Books of the Year
By Tyler Hillsman
December 2018

One of the best gifts I've received came from Lori last year in the form of Book of the Month subscription. I'm simultaneously at the point where I don't need much in the way of Christmas gifts, I value reading more and more, and I'd like to find new and different books to read (versus my favorite authors or hit-and-miss "whatever ebooks I can get from the library without placing a hold"). Needless to say, this is the perfect gift and especially so since I didn't know it was a thing.

Each month, you get to choose from five different selections. Each includes a summary, an editor's blurb, and an excerpt. (I rarely read the excerpts, saving that experience for when the book is in my hand.) While you can pick as many as you'd like, I've stuck with one book per month, because I know my reading pace and amount of free time. The selections are available on the first of every month (and occasionally a day or two before, so I'm always checking the last few days of the month). The only downside is the lethargic pace of BOTM's shipping service, which provides me with a week or so of anticipation and shipment tracking.

The selections skew heavily toward fiction; i've only see a few nonfiction or memoirs. I tend to enjoy a good twist, so my picks are often mysteries, but I'm open to all genres and knowing that a selection should be high-quality gives some confidence to try something different.

Here are the books I picked over the past year. I've enjoyed all of them, really enjoyed many of them, and only knew about a few authors or books before choosing them.

All are fiction except the Sedaris book, which was his typical well-written life snapshots. The Oracle Year and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing are both "something crazy happened to me, watch what happens next". Both The Perfect Mother and The Last Time I Lied both had "holy cow" twists that immediately had me rereading pages. The Philosopher's Flight was an alternate history fantasy with a rich universe reminiscent of Harry Potter and the like. The Chalk Man, Sweet Little Lies, and For Better And Worse are all crime thrillers, all told from unique perspectives. The Woman In The Window also qualifies, but with a trippy-feeling unreliable narrator that reminds me of The Girl On The Train. November Road is a historical fiction based loosely around the Kennedy assassination (though not to the extent of the fantastic 11/22/63). The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a crazy-family whodunnit-type mystery.

I'd recommend all of them, though it greatly depends on what you like. I've finished each book, generally within a month. Some a little longer, some with a week of so (heavily dependent on free time. This year I also read:

If you need a last minute gift idea, Book of the Month is a pretty solid one. If you use my referral code when you sign up, you can get a free book: so sign up here.