Books,  Life

What I Read: The Best Books of 2018’s 3rd Quarter

My reading definitely slowed down in the third quarter, probably because work keeps me very, very busy in the summer months. Then there was summer travel and by the time August ended, I realized I’d been reading the same book for multiple weeks, which almost never happens. 

Still, I’m averaging around five books a month and I managed to read 15 books throughout July, August & September. Fingers crossed I can maintain or exceed that pace in the next few months and hit my goal to read 70 books.

THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS by Clementine Wamariya – ★★★★★

The story of Clementine and her sister, Claire, and the six years they spent fleeing the Rwandan massacre. During those years, they traveled through seven African countries before being granted asylum in the United States. This book is heartbreaking, of course, but important and relevant. What struck me most in reading this book, was the palpable (and reasonable) anger of Wamariya. So often we hear about forgiveness in the wake of tragedy and suffering, and while there is value in that, anger can be just as valuable, both as a method of survival and as a valid part of grief. 


When I learned about desegregation in high school, it was told through stories set at a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, or on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. I didn’t get the local story of desegregation, not of my own small town or even of my own state. Then I read Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County for book club. Not only is my own high school mentioned in this book, but it also tells the story of a community I’m familiar with. It demanded that a take a closer look at the communities I’ve been part of and that I learn more than what’s on the highlight real of America’s story of integration.

WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES by Georgia Hunter – ★★★★★ 

This book is based on the author’s Jewish family, who was separated when World War II started. It starts in 1939 and continues through the war. It’s told through three different generations and every member of the family has a different experience. One sibling is exiled, another pretends to be a gentile, another attempts escape to another continent and others forced into ghettos and labor camps. It’s heartbreaking and beautifully told, all the more so because of the author’s personal connection to the story.

I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara  – ★★★★

I’m a huge true crime fan and a regular listener of podcasts like My Favorite Murder and The Last Podcast on the Left, so of course I was excited for this book. Michelle McNamara was a true crime writer who coined the name the “Golden State Killer” for the man who committed at least 13 murders, 50 rapes and 100 burglaries in California during the 1970s and 80s. This book was released after McNamara died and finished with the help of crime writer Paul Haynes and investigative journalist Billy Jensen, along with the support of her husband, Patton Oswalt. Just after the release of I’ll be Gone in the DarkJoseph James DeAngelo was arrested in connection to the Golden State Killer crimes. But this book isn’t about the Golden State Killer, not exactly. In fact, I would say it helps to know a little about the crimes before jumping in to this book because, like it says on the front cover, it’s about “one woman’s obsessive search for the Golden State Killer.” It’s a tribute to McNamara, more than anything, a way to honor all the work she put in to the case. I enjoyed this book, but it’s sometimes hard to follow, disjointed and a little confusing, but that’s probably because it’s not a finished product. I can only wonder how much better it would have been if McNamara could have lived to finish it.


  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – ★★★ – beautiful story about the complexity of family & the secrets we keep from the ones we love.
  • All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – ★★★★ – a uniquely told story of suspense. 
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – ★★★★ – heartbreaking historical fiction. 
  • You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld – ★★★★ – well-written, captivating short stories.
  • Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – ★★★★ – gore-ridden, bloody & well-written, exactly what I expect from Slaughter. 
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – ★★★★ – twisty, turny and enjoyable thriller.
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine – ★★★★ – fun thriller, but another book about a woman being awful to another woman.
  • The Girls by Emma Cline – ★★★ – culty fiction based loosely on the Manson Family.
  • When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger – ★★★ – the third book in the Devil Wears Prada series. 
  • The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Change – ★★★ – campy story about a family’s ruin after the financial crisis. 
  • Conversations with Friends by Salley Rooney – ★★ – painfully boring story about spoiled hipsters.

What’s the best thing you read this summer? 

Related: Best Books of Q1Best Books of Q2


  • Abby

    Awesome list. I just picked up The Wangs Vs. The World at a huge used book sale, and I feel a little guilty about it, but I did not like I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.

    • Terra

      I saw that! I think that was the only book in your stack that I’d read. And I totally understand your feelings on I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be or what I expected.

  • Anita

    Yay, new books for my to-read list! The Girl Who Smiled Beads was a tough read. This summer I loved Educated (I think you’ve read this one) and All Over the Place (a fun and well-written memoir of sorts).

  • Stephany

    I definitely need to add The Girl Who Smiled Beads to my TBR. It sounds like a tough, but necessary read. Some faves for me: Fear by Bob Woodward, Tears We Cannot Stop, and Home Front by Kristin Hannah.

  • San

    Thanks so much for sharing your reviews. Looks like I have to add some more books to my to-read list… I am very intrigued by The Girls Who Smiled Beads.
    We’re the Lucky Ones was really good, I agree.

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