I can’t believe how fast 2018 has flown by, and even though I say that every year, I really mean it! 2018 has been full of good things and hard things, and I’m so thankful to have a chance over Christmas break to sit down and reflect over the past 365 days.
Part of that reflection, naturally, is over the great books I had a chance to read. And while I didn’t meet my ambitious GoodReads goal of 60 books, I will manage to finish 50 by the new year, which means the title of my blog still applies! I figure as long as I can make it to Book Fifty by the end of the year, I’m doing okay.
This year it was (as always) difficult to decide which books were my favorite. The top six were especially difficult to rank, and the book I ended up choosing for number one came as a total surprise to me. In the end, I decided to arrange this year’s books based on how much I enjoyed the experience of reading each one, because ultimately reading should be about enjoying what you’re reading! If there is a review on the blog about any of these books, I’ve linked it in the following list, so you can click through and read my full thoughts.
Here they are, in a loose arrangement:
10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: This was a recent read, and one that was very thought-provoking. I was surprised by the subtle science fiction nature of this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the ethics of experimentation.
9. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: Another thought-provoking science-fiction book, this story about Shakespearean actors traveling through an apocalyptic world definitely stuck with me. So much so that I had to leave the house and go see a movie to get my mind off of it!
8. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: If this list were arranged in the order of their relative uniqueness, this one would win, hands down. I have never read a book like this. It is strange and somewhat unsettling, but somehow beautiful.
7. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: A “slow burn” novel that traces one family through multiple generations, Pachinko is full of observations about life and family. I love that the setting and characters of this novel were so different from the books I am normally drawn to.
6. Quiet by Susan Cain: Quiet is of the nonfiction books I enjoyed most in 2018, because it helped me understand my own introverted personality better. If you are an introvert or if you know one, this book is a must-read.
5. Macbeth by William Shakespeare: I’ll never get tired of this one, even after reading it five times this year with my students. It’s one of Shakespeare’s best.
4. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: Without a doubt, this was the best nonfiction book I read in 2018. It was moving and funny, and Noah’s Audible narration is a can’t-miss experience.
3. Circe by Madeline Miller: This retelling of a classic Greek story was entrancing. It was one of those books you don’t want to put down!
2. Caroline by Sarah Miller: Another page-turner, this retelling of Little House on the Prairie from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother’s perspective brought me back to my childhood in the sweetest, most surprising ways.
1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: I never expected this book to even make my top ten list, but as I was thinking back through my reading experiences this year, A Tale of Two Cities stands out as the best one. I read it in fits and starts from February to June, and when I finally finished it, I was a crying mess. I want to reread it in 2019 without so many breaks in between to really get a better feel for the story.
- A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
- The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner
Well, there you have it–I know that as soon as I hit “publish” on this post I will regret the order I put these books in, but that’s life as a bookworm! If you want to see everything I read in 2018, click here. I’d also love to hear what your favorite books of the year were. Share in the comments below, and let me know what you’re planning for 2019.
Happy New Year, and Keep Reading!