Travel,  Y'know, Life

A Bish Loves Books: My Best Reads of 2018

“Yo Berna, you watch this show, right? You saw this movie? You listen to this podcast? You caught that Netflix special?!”
NAAO. NO, OKAY?! The answer’s usually no, and here’s why: A bish. Loves. TO READ.


I totaled it up today: I read 62 books in 2018. That’s 54 new books, plus 8 re-reads of books I already love, and also 9 books that I started but got distracted by a squirrel and never finished.

That’s a book every 6 days. That’s something I’m hella proud of. 

To be fair, while I was traveling for 11 straight months through countries that LAUGHED at my WiFi addiction, my Kindle never failed. And thanks to libraries and low-key shady downloads, reading is mostly free. SO STOP MAKING ME FEEL LIKE AN UNCULTURED INSIDE CAT, AIGHT?!


Full book list below, but for those looking for quick recs?
It’s time to hand out some totally un-asked for awards.


Berna’s 2018 A Bish Loves Books Awards 🏆


Book that made me LOL-snot out my nose:
Oh, Nevermind, by Mary H.K. Choi.

Mary’s short stories are eons funnier than several famous comedians’ whole bestsellers by a long shot. Shade thrown. I read her YA novel, Emergency Contact, which set me on a desperate hunt for more. Oh, Nevermind is Choi for adults.


Book that almost ruined my relationship because I refused to talk till it was finished:
The Great Alone, by Kristen Hannah.

I know this is a book, but when I think back on it, it feels like I watched an buttcheek-clenching action movie for 5 days straight. We see effect of Vietnam War PTSD on a family in rural Alaska, from the perspective of a impossibly brave American teen girl. I needed to literally lie down after every chapter.


Book that has JK Rowling quivering:
Whichwood, by Tahereh Mafi.

I would say Tomi Adayemi’s Children of the Blood and Bone, but since you might’ve already heard of it, lemme put you onto Whichwood. First of all, the imagery in this bish?! A young POC with magical powers tasked to care for the dead/undead?!? Sign my brown Scorpio azz uuuuuup. A whole movie Tim Burton movie played in my head as I read it.


Book That Surprised Me Most
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders.

My boyfriend is a huge Saunders fan, and this book made me see why. Imaginative and humorous and creepily whimsical in shades of Disney’s Haunted Mansion (except this is super not for children), yet wrapped in truth and history in a way that makes you want to weep.


Book That Changed My Career
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

As an online creator, I felt personally attacked by this book. Which eventually became a really, really good thing. Pressfield helped me get over myself and light a fire under my ass in a way no self-help shit has ever done for me. 


Book That Started My Year Off Right
Woman Far Walking by Witi Ihimaera

I drowned myself in Ihimaera, probably New Zealand’s most famous author, before heading to NZ. I ended up carrying this paperback around with me all year, like a security blanket, just because it felt like a manifesto to my inner woman warrior. Heartbreaking, truthful, and even though I am not Maori, it made me feel a glow under my brown skin.


Book I Wish I Could Make My Younger Self Read
America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo.

This should be required reading for every First Gen Child of Filipino Immigrant Parents in the Bay Area. Side effects: Feeling super seen, shamefully learning things you maybe should’ve known but grew up too American to pick up, understanding your parents on a whole different level.


Book I’m Glad I Read At This Age
Like a Mother by Angela Garbes.

A book about pregnancy, but also a righteous and powerful manifesto of all the ways (1) child-bearing humans are ACTUAL Avengers and (2) child-bearing humans deserve better socio-political treatment. I talked poor Peter’s face off about all the things Garbes taught me. Also, Garbes? Filipina-American. Lezgo.



The full list, in order of most recently read to least recent: 

  1. My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent (F)
  2. Love Illuminated, by Daniel Jones (NF)
  3. America is Not The Heart, by Elaine Castillo (NF)
  4. The Incendiaries, by R.O. Kwon (F)
  5. Commonwealth, by Ann Pachett (F)
  6. Adrift, by Tami Oldham Ashcraft (F)
  7. Ordinary People, by Diana Evans (F)
  8. Fresh Off the Boat, by Eddie Huang (NF)
  9. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (F)
  10. PS I Still Love You, by Jenny Han (F)
  11. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark (F)
  12. In Order to Live, by Yeonmi Park (NF)
  13. Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain (NF)
  14. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han (F)
  15. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer (F)
  16. Circe, by Madeliene Miller (F)
  17. Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers (NF)
  18. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwang (F) 
  19. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall (NF)
  20. You Are A Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero (NF)
  21. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid (F)
  22. Show Your Work, by Austin Kleo (NF)
  23. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler (F)
  24. Educated, by Tara Westover (NF)
  25. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami (NF)
  26. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly (F/NF)
  27. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal (F)
  28. Warrior of the Light, by Paolo Coelho (NF)
  29. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (F) 
  30. Like a Mother, by Anne Garbes (NF) 
  31. Oh, Nevermind, by Mary H.K. Choi (NF)
  32. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (F)
  33. Whichwood, by Tahereh Mafi (F)
  34. The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo (F)
  35. Weeping Under the Same Moon, by Jana Laiz (F) 
  36. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield (NF) 
  37. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (F)
  38. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert T. Kiyosaki (NF)
  39. Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi (F)
  40. The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Hadish (NF)
  41. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (F)
  42. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin (F)
  43. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (F) 
  44. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah (NF)
  45. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (F)
  46. The Whole Thing Together, by Ann Brashares (F)
  47. The Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera (F)
  48. Woman Far Walking, by Witi Ihimaera (F) 
  49. Pounamu, Pounamu, by Witi Ihimaera (F)
  50. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (F) 
  51. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson (NF)
  52. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (F)
  53. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (F)
  54. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, by The Oatmeal (F)

My palette cleanser and/or comfort booksBooks I read inbetween other books when I needed comfort, familiarity, or for my brain to come down from whatever crazy ride the last book took me on:

  1. Girls in Pants, by Ann Brashares (several times) 
  2. Forever in Blue, by Ann Brashares (several times)
  3. Sisterhood Everlasting, by Ann Brashares (SEVERAL times) 
  4. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares
  5. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares
  6. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling
  7. The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho
  8. Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

Books I started but didn’t finish: 

  1. Fluent Forever, by Gabriel Wyner
  2. Keeper of the Night, by Kimberly Willis Holt
  3. South and West, Joan Didion
  4. Furthermore, by Tahereh Mafi
  5. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. The Color of Money; Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Badaran
  7. A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena
  8. The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
  9. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
    1. This is the one book I purposefully put down. When I started reading this, I felt the same feelings as when I tried reading 50 Shades: Insulted. As in, my brain felt insulted. As in, how stupid do you think I am, author, that I would enjoy this crap? [Apologies to those who truly enjoyed it.] I thought the language was so try-hard, and could especially see the seams of an adult author pretending to think like a teenager, which grates me, so I stopped.

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