The Top 50 from the Best Books of 2018 List of Lists

This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on all of the lists (37 of them) I listed on Best Books of 2018 – A List of Lists.

Here it is, the 2018 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2018-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 50 books.

Books that made five lists –

01. White Houses by Amy Bloom
02. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
03. Those Who Knew by Idra Novey
04. French Exit by Patrick deWitt
05. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
06. Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
07. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
08. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
09. That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
10. You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
11. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

Books that made six lists –

12. Crudo by Olivia Laing
13. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
14. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
15. The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
16. Last Stories by William Trevor
17. Melmoth by Sarah Perry
18. Becoming by Michelle Obama
19. Feel Free by Zadie Smith
20. Calypso by David Sedaris
21. Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
22. Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts

Books that made seven lists –

23. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
24. Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart
25. The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani
26. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
27. The Pisces by Melissa Broder
28. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
29. The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
30. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Books that made eight lists –

31. Severance by Ling Ma
32. Motherhood by Sheila Heti
33. Recovering by Leslie Jamison

Books that made nine lists –

34. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
35. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Books that made ten lists –

36. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
37. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
38. Milkman by Anna Burns
39. Florida by Lauren Groff

Books that made 11 lists –

40. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Books that made 12 lists –

41. Kudos by Rachel Cusk
42. The Overstory by Richard Power

Books that made 13 or 14 lists –

43. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
44. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
45. Normal People by Sally Rooney
46. Educated by Tara Westover

Books that made 15 or 16 lists –

47. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
48. There There by Tommy Orange
49. Circe by Madeline Miller

Book that made 17 lists –

50. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


I’ve read three (Bloom, Sittenfeld, Westover); own three (Rooney, Groff and Finn) and am busting to read another eight (Jones, Orange, Kushner, Power, Jamison, Heti, Nunez and deWitt).

Do you agree with the critics – will any of these titles make your ‘Best of 2018’ list?



40 responses

  1. Gasp! The only one I’ve read is Freshwater, though I have four on the TBR (Milkman, Warlight, The Silence of the Girls and Melmoth.) I won’t have time to read any of the four before the end of the year, so no, none of these will be on my Best-Of.

  2. The Pisces is such a wanky, stupid, pretentious, try hard, annoying and ultimately facile book. I do not know why it has tricked all the critics except perhaps they like long descriptions of epic length oral sex sessions and the exploration of cleaning your anus in readiness for anal sex! Ugh! It was sooooooooooo silly! And pretending to be about so much. Unconvincing.

    • And the Disney-movie cover just adds to the urgh, right?!
      The book that made the list that I wasn’t a fan of was Educated – a memoir about domestic violence, not ‘education’ in the school book sense. I felt like the publicity for that book was deceptive.

      • Oh I also didn’t like Educated. Found the violence awful – all those injuries – I agree the promotion is deceptive. I have also read Normal People which I found to be deceptively compelling (still not sure why…) and the Milkman which I loved – mesmerising, funny and insightful all wound up in moments teased apart and in language that swirled like a whirlpool… although the actual task of concentrating on it was difficult but worth the effort! Want to read The Mars Room, Circe, Crudo,The Library Book, The Female Persuasion and Washington Black.

  3. Thanks for doing this. Appreciated. I run a book club & like to be up to speed with current popular books. Not that I manage to access many of them, and lists like yo9urs make my bulging Wish List overflow all over the place!

  4. Quite a feat, and much appreciated! Lots I haven’t read here but have my eye on. I’ve read the Bloom, Benjamin and Sittenfeld from the top list – the first two made it on to my own books of the year and the third one would have if I hadn’t thought I might already be taxing readers’ patience with way too many titles.

    • I think the Sittenfeld will make my list of favourites this year – not often I find a short story collection so even and so good.

      Once I compiled this list I was aware how few new releases I’d read this year – no reason, just the way it worked out!

  5. Wow, what a task Kate. I don’t think I’ve read any, and have none on my TBR but we did consider Milkman for my reading group next year so you never know whether it will get there. I’d also be interested in the Ondaatje and Kushner, and few others. Oh, and the Westover and Tayari Jones are books I’m pretty sure my Californian friend loved a lot, so they’d interest me too.

    • I didn’t care for the Westover at all but I’m in the absolute minority! I’ve only read good things about the Jones.

      Compiling this list always points me to books that haven’t even crossed my radar- this years’s examples are There There and Washington Black – perhaps not as popular in Australia but either way, interesting to see how highly critics rated them.

  6. There are a great many of these that I haven’t read but I have absolutely no quibble with the accolades given to ‘Normal People’ and ‘Circe’. They are both among my books of the year.

  7. I’ve read only one in full – The Mars Room – and got halfway through Warlight before it had to go back to the library (grrrr). I have Milkman lined up to read. So that basis I feel supremely unqualified to give any opinion on whether the lists are spot on or wildly off beam. I find it interesting though that so few of the Booker contenders show up on the lists

  8. This is so awesome – I love this list! I’m stoked to actually have read the book that made most of the lists – An American Marriage – and I can totally see why it’s on them – awesome book.

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  10. I abandoned Melmouth, but may pick it back up at some point. I’ve read The Great Alone, The House of Broken Angels, Florida, and The Mars Room, all of which I agree with being on the list. And this list is a feat to compile. Thank you for taking the time!

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