2018 recap

What happened in 2018? Despite not keeping up with this blog as often as I should, I still enjoy doing these year-end recap posts. It gives me a chance to revisit what happened in the previous year. 2017 was a year of changes for me, while 2018 was relatively stable. It was a year of trying to stay true to the good habits I developed in 2017, which focus on mindfulness, health, frugality, and, of course, expanding my mind through reading!

In 2018, I managed to barely exceed my goal of reading 30 books, which I’ve listed below:

  1. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  2. Rising Strong, Brene Brown
  3. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  4. Kim Ji Young Born 1982, Cho Nam Joo
  5. N or M?, Agatha Christie
  6. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  7. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  8. Before We Visit the Goddess, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  9. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
  10. The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante
  11. The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante
  12. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante
  13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
  14. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
  15. What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
  16. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  17. Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
  18. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
  19. The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
  20. Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence
  21. John Adams, David McCullough
  22. The Children Act, Ian McEwan
  23. The Sympathizer, Viet Tranh Nguyen
  24. We Begin Our Ascent, Joe Mungo Reed
  25. Option B, Sheryl Sandberg
  26. Swing Time, Zadie Smith
  27. Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
  28. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
  29. Anything Is Possible, Elizabeth Strout
  30. Dogs at the Perimeter, Madeleine Thien
  31. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler

I read a lot of fantastic books in 2018, but by far the ones that left the biggest impact on me were the quartet that comprise Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which were recommended to me by a dear friend. They completely sucked me into an intricate world I had previously had little knowledge of (post-war Naples). I often still think about the characters now, many months after I finished the series.

Other than the Neapolitan novels, the other standout book for me would be The Sympathizer. I heard about this book from YouTube, and decided to pick it up after reading about the premise and seeing that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. Although I did have some issues with the pacing of this book, I found it humorous, touching, and, at times, extremely painful to read.

Here are some quick stats on the books I read in 2018:

  • The 31 books I read were written by 28 different authors. I read only one book by each author, except for the four written by Elena Ferrante.
  • Out of the 28 authors whose books I read, 15 were women, and 13 were men.
  • 18 of the authors were new to me. 10 were those whose works I’d read previously.
  • 13 of the 31 books have a significant portion of their plot taking place in a country other than the United States or the United Kingdom. This was something I wanted to track, as I want to read more books that expose me to perspectives previously unfamiliar to me. However, I’m not sure I should include We Begin Our Ascent. The plot mainly takes place in France, but is focused on a British cyclist. Same with Lord of the Flies, which takes place on a deserted island, but has British protagonists.
  • 6/31 books I read were non-fiction.

For 2019, I am keeping my goal realistic by striving to read at least 30 books. This year, I’m also making a conscious effort to keep track of the recommendations I receive and actively acquiring those books to knock them off of my TBR list, as in 2018 I felt like I ended up reading too many books I can’t quite remember.

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