Whew, I did it!
This was hands-down the best reading year I've had in a long time. Since before I started college in 2011.
I set my reading goal at 52 books for the year: at least a book a week, expecting to have a healthy chunk of that collection populated by graphic novel titles. But sometime around April I discovered the magic of borrowing audiobooks on Libby, and my monthly reading jumped from 2-3 books in March to 17 in April alone.
During the summer months I had a lighter work load (I teach online high school courses, and enrollment drops significantly.) I worked on special projects: writing curriculum, finding cool art stuff to show to kids and making presentations/lessons; and during the more mindless of these tasks, I listened to books, and I spent relaxing evenings on my balcony and in coffee shops with a book or two.
I even read some of my Book of the Month titles (I'm so, so bad at getting those read, especially when they first come. Most of them are still on the TBR shelf, but every time I cancel it I get drawn back in by their come-back deals. I'm a sucker)
So here we are: late December, and its time to break down the best books of (my) 2018.
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I had purchased this on audible a long time ago and never gotten around to reading it. I started it on a whim after finishing Ruta Sepetys' Salt to the Sea and still wanting some historic, WWII-era fiction. I didn't really have a large understanding of what the novel was, only the era in which it took place and that I'd had it recommended to me by a couple of different sources and figured I'd probably enjoy it. that was very true. I devoured it, and fell absolutely in love with Guernsey and its community. Place is one of the most important parts of a story for me, and this one completely transported me. I remember being late to trivia one week because I sat outside in my car before going in, trying to get through a few more scenes. This was probably the first book in 2018 that I stayed up far too late to finish.
2. A Closed and Common Orbit
As a veteran listener of the podcast Get Booked (which I highly recommend) I knew I had to read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Which I enjoyed, early in 2018! But I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to--I thought it was good, but it wasn't a fave. I decided to go ahead and give the second book a shot as well, and it completely blew me away.
This story was so compelling. I absolutely loved it--it's one of my favorite books ever. The setting, the characters, and the two complementary storylines about the relationships between an AI and a human were so amazingly told and cleverly organized. I'm excited to reread this.
Hey, look! I read a Book of the Month book!
I actually did this on audio. But it counts.
I've always adored Greek mythology--from the mythology for kids book I had when I was little to the 1000-page Costco-book-table Mythology Compendium my parents graduated me to around 6th grade, with is mostly post it notes and highlighter. They way that this book was tackled, with Circe's whole story and her point of view on things we'd only seen from other angles, was so satisfying. I loved seeing her get a voice, and I loved what Mitchell did with it. This book was so smart and fascinating and compelling and satisfying. It was my top book of 2018.
4. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
I got really into nonfiction this year: I read a number of true crime books, and a few general nonfiction, but this one was my absolute favorite.
It was my first Mary Roach, although I've since continued my way through her works, and I so enjoyed the way it was smart and well researched but readable and entertaining. That can't be an easy medium to reach, and there wasn't a single section in this book that I didn't find totally fascinating. She answered so many questions I didn't know I had! I talked about this book incessantly for weeks, much to the disgust of my dinner companions.
5. I Shall Wear Midnight
In September I was fresh off of the high of reading Circe, and my mind was swimming with the history and concept of witches in fiction. I also re-organized my bookshelves, which forced me to face the backlog of books I haven't read yet. I committed myself to reading a bunch of witch-themed books for the season: I wanted to marathon them and keep thinking about and dissecting the concept of witches and the different ways they're tackled in fiction, so I set myself the thematically appropriate goal of 13 witch books in the fall/Halloween season (Sept & Oct.)
This sort of worked: I read some books I already owned. But mostly, I read all of the Tiffany Aching books.
My favorite book when I was young was Good Omens, so I knew I would love Discworld, and I even have a couple of the books--weirdly, I've even played a Discworld board game--but I hadn't read any yet. These were my first, and I absolutely adored them.
The pile of witch books I owned fell by the wayside and I read Tiffany Aching. I loved The Wee Free Men, but I found that I loved each book in the series even more than the last. I read all the way up to I Shall Wear Midnight, deciding to wait on the final Discworld novel until I read the backlog, since I get funny about final books. I Shall Wear Midnight was true to the pattern: I loved it even more than its predecessor. This series is now so close to my heart, and although I only met Tiffany a couple of months ago, she feels like an old friend.
6. The Prince and the Dressmaker
This book and I have had a hard time getting together. When it was first announced, I preordered it on Amazon. I was so excited about this book!
Then, a couple of months later, I preordered it again. Somehow.
Then, a couple of months after that, I noticed I had preordered two copies of this book, and attempted to cancel it. If you're starting to get a feeling for my style you won't be surprised to learn that I didn't check my work, and I ended up cancelling both orders and not receiving the book at all.
Then I was on Libby in the "available now" section and saw it! Hey, I know you! I borrowed it and devoured it and screen shotted pages to save as art inspiration, and I reread it before I sent it back to Libby.
Then I ordered it. Just once--and it should be here soon.
I'm closing out 2018 with a scramble to close out the last 4 spots on my Read Harder challenge: I never should've left the Oprah book club slot, because that lady does not read short books! I'm wrapping up a children's classic and an AOC's romance novel now, and revving up to finally read the Underground Railroad.
Here's to 2019!