2018 – My Year in Books

I have definitely read some great books this year; there’s no doubt about that. At the beginning of the year, I set out to complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge as well as the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge, and I set my Goodreads goal at 85 books (10 more than last year). As of today, December 13, I’m one book away from meeting my Goodreads goal. I didn’t finish the Popsugar and Bookriot challenges (I’m off by about 4 books, but I chose not to complete those categories). Overall, it was a really good reading year.

Ratings Range

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 20
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 27
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 26
⭐️⭐️ – 3

5 Star Reads

I actually rated 20 books as five star reads this year! Either I’m reading really good books, or I need to reassess what my ratings mean. Reading through the list of twenty books, I’ll admit to being skeptical and wondering why, exactly, I rated some books so high. How to Build a Girl, for example, by Caitlin Moran. I remember really liking it, but was it really one of the best books I’ve read? I don’t really think so, looking back on it now. I think that one of my goals for 2019 will be to revise what my rating scale looks like, and take more time to truly assess each book that I read.

Top Ten List

I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I’ve chosen my top ten books of 2018. I selected these from the books that I rated with five stars. As of right now, they’re in no particular order. (Although A Tale of Two Cities was a five star read, I’ve decided to keep it off the list, as it’s pretty much my default favorite, anyway.)

  • Marie Antoinette: The Journey – Antonia Fraser
  • Saga, Volumes 7 and 9 – Brian K. Vaughan
  • Made for Love – Alissa Nutting
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo
  • Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver
  • Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
  • Gold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins
  • An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  • The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

Favorite Reads

I’ve definitely read some great books, and what’s funny is that even though I really liked all of them, some of them stuck around in my head so much more than the others. For example, Gold Fame Citrus. I can’t stop thinking about it, even though I read it back in April of 2018. The setting and atmosphere in the book were mesmerizing–the hot desert during a years-long drought. A couple of survivors who were lucky enough to find one another and hole up in an abandoned mansion, until they’re forced out, and have to try to find a new oasis.

One day I was listening to old ’90s music, and I came across the song “The Way” by Fastball. And even though nothing in it actually references anything happening in Gold Fame Citrus, it immediately became the soundtrack for the book, in my mind. The two just fit together perfectly, and I’m obsessed with both.

I also have to mention how much I loved Marie Antoinette: The Journey. The only reason I picked it up was because as part of the Popsugar Reading Challenge, I needed to read a book that had been turned into a movie. I loved Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” and I found out that this book was the primary source for the movie. I thought I’d slog through the book over the course of months, and hate every second of it, but boy, was I wrong. I was absolutely fascinated. The book led me to do research on Versailles, the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette herself, and lots of other individuals involved with the aristocracy at the time. This led me to reread A Tale of Two Cities, for obvious reasons. I have some thoughts about the idea of a monarchy in general, but I’m still fascinated by Marie Antoinette and her whole life.

Made for Love, Flight Behavior, and Bel Canto were other novels that really stood out to me. Made for Love because of its ridiculous premise that somehow Alissa Nutting seems to twist into something completely normal; Flight Behavior for the absolutely beautiful language of Barbara Kingsolver, which just pulls you in and wraps itself around you until you’re a part of the story too; and Bel Canto much for the same reason, but also for the slow burn of a plot that moves forward by mere inches, while accomplishing miles of storytelling.

Finally, Saga is truly one of the most beautiful works I’ve ever read. It’s funny, honest, and heartbreaking. It’s one of the things that I’ve avoided writing about because I don’t think I can properly express how I feel about it. I’m trying, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get there.

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