The best books of 2018 -- to give or keep for yourself

Hosted by

Book recommendations for the entire family. Photo credit: Maria Russo

Maybe you finally have downtime this holiday season and want to catch up on some reading. We get book recommendations for the entire family -- from Maria Russo of the New York Times Book Review.

For kids:

My Beijing by Nie Jun is about a young girl who has difficulty walking because of a physical disability. It’s for ages 6 to 9.

“We never learn what the disability is, which I think is nice. She is just carried around on carts and bikes, and there’s a time travel element,” Russo says.

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel is about an ink spot that comes to life, and lifts the spirits of a mourning family. It’s for ages 8 to 12.

“This is actually kind of a thriller by the end -- when this ink spot is threatening to do terrible things.”

For teenagers:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is set in an unnamed African-inspired nation. It’s about a young girl who sets out to restore magic in her country. It’s for ages 12 and up.

“She goes to battle to bring magic back, and to restore the access to magic that the darker-skinned people that she comes from always had.”

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is about a young woman in Harlem who discovers slam poetry. It’s for ages 12 and up.

“The heroine of this book is a Dominican American girl raised in a very strict family. And she is trying to break out, and find her voice, and deal with all the adolescent changes and struggles and pressures. And she finds that voice through slam poetry.”

For grown-ups:

Educated by Tara Westover is a memoir about growing up and escaping a survivalist childhood in Idaho.

“It’s a book about extracting yourself from a cult -- from a violent, misogynist cult that happens to be your family.”

Listen to Westover’s interview with Madeleine Brand:

There There by Tommy Orange focuses on fictional Native Americans living in Oakland, California.

“The prologue alone is worth the price of admission. It’s one of the most devastating pieces of writing I came across this year… It describes the condition of the modern Native American and what they’re up against.”

Listen to Orange’s interview with Madeleine Brand:

Largess of the Sea Maiden by Dennis Johnson is a collection of short stories that take place in San Diego. The main character is a man who’s at the end of his life, looking back and wondering what life means.

“There’s a great line in one of the stories -- something to the effect of ‘obviously I'm alive when I wrote this story, but I’m probably dead by the time you read it.’”