The Top 18 Books of 2018
2018 was full of ups and downs, with many great books having been both written and read!
Fun fact about me: I read a couple hundred books a year. I read voraciously and constantly, fitting it in every and anywhere I can: on the subway, late-nights in bed, coffee shops, during the weekends, standing in line…reading is one of my true loves and passions in life. I’ve also taught myself how to speed read, so that I can maximize my reading time and get through as many books as I do.
I didn’t keep an official count, but I think I broke my own record this year and suspect I read something around 400 titles (maybe more!). I’m so proud of this fact and accomplishment and figured that with all of this time and effort spent, why not use it to share the best reads with you?
After much tough deliberation, I put together my list of the best 18 books of 2018. We cover all genres, styles of writing, and topics from health and wellness, to sexuality and relationships, criminal justice, and Trumpian politics. Keep reading to find the next book you’ll get lost in.
1. Listen to the Marriage
The best fiction I have read this year, hands down. This novel is about a couple on the verge of divorce who seeks the help of a therapist. Told from the perspective of said therapist, the book explores how relationships are created, maintained, broken, and repaired. The most enlightening and unique aspect of this novel is its showcasing of the subtle process of change that happens within therapy, that almost seem like foreshadowing.
2. Rape New York
You might recognize the content from an inspired-by episode of Law & Order SVU, as Rape New York is a recount of the true story of a woman who was raped in her apartment at gunpoint 18 years ago in Harlem. The story is a raw account of the makings and aftermath of sexual assault, that leads into a broader discussion of housing politics, criminal justice, and victim’s rights. In a word: this 160 page book is a stunner.
This memoir explores the concept of infidelity, from the point of view of writer Jay Ponteri who pens a manuscript about his obsession with another woman, that his wife finds by mistake. This read will challenge your views of infidelity, as well as reveal the humanness of the common experiences of jealousy, pride, shame, betrayal, and forgiveness.
4. Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex--And the Truths They Reveal
Faking It explores the truths of female sexuality, breaking down the myths, old wives tales, and stereotypes about female sexuality, through a comprehensive break down of the lies that women tell about their bodies, relationships, and pleasures. Do women lie a lot when it comes to matters of sex or is this idea of a dishonest woman simply a trope used by men to get what they want? This book answers this question (and many more).
5. Alienated in America
Wow. If you want to understand Trump’s America, the current state of our society, and the phenomenon of Fake News, you’ll want to read this book. Alienated in America explores the ways that our increasing isolation and lack of community has created the hostile sociopolitical climate in America today. Read the book, understand our society, open your mind.
6. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
This book is one of those stories where the truth is stranger than fiction!
This is told from the perspective of a therapist, who explores the ins and outs of her career and somewhat scattered love life, along with sharing the conversations and interactions she has with her therapist. A love square ensues that you won’t believe, which proves the principle of the six degrees of separation. Both hIlarious and thought-provoking, this memoir is light-hearted, but also offers much by way of profound wisdom to the reader.
7. Listening to Prozac: A Psychiatrist Explores Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of the Self
Antidepressants are overprescribed and under researched. This premise is what psychiatrist Peter Kramer explores in this fascinating read, that describes the implications of these drugs and the repercussions of the numerous side effects that come along with them.
8. Lush: A Memoir
When I learned that the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Loose Girl, had written a new memoir about alcoholism, I was stoked. The book did not disappoint: this tell-all explores author Kerry Cohen’s relationship to drinking, through the forces that shape her addiction. It’s a gripping read that will leave you with more questions than answers about the nature of substance abuse and what it looks like on the inside of someone who struggles with addiction.
9. The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating
I’ve gone down a bit of a rabbit hole of evolutionary psychology and biology in 2018, with this book landing at the top of the heap. This is a stunning, well-researched, thoughtful, provocative read that explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about why we approach relationships and sexuality the way we do.
10. Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control
Warning: this book will flip everything you thought you knew about birth control upside down. Long story short, the pill is actually pretty sketchy and causes a lot of health problems for women on all levels of wellbeing (psychological, physical, emotional, sexual). Every woman should read this book, it will change your life!
11. The Inflamed Mind: A Radical New Approach to Depression
Depression isn’t just a disease of the mind, but also of the body. This book explores the mind-body connection that depression results in and stems from, in hopes of advancing the scientific understandings of this mental illness beyond the decades-old model that is still in use today in most medical settings.
12. Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus
Could the #MeToo Movement have negative consequences? Yes, according to feminist cultural critic Laura Kipnes. Unwanted Advances explores how callout culture and the mass paranoia around sexual assault and harassment have led to what she calls the new sexual McCarthyism. Essentially, she argues that our current cultural intolerance of sexual violence isn’t stopping these crimes from happening (as intended), but are instead bastardizing them by invalidating the real trauma that victims of sexual crimes face. Let’s face it, a tweet where someone insults your breast size doesn’t have the same impact that being sexually assaulted does, and equating these two things is causing actual victims to be forgotten. Moreover: the idea of a ‘rape culture’ is bad for women and actually laden with anti-feminist consequences.
13. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
I read this book over the summer, when I was having a shitty month. Boy, did it set me straight.
This book tells you the hard truths that everyone knows but for some reason try to tell you aren’t true: what you do in your 20’s will determine what the rest of your life is like.
I also had a really cool encounter with someone when I finished this book that probably made me enjoy it even more. We were both in Domino Park and she asked me how the book was, since it was on her reading list. I told her how much I enjoyed it and offered to give her my copy, since I was finished with it, and this is something I enjoy doing with books anyway. She was so grateful and appreciative
14. Psychosomatic: Feminism and Neurobiology
Science and feminism have long been touted as enemies, especially concerning modern day biology and intersectional feminists. After all, many feminists argue against biological reductionism as a principle of gender politics. However, this book argues that neuroscience can actually empower women’s health and wellbeing, as author Elizabeth A. Wilson explores the ways in which the female body specifically interacts with the body and mind, which is connected to concepts like mental illness, cognition, and sexuality. Essentially, she argues that the social sciences rejection of life sciences has limited their impact and understanding of the human condition, and offers evidence that points the connections between them. I would highly recommend this book to any feminist out there, especially those who don’t think our bodies have inherent meaning in gender identity creation and experience.
15. Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free
This book will do exactly what the title suggests: change the way you think about women and sex. Primate of Park Avenue author Wednesday Martin delves into the science of evolutionary biology and questions the simpleton, overly deduced notions that men want sex and women want love. A refreshing, intriguing look at the science of gender is offered in this refreshing, academic read.
16. Happiness: A Memoir
Girl meets boy. Boy doesn’t want children. Girl gets pregnant. Boy withdraws.
I won’t say anymore, other than this is a gripping story of love, parenthood, and identity that is a must-read.
17. Star Power
Fun fact: despite my flair for science, I have a love for mysticism (well at least a little!), especially astrology. I could go into the ins and outs of how astrology has been proven to be a legitimate practice, but I’ll spare you the Jungian psychology lecture and instead tell you about Star Power, my favorite astrology book of 2018. Complete, comprehensive, yet easy to understand and fun to read, Vanessa Montgomery delivers an excellent read for anyone curious about their chart. A great read no matter your level of astro knowledge, novice or expert!
18. The Good News About What's Bad for You . . . The Bad News About What's Good for You
Sugar. Exercise. Drinking. Meditation. Which of these things are good and which are bad? This book will show you the flip side of all of the things we think are both bad and good for us, as the title suggests, using science to backup all of the claims. If you need an excuse to eat more chocolate or stop eating kale, you’ll find it in this fun, easy read.