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The Best Books of 2018 So Far

The Best Books of 2018 So Far

Powell's staff shares their favorite books of 2018 so far, and mermen, refugees, Circe, the Donner Party, and a trippy film festival in Havana are just a handful of the fascinating subjects.

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There There

A novel

By Tommy Orange
Narrated by: Darrell Dennis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Alma Cuervo & Kyla Garcia
Length: 7 hours 59 minutes

There There

“There There is the kind of book that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go, even after you’ve turned the last page. It is a work of fiction, but every word of it feels true. Tommy Orange writes with a palpable anger and pain, telling the history of a cultural trauma handed down through generations in the blood and bones and stories of individual lives. He also writes with incredible heart and humor, infusing his characters with a tangible humanity and moments of joy even as they are headed toward tragedy. There There has claimed a permanent spot in my heart despite having broken it, or maybe because it did. I think this may be the best book I’ve ever read.”

Changing Hands image Heather Weldon, Changing Hands
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Circe

By Madeline Miller
Narrated by: Perdita Weeks
Length: 12 hours 8 minutes

Circe

“Unlike most of my peers, I did not learn about mythology in school. Circe intimidated me for far too long before I finally took the plunge to read it. How glad I am that I faced my fear! Even to my untrained mind, the chronicles of Circe were easy to follow, and with Perdita Weeks’ sublime narration, soon I was engrossed. Ostracized and outcast, Circe—the goddess, the witch—exhibits unbelievable strength and passion in her many years, and Madeline Miller has molded her into the feminist icon of my dreams. After spending so much time with her, I was emotional to say goodbye. This one should not be missed!”

Raven Book Store image Mary, Raven Book Store
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I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

By Michelle McNamara
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman, Gillian Flynn & Patton Oswalt
Length: 10 hours 7 minutes

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

“An overwhelmingly obsessed Michelle McNamara dissects the decades old trail of tragedy, trauma and ongoing taunts by the elusive East Area Rapist in her investigative crime thriller “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” published posthumously after her unexpected demise. Dubbed the “Golden State Killer” by McNamara herself, his crime spree started with 50 unsolved rapes before escalating to numerous murders leaving terrorized California residents tense for ten years. A determined McNamara meticulously researches this reign of terror with such precision it’s sure to pry this perpetrators identity out of obscurity and into justice, a suitable ending for this authors’ life.”

McLean & Eakin Booksellers image Kristin, McLean & Eakin Booksellers
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The Map of Salt and Stars

By Zeyn Joukhadar
Narrated by: Lara Sawalha
Length: 12 hours 17 minutes

The Map of Salt and Stars

“The two intertwining stories--one an ancient folk tale, one a story set in modern day Syria, and both featuring a young girl not yet come of age as the protagonist and hero of her own adventure--is brilliantly performed by Lara Sawalha. I was captivated from the first but both the rich stories and the gorgeous telling of them.”

Left Bank Books image Kris, Left Bank Books
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The Mars Room

A Novel

By Rachel Kushner
Narrated by: Rachel Kushner
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes

The Mars Room

“Rachel Kushner writes some seriously smart and gorgeous prose, so when she headed to prison in The Mars Room, I went. It is dark. It is painful. At times, the level of detail in the book and its fabulously invented and drawn characters make it feel like a documentary. We are struggling with so many social justice issues across the country right now it is overwhelming, and I worried that The Mars Room would push me over the edge. Instead, I couldn't stop reading. What really happened? Who is to blame? How will things turn out? How can we make things better? Ultimately, Kushner's great success is profoundly illustrating a very simple message: It's complicated.”

Hudson Booksellers image Sara Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers
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Red Clocks

A Novel

By Leni Zumas
Narrated by: Karissa Vacker
Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Red Clocks

“I never understood what it meant for someone's writing to be 'lyrical' until I picked up Red Clocks. With beautiful prose, Leni Zumas tells the story of a young girl seeking an abortion in a world where abortion is illegal and dangerous; a woman on the quest to have children when in-vitro fertilization is illegal and folks aren't allowed to adopt without a partner; a woman in a dead-end marriage desperate to escape from her husband and children; and a woman considered a witch by most who provides homeopathic reproductive healthcare, including illegal abortions. Zumas beautifully weaves these stories together and gives each individual a strong and unique voice, while also maintaining suspended disbelief. These characters felt real and this world felt possible. I suspect this will be one of the best books published in 2018.”

BookPeople image Hanna Foster, BookPeople
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Spinning Silver

A Novel

By Naomi Novik
Narrated by: Lisa Flanagan
Length: 17 hours 56 minutes

Spinning Silver

“In her second standalone fantasy, Novik once again mines the tales we know to create something completely modern yet timeless. This reimagined version of Rumpelstiltskin, set in a tsarist, Eastern Europe-like country called Litvas, is breathtaking. It explores female autonomy, class, Jewish life, and oppression while telling a compelling and richly realized fantasy tale. If anything, I just wanted to spend more time with Miryem, Wanda, Irina, and the story’s other vibrant, compelling voices. If you loved Uprooted, don’t hesitate to dive into this one. If you haven’t read Novik’s earlier work, begin here—you’ll be hooked.”

Main Point Books image Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books
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Goodbye, Sweet Girl

A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival

By Kelly Sundberg
Narrated by: Andi Arndt
Length: 6 hours 18 minutes

In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain,...

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Tonight I'm Someone Else

Essays

By Chelsea Hodson
Narrated by: Chelsea Hodson
Length: 5 hours 3 minutes

Tonight I'm Someone Else is a highly anticipated audiobook collection, from the writer Maggie Nelson has called, “bracingly good…refreshing and welcome,” that explores the myriad ways in which desire and commodification intersect.

From graffiti gangs and Grand Theft Auto to sugar daddies, Schopenhauer, and a deadly game of Russian roulette, in...

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The Pisces

A Novel

By Melissa Broder
Narrated by: Melissa Broder
Length: 8 hours 19 minutes

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

“Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic – there is nothing like The Pisces. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter 

 
Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho... Read more »

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The Cruel Prince

The Folk of the Air: Book #1

By Holly Black
Narrated by: Caitlin Kelly
Length: 12 hours 36 minutes

The Cruel Prince

“Holly Black is a master at her craft, dropping us into the land of Faerie in a way that captures the attention as effortlessly as one of the Folk of the Air enchants humans in her story. Jude is our guide through the strange, beautiful, and terrifying world of Elfhame where she was raised by Madoc, her half-sister’s father, after he murdered their mother and Jude’s human father. All she’s ever wanted was to belong, wishing to become a knight. But it’s not easy being a human in Elfhame, even when you’ve been raised by a fierce and widely respected Faerie. At least not for Jude. With unexpected twists and characters you’ll love and hate, sometimes at the same time, this is one Faerie tale you don’t want to miss. And once you’ve had a taste, you won’t want to stop until you’ve finished the entire series as quickly as you can.”

Rediscovered Books image Dany, Rediscovered Books
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Freshwater

By Akwaeke Emezi
Narrated by: Akwaeke Emezi
Length: 6 hours 42 minutes

An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of... Read more »

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Ghost Boys

By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Narrated by: Miles Harvey
Length: 2 hours 51 minutes

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he... Read more »

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The Cabin at the End of the World

A Novel

By Paul Tremblay
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Length: 9 hours 25 minutes

The Cabin at the End of the World

“Wen and her dads are taking a break from everything by visiting a remote cabin for vacation. Wen is studying grasshoppers in their yard when a man comes up and warns her that she and her dads are going to have to make a decision. And that’s about all I can tell you without spoiling the story. This book was so creepy, in a very good way. I’d classify this as horror, but very realistic.”

Jennifer Jones image Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser
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The Italian Teacher

By Tom Rachman
Narrated by: Sam Alexander
Length: 9 hours 37 minutes

The Italian Teacher

“The same kinds of beautifully drawn, charming-but-flawed characters that made The Imperfectionists so wonderful also fill this novel, which follows Pinch (aka Charles), the son of famed painter Bear Bavinsky, as he grows up and struggles to make a name for himself. The book begins with Pinch and his mother, a failed potter, living in Rome in the 1950s in the shadow of Bear's celebrity and forceful personality. With evocative descriptions of the various cities in which it's set, The Italian Teacher is perfect for readers who want to be drawn into the lives of vivid characters and explore the meaning of art, family, and one's personal legacy.”

Solid State Books image Laura Tischler, Solid State Books
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Hot and Badgered

Honey Badger Chronicles: Book #1

By Shelly Laurenston
Narrated by: Traci Odom
Length: 13 hours 14 minutes

It's not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn's hotel balcony. Definitely they don't usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she's gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By... Read more »

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I Wrote This Book Because I Love You

Essays

By Tim Kreider
Narrated by: Tim Kreider
Length: 6 hours 14 minutes

*A People Top 10 Book of 2018*

The New York Times essayist and author of We Learn Nothing, Tim Kreider trains his singular power of observation on his (often befuddling) relationships with women.


Psychologists have told him he’s a psychologist. Philosophers have told him he’s a philosopher. Religious groups have invited him to speak. He had a... Read more »

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Children of Blood and Bone

Legacy of Orisha: Book #1

By Tomi Adeyemi
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 17 hours 44 minutes

Children of Blood and Bone

“A sprawling fantasy teeming with deep and meaningful magic. One of the things I like most about this debut is that it raises very real and important issues of our time through multiple character's perspectives. No character is one-dimensional, and every character must learn from failure and introspection to become who they were meant to be.”

Mysterious Galaxy Books image Kelly, Mysterious Galaxy Books
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Census

By Jesse Ball
Narrated by: Chris Andrew Ciulla
Length: 4 hours 52 minutes

Census

“Jesse Ball, you brilliant weirdo, how did you do it? Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. Sentences inspire double takes, characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters. As the end of the alphabet approaches, the landscape becomes more haunting, and the reader learns more about love and death than I thought was possible in a single book.”

Parnassus Books image Halley Parry, Parnassus Books
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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

A Novel

By Gail Honeyman
Narrated by: Cathleen McCarron
Length: 11 hours 1 minutes

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

“Eleanor Oliphant has quickly become one of my favorite fictional characters, and this novel one of my favorite books. Eleanor is completely original and the right kind of weird. Her life and her past, combined with such kindhearted characters, made for a compulsively readable, heartwarming story that I did not want to put down. I can't wait for this book to come out so many more can fall in love with Eleanor. Highly, highly recommended.”

Copperfield's Books image Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield's Books
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