In celebration of Independent Bookstore Day, I offer my Top Reads of 2018 (to date)!

I dedicate this post to my favorite independent bookstore (nine months into my move to Toronto and still): The Book Warehouse, where the staff actually selects their own Staff Picks rather than fronting recommendations from head office.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen

The day nine-year-old San San and her twelve-year-old brother, Ah Liam, discover their grandmother taking a hammer to a framed portrait of Chairman Mao is the day that forever changes their lives. To prove his loyalty to the Party, Ah Liam reports his grandmother to the authorities. But his belief in doing the right thing sets in motion a terrible chain of events.

Now they must flee their home on Drum Wave Islet, which sits just a few hundred meters across the channel from mainland China. But when their mother goes to procure visas for safe passage to Hong Kong, the government will only issue them on the condition that she leave behind one of her children as proof of the family’s intention to return.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates

The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends—Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah—are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again—with even more devastating results.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

FBI Agent Elsa Myers finds missing people.
She knows how it feels to be lost…

Though her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, Elsa cannot refuse a call for help. A teenage girl has gone missing from Forest Hills, Queens, and during the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads hides the fact that she did not go willingly.

With each passing hour, as the hunt for Ruby deepens into a search for a man who may have been killing for years, the case starts to get underneath Elsa’s skin. Everything she has buried – her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother’s death – threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.

In order to save the missing girl, she may have to lose herself…and return to the darkness she’s been hiding from for years.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

When Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

A River in the Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.

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Semiosis by Sue Burke

Forced to land on a planet they aren’t prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape–trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.

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arcticgoddess

Wow, Joe, some of those books don’t seem to be your cup of tea. Are you trying to broaden your thinking? I might open that one about the dog and read a couple of pages, but I’d have a negative opinion about it right from the start. Now, if it had been about a cat, which would make you crazy to begin with… What did you think?

Kat Karena

Thank you I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to read this year and I’ve been feeling a little soul-less. I love films and tv but there’s nothing so intimate as being lost inside the covers of a good book.

Mendy Ward
Mendy Ward

And now the Golden State killer HAS been caught

KathyC
KathyC

Three of them sound familiar, maybe you’ve recommended them before?

Drea

Just dropping in to say Hi to ensure ya’ll know I’m not ghosting or ignoring anyone. Just busier this week than I’d previously thought I’d be.
No rest for the weary, eh.

Cool list Joe. I’ve actually read some of them.

@Tam Sorry I haven’t had a chance to write to catch ya up on everything yet. Promise I will in the next day or two and hope to hear back on everything going on of late with you as well. Send hugs n much love your way today n always. XO

@KathyC @GlowyZoey Get to do anything fun for your Bdays?

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

No worries! It’s been chaotic here too. Hope you can catch a nap today Drea!

KathyC
KathyC

We went into Manhattan and saw Escape to Margaritaville. It’s a new Broadway musical based on the music of Jimmy Buffet. No big party or anything. Both our kids are still at college, and my inlaws are in Florida (no family of my own) so it was just me and the hubs!

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

The first book, The Armored Saint, I have on my Kindle Wish List. You’ve must have recommended it before. Love seeing your book recommendations! I’ve found several new favorite authors through you. Thanks!