Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Reading Life, 2018

Goodreads tells me that I read 62 books in 2018. I’m not sure how that’s possible, as I definitely did not read more than a book a week for the full year.  I did have several trips built into the year, which always increases my page count. My May trip to Aruba with J. for busines was a particularly good reading week.  This tells me that I should seek out more pleasant surroundings (and fruity cocktails) whenever I want to improve my reading habits.

It’s already nearly a month into 2019, but I guess it’s not too late to recap the previous year and highlight the best reads.  Here is a list of the books I rated as five star reads (not including re-reads). A five star is usually a rare honor for me. It takes a special book to rise above the four star, a rating I tend to give super-generously.  A five star read, in my book(!), is one that does what it is supposed to do in the best possible way. A thriller that actually thrills, a comedic satire that really gets the details right, or a young adult book I would rush to put in the hands of a student right this very minute.  Five stars are also ones that really speak to where I am currently and find ways into my conversations and life choices. They are the ones that stick with me, and feel like “crap, I should have written that one,” or “hello there, old friend.” Each of these books did that for me in one way or another this year.

  1. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  2. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  3. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  4. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
  5. Scape; Accompanied by Angels by Luci Shaw (two titles, but I inhaled them both at the same time)
  6. Circe by Madeline Miller
  7. Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly

    8. Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle

Last year I did more re-reading than I normally do.  The fact that three of those re-reads ended up also receiving five stars made me think I should revisit old favorites more often.  I’m always worried a title might not hold up as well as it did when I first met it, but these three were just as lovely the second time around.  Will be looking around my shelves to see if I can find any other candidates for re-acquaintance.

  1. The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  2. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  3. Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo.

Looking back over my list, there were a few four star reads that rose to the top in my feelings of fondness for them.  These, too, will stick with me into the future, I think. They may be a little more uneven than the others, or have some issue that just didn’t quite work, or maybe they were just a little on the lighter side than those mentioned previously.  Either way, they are still honorable mentions in my reading life from 2018.

  1. The Good House by Ann Leary (great on audio!)
  2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  3. Vox by Christina Dalcher
  4. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
  5. Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  6. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
  7. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  8. Sourdough by Robin Sloan

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