Category Archives: Year In Review

2018 Reading Year In Review

This is the first year I easily surpassed my reading goal of 52 books. I ended at 56, with lots of time to spare. So I am happy about that. I took two longish international trips this year that really helped boost my book count. I’m not sure how I am going to repeat that performance next year, but I am giving myself a goal of 60 books for 2019. I’ll have to find other ways to increase my reading, especially since we don’t have any big trips planned.

Last December, I pledged to read 10 non-fiction books this year, and I read 11. I only read 8 male authors this year, so my goal next year is to read more than that.

Here are my overall goals for 2019:

  • 60 books
  • At least 2 classics
  • 12 male authors
  • 12 non-fiction books
  • More #bookstagram posts
  • More author readings (those have fallen by the wayside and I miss them)

When I look back on 2018, I read a lot of pretty mediocre stuff, which makes me sad. I spend so much time reading about and researching books – how am I ending up with so many books on the list that I don’t love? I think I need to be less impulsive in my reading choices. Rather than choosing my next read based on the mood I’m in, I need to be more deliberate and plan my books based on what others I trust have said about them.

Here are my standout reads from 2017:

Best audiobooks were Born To Run (read by Bruce Springsteen), I Am I Am I Am (read by Daisy Donovan) and Kitchens Of The Great Midwest (read by Amy Ryan and Michael Struhlbarg).

Most disappointing books: The Submission by Amy Waldman, Vox by Christine Dalcher.

Books that made me feel stupid: Bobcat And Other Stories by Rebecca Lee, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.

Books that should be required reading for all Americans: The Leavers by Lisa Ko, Waiting For Eden by Elliot Ackerman, Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.

Books I could not put down: One Day In December by Josie Silver, One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2018: Iraq war casualties, psychopathic husbands/boyfriends/neighbors (way too many of these!), death, cancer, addiction, divorce, dystopian America with no reproductive freedom, car accidents, family estrangement, brushes with death, dystopian America where women aren’t allowed to speak, infidelity, child illness, the Depression, mental illness, 9/11, plane crash, school shooting, suicide, false imprisonment, accidental death, the economy, illegal immigration and deportation, death, death, death.

The year by the numbers:

  • 45 fiction, 11 non-fiction
  • 11 repeat authors during 2018: Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jean Thompson, Maggie O’Farrell, Katherine Center, J. Ryan Stradal, JoJo Moyes, Meg Wolitzer, Tayari Jones, Laurie Frankel, Caroline Preston, Roz Chast
  • 2 rereads: Kitchens Of The Great Midwest; The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
  • 18 audiobooks
  • 8 male authors

How was your 2018 in reading? What were the highlights and what do you have planned for 2019?

2017 Reading Year In Review

I made it! I read 52 books this year, same as last year. That was my goal, and despite falling way behind in March, I managed to catch up. Here is my 2017 Reading Year in Review.

I did stick to my resolution of reading only books I wanted to read this year. They weren’t always great, but I chose them for no reason other than that I wanted to read that particular book at that time. My mother-daughter book club ended after 7 years, but I started a new adult book club this fall, and we’ve gotten two books under our belt so far.

Next year, my goal is to read more non-fiction. I read only 3 this year. Next year I am going to try to get to 10.

Here are my standout reads from 2017:

Best audiobooks were What Happened (read by Hillary Rodham Clinton), Stay With Me (read by Adjoa Andoh), Our Short History (read by Karen White) and Perfect Little World (read by Therese Plummer).

Most disappointing book: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.

Most creative read goes to Every Day by David Levithan.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2017: WWII, orphans, cults, killing a lover, high school, giving up children, incarceration (especially when wrongly accused), terminal cancer, Indian reservation, death of sibling, horrible husband, drug addiction by parent, wife beaten into coma, the whole book 1984, horribly abusive mother, children lost in South America, racism, infertility, technology run amok, THE 2016 ELECTION, dead spouses, communicating with dead people, dog maiming, middle school. (This list seems actually less depressing than in previous years!)

The breakdown:

  • 49 fiction, 3 non-fiction (ugh!)
  • 14 repeat authors during 2017: Sarah Dunn, Jami Attenberg, Lauren Grodstein, Anita Shreve, Curtis Sittenfeld, Carolyn Parkhurst, Caroline Leavitt, Ann Hood, Catherine Heiny, Tom Perotta, Siobhan Fallon, Celeste Ng, Michelle Richmond, Sarah Pekkanen
  • 19 audiobooks
  • 13 male authors, 39 female authors

How was your 2017 in reading? What were the highlights?

2016 Reading Year In Review

I made it! Finally, I read 52 books in one year. That was my goal, and despite a serious post-election slump, I managed to get there. Here is my 2017 Reading Year in Review.

9780307268129I read a lot of great books, and a lot of forgettable ones too. (If only we had the hindsight of a wrap-up post to know which books would fall into which camp BEFORE starting them.) I worked hard to overcome the draw of the iPhone and really focus on reading whenever I could – no easy feat. Listening to audiobooks definitely helped get my numbers up, thanks to a longer commute starting last March and the ability to listen on my iPhone instead of only in the car.

My goal for 2017: reach 52 again, and read only books I want to read for no other reason than because I am in the mood for them (with the exception of mother-daughter book club books). No guilt!

In 2016, as usual, I tended toward fiction over non-fiction and women writers over men. Some things never change.

Here are my standout reads from 2016:

Best audiobooks were The Risen (read by Richard Ferrone); After You (read by Anna Acton); Not Dead Yet (read by Phil Collins), Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (read by Oliver Wymer) and Underground Airlines (read by William DeMerritt).

Most disappointing book: The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton.

Most creative read goes to Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists are always impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2016: the plight of poor white America, murder, divorcing parents, alcoholism, the challenge of raising autistic children, death of a brother, unrequited love, car accidents, Brooklyn ennui, the Holocaust, the collapse of the real estate market, dead husbands, miscarriage, dystopia, the Iraq war, PTSD, evil psychopath husbands, cancer, plane crash, slavery, cadaver organ donation, death of best friend, infidelity, Chinese orphanage, emotionally distant parents, kidnapped children, loss of custody. Phew.

The breakdown:

  • 45 fiction, 7 non-fiction
  • 13 repeat authors during 2014: Joyce Maynard, Jane Smiley, Elizabeth Strout, Curtis Sittenfeld, JoJo Moyes, Emma Straub, Jennifer Close, Carolyn Parkhurst, Ann Patchett, Noah Hawley, Jane Hamilton, Leah Stewart and Marcy Dermansky.
  • 19 audiobooks
  • 14 male authors, 38 female authors

How was your 2016 in reading? What were the highlights?

2015 Reading Year In Review

2015 was not my best year in reading. Life just got the better of me. My daughters’ bedtimes (too late!) and the proliferation of tempting screens all over the house didn’t help me find more time for reading either. I tend to read in spurts, when I’m out of my routine on vacation and can enjoy guilt-free hours where I am not expected to do other stuff. Work trips when I don’t spring for airplane wi-fi also provide nice pockets of time. But in general, finding time to read is becoming more and more of a challenge. In 2016, I will do better!


I also found myself in reader’s rut a few times. I have so many books surrounding me that sometimes I didn’t know where to turn. I need to be more methodical about reading books that are recommended (and get over my bias against books that everyone else has read and loved). There is so much top quality fiction out there that there’s no need to read mediocre books.

Or maybe the problem is what Hugh McGuire expressed in this San Francisco Chronicle article: I am so addicted to the quick hits of social media and my iPhone that I have lost my ability to concentrate on long form media like books. How depressing is that?!

In 2014, I read 48 books, which I was bummed about because I wanted to hit 50. This year was even worse! I only made it to 44 books. 2016 (again!): I will reach 52! A book a week!

Here are my standout reads from 2015:

Best audiobooks were Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce (read by Scott Aiello) and Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (read by Mozhan Marno).

Most disappointing book: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

Most creative read goes to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

For the last three years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists have been impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2015: refusal to give dying child life-changing treatment, loss of a child, teacher in a coma, disappearing daughter, prison camp, apocalypse due to ravaging flu, infidelity, depression, suicide, the Communist revolution in China, 9/11, death of spouse, oppression of caged animals, plane crashes, Scientology, soulless startup, divorce, post-partum depression, mental illness, murder, adult autism, middle grade autism, rape, death of family in a fire, the whole second half of Fates and Furies, murder/suicide by child, disappearing mothers (x6).

The breakdown:

  • 36 fiction, 8 non-fiction
  • 7 repeat authors during 2014: Ian McEwan, Jane Smiley, Polly Dugan, Judy Blume, Hilary Liftin, Jean Kwok, Eli Gottlieb
  • 12 audiobooks
  • 11 male authors, 33 female authors

How was your 2015 in reading? What were the highlights?

2014 Reading Year in Review

So this is kind of depressing: I just re-read my Reading Year in Review post for 2013, and it’s pretty much exactly what I was going to write this year. I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to, and I didn’t love a lot of the books I did read. Same thing, different year. Last year, I said that “wasn’t blown away by a lot of what I read”, and resolved to be more selective this year. I think I was pretty selective this year, but I still didn’t love a lot of the books I chose. As I said last year, I think I am too picky, or grumpy, or both.

Last year, I read 49 books, which I was bummed about because I wanted to hit 50. In 2014, I fell short again. November and December were particularly slow for me, due to being really busy and getting mired in The Art of Fielding. I managed to get to 48 books, which is one shy of last year. 2015: I will reach 52! A book a week!

Here are my standout reads from 2014:

Best audiobooks were Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (read by the author) and The Blessings by Elise Juska (read by Therese Plummer).

Most disappointing books: To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and Lucky Us by Amy Bloom.

Most creative read goes to One More Thing by BJ Novak.

For the last three years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists have been impressive. Here are the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2014: infertility, loss of a child (three times), giving up a child for adoption (twice), agoraphobia, infidelity, loss of a spouse in Iraq, being a widower, latchkey childhood, Japanese internment, PTSD, untimely death of a spouse, grief in general, abusive parents, arson (twice!), Brooklyn parenting, Iraq war casualties, dystopia, Holocaust reparations, loss of a parent, Puritanism, cerebral palsy, death from AIDS, suicide. That was actually a lighter year than 2013…

The breakdown:

  • 43 fiction, 5 non-fiction
  • 8 repeat authors during 2014: Maria Semple, Maggie Shipstead, Ann Hood, Sarah Pekkanen, Sue Miller, Joshua Ferris, Jojo Moyes, Jane Smiley
  • 16 audiobooks
  • 11 male authors, 37 female authors

How was your 2014 in reading? What were the highlights?

2013 Reading Year in Review

Happy New Year, EDIWTB readers! I hope you all have a wonderful 2014. I had a good 2013. Some changes on the job front, but otherwise things were pretty steady.


As far as reading, it was an OK year. I wasn’t blown away by a lot of what I read. Some of the books I chose didn’t live up to expectations based on reviews or prior books by the same author.  But I also read some debut fiction that I found pretty exciting. Maybe I am just pickier than I used to be? Grumpier? My resolution for 2014 is to be even more selective about what I read so that I don’t waste time with books I don’t love.

In terms of volume, unfortunately I didn’t match my recent watershed reading year of 2011, when I read 54 books. In 2012, I managed to get in 47 books, which I was happy about considering I had a baby and started a new job. In 2013, I hoped to split the difference and reach 50 books. I only made it to 49. So my goal for 2014 is once again to make it to 50.

[Once again, I know there are a lot of book bloggers out there reading this and saying, “50 books? Seriously?” I wish I read as fast as you all do!!]

Here are my standout reads from 2012:

Best debut novel goes to Elliott Holt’s You Are One of Them.

Most addictive read goes to The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison.

For the last two years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists have been impressive. Here are the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2013: facial disfigurement (twice), being a widower, 9/11, home invasion, death of a baby (twice), paraplegia, euthanasia, family dysfunction, AIDS, the entire plot of The Little Bride, the entire plot of Little Bee (UGH!), obesity (twice), adolescent friendship, dead best friends, early widowhood, dead sister, breast cancer, death by parasomnia, infertility, thwarted adoption, kids in jail/on drugs, killing people while on a lifeboat, and abandonment of child (back-to-back reads!).  Again, I say it: sheesh.

The breakdown:

  • 47 fiction, 2 non-fiction
  • 16 repeat authors during 2013: Ann Patchett, Elizabeth Strout, Jennifer Haigh, Curtis Sittenfeld, Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan, Mark Haddon, Jennifer Close, J. Courtney Sullivan, Terry McMillan, Liane Moriarty, Jhumpa Lahiri, Maggie O’Farrell, Meg Wolitzer, Caroline Leavitt and Susanna Daniel.
  • 14 audiobooks
  • 9 male authors, 40 female author
  • Book that disappointed me most: Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Here’s to a great year of reading in 2014! And let me know what your reading highlights were this year.  What was the best book you read in 2013?

2012 The Year In Reading

Finally, here’s the post I have been trying to write for a week. I have been stymied by poor wi-fi on vacation, a baby with a cold, and returning to work. But here, on the 6th day of 2013, is my 2012 reading wrap-up.

Happy New Year, EDIWTB readers! I hope you all have a great year in 2013. I had a very eventful 2012, with a new baby and a new job. I expect that 2013 will be less momentous!

2011 was a strong year for me in terms of reading, at 54 books. My goal for 2012 was to repeat that number. I didn’t make it, thanks to a crazy schedule this fall. But I did manage to get 47 books in. So my goal for 2013 is to make it to 50, somewhere in between the two. I know it will be challenging, but with audiobooks and a slightly longer commute, maybe I can make it.

[I know there are a lot of book bloggers out there reading this and saying, “50 books? Seriously?” My hat is off to all of you – I don’t know how you do it.]

Here are my standout reads from 2012:

Best debut novel goes to author Nichole Bernier’s The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

Most addictive read goes to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

Last year, I collected the Depressing Themes of 2011, and it was quite a list. Here are the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2012: kids disappearing, Alzheimer’s, abusive marriages, agoraphobia, depression itself, dead babies, death of a sister, alleged molestation, car accidents, divorce, the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian genocide, the entire plot of A Good American, kids doing drugs, miscarriages, 9/11, the slowdown of the rotation of the earth, the entire plot of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, impending death, dementia, kidnapping and imprisonment, orphans, the financial crisis and facial disfigurement.  Again, I say it: sheesh.

The breakdown:

  • 42 fiction, 5 non-fiction
  • 10 repeat authors during 2012: Laura Lippman, Jennifer Haigh, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Tropper, Joshua Henkin, Christina Baker Kline, Stewart O’Nan, Deborah Kopaken Kogan, Meg Mitchell Moore, and Laura Moriarty.
  • 14 audiobooks
  • 12 male authors, 34 female authors

I think the book that disappointed me most was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It just wasn’t for me. I was also not a big fan of The Divorce Party by Laura Dave.

Here’s to another great year of reading in 2013! And let me know what your reading highlights were this year. What are your goals for 2013?