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Searching for 2018’s best fiction

When every year wraps up, this avowed book geek searches for the titles receiving the most love from reviewers. Today I will tackle fiction. You can find  my post about the top nonfiction here.

I expanded my quest in 2018 and compiled 30 notable lists, including our own favorites from the Cook Memorial Public Library District’s reference desk staffers. I’ve included links to our catalog for book descriptions, and listed the Cook staffers who recommended the titles.

This is what rose to the top from more than 600 books:

Listed 19 times:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (contemporary fiction). This book was recommended by Jo, Andrea, Ellen J., Jean, Jenn, Erica and Lindsay. Read Andrea’s review on our blog, Shelf Life.

Circe by Madeline Miller (fantasy). Recommended by Heather, Emily, Vanessa, Jenn, Ellen J., Jean and Jenny B.

There There by Tommy Orange (contemporary fiction). Recommended by Andrea and Ellen J.

Listed 17 times:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. Recommended by Jo and Jane. Read Jo’s review.

The Overstory by Richard Powers (historical fiction). Recommended by Erica.

Listed 16 times:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh (contemporary fiction).

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (historical fiction). Recommended by Erica. Read her review.

Listed 14 Times:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (young adult fantasy). Recommended by Ellen J., Jocelyn, Andrea, Jean, Jo, Heather and Haley. Read Ellen’s review.

Listed 13 Times:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (contemporary fiction). Recommended by Becky.

Listed 12 Times:

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (contemporary fiction).

Severance by Ling Ma (dystopian fiction). Recommended by Sierra.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (historical fiction). Recommended by Becky.

Listed 11 Times:

Florida by Lauran Groff (short stories).

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (short stories).

Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson (short stories).

Listed 10 Times:

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (literary fiction). Recommended by Erica, Jo and Jenn. Read Erica’s review.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (autobiographical fiction).

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart (contemporary fiction).

The Witch Elm by Tana French (suspense). Recommended by Ellen J. and Jenn. Read Ellen’s review.

Listed 9 Times:

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea (contemporary fiction). Recommended by Jo and Andrea. Read Andrea’s review.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (romance). Recommended by Erica.

Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (young adult novel in verse).

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (literary fiction). Recommended by Erica and Jo. Read Erica’s review.

Listed 8 Times:

Kudos by Rachel Kusk (contemporary fiction).

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (fantasy). Recommended by Jo, Lindsay, Emily and Andrea. Read Jo’s review.

Sunburn by Laura Lippman (mystery). Recommended by Jean.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (short stories). Recommended by Andrea and Jane. Read Andrea’s review.

Listed 7 Times:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (thriller). Recommended by Ellen J.

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (short stories).

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao (contemporary fiction).

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (short stories).

Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon (contemporary fiction).

Our House by Louise Candlish (thriller). Recommended by Haley, Jean, Ellen J., Erica, Melissa and Sonia.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder (magical realism). Recommended by Jenn.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (contemporary fiction).

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (young adult graphic novel. Recommended by Joe, Heather, Ann and Jo.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (romance).

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (graphic novel).

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam (contemporary fiction).

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (thriller). Recommended by Haley and Jean. Read Haley’s review.

Listed 6 Times:

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo (contemporary fiction).

Crudo by Olivia Laing (romance).

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (contemporary fiction).

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (thriller). Recommended by Emily.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (historical fiction). Recommended by Jo, Jean and Ellen J. Read Jo’s review.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (literary fiction). Recommended by Becky and Jenn.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (thriller). Recommended by Andrea. Read her review.

November Road by Lou Berney (historical suspense). Recommended by Jo, Becky, Ellen J., Jenn and Andrea. Read Jo’s review.

Pride by Ibi Aanu (young adult fiction).

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (romance). Recommended by Andrea, Erica and Jocelyn.

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollingshurst (historical fiction).

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (literary fiction).

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (historical fiction). Recommended by Erica and Jenn. Read Erica’s review.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (mystery). Recommended by Jean, Andrea, Haley, Becky, Jenn, Melissa, Ellen J. and Jo. Read Jean’s review.

Listed 5 Times:

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (science fiction).

Census by Jesse Ball (dystopian fiction).

Cherry by Nico Walker (contemporary fiction). Recommended by Jenn.

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg (historical fiction).

French Exit by Patrick deWitt (contemporary fiction).

Last Stories by William Trevor (short stories).

A Lucky Man by James Brinkley (short stories).

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (paranormal fiction). Recommended by Lindsay.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg (horror).

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Suspense).

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (thriller).

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (science fiction).

She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore (magical realism).

A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee (contemporary fiction).

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (contemporary fiction). Recommended by Ellen J. Read her review.

Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg (short stories).

Listed 4 Times:

All the Answers by Michael Kupperman (graphic novel).|

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler (contemporary fiction).

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (contemporary fiction).

Dark, Sacred Night by Michael Connelly (mystery).

Eternal Life by Dara Horn (contemporary fiction).

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Rojas Contreras (historical fiction). Recommended by Vanessa.

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement (contemporary fiction).

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (science fiction stories).

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim (historical fiction).

Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran (mystery).

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami (fantasy)

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain (historical fiction).

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (romance).

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (science fiction).

River of Stars by Vanessa Hua (thriller). Recommended by Andrea.

Temper by Nicky Drayden (science fiction).

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (contemporary fiction)

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar (science fiction).

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (young adult).

Sadie by Courtney Summers (young adult).

Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (historical fiction). Recommended by Sonia.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman ((contemporary fiction). Recommended by Ellen J. Read her review.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (young adult). Recommended by Jean.

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (literary fiction). Recommended by Becky.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (mystery). Recommended by Andrea, Becky and Ellen J. Read Andrea’s review.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujuta Massey (mystery). Recommended by Andrea, Ellen J. and Erica. Read Andrea’s review.

Sources: Cook Memorial Public Library District reference staff favorites, Amazon, American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Longlist, Barnes and Noble, Book Riot, Booklist, Bustle, Buzz Feed, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire Magazine, Kirkus, Library Journal, Mental Floss, New York Public Library, New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, Newsweek, NPR, Oprah Magazine, People Magazine, PopSugar, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple Magazine, School Library Journal, Time Magazine, Washington Post.

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