutter. What she finds instead is a Headmistress who has discovered that stuttering is a means of channeling the dead.
'The Gunners' by Rebecca Kauffman
When five childhood friends reconnect at the funeral of a sixth, each one blames themselves for the woman's death. But for 31-year-old Mikey, the loss of his once-best friend forces a painful confrontation with the darkness of his past.
'The Garden Party' by Grace Dane Mazur
Adam and Eliza are getting married, but their families couldn't be more unalike. He comes from a brood of artists and academics, she from a family of hotshot lawyers, each with a different specialty. Brought together for the first time at Adam's parents' home in Brookline, Massachusetts, the Cohens and the Barlows find that their differences lead to some wacky shenanigans.
'Leave No Trace' by Mindy Mejia
Language therapist Maya encounters the case of a lifetime when she meets Lucas, a 19-year-old man who has been missing, presumed dead, for the last 10 years. His father, the man he disappeared into the woods with all those years ago, is alive, but if Maya can't get Lucas to divulge his secrets, they may lose the one chance they have to save the other man.
'The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq' by Dunya Mikhail
From Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea author Dunya Mikhail comes this brilliant and gut-wrenching work of nonfiction, which contains interviews with Yazidi women who escaped the genocidal terrorism of Daesh.
'Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over' by Nell Irvin Painter
In this striking memoir, Nell Irvin Painter recounts her decision to enroll in an undergraduate art program as a 64-year-old scholar and author, and to later go on to pursue an MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design.
'The Corset' by Laura Purcell
The follow-up to her gothic masterpiece The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell's The Corset centers on an unlikely kinship between two women. Dorothea is a charitable young woman testing out her theories of phrenology in Oakgate Prison. Ruth is a poor seamstress facing the death penalty for — as she claims — killing people with magical stitches.
'City of Ash and Red' by Hye-Young Pyun
Set in a weird and slightly off-kilter world, Hye-Young Pyun's City of Ash and Red follows a nameless exterminator as he goes on an extended, work-related trip to the war-torn country of C. In his absence, however, terrible things are afoot, and when his ex-wife is found dead in his apartment, the rat-killing hero becomes the prime suspect.
'Shadow Child' by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
Shifting between World War II-era Japan and 1970s New York City, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's Shadow Child centers on twins Hana and Kei, who reunite in NYC after a violent incident tears apart the home of their Hawaiian childhood.
'The Switch' by Justina Robson
Harmony is a perfect society, built for the beautiful, and accepting nothing less. Orphans Nico and Twostar are not perfect, not according to Harmony's standards, both because of who they love and because of their social class. When they're offered a chance to get out of the slums of Chaontium and emerge in Harmony, however, they'd be fools not to take it — wouldn't they?
'When My Heart Joins the Thousand' by A.J. Steiger
When Alvie turns 18, she'll be legally emancipated, which means no group homes or other people making her decisions for her. She just has to survive that long. But "surviving" looks a lot different for Alvie than it does for her new friend Stanley, who uses a cane and gets new injuries all the time.