Monday, December 31, 2018

Year in Review: Books

I take reading seriously. It's been my favorite thing to do from my earliest memories. I was the kid hiding my book underneath my textbook, hiding under the blankets at night with a flashlight; a trip to the library was as good as a vacation. And so before 2018 is history, I wanted to review my 2018 in books. 

I completed 67 books, heavy on the fiction side. In 2018 I learned to define the kinds of books I enjoy. A few common themes: likable characters, books focusing on a specific skill or specialty (The Ensemble), historical fiction from WWII (We Were the Lucky Ones) and early American years (Love and Other Consolation Prizes), books focusing on social justice or issues (Dear MartinEvicted). While I don't read nearly as much YA as I used to, I do still like the occasional highly unrealistic teen love story or dystopian novel.

Although I don't really set reading goals, I do sometimes highlight a general direction for my reading. For instance, in 2017 I focused on reading books written by people of color. In 2019 I want to read a book on the Enneagram as well as a couple of parenting books that have been on the shelf for a while now (I'll be a mom to TWO teenagers in 2019).

March was my best month - I only read 3 books but they were all 5-star books (and I don't give out many 5 star ratings). Here's how I rate books:

  • 5 stars - I think everyone should read it. 
  • 4 stars - I highly recommend and thoroughly enjoyed. 
  • 3 stars - I generally liked it, but maybe wouldn't recommend it to everyone for any number of reasons. 
  • 2 stars - skip it
  • 1 star - why didn't I skip it??
  • No rating means I didn't quit the book and enjoyed it on some level, but it's not something I can recommend.
Over the years, I've gotten better at quitting a book if I'm not hooked. There's no reason to waste time on a bad book when my "want to read" list has 483 books and growing. So here's my year broken down into months.

January (6 books)
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel - 3 stars
It's Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose by Melanie Dale - 3 stars
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - 4 stars
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green - 4 stars
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan - 3 stars
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan - 4 stars

February (7 books)
Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker - 4 stars
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - 3 stars
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway - 4 stars
Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford - 5 stars (the first 5-star book of the year!)
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis - 4 stars
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee - 2 stars
I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka - 4 stars (listened to the audiobook of this one with the kids)

March (3 books)
Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly - 5 stars
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - 5 stars
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs - 5 stars

April (5 books)
The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant - 3 stars
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - 4 stars
The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - 3 stars
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner - 5 stars
Fearless Parenting by Jimmy Myers - 5 stars

May (6 books)
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - 5 stars
Something Like Happy by Eva Woods - 5 stars
Still Me by Jojo Moyes - 5 stars
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson - 4 stars
Force of Nature by Aaron Falk - 4 stars
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - 5 stars

June (8 books)
The Assistants by Camille Perri - 4 stars
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy - 4 stars
Educated by Tara Westover - 5 stars 
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - 5 stars
That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam - 3 stars
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza - 5 stars
If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey - 4 stars
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel - 4 stars

July (6 books)
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne - 4 stars
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert - 5 stars
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir - 4 stars
Save the Date by Morgan Matson - 4 stars
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - 3 stars
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin - 3 stars

August (7 books)
The Selection by Keira Cass - 4 stars
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton - 5 stars
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos - 5 stars
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser - 5 stars
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson - 5 stars
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie - 4 stars
Dear Martin by Nic Stone - 5 stars

September (4 books)
The Elite by Kiera Cass - 3 stars
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter - 5 stars
Limelight by Amy Poeppel - 4 stars
The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand - 4 stars

October (6 books)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond - 5 stars
The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin - 5 stars
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger - 3 stars
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson - 4 stars
Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry - 5 stars
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand - 3 stars

November (4 books)
Sadie by Courtney Summers - no rating
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed - 4 stars
How to Walk Away  by Katherine Center - 5 stars
Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West - 3 stars

December (5 books)
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips - no rating
Scythe by Neal Shusterman - 3 stars
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - 4 stars
Remember God by Annie Downs - 4 stars
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter - no rating

It's hard to choose a favorite. Because I read so many books (and have crazy chemo brain), I can often read a book and as soon as I close the last page, it's out of my head. So when a book makes an impression and I can remember it 6 months later, it's a big deal. As I looked back over the list, the books I remember from 2018 are the ones rated 5 stars which means I rated them correctly.

Here's to another year of good books!