2018 in review

This year was the first in which I’ve regularly read for pleasure, and I’ve come across so many amazing new books and writers, from Susan Orlean to Danez Smith.

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In 2018 I read 202 books, more than what I read over all four years of undergrad.

Graduating from college rekindled my love of reading. Not having assigned reading, or deadlines, motivated me to read far more than what I otherwise would have. Throughout college I found it hard to adapt to the rigid structure of academia, and I rarely read for pleasure or even finished books for my classes. I’m just a much more efficient reader when I’m following my own schedule.

Expanding my reading habits beyond print books also helped me finish a lot more books. This year I started listening to books on audio, and I began reading e-books regularly. Because of both formats, I’ve been able to check out so many great books on the go, whether I’m commuting to work, exercising, or taking long walks.

Joining Goodreads and WordPress has introduced me to so many amazing new authors as well. I discovered many of my favorite 2018 reads through GR and WP, and both websites have helped me compile a wide-ranging TBR list for 2019. More than that, though, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the book blogging community; it’s been interesting following others’ thoughts on books, and I’m looking forward to blogging more next year.

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My reading tastes this year have been all over the place, though I did read a lot of excellent poetry collections and memoirs. Next year I’m planning on organizing my reading habits around monthly themes, as well as participating in reading challenges, which I’ll post more about later.

I started this year with Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day and ended it with Qiu Miaojing’s Notes of a Crocodile. Between those two books, both of which I can’t recommend highly enough, I’ve come across so many new favorite writers, from imaginative poets such as Tommy Pico and Rita Dove to lucid essayists such as Annie Dillard and Alexander Chee. Getting back into reading this year has been amazing, and I’m excited to discover even more great writers in 2019.

A list of my favorite books from the year can be found below!

Novel: Négar Djavadi’s Disoriental and Édouard Louis’s History of Violence

Classic: Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Memoir: Roxane Gay’s Hunger

Biography: Lillian Faderman’s Harvey Milk

Nonfiction: Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

Poetry Collection: Jenny Xie’s Eye Level and Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead

24 thoughts on “2018 in review

  1. You really read so widely, I’m so impressed! The Library Book was also a top favorite for me this year, and Hunger was one of my favorites last year. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s when I read it years ago, and was thinking about it not long ago when reading something about Capote and wondered if I’d like it as much now. Might have to revisit that one soon, but I’m suspecting I’d feel the same especially since I notice we seem to share so many tastes in books!

    It’s great that you’re rediscovering reading for pleasure after undergrad, I remember that feeling so well and glad that you’re getting to enjoy it and guide your own reading experience. I remember that feeling like such a seemingly small but actually huge joy! Hope your 2019 is filled with more wonderful books and looking forward to more of your incredibly thoughtful analysis!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rennie! Looking forward to following your updates in 2019 as well. I’m always amazed at how thorough your reviews are, and your blog’s been my go-to source for nonfiction recommendations as I’ve planned out my upcoming year of reading over the past few weeks.

      The Library Book was so good, and I have you to thank for introducing me to it! I’m not sure I would have otherwise checked it out, as I wasn’t a huge fan of Orlean’s work going into the book, having only read her early essays. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a wistful and quick read. All of Capote’s books are really different from each other, which is something I appreciate about him as a writer—I just wish he’d written more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also picked up The Library Book on Rennie’s recommendation after disliking the author’s earlier work and it also made my top ten list 🙂 I had the experience of getting back into reading after undergrad as well, which was really wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I missed it untl I got back to it.

        Like Rennie, I’ve really enjoyed your thoughtful reviews. Here’s to a great 2019!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks, Katie! I really enjoyed discovering your blog and following your updates last year as well, and I’m looking forward to another great year of reading in 2019 🙂

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      3. I hadn’t loved Orlean’s essays that I’d read, they were just ok for me, but I did really like The Orchid Thief, you might like that one too.

        And thank you so much for those kind words, that means so much to me, truly – and I’m really happy I could help you find some good nonfiction recommendations! You’re helping me find some great ones too, glad we could share so many!

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  2. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts this year, Michael. You’re an interesting and fun reader to follow. Happy New Year!
    Cheers,
    Lisa (my name isn’t Bloom but I totally give up on WordPress letting me have my name back)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year, Lisa! Hope you’ve had a great day, and thanks so much for the kind words. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed following my posts – looking forward to another year of blogging!

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  3. 202 books in a year?! Wow, I’m impressed. Glad I discovered your blog this year. Look forward to your q’s otd and your book commentary. Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael, thank you for this list of the books you’ve read this past year. You’ve got me beat, too, as I’ve read only 145 books in 2018. But as I don’t do audiobooks and read only printed books, does that make a difference, I wonder? Your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! Congrats on having read “only” 145 books in 2018 🙂 I think it does make a difference. My number of books would be a lot smaller had I not listened to audiobooks while commuting, taking walks, cooking, etc. Audiobooks gave me about 15 more hours of reading/listening a week, which went a long way over time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that’s true. I’m having a conversation with my brother about these things. He’s recently bought a Kindle and has fallen in love with it. If I wish to read an ebook I use iBooks, the app on my iPhone. Does the trick for me.

        Question: I’ve just written a post to my blog and pressed Publish, but the post isn’t appearing on my site. Why?? This has happened frequently and I don’t know what to do. Any thoughts? Thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm, I’m trying to think of what the problem might be. All I can see on your blog is “The Journey Begins” (11/26/18), under the “Blog” page. When you check under the “Status” section while writing a post, are the two options “Publish Immediately” and “Public”?

        It’s also possible you’re posting to another blog than the one you have public?

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  5. Okay, 202 books is iconic, congrats on that amount (though of course people can still derive great pleasure and satisfaction from reading even if they read fewer books than that). I’m so glad that you’ve taken Goodreads by storm Michael, I remember when you first started posting reviews to now, where so many people appreciate and cherish your perspective including myself – especially because at first I had the perception you were reviewing “classics” mostly, but you’ve really done a great job reading diverse authors which has been wonderful to see. At some point I’d love to read about how your own social identities have influenced you as a reader and reviewer. Thanks for contributing to the bookish community online and hope you’re having a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words Thomas! Your reviews are always so thoughtful and insightful, so that means a lot to hear especially coming from you. Hope you had a great New Year’s, and wishing you all the best as 2019 starts!

      I’ve enjoyed getting to know parts of the Goodreads community, and I’m looking forward to discovering other parts in 2019 as I explore more genres. A lot of the books I reviewed early on were titles I’d already read or new-to-me “classics” I’d wanted to read in college but never had the time for, but as the year went on, I shifted to contemporary and more diverse books, which is something I definitely plan on continuing in 2019. More personal posts about literature are something I’d like to work to as the year goes on as well, and I appreciate the encouragement!

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  6. Congratulations on a wonderful reading year, Michael! I have read some of Rita Dove’s poems in anthologies and loved them. So glad you liked her poetry. I want to read Susan Orlean’s The Library Book! It looks so inviting! Thanks so much for sharing your favourites list! Hope you have a wonderful reading year in 2019! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Borges!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Vishy! “Inviting” is a perfect way to describe The Library Book — Orlean’s style is just so down to earth and warm hearted. Hope you have a great year in reading as well, and looking forward to following your updates!

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