Books of the Year

The best books of 2018

Looking for some of the year's best books? We've got you covered!

2018 was a great year for books! Here are CBC Books's favourite books of the year.

Canadian fiction

Esi Edugyan is a Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novelist. (Canadian Press, HarperCollins)

Our top pick: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black tells the story of 11-year-old Washington Black, a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation. His master is Englishman Christopher Wilde, who is obsessed with developing a machine that can fly. The two develop a bond, but when a man is killed, Wilde must choose between his family and saving Washington's life — and the choice results in an unforgettable adventure around the world. 

Washington Black was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, the 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Canadian nonfiction

Terese Marie Mailhot is a writer from Seabird Island, B.C. (Penguin Random House Canada/Isiah Mailhot)

Our top pick: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Terese Marie Mailhot traces her life story from a dysfunctional upbringing on Seabird Island in B.C., with an activist mother and abusive father, to an acceptance into the Masters of Fine Art program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico. This slim poetic volume packs a powerful punch in just 140 pages.

Heart Berries was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction and the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Canadian YA

This Book Betrays My Brother is a novel by Kagiso Lesego Molope. (Mawenzi House)

Our top pick: This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope

Kagiso Lesego Molope's YA novel follows a 13-year-old narrator named Naledi who witnesses her beloved older brother committing a terrible act of violence. Naledi is lost in the aftermath, unsure how to reconcile who she thought her brother was with what he has done. Set in the 1990s, This Book Betrays My Brother received the 2013 Percy FitzPatrick Prize for Youth Literature in South Africa where it was first published.

Canadian middle-grade books

Jonathan Auxier is the author of Sweep. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Our top pick: Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

Set in Victorian London, Sweep revolves around a young orphan girl named Nan who sweeps chimneys for a dangerous and hardscrabble living. Nan nearly perishes in a deadly chimney fire, but is saved when a piece of charcoal comes to life as a mysterious golem-like creature. Together, the two hatch a plan to rescue young orphan chimney sweeps from losing their lives on the job for cruel masters.

Sweep won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Canadian picture books

Matt James is the author and illustrator of The Funeral. (Groundwood/Facebook.com)

Our top pick: The Funeral by Matt James

In The Funeral, a young girl named Norma goes to her great-uncle Frank's funeral. She has fun playing with her favourite cousin Ray, but the experience makes her start to question ideas and ceremonies surrounding life and death. Vivid and kind, The Funeral is award-winning illustrator Matt James's first picture book as a writer.

Canadian comics

Hartley Lin has published comics under his pseudonym Ethan Rilly. (Adhouse Books)

Our top pick: Young Frances by Hartley Lin

Hartley's Lin's stunning book follows a young, work-obsessed law clerk named Frances Scarland, struggling to find balance and meaning in her life and career. Her best friend and roommate is Vickie, a talented actress looking for her big break. Young Frances is an extension of Lin's award-winning Pope Hats series, and marks his first full-length book under his real name.

Canadian poetry

The Blue Clerk is a poetry collection by Dionne Brand. (Jason Chow/McClelland & Stewart)

Our top pick: The Blue Clerk by Dionne Brand

The Blue Clerk is an argument between the poet and the titular "blue clerk," who is the keeper of the page. Throughout the course of their conversation, philosophers, poets and artists are referenced and memory, culture, language and beauty are explored. Brand is one of Canada's most celebrated poets and is a member of the Order of Canada.

International fiction

Tommy Orange is a writer based in California. (Random House)

Our top pick: There There by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange's multi-perspective novel skillfully balances a cast of compelling characters, as they all head to Oakland's first Powwow with a range of intentions in mind. Jacquie Red Feather hopes to reconnect with her family after achieving sobriety. Young Orvil has been learning Indigenous dances from YouTube and is ready to perform them publicly. Edwin Frank hopes to find his father. Rotating between a dozen characters, Orange's acclaimed debut novel offers an unflinching look at life on a reservation. 

International nonfiction

Tara Westover Educated (Submitted by Tara Westover)

Our top pick: Educated by Tara Westover

In this memoir, Tara Westover recounts her escape from a violent upbringing and her first day of school at the age of 17. From a childhood spent preparing for the apocalypse to winning a fellowship from the University of Cambridge, Educated is a powerful story of triumph and perseverance.

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