From Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman on January 1 to Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend on December 31, I read 180 books in 2018. I was happy to see that about a quarter (46 books) of what I read this past year was nonfiction, and after a few years of comfortably doing that, I may try to increase that percentage in 2019.
My favorite nonfiction from 2018:
- Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
This reads more like a dramatic novel than a politically-focused presidential biography that is heavily tilted to an examination of James Garfield’s death.
- Booked by Karen Swallow Prior
I wanted to do nothing but absorb classic literature after reading this book-focused memoir.
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
An investigation into the never-solved 1986 fire that incinerated much of the Los Angeles Central Library turns into a love letter to libraries.
- Factfulness by Hans Rosling
The subtitle “Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” sold me on this one.
- I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
I started this one thinking that I probably wouldn’t love it, but I knew my first impression was wrong within a couple of pages.
In an unusual turn of events, two of my top fiction reads in 2018 were middle grade books, and if I went past the top five, I’d add a sequel to one of those books as well. I’ll insert a relevant (and much loved) quote here:
“It is usual to speak in a playfully apologetic tone about one’s adult enjoyment of what are called ‘children’s books’. I think the convention a silly one. No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty–except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all. A mature palate will probably not much care for crême de menthe: but it ought still to enjoy bread and butter and honey.”C. S. Lewis, “On Stories”
My top fiction reads in 2018:
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I finished this story with its themes of isolation and loneliness feeling much more uplifted than I would have expected from the synopsis.
- Circe by Madeline Miller
I avoided this one because of the hype and then couldn’t put it down once I started reading.
- Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
This is a gritty urban fantasy with a Native American heroine, and it is glorious!
- Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
An adorable bookish heroine is sent away to a hotel over Christmas break and solves a series of mysterious puzzles.
- Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow has been told she is cursed, but she begins to believe that isn’t the full story when she is whisked away to compete to be part of the Wundrous Society. The sequel to this was my final book of 2018 and was just as good!