Amanda's 2018 Top Five Favorite Books

2018 was a good year for books. Here are my favorites.

Hello friends. Some years I offer you a crazy Best of list because the books I read weren’t that great. This year, however, I had trouble narrowing it down to just 5. I would also like to point out that 2 of the 5 were actually published in 2018, and one came out right at the end of 2017, so that makes them doubly awesome. Let’s take a look at the book loves of my 2018 life.

If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that I went through a bit of Rush phase over the summer. I can’t help it. It happens. After geeking out about the music, I read all of Neal Peart’s books. This one – his first one – was my favorite. This crazy guy decides to go bicycling across Africa. No way in the world would I do this, but it was fun to read about somebody else trying. Even if you think music is dumb (which, incidentally, means we can’t be friends), you’d still enjoy reading this book.

Ever since the Rio Olympics in 2016, I’ve been weirdly drawn to bicycle racing. I remember watching the road race during the games and water bottles would go flying every time the cyclists when across the cobblestones and the last hills were horrible and lots of people crashed. It was amazing. Phil Gaimon, a cyclist, wrote three books about his brief time as a rider on the pro circuit. This one is my favorite. It sounds like a crazy life, but it was fun to read about.

I like Matthew Quick books (this is the same guy who wrote Silver Linings Playbook). There’s just the right kind of melancholy to make me care about the well-developed characters. They are each quirky in their own way and I want to help them get out of trouble. This one, about a girl who seeks out her favorite high school teacher when she leaves her pornographer husband pulled me in. I think I read the whole book in a day or two. I didn’t want to put it down. I haven’t read all of Quick’s books, but I think I’m going to try. They are always sneakily good.

I have read every major book that Curtis Sittenfeld has published. I always love the first half and then she makes the characters do something completely stupid that ruins the back half. Since these are short stories, I only get the good first parts. This book was what I always want Sittenfeld’s books to be. When I finished it, my first thought was, “Finally.” Also, this was the first of the two that came out in 2018.

This one is the second, and it’s my favorite. I love me a good food book. It’s even better when I  know the chef/writer beforehand. In this case, I first came across Edward Lee when he was the featured chef on the TV show, The Mind of a Chef (narrated by the late, great Anthony Bourdain). Plus, I enjoyed this one because Lee is based in Louisville, KY. It was nice to get a perspective from a chef that wasn’t focused on NY or LA.

So those are the books I highly recommend this year. Some of them surprised me, but enjoyed all of them. And I think you will too!

Happy New Year and happy reading…

:) Amanda


I think I'll check out Phil Gaimon's Draft Animals, one I hadn't heard of. I highly recommend Richard Moore's Slaying the Badger; Greg Lemond, Bernard Hinault and the Greatest Tour de France ('86). Really excellent book bringing all the drama alive with wit and clarity.
Yes that Rio Olympic road race was crazy - super hard, dangerous course with several crashes by cyclists going all out!

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