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Best of 2018

December 6, 2018

The year’s not quite over, but here are my top 5 picks in fiction, nonfiction, and movies, in no particular order:


FINALLY, a thriller that delivers! This should make for a great movie (with Amy Adams!), and is also the first book that deserves to be named the successor to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. The reveal about two-thirds of the way through is magnificent.

Yes, this is the third blog post in which I’ve recommended this book.  Please read it! My other favorite short story collections this year were You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld and Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

Despite the premise (drug-induced withdrawal from the world), Moshfegh’s latest is strangely life-affirming.

Ok, technically this book came out in 2017, but I liked it so much that I had to include it.  It’s smart and strangely hilarious, and honestly, I could have started re-reading it the second I finished it.

This book is the epitome of grit lit, and Offutt is an underrated master of the genre.  Also try his short story collections Out of the Woods and Kentucky Straight.


I loved this--not every single essay, but the whole feel of it. It reminded me of Chuck Klosterman's essays, in that they make you stop in the middle to do urgent internet research (I beg you to do this for the Nicholas Brothers dance routine that she references). I especially liked On Optimism and Despair, Brother from Another Mother (and the corresponding essay about Get Out), Dance Lessons for Writers, the essay about The Buddha of Suburbia, and Joy

David Sedaris just never disappoints.

So happy that this new series has started! My favorites had to do with the intersection of race, gender, and class with food: 

Revenge of the Lunch Lady
the Amanda Cohen essay about female chefs
Secrets in the Sauce
The White Lies of Craft Culture
I also really liked two of the honorable mentions that I found online: Celery Was the Avocado Toast of the Victorian Era and My Life in Domestic Goddesses, which gives a shout-out to the series editor Ruth Reichl.

Required reading for all librarians, and highly recommended for their family and friends!

Princenthal hung up her phone and shook her head. "Why would someone call here and ask, 'Which is more evil, grasshoppers or crickets?'" she said to no one in particular. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

I looked up so many movies and actresses while reading this that it was kind of absurd.  This is timely without being preachy or pedantic.


This is a moody and dread-filled romance (?) that will keep you unnerved and guessing the entire runtime.

This retelling of a real library heist that happened in Lexington, KY is a glorious snowball of blunders.

Please do not read anything about this before you see it.  You will thank me when you experience the movie-going shock of your life.

This big-hearted yet painful look at modern adolescence might be more anxiety-inducing than the previous three picks!

If you don’t like this documentary about puppies training to become guide dogs for the blind, you may not have a heart.

beth winter


Beth works in the Collection Development department.  She loves short stories, memoirs, documentary films, and cookbooks.  Her favorite things about working at the library are knowing in advance about all the new releases and the easy access to her library holds.