Books

The Best Books of 2018

A selection of the year's must-read books for every literary personality.
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What better way to salute the past year than with these fabulous titles, hand picked by the editors at T&C.

An American Marriage

In Tayari Jones’s novel—which made President Obama’s summer reading list—a newlywed executive is wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His artist wife is forced to carry on alone, but finds herself growing closer to the best man at their wedding. When Roy’s conviction is unexpectedly overturned five years into his sentence, he returns to her—but resurrecting their former life proves more difficult than they ever expected.

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Asymmetry 

The first part of Lisa Halliday’s gorgeous debut novel is the sexier of the two, an urbane May-December romance set in literary New York that got all the pre-publication attention because it echoed in some ways the author’s relationship with the late Philip Roth. It has many pleasures, but it’s the second half—about a young Iraqi-American caught in immigration purgatory—that stayed with me and I suspect many others with its deep emotional undertow. Without being overtly political, Halliday dramatizes fiction’s unique power for empathy, a value we could all use more of in this troubled day and age. —Erik Maza, Style Features Director

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Becoming

We’ll admit, Michelle Obama’s memoir was never not going to be on this list. The former First Lady’s reflections take us back before her White House years, giving us a full life portrait of one of our most compelling modern icons.

Educated

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Tara Westover’s surreal memories of growing up as the youngest child in a Mormon survivalist family in Idaho are fascinating, to say the least. Through tremendous force of will, Westover manages to get into Brigham Young University (despite never attending any school) and eventually receives her doctorate from Cambridge. Of course, the journey is anything but straightforward and the tangled and intense relations and abuse in her family somehow seem to resonate with everyone. —Olivia Martin, Style & Interiors Writer

Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous

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Arthur Fellig, who photographed crime scenes in the 1930s and ’40s for New York City newspapers, was one of Gotham’s weirdest and most wonderful characters. In Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous, Christopher Bonanos deftly and entertainingly examines how Fellig (aka Weegee) transformed himself from minor player to star through relentless self-promotion and unusual talent. 

The Friend

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At around 200 pages, Sigrid Nunez’s slim novel—which took home a National Book Award—bursts off the page. When a woman unexpectedly loses her best friend and mentor, she is left with his Great Dane. Her grief is channeled into caring for the dog, a complicated endeavor, as dogs are forbidden in her apartment building. In turns, weird, funny, and relatable, this is one not to be missed.

Florida

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Fates & Furies author Lauren Groff released this collection of 11 stories, which speak to each other not in the light of the Sunshine State, but in the shadows. Groff’s world is a dark, strange one of tempests and terrors. Her characters—whether a solo traveler caught in a hurricane, a mother who suffers a head injury, or two girls stranded on an island— fall into loneliness and self-ruin at each turn. We couldn’t get enough.

The Great Believers

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Rebecca Makkai’s novel about a group of friends in 1980s Chicago ties together a series of stories—about love, despair, family, death, and an incredibly valuable art collection—to create one of the most interesting, affecting, and hard-to-put-down books I read this year. —Adam Rathe, senior editor, arts and culture.

Jeeves and the King of Clubs

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Ben Schott is the second writer in recent memory to attempt to recreate the world of Bertie and Jeeves, the late P. G. Wodehouse’s beloved odd couple. His novel is a smart, often hilarious caper that turns the duo into international spies and reminds us why Wodehouse’s characters became beloved in the first place.

The Mars Room

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It’s been almost five years since Rachel Kushner’s sophomore novel, The Flamethrowers, which was nominated for a National Book Award and made her one of literary fiction’s most-watched writers, was released. In this book—which follows a woman serving two life sentences in a California prison— Kushner deploys the same masterful storytelling she’s known for while also weaving in a knack for dealing with memory and regret in an unmistakable voice.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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From Ottessa Moshfegh, author of Eileen, comes a disturbing, captivating story about the struggles of depression in high society. Seeking escape from the recent death of both her parents and the many problems that come with her Upper East Side life, the unnamed narrator turns to a precarious combination of prescription drugs in the hopes of entering a year-long hibernation. Dark humor, empathy, and a truly unique idea made this one of our favorites.

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

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I'm biding my time until The Crown's third season with Craig Brown's Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, a royal biography unlike any I've read before. Come for the Instagram-worth cover, and stay for a few chapters where Brown veers away from history to dwell in what could have been for the Queen's sister. —Caroline Hallemann, Digital News Editor

That Kind of Mother: A Novel

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I found Rumaan Alam’s beautiful and affecting novel gripping—the evocation of the joy and heartbreak of motherhood, both biological and adoptive, and the ways it changes your relationships with everyone around you, but most profoundly with yourself. Elizabeth Angell, Digital Director

There There: A Novel

Twelve characters’ lives intersect during a single day in this powerful debut novel from Tommy Orange. We follow the stories of Native Americans living in Northern California, who gather at the annual Big Oakland Powwow, each with their own demons, motivations, and secrets.

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You All Grow Up and Leave Me: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession

I groggily downloaded this memoir by Piper Weiss before boarding a plane, which is my excuse as to why I didn’t realize this was nonfiction until I was halfway finished. This is an intensely personal coming-of-age memoir that centers on around a true crime story, exploring themes of obsession, fixation, and relationships amidst the 1990s backdrop of New York’s Upper East Side. —Olivia Martin, Style & Interiors Writer

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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