Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 Reading Report

Guys, I read 100 books in 2018!!!!

Okay, to be totally honest with you, I read 96 books that I actually count, and then padded my Goodreads report with four books I read aloud to my kids so that I could make it to 100. I usually don't "count" the books I read aloud to my kids for a variety of reasons (very often I don't read the entire book, since my husband often fills in bedtime routine duties and reads chapters himself, and I don't feel like they're books for me, so I don't like counting them on my list). But really, that list doesn't include all the articles/chapters I read for school, all the other read alouds I didn't count, and let's not forget, the entire Book of Mormon read in under three months. So really, I feel just fine claiming the nice round number of 100 books.

Basically, it was a good reading year for me.

I actually have some thoughts about the amount of reading I did this year, but I'm going to save that for another post, because this one's already going to be super long.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of my reading stats, and break out my Top 10 reads here. I'm borrowing an idea from Lady Susan, and decided to make some graphs to illustrate my reading year. This was surprisingly fun.

First up, the genre break-down:

The thing that struck me most when seeing this graph all put together like this is that I guess I really read a lot of genres. I mean, there were lots of books that could have fit in multiple genres (there were YA/fantasy/historical fiction, and all the self-help is also non-fiction, etc.) so this isn't a very scientific division. But it's kind of a nice colorful spread there, isn't it? And apparently I read a lot more YA and children's lit than I realized. I also don't read as much non-fiction as I thought I did (I kind of thought I was closer to a 50/50 split, but even if you count motivational and memoir, it's not even at 25%), but that's probably because I read so much academic non-fiction that when it comes to pleasure reading, I'm looking for a good story.

Next, an interesting graph on how much I re-read books:

One thing I noticed with my reading this year is that I felt like I was doing a LOT of re-reading. And when I counted it up, 20 out of the 100 books were re-reads for me, which does seem to be a big chunk of that pie there. I'm still trying to decide what I think about this. Part of me knows why I re-read these books (because I knew they were good and I was tired of being disappointed by new books that weren't all that good, and I just wanted to be reading something I knew I would like). But another part of me feels like re-reading is a bit of a waste (only so much time! why not get to everything on that massive TBR list?). Anyway, still thinking about this one.

And finally, a look at the material type through which I consume books:

This one isn't much of a surprise. Guys, I listen to a lot of audio books. 75 this year, if my numbers are to be trusted (which they aren't, this was a quick guess count, I couldn't remember exactly on some of the early books, but I think that just proves that it doesn't seem to matter too much for me whether I read or listen to a book, if months later I can't even remember how I read it). Actually, what is a surprise here is that I read as many physical books as I did. I still love reading physical books, and maybe someday this number will be more balanced. But probably not while I'm in school.

Okay, now let's get on to my Top 10 list for the year. This is always, always such a hard list to make because it depends on my mood, on what I ate for lunch, on what catches my fancy at the moment, etc. If I were to make this list tomorrow, or next week, or last month, it would look entirely different. I'm just putting that out there, to not take this list too seriously. Other books I read this year may have been better. These are just the ones that stood out to me as the most memorable/powerful/interesting/stick-with-me books when I went through the list today. Also, I made sure to pick only from books that were new-to-me reads, not re-reads (because otherwise, Austen would dominate this list every year). So, in no particular order, arranged loosely by genre, here were some of my top reads from last year:

In the category of Self Help/Motivational:

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I still think about this book often, and feel like I probably need to re-read it and take some good notes. Like I think I said in my review, this is basically the gospel secularized. It's good stuff.

In the category of Memoir:

West With the Night by Beryl Markham

I can see how some people might not like this book. The structure is a little confusing, and maybe the story ends a little abruptly and feels anti-climatic (it was written fairly soon after her flight, not the end of her life by far). But man, Markham just had the most interesting life story ever, and I thought her writing style was beautiful! This is another one I wouldn't mind re-reading some day.

In the category of Historical Fiction:

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

This book is just incredible, but what makes it so good is that it's BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!!! Yes, this is a fictionalized account, but the overall outline is true, and really happened to the author's family. Which is just amazing. It's not necessarily an easy book to read (it is, after all, about Jews in Poland during WWII), but I was crying tears by the end (even though I knew how it was going to end from the beginning!). I highly recommend this one.

Also in the category of Historical Fiction:

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

This one was just so lovely. It was light without being fluffy, had tragedy with a happy ending, and the writing was just beautiful and witty and exactly my kind of thing. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the book.

Again, in the category of Memoir:

Educated by Tara Westover

I've gone back and forth (and back and forth) on whether or not to include this one. But if we're talking about a book that has stayed with me and made me think and that I've recommended to everyone just because I needed to talk to people about this book... well, then this one just can't be left off the list. It's not a happy read (no book has ever made me feel so angry), and I doubt I'll ever want to re-read it. But it is a powerful book with lots to talk about (makes for a fabulous book club read).

In the category of... YA? Classic children's? Fiction?

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Oh, how I loved discovering Emily this year! She was such a kindred spirit! (I may even like her better than Anne? Or at least, relate to her more). I'm so, so excited to re-read these books some day.

In the category of parenting/self-help/motivational/non-fiction:

The Read Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie

Seriously good stuff, guys. I recommend this to everyone, think it should be required reading for all parents, want to own it, and just... yes. I didn't think I needed to read it because I was already committed to reading aloud to my kids, but this still had so much good stuff in it! And honestly, parts of it got me all choked up (yes, seriously). Just, read it.

In the category of Middle-Grade/Historical Fiction:

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ugh, why is WWII fiction just so darn good? I'm not always the biggest fan of middle-grade, but I really, really liked this one. I could legitimately see this one gaining classic status. It's very good.

In the category of Fantasy:

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I read a lot of fantasy, it's fun escapism for me. But it rarely tends to make it into my top 10 lists (unless I'm specifically talking about my top fantasy read) because it doesn't seem to stick with me in significant ways. Maybe it's a little too early to tell, but I think this one is different. It feels so much more literary, made me think so much more deeply. It's got some lovely sparse prose. It felt classic, ancient, mythic. I loved it.

In the category of Classics:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Also maybe a little too fresh to be a fair inclusion here, but I predict this one will have some staying power with me (I mean, just look at how much staying power it's had with our culture in general). This book is just so, so good, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. My guess is this will become a yearly traditional re-read for me.

Okay, that was too much fun! How did your reading year go?


  1. Wow, Suzanne, I must take most of my reading cues from you. I've read all but two of those books on your list!

    1. Which two have you not read? You should probably read them! Haha!