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Bookworm Beat | Best Books of 2018

In our column Bookworm Beat, read about some of our favorite books written by women and non-binary authors...

What is the best thing you read this year?

My favorite part of writing this column is the process of discovering new books and, often times, new writers. 2018 brought us more diversity, more bravery, and more great work than could ever possibly be consumed in only 365 days! If you still find yourself catching up like us, here are some of the books you should not have missed this past year (and might be worthy of purchasing with any Amazon gift cards acquired this holiday season...).


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An NYU alum, Hannah Orenstein's debut novel is lots of fun, telling the story of a young woman who finds herself playing matchmaker to a slew of high-profile and difficult clients. Will she be able to find a love story of her own? A perfect escape from the world, and a good way to prepare yourself for Orenstein's upcoming second novel!

Follow Hannah Orenstein on Twitter and Instagram.


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Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this novel is lush and all-consuming. A young woman moves into an opulent Long Island mansion with her fiancé, finding it haunted by his deceased first wife and his vicious teenaged daughter. Trying to figure out her life in this twisted family will drag her deeper inside in ways you would never expect.

Follow Lisa Gabriele on Twitter and Instagram.


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A debut novel (she has a previously-published short story collection) that explores topics of motherhood, immigration, and identity through a Chinese character that flees to America whilst carrying a child fathered by her demanding husband. A nerve-wracking glimpse into a story not so far from reality, the novel is a beautiful and emotional journey.

Follow Vanessa Hua on Twitter.


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A darkly funny memoir from an artist who is reliving the ideas of masculinity pushed on her as a boy and how they continue to resonate in her life now as a girl. Exploring everyday situations as well as how the damage from childhood resonates into adulthood, it is a brutally honest reflection on life as a transperson–a must-read for all.

Follow Vivek Shraya on Twitter and Instagram.


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It has been called a future cult-classic for good reason. A widower travels to Havana, Cuba to try and grieve the loss of her husband, but begins to see him at the Film Festival she is attending. Fantasy and reality crossover as protagonist Clare tries to sort of her past in order to make sense of her complicated present.

Follow Laura van den Berg on Twitter and Instagram.


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A stunning debut novel and Lambda Literary Award-winning book that tells a story of a trans woman living in Winnipeg who discovers after her grandfather (a devout Mennonite farmer) passes away that he may have been transgender, as well. Working to discover the man's past, the book is genuine and heartfelt, an underground discovery deserving mainstream attention.

Follow Casey Plett on Twitter.


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A nominee for the National Book Award this year that transgresses time to navigate the AIDS crisis, among other human interactions. Starting in 1985 with a development director for an art gallery whose personal circle is deeply affected by the crisis and ending with one of the man's friend's little sisters in Paris struggling in her relationship with her daughter, the book is heartbreaking. It will make you consider the definition of modern disaster.

Follow Rebecca Makkai on Twitter.


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More heartbreak occupied 2018 with this novel, but it is entirely worth it. Set during the war in Korea, a young woman is faced with an impossible romance and the responsibility of helping to support her family. As she enters into a marriage and soon motherhood, she finds herself questioning the decisions in the face of her life as a refugee.

Follow Crystal Hana Kim on Twitter and Instagram.


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A book I have been waiting for more than a year finally came to the market and did not disappoint. In her debut novel, Locascio explores the story of a young woman who studies abroad in Copenhagen and meets an alluring older man who gives her an education she never expected. Boundary-pushing, bold, and brilliant–nothing less than what I would expect from the author as she dives into the topics of youth, sex, and discovery.

Follow Lisa Locascio on Twitter and Instagram.


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My go-to book recommendation since it came out this spring, Unwifeable is the hilarious and honest tale of Stadtmiller's stumbling into the nitty-gritty parts of adulthood after her first divorce. Her journey as a New York Post columnist will make you laugh, but her journey to finding self-love in a world that tells you to have anything else will make you feel all warm and fuzzy (no booze necessary).

Follow Mandy Stadtmiller on Twitter and Instagram.


Rachel A.G. Gilman is the Creator/Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Creature.

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