Monday, January 14, 2019

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors in 2018

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is authors we read for the first time in 2018! Some of these also published their first books in 2018, but most have been around for longer and 2018 was just the first time I'd read anything by them.

1. Kim Brooks
Brooks actually wrote a novel prior to writing the amazing nonfiction book Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear that I read in 2018 after a Facebook friend linked to an article written by Brooks. I related so hard to Brooks' natural anxiety around parenting and her tentative pushback against a culture that equates taking your eyes off your child for a minute with straight-up neglect. Her vulnerability and honesty were what I needed to recover from my own parenting-judgment-related trauma.

2. Truman Capote
This year I finally read some Capote, specifically In Cold Blood. I'm not sure how I feel about nonfiction novels in general, but there's no question that he's an extremely talented writer and researcher.

3. Anne Fadiman
I had heard about The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down for literally years, including getting to hear Fadiman speak in person, before finally picking this book up in 2018. And yes, it was as good as everyone had been telling me. Now I keep hearing about Ex Libris, so I think I'll have to pick that one up as well.

4. Gemma Hartley
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward was Hartley's debut, though she's written articles for years, including the viral "Women Aren't Nags, We're Just Fed Up" that inspired the book. As with Brooks, I'm grateful to Hartley for her vulnerability in sharing the details of her marital arguments that allowed women across the world to see that they weren't alone. (I'm now on a crusade to get more men to read this book.)

5. Arlie Russell Hochschild
I'm not sure "enjoyed" is the right word for Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, but I was deeply impressed by it. Then I realized that Hochschild is almost 80 years old! She's been around for a long time and has quite a bibliography to her name. I'm particularly interested in The Second Shift after a podcast I listen to was quoting from it recently.

6. Colleen McCullough
Long books don't always justify their length, but McCullough's The Thorn Birds did. There was enough detail to give you a rich picture of the Australian scenery, but always enough plot to keep the book moving and make it unpredictable. By the end, you've spent a lifetime with the central characters and feel their emotions deeply and personally. That's a talented writer.

7. Sandhya Menon
I read two of Menon's books in 2018: her debut, When Dimple Met Rishi, and her second book, From Twinkle, with Love. I appreciate that her books manage to feel real while also giving the reader a happy ending. Her characters are imperfect but earnest, and she can write a love story that's actually more about family or friendship or identity in a genuine way. I'm looking forward to her next one!

8. Janet Mock
I finally read Mock's memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, this year and was impressed by both her life story and how she tells it. She recognized that she had a new story to tell (as a trans woman growing up poor and black in Hawaii) and nicely balanced her personal story with some larger information about being trans in America. I'm interested now to read her newest book, Surpassing Certainty.

9. Kevin Roose
I had had The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University on my TBR list for far too long before finally picking it up this year. Not only is Roose's story of a semester at Liberty University fascinating in itself, but he's also an astoundingly good writer, particularly for having written this at 19. This book ranks up there with some of the best memoirs I've read. His follow-up book, Young Money, has not gotten as good ratings as his first one, so I may or may not pick it up. (It seems more journalistic, rather than a memoir.)

10. Maggie Stiefvater
I think I've probably raved enough about the Raven Cycle series and how I put it off for too long, so I'll just say that I'm impressed that Stiefvater could get me to really love a series in a genre that I usually don't like at all. I'm undecided whether to try The Scorpio Races or All the Crooked Saints next.

Which great authors were new to you in 2018?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? and The Stand
Five years ago I was reading: Against the Gods, The Goldfinch, and War and Peace
Ten years ago I was reading: Copyediting

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