2018: My Year in Books

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It’s a little crazy to be writing this post, because seriously–it feels like just a few months ago, I was writing about the books I’d read in 2017. But alas, an entire year seems to have passed, so here we are again.

This year, I decided to keep an actual record of all the books I’d read as opposed to just trying to remember them. My head isn’t always the most reliable place to store things, after all (plenty of book ideas have disappeared in there, too).

But one good thing about doing yearly blog posts like this, it tends to keep me reading. Granted, between my freelance work, part-time guest teaching, my family, and menagerie of animals, I don’t generally have a lot of free time, but I try to read every night before bed. If I can spare an hour or two on the weekends, I’ll read then as well.

This year, I’m proud to say I finished 23 books. I say “finished” because there were a few books I started and didn’t finish. Now I’m generally not a person who likes to leave things undone, but I can explain in a few instances:

One “hot” YA book (Warcross) simply didn’t hold my interest even though I persisted into the middle of the story. I guess gaming books aren’t really my thing. As I was reading another YA book (Fated), I kept getting a strange feeling like I’d read it before. I put it down as well. I also got halfway through the first Game of Thrones book, and though I LOVE the t.v. series, I’ve discovered long fantasy books aren’t really my cup of tea either–especially when I already know what’s going to happen. But it is still sitting on my nightstand, so maybe I’ll pick it back up. Who knows. . .

But here is what I did read in 2018:

Five beta reads:

These are completed but unpublished books I read for writing friends in order to give feedback. If you’ve never been a beta reader for someone, I recommend doing it–you can learn a lot from all types of writing.

Ten Young Adult Novels:

  • Kilroy Was Here by Jeff South
  • Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Crazy House by James Patterson
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

  • You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

With the exception of Kilroy Was Here and Crazy House (both sci-fi), all are contemporary novels, which is what I tend to like reading. Some books I liked more than others, but all obviously held my interest enough to keep reading.

The ones which stood out most to me: Kilroy Was Here is hilarious (and is written by a friend of mine). The writing in Nothing Left to Burn is exquisite. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is fun and heartwarming (the movie is great, too). The Hate U Give is eye-opening and timely (spectacular movie, too!), and I loved the witty dialogue in Dumplin’.

Two adult novels:

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

YA is my writing wheelhouse, but since I’m technically an adult (does 42 count as an adult?), I had to get a couple of these in as well. Honestly, A Man Called Ove was a little dry for my taste. I’m not sure what made me keep reading, but maybe it was the quirky, strangely lovable main character. I wanted to see him happy.

I picked up Water for Elephants at a local book sale, and since it’s one of my favorite movies, decided to read it, too. I wasn’t disappointed–great story and spectacular writing!

One middle grade novel:

  • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This book was recommended at a writing workshop I attended over the summer, and I finally got around to reading it last month. I adored it and highly recommend it or all ages!

Two Non-Fiction:

  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
  • The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

These are technically “adult” books as well, so see, I really am an adult. I won The Emotional Craft of Fiction in a Twitter contest and found it to be a great writing resource. The Killers of the Flower Moon details the shocking account of a series of Osage Indian murders which occurred during the oil boom in Oklahoma. Horrible story but great, great book.

Two Memoirs:

  • The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchett
  • Transforming Tragedy by Heather Meadows

A Canadian friend sent me The Curve of Time, which I found to be a treasure of a book. I loved reading the historical account of this widowed mother of five who set sail each summer with her children to explore the coastal waters of British Columbia. The pictures are pretty cool, too.

Transforming Tragedy is written by another friend of mine and is an amazing story of overcoming extreme hardship. There are parts that are quite difficult to read, but it’s truly an inspiring story. Highly recommend!

So there you have it–my 23 reads for 2018. My goal is to increase that number for 2019. I’ve already gotten a head start with another non-fiction book. 🙂

What reading or writing resolutions do you have for the new year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!