Goodreads Winners 2018: Popularity Has Its Benefits


Popularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Check out these books popular enough to be Goodreads Winners in 2018.

Every December, the popular website Goodreads puts together the Goodreads Choice Awards. In 21 different categories, you get to vote for your favorite book published last year.

Anyone who has ever voted in the Goodreads Choices awards knows that it’s basically a glorified popularity contest.

Does the best book win the Goodreads award in each category? Not necessarily. The Goodreads winners in 2018 basically tell you the most widely read book in that genre.

Think of it this way. When average citizen Sally goes to vote for the best fiction book of 2018, she has likely read only 1 or 2 books on the entire list. And if she hasn’t read any? She just picks titles and authors she’s heard of.

So why would you care about the Goodreads winners? Why did we put in as one of the categories of our 2019 Reading Challenge?

Don’t get us wrong. Popularity contests have their benefits. As we said, by selecting one of the Goodreads winners of 2018, you are reading one of the most widely read books in that genre. That means you will have an easy time finding someone to discuss the book with!

So don’t let popularity turn you away. In our opinion, some of these Goodreads winners of 2018 are actually the best in their category. The ones that aren’t? Well, they are still really good books.

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Fiction Winner

Still Me by JoJo Moyes

Still Me
by JoJo Moyes

The third book in the Me Before You Trilogy, Still Me follows Louisa Clark to New York where she takes a job among New York City’s high society. Caught between two worlds, Louisa must discover who she really is. This is what we mean when we talk about the Goodreads choice awards winners being part of a popularity contest. Was Still Me the best fiction book of 2018? Definitely not. But because Me Before You was such a big hit, the third book in the series was probably the most read fiction book of 2018 – or the most recognized. Honestly, we have nothing against this book, and plan to read it ourselves. Just not sure if it really deserves top billing. Read more →

Runners Up: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Mystery & Thriller Winner

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider
by Stephen King

Another extremely popular author, Stephen King delivers another hit with The Outsider. When an 11-year-old boy is found violently murdered, all evidence points to Terry Maitland, a well-respected citizen, teacher and baseball coach. At trial, the ironclad case starts to unravel, and you have to wonder: Did Maitland really do it? Prepare to be shocked by the truth like so many others in this Goodreads winner for best mystery and thriller. Read more →

Runners Up: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Historical Fiction Winner

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

Coming off The Nightingale, her wildly successful World War II novel, Kristin Hannah’s next book explores the untamed wilds of Alaska. A recently returned Vietnam War POW, Ernt Allbright decides to move his family to the Alaskan frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers and just what Ernt needs. But when the harsh Alaskan winter approaches and Ernt’s mental state begins to deteriorate, his wife and daughter must fight to survive. A captivating, stay-up-all-night novel that is definitely one of last year’s best reads. Read more →

Runners Up: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Fantasy Winner

Circe by Madeline Miller

by Madeline Miller

One of Amazon’s bestselling books of 2018, Circe got a ton of buzz last year. In this retelling of the Greek myth, Circe, the daughter of the sun god, feels out of place among the gods of Olympus. Yet, among the mortals she has magical powers of witchcraft. Banished by Zeus, Circe must decided where she belongs – with the gods of her birth or the mortals she’s come to live among. An intriguing premise and the perfect book for anyone who loves stories that give a different take on classic tales. Read more →

Runners Up: The Shape of Water by Daniel Kraus, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, Year One by Nora Roberts

Romance Winner

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang

In the vein of The Rosie Project, comes Helen Hoang’s debut novel about love when you have Asperger’s. The protagonist, Stella Lane, is a math genius – great at her job but with no experience dating. To fix this problem, she hires the drop-dead gorgeous escort Michael Phan to teach her all about romance. As they check off all the boxes on her romance lesson plan, Stella begins to realize that she might actually be in love. Romance is not our forte, so we probably will never read this one, but we know lots of people who have loved it. Read more →

Runners Up: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, The Thief by J. R. Ward

Science Fiction Winner

Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

by V. E. Schwab

Victoria Schwab’s books seem to be everywhere lately! In Vicious, her first book in the series, the story follows former roommates Victor and Eli who experimented with near-death experiences for their senior thesis – with terrible results. Now that Victor is out of prison, the two archenemies are out for revenge. In this sequel, Schwab starts up 5 years later showing the aftermath of Vicious‘s finale. Read more →

Runners Up: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Vox by Christina Dalcher, Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Horror Winner

Elevation by Stephen King

by Stephen King

That’s right, master storyteller Stephen King has two Goodreads winners in 2018! For the horror category, we have a story that not at all horrifying. I guess people just hear the name Stephen King, and assume his books must be horror. Good guy Scott Carey starts to realize he is losing weight – but not getting any smaller. What will happen if he becomes weightless? Meanwhile, his lesbian neighbors are trying to start a restaurant among homophobic prejudices. In the end, Scott’s affliction will bring everyone together. Sounds horrifying, doesn’t it? Read more →

Runners Up: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice

Humor Winner

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Hadddish

Stand-up comedian Tiffany Haddish grew up in a poor neighborhood of South Central LA. From an early age, she realized that making people laugh was the key to avoiding trouble. Her stories of being the high school mascot and becoming a Bar Mitzvah hype woman are side-splittingly funny. However, we must be honest and say we started this one, but did not finish. It reached a point of too much language and way too much sexual detail. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll probably find this memoir hilarious. Read more →

Runners Up: Calypso by David Sedaris, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps

Nonfiction Winner

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
by Michelle McNamara

For over a decade, a violent serial rapist plagued Northern California and then went on to commit 10 sadistic murders, never to be caught. 30 years later, journalist Michelle McNamara took on the cold case, obsessively determined to find the Golden State Killer. Posthumously published two years after her death, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is McNamara’s masterpiece of her search for the truth. Even more fascinating, only two months after this book was published, a suspect was formally charged in the murders. Read more →

Runners Up: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, Fear by Bob Woodward, Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

Memoir & Autobiography Winner

Educated by Tara Westover

by Tara Westover

There is really no excuse to not read Tara Westover’s spectacular memoir. In our opinion, Educated was simply the best nonfiction book of 2018. Westover grew up in the rural mountains of Idaho with no formal education. Despite her extremist survivalist parents and violent older brother, Westover managed to make her way into college, eventually earning a PhD. Her amazing determination is inspiring while the circumstances of her childhood are incredibly sad. Definitely one book that will stay with you for a long time. Read more →

Runners Up: Becoming by Michelle Obama, In Pieces by Sally Field, This Is Me by Chrissy Metz

History & Biography Winner

The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King

The Good Neighbor
by Maxwell King

The beloved creator and star of Mister Roger’s neighborhood gets his first full-length biography by Maxwell King. King details Fred Roger’s life and his drive to create the best children’s show he could. Combining teaching kindness and inclusion with best practices by child development experts, Rogers was a force for good in this world and will always be remembered fondly. Read more →

Runners Up: Robin by Dave Itzkoff, Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, House of Dreams by Liz Rosenberg

Science & Technology Winner

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
by Stephen Brusatte

What kid doesn’t love learning about dinosaurs? We both are moms, so we have spent plenty of time learning how to pronounce such names as pachycephalosauros and deinonychus. In his latest work, Brusatte describes the evolution of dinosaurs from their very beginnings to their dominance and eventual extinction. Be prepared to learn all about the different ages of the dinosaurs. Interspersed within are tales of his travels and research, as well as new findings in paleontology. Read more →

Runners Up: Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer, Broadband by Claire L. Evans

Food & Cookbooks Winner

Cravings: Hungry For More by Chrissy Teigen

Cravings: Hungry for More
by Chrissy Teigen

Instagram sensation Chrissy Teigen joins the 2018 Goodreads winners with her new cookbook, Cravings: Hungry For More. Known for her modeling, as a cohost on Lip Sync Battle, and as the wife of John Legend, Teigen shines on her own with her second cookbook. Now that she’s a mom, the recipes in Teigen’s latest cookbook go a bit more on the lighter side, but more importantly are more likely to factor in time. Read more →

Runners Up: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines, Tasty Latest and Greatest by Tasty, A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh

Graphic Novels & Comics Winner

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Herding Cats
by Sarah Andersen

We basically never read graphic novels unless we are reading Calvin & Hobbes to our kids, but Sarah Andersen’s 2018 Goodreads winner looks hilarious. With wit and charm, Anderson illustrates the hilarious problems of modern life – like avoiding people and dealing with internet trolls – in a collection of illustrated comics. If you are looking for a relatable and amusing quick read, the 3rd book in her Sarah Scribbler collection is definitely worth your time. Read more →

Runners Up: Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd, Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan, Ms. Marvel, Vol 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson

Poetry Winner

The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
by Amanda Lovelace

The second book in her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series, Amanda Lovelace is back with another Goodreads choice award in poetry. Her protagonist, the witch, is powerful, independent and fierce. Emboldening women to foster resilience and action, nothing others do to the witch can bring her down. She will not burn in this one. Read more →

Runners Up: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Useless Magic by Florence Welch, The Dark Between Stars by Atticus

Debut Author Winner

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi

The book world was abuzz last year with excitement for this fantasy Young Adult novel, and rightfully so. Zélie Adebola watched as a ruthless king ordered the death of her mother and all the other maji in an effort to rid the world of magic. With one last chance Zélie must use the help of a rogue princess to restore magic before the crown prince manages to eradicate magic for good. Beautifully blending Nigerian mythology, symbols from the Yoruba religion and young adult fantasy, Tomi Adeyemi shines in her debut novel. Read more →

Runners Up: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Young Adult Fiction Winner

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli

In the sequel to Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (which became the movie Love, Simon), Leah Burke takes center stage. The girl-band drummer has all the confidence when performing, but none in her love life. She can’t even manage to tell her best friend Simon that she is bisexual. Add in all the senior year angst of friends heading in different directions and you have a hit that was the clear finalist of the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees for young adult fiction. Read more →

Runners Up: Sadie by Courtney Summers, What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction Winner

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Kingdom of Ash
by Sarah J. Maas

Among the most anticipated book releases last fall was the seventh book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. The last book in the series, Aelin Galathynius has gone from slave to assassin to queen and now must fight to the last. As the final battle approaches, the fates of your favorite characters are revealed. For all you Throne of Glass lovers, you are sure to agree that Kingdom of Ash was last year’s favorite YA fantasy novel. If, like us, you haven’t tested the series yet, there is no better time than now to pick up Throne of Glass, the first book in the series. Read more →

Runners Up: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Warstorm by Victoria Aveyard

Middle Grade Winner

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

The Burning Maze
by Rick Riordan

As punishment, Zeus has cast Apollo out of Mount Olympus to live as an awkward teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to return to glory, Lester must restore the five Oracles. Having already survived his first two trials, the 3rd book in the The Trials of Apollo series sees Lester and Meg fight their way through the Labyrinth to find the third oracle. Read more →

Runners Up: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Picture Books Winner

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

I Am Enough
by Grace Byers

I Am Enough is a beautiful tribute to loving who you are and being kind and respectful to others. Just look at that gorgeous cover by Keturah A. Bobo. I think that alone would win in the award for best picture book. Read more →

Runners Up: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Best of the Best – Past Goodreads Winners Compete

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

This was the first year that Goodreads decided to have voters choose their favorite from past Goodreads winners. Coming out on top was Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter works hard to the balance in her life between her poor neighborhood and the elite suburban prep school she attends. Yet, when Starr is the only witness to the fatal police shooting of her best friend, she finds herself in the middle of a national headline. With all the recent coverage of police shootings, Thomas’ novel adds a new layer to the conversation on this important topic. Read more →

Runners Up: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, A Court of Mist and Fury By Sarah J. Maas, The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Which 2018  Goodreads winners have you read or do you plan to read?

Goodreads Winners 2018 // Find out last year's most popular books - the winner's of the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2018

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  • Reply Rachel @ Never Enough Novels January 15, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    You perfectly summed up my thoughts on the Goodreads contest in the beginning of this post : ) This was one of those years where I didn’t vote for most of the winners, but can easily admit that they were the most talked about. I still can’t help but vote every year haha!

  • Reply Sarah's Book Shelves January 16, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Your description of the GR winners as “the most widely read” in a particular category is spot-on! I feel like GR should only allow you to vote for a certain book if you’ve shelved it as “read” on your profile. That would at least cut out the people voting just b/c they’ve heard of a book, not because they’d actually read it.

    I only vote for books I’ve read and skip categories where I haven’t read any of the nominees or didn’t like any of the nominees I read.

    Also – I just noticed this year that there’s a place for write-ins for each category!

  • Reply CJ | A Well-Read Tart January 16, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I admittedly haven’t read most of these books yet…and most honestly don’t interest me. I had very little to say this past December when it came time to cast my Goodreads votes. However, I’m reading CIRCE right now and really enjoying it. I also recently read THE KISS QUOTIENT, and I absolutely loved it. I don’t read much romance, but I do enjoy the occasional naughty book, and this one was, as promised, very naughty, but also very sweet and insightful. It absolutely deserves all the praise.

  • Reply Katiria Rodriguez January 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Great post and you are absolutely right about the Goodreads Winners I agree with you 100%, thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  • Reply Rachel Foster January 26, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    I’m going to read one of the runner ups instead. I have already read two of the winners. I tried to read The Kiss Quotient but it just wasn’t my type of book and I had to stop reading it. There are no other winners that I want to read or that interest me but two or three of the runners up look really good. Hope you don’t mind!

    • Reply Rachael February 2, 2019 at 12:32 pm

      Oh, we don’t mind at all. The reading challenge is meant to be fun, not restrictive. Feel free to modify the categories all you want!

  • Reply Beth Carpenter June 15, 2019 at 10:37 am

    In this day and age why would you say that your children are interested in dinosaurs because they are boys? Really?

    • Reply Rachael June 15, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      My first statement was general – all kids love learning about dinosaurs. My second statement was personal, we both have boys. Because, at the time, we both had boys. I’m sorry that you inferred my sentence to mean that only boys can love dinosaurs. I was really just thinking of my 3 year old dinosaur-obsessed son when I wrote it. I guess I’ll change it to “we both are moms” which more accurately conveys what I was trying to say anyways.

      And next time my wording is not as clear as you’d like, maybe you could educate instead of attack? That way my initial impression is, “Oh, that’s a great suggestion” (which it was) instead of, “How dare she accuse me of gender bias.” Just a suggestion.

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