Tag 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?

Best Books of 2018

In past years, I’ve done a Reading Year In Review as my last post of the year, including my standout reads from the last 12 months. This year, I’m adding a Best Books of 2018 post, because everyone else is doing one. (It’s always important to do what everyone else is doing, right?) 

Ok, here goes: my favorite 8 books of 2018 and why I liked them. These weren’t necessarily my favorites as I was reading them, but with time to reflect, they are the ones that I found the most moving and beautifully written, and which have stayed with me over the months. I’ve linked to my original reviews for each title.

A Cloud In The Shape Of A Girl by Jean Thompson is my #1 read of the year. Poignant, with spare writing and insights about being a woman, family and parenting, this book was a recent read and well worth it.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’ll read anything she writes, but every page of this collection of stories was enjoyable. Memorable characters, believable situations. I want to re-read this one. 

Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen. If the purpose of a memoir is to let the world know who you really are, then this one succeeded in spades. It’s long and sometimes meandering but hey, it’s Bruce, so it’s ok.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. The first 3/4 of this book was very slow, but the final quarter made up for it. Heartbreaking, deeply moving and a story that has stayed with me for months.

Waiting For Eden by Elliot Ackerman. Don’t let the subject matter – a severely wounded soldier lying in a coma while his conflicted wife waits for his condition to change – drive you away. This short novel raises a number of ethical questions and is a good reminder of the constant danger our soldiers face.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Theres’s a reason this book is all over everyone else’s top 2018 reads. It’s a small story about a love triangle that says big things about the state of race in America. So well written and beautifully constructed.

The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman. This one was a sleeper. I liked it fine when I read it, but the main character has really stayed with me and in retrospect I think this was a pretty good book. It’s sad and lonely and atmospheric, and at the same time it’s totally believable.

Kitchens Of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. I re-read my favorite book from 2017 and loved it just as much. I’ll shut up now.

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?