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Get Lit with Cara’s Top 5 Reads of 2018!

by | December 27

I’m here, I’m here! Just under the wire, I’ve got my best of 2018 books for your perusing pleasure. I’m sure you’ve read a thousand of these lists already, just like I have, but it’s always fascinating to see what rises to the top of everyone else’s. Altogether, I think they make a pretty good picture of what we all liked. So I’ve gone through my stacks of books, and my Goodreads list, and pulled out some of my absolute favorites read this year.

Definitely tweet at me (@caranesi) and let me know if some of these ended up on your best of the year list too! I’m dying to know what everyone’s read and loved.

Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata

My first selection is one of my hands down favorites, a book that I’ve bought copies of just to throw at friends and force them to read it. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is utterly incredible. Keiko, the main character, is a woman working in a convenience store during college. She finds a comfortable place in society there, and people in her life are happy for her, until she gets a bit older. Then it becomes strange, something to criticize her for, as she breaks through stereotypical feminine roles by living the way she wants. Keiko’s tone is wry and flat, and so moving, the story thrilling. You have to check this one out.

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Heavy

Heavy

by Kiese Laymon

Heavy, the next book on my list, is from Kiese Laymon. Exploring massive topics that are also deeply personal, Laymon goes on an intense journey where he discusses his weight, his relationship with his mother and grandmother, secrets, and growing up black in Mississippi and the wider world. I can’t imagine how difficult this memoir was to write, and Laymon talks at length about how it was to revise his work over so many years, to get at the painful truths of life and what it all means. Every sentence packs a punch, every story works incredibly hard to do so much in such a short book.

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They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

by Hanif Abdurraqib

Then I’ve got They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraqib. A collection of essays about music and growing up and somehow so much more. Abdurraqib and I didn’t listen to all the same bands, but his essay about Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance ripped through the thick shell of my mid-twenties self and dragged me right back to my teens, where I ran around a massive parking lot for Warped Tour and got heat stroke and whiplash from mosh pits. There is so much more that these essays contain, but all of them reach a point of painful and glittering empathy, with emotion breaking over you in waves, and all you can do is keep reading.

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

by Jenny Han

Next is a book pubbed a couple of years back but one I’ve only finally gotten around to reading. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jenny Han are experiencing a powerhouse year, with an incredible Netflix adaptation and a sequel movie already in the works! That was definitely my catalyst for reading the book for the first time, and the hype is seriously real, guys. TATBILB is a cute, fun, extremely well-executed romantic story that I absolutely devoured. When everything gets hectic, pick up this book. It’s the perfect escape!

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You Know You Want This

You Know You Want This

by Kristen Roupenian

Last, I have a bit of a cop-out. You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian is not pubbing for a few weeks, but I finished this in the fall and I have been shouting about it ever since. After “Cat Person” released in the New Yorker, and everyone was talking about how strange and fantastic that short story was, I knew I wanted to read more. This collection of stories does not disappoint! Focusing on the horrible things that are done to women—and the horrible things that women do—these stories all have this creepy, unsettling, and fascinating tone and tension to them, which blew me away. This should definitely be on your 2019 reading list!

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Cara Nesi is a sales rep at Simon & Schuster who sells to independent bookstores in the Midwest. She grew up in the suburbs of New York and attended the University of Pittsburgh before returning to start her career in publishing. She enjoys reading literary fiction, especially absurdist authors like George Saunders, but she also reads A LOT of fantasy, science fiction and young adult books. Occasionally, she writes some fiction and non-fiction too. You can find her on twitter at @caranesi.