In my approximately 32 years of being a reader, it’s only in this past year that I’ve begun to actively track what I read. Sure, I’ve used Goodreads for years and would occasionally update my list when I remembered, but if you asked me to name how many (and which) books I read in a given year, I’d be at a loss. But in January of 2018, I started a Google spreadsheet to track my reading in a more structured way. And the results of my year in reading are here, for all to see.
In total, I finished 47 books, including fiction and non-fiction. I read novels of all descriptions, short-fiction collections, memoirs, compilations, self-help, investigative journalism, and true crime. Overall, I’m happy with how broadly I read, although there are, as always, a ton of books on my To Be Read list that I wished I’d gotten to this year but didn’t have time for.
Some notes about my reading habits: I am NOT a completist. If a book is not for me, and I’ve given it a good shot, I’ll abandon it. I talked about how to properly abandon a book in more detail in this post. I think recognizing when a book is not for you is a healthy skill to cultivate, as life is short, and there are more books in the universe than one human could ever hope to read, so why waste time with the duds? When you look at my 2018 reading log, you’ll see that there are several books, in italics, that I stopped reading because they were just not working for me. Because I got pretty far into most of these books, my abandonment of them hurt my overall reading numbers for the year. But tabulating my reading wasn’t really about hitting a specific number of books, so I’m fine with falling just short of a nice, round 50. (I also read several VERY LONG but excellent books, including Chimimanda Ngoze Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko.)
Here are a few of the highlights from this excellent reading year, in bullet form! (NB: this list was VERY hard to compile because I loved so many of the books I read this year.)
- Favorite non-fiction book: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This book is a fascinating, thrilling look into the twisted story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. And here I am discussing this book on The Blotter Presents!
- Favorite book in translation: Beartown, by Frederik Backman
- Favorite short-story collection: This Cake is for the Party, by Sarah Selecky. I loved Selecky’s collection so much, but I read a lot of fantastic short-fiction this year, including great collections by Jeffrey Eugenides, Lauren Groff, and Nafissa Thompson.
- Most surprising read: Delicious Foods, by James Hanaham. So hard to describe this book in a way that doesn’t make it sound insane (for example, one of the narrators is the drug crack cocaine), but it is one of the books that stuck with me most this entire year. (Thanks to Yohanca Delgado for the recommendation).
- Stupidest read: Single State of Mind, by Andi Dorfman. In my defense, I didn’t pay for this book with my own money, so I feel morally absolved for wasting brain cells on this dross.
- Favorite collection of essays: Calypso, by David Sedaris
- Favorite memoir: And Now We Have Everything, by Meaghan O’Connell. A must-read for mothers.
- Favorite mystery: Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie
- Worst ending: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. I hate-hate-HATED the ending but enjoyed the book up until the very end.
- Most overrated: The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
- Best (fiction) page-turner: The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn. I saw some of the big twists in this book coming, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless!
I’d love to talk to you about your thoughts on any of these books, or others that changed your life this year. What was your best book of 2018?
Happy reading in 2019!