2018 is over. Somehow. That year somehow felt four years long and super short at the same time. But even though I didn’t meet my reading goal for the year (48 books), I read some really good books and I’m looking forward to reading more in 2019. So here are some stats for my 2018 reading, my top 5 list for the past year, some notable reads that didn’t make the top 5, and the top 5 I want to read in 2019. None of these lists are in any particular order.
My Reading in 2018
My Goodreads Year In Books is here (and includes a few that I read but didn’t review). According to that, I read 10,051 pages across 33 books. 54% of those reads were nonfiction (my highest nonfiction percentage ever), and I reviewed 87% of the books I read. I also read 4 of the top 5 books I wanted to read in 2018.
Top 5 of 2018
1. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
I said in my review that I think this might be one of the best fairy tale retellings I’ve ever read, and I’m not just saying that to say that. This retelling of Snow White makes both the Snow White character and the queen stepmother into relatable, sympathetic characters, integrates fascinating magic flawlessly into the plot, and manages to hold interest even though the threat to the princess’s life doesn’t start until about halfway through the book. And it has a happy ending. What more could you want?
2. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
I like nonbinary characters. And I like assassins. And I like deadly competitions. This book has all three. From a genderfluid main character who is woefully underskilled for what they’re doing but might just succeed from pure determination to a well-realized world with unique countries, some court drama, and truly evil villains, as well as a cute but not overdone romance, Mask of Shadows is full of things I like to see in books.
3. Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
Do you ever feel like your job serves no purpose and shouldn’t exist? Do you make a lot of money but aren’t even sure what it is you do for your company? You may have what David Graeber calls a “bullshit job,” and he explains all about them in this book. The only job I’ve had in my entire working career that wasn’t a bullshit job in some capacity was a waitressing position, and thanks to Graeber, I know I’m looking at more of the same in my future – but hey, at least I know why!
4. Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce
This is definitely a more personal choice (as you’ll notice if you read my review), but Quiverfull really impacted me and it definitely makes my top 5 just for that. It’s an impassionate look at the phenomenon of Quiverfull families, a fundamentalist Christian movement, and I loved the sociological bent of the writing and how completely thorough it was. I grew up in a belief system adjacent to the Quiverfull movement and even I learned some things. It tugged on my heartstrings and gave me a lot of feelings as well as new information.
5. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman
This book is just plain fun. Though not without its problems (as I mention in the review), this story about a lesbian queen who is joined by a female warrior on a quest to find a girlfriend is a pretty lighthearted, overall thoroughly enjoyable little story. There’s not a whole lot of tension, but there are a lot of different adventures contained in one, and it has a very happy ending. Plus it features a chronically ill protagonist of color and is written by a bisexual Jewish woman, so it’s great in the diversity arena, too!
2018 Books Worth Mentioning
I Wish It Was Good
Fight For You by Kayla Bain-Vrba was actually one of the five books I was most excited to read in 2018, which is why it’s such a bummer that it wasn’t good. The pacing was terrible, the world wasn’t developed, and the characters never grew, but by far the worst part was how ridiculously sexualized the main characters were. I considered titling this section “Most Disappointing” or “Too Unnecessarily Sexual,” but eventually settled on “I Wish It Was Good” because that really sums up my feelings about this story. The premise was good and it could have been an enjoyable story, it just was poorly done and ended up being just a generally bad read.
Think Differently About Mental Health
The entire goal of Lost Connections by Johann Hari is to get you to think differently about mental illness (or at least anxiety and depression). And it succeeds. Through a lot of first-hand accounts and a surprising amount of research, Johann lays out a method for healing depression and anxiety that doesn’t rely on drugs, therapy, or medical intervention at all – connection. He encourages people to think about mental illness in a context of connection and community instead of pills and hospitals. And, according to all the research he cites, it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
Damn, This Man Can Write
My fiance finally talked me into reading a Stephen King novel and suggested I try Salem’s Lot. Did I like the book? Well, I’m not really sure. I know I don’t plan on reading any more Stephen King (not the kind of thing I’m interested in, really), but I still haven’t decided how I feel about this book. One thing I can say, though: Stephen King can write. This is one of the best-written books I’ve ever read, full of vivid descriptions and, though it’s slowly paced, it’s done so in a way that keeps up the narrative tension. Stephen King’s books are not my style, but I can see why people love him.
Must-Reads for 2019
- The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow. One of the queer book blogs I follow on Tumblr recommended this as being similar to Mask of Shadows, and we all know how much I loved Mask of Shadows. Overall it sounds like a high-stakes fantasy with queer characters, which is right up my alley.
- Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze by Svend Brinkmann. I’m very interested in self-improvement, and some of my reading choices have probably shown that. This book is all about why (and how) we should resist the urge to adopt a self-help mantra. I’m open to being convinced.
- Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst. I thoroughly enjoyed Of Fire and Stars, and I’m excited to see what happens with this sequel – I’m hoping especially for more of the characters I loved.
- Boundaries by Anne and Sophia Katherine. I tried reading Cloud and Townsend’s famous book on boundaries, but it was so excessively religious I couldn’t get through the first chapter. I’m hoping this book will give me the same information about setting and maintaining boundaries without trying to shove god down my throat.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. A fantasy book with a premise (beautiful girls taken to serve the king) that sounds like the story of Esther in the Bible – though I’m not religious anymore, I did always enjoy that story. Plus forbidden love, some queer rep, and some justice and revenge. It does have some trigger warnings I’m a little worried about, but overall it sounds like just the kind of thing I will love.