My 2018 New Year’s Resolution was to read 100 books. I did not accomplish that goal this year. I was 16 books short. The prior year, I read only 64 books. This year, I read 20 more books than the previous year for a total of 84 books. That’s not bad. That’s 1.6 books each week.
If I keep this up, I’ll be able to finally reach my goal of 100 books in 2019.
Along the way to my goal, I discovered the secret to getting in an extra book a week. On Sundays, I choose an easy read that’s 225 pages or less and read it in one day. Of course, I didn’t discover how this could help my numbers until I was 3/4 of the way into the year.
In 2018, I became more selective with what I chose to read instead of reading whatever is sent to me. I am fortunate that the books I read were the ones that helped me grow this year. I learned so much from every single book, but more importantly, I learned more about myself this past year.
All 84 of the books I read this year helped me to answer the questions burning inside of me. They educated me. I learned that everything happens for a reason, and books can find their way into your hands when you need them the most. In May, I was asked to leave New York and travel the world indefinitely with this guy I’ve been crushing on for the last 7 years. When I decided to stay, I realized what was really going on in the grander scheme of the universe. This beautiful man was trying to wake me up and free me from the cage I had built around myself since the tumor was removed (2013). I was blind to what I had done to myself out of fear.
As my crush left for Tibet, Tal Gur contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of his book to review. I read it and thought to myself…WOW. This was the book I needed in this moment. I understood what I needed to do. I needed to free myself so that the next time when the hottest guy I know offers me the world, I will be in a position where I can drop everything and run away with him, because in my heart, that’s what I really wanted to do.
Publishers and authors sent their books. As I read each one, I realized that each book isn’t just an escape from this horrible 2018. It was also the universe’s guide book into helping me get back on my feet again, to seeing what I was doing to myself out of fear, but most importantly shining the beam of light to show me how to be me again.
Sometimes it was the entire story, or it was just a sentence or a paragraph. All 84 of the books listed below were the words I needed in 2018.
The Best of the Best
For those looking for some ideas on what to read, these are the books that I found to be the best reads of 2018.
The Books I Curated Into My Library: For the books I thought were the best of the best were very few. It’s a given that I curate all autographed copies and classical literature into my library. But the books that entered into my collection based on its own merits (i.e. the books I would want saved for mankind to read if there was some cataclysmic end) are as follows: Slade House, Hag, The Air You Breathe, Melmoth, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Scribe, Dietland, Neverwhere, Sommelier of Deformity, The Stuff of Stars, Everything Happens for a Reason, A Higher Loyalty, Anansi Boys, and The Tuner of Silences.
The Stuff I Learned from Self-Help: This year was a tough year. I literally fell apart. My poor work husband spent most of this year trying to put me back together again. When he wasn’t around, I read a lot of self-help books to try to get back to who I was. Of all the books I read, I think The Abundance Project and Make Peace with Money were two of the most important books, because they speak my language. At work, the Speed Reading book taught me how to perfect my craft (reading).
What really helped me in understanding why everything was happening was Everything Happens for a Reason. When one of my colleagues left to travel the world, Tal Gur contacted me about his book, The Art of Fully Living. I made the difficult decision to not run off with my colleague. While I do regret doing so, I thought…maybe my circumstances will change. Gur’s book helped me to make the decision to free myself from the cage I built around myself that prevented me from running off with the hottest guy I know who was trying to give me the entire world. [Review: The Abundance Project]
The Best YA/Children’s Books: When I tell publishers I read almost everything, that includes children’s books. Oh, and I love YA. Besides Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” collection (I curate all of his titles into my library, because he signs everything I have), I curated in The Stuff of Stars. When I met the author, there was a moment between us when she asked me to read/review her book. I haven’t written about her book yet, because I don’t know how to describe it beyond it being the most wonderful children’s book I’ve ever read. It gave me goosebumps. I cried at the end because it was so beautiful. I thought…if I had a kid, this is exactly how I would feel telling them the story of how they came to be in my life. It was just…I have no words. The story took my breath away. I feel like this book became a little secret in my life that I want to tell the world, but I don’t know how to accurately describe how this book made me feel. So parents…pick up the book. Read it to yourself and then decide.
As for the others, Prince & Knight was beautifully done. Loved it! To finish off the year, I ended with Wundersmith, Book 2 in the Nevermoor series. I love this series. It sucks that I have to wait for Book 3 now. [Review: Nevermoor]
Proper Romance Changed Me: I have a rule. Or maybe I should say I had a rule. I don’t do romance books. But Shadow Mountain Publishing changed my mind about romance books when they launched their Proper Romance group. The book that changed me was Promises and Primroses. Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s followed. They even have a steampunk series that I’ve been trying to finish (when I’m not trying to meet deadlines). What I like about their stories is that it’s not mushy all unrealistic lovey dovey romcom books. There’s no over the top “well this is just unrealistic” love stories. It’s all PG rated. None of that 50 Shades stuff I turn up my nose to. In other words, it’s a clean romance. It’s the way I like stories to be told (in a Jane Austen kind of way), especially because I am the type that will vomit after I say the words “be in a relationship with” or “get married.” [Review: Lies, Love and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Christmas by Accident]
The Scary & the SciFi Books: I read a lot of the Cirque du Freak series this year. I have two books left. Neil Gaiman’s books are excellent. American Gods is still my favorite, but Anansi Boys and Neverwhere were just as good. Erik Therme’s Roam scared me. Scribe was one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in a while. Melmoth made my mouth drop. It disturbed me so much, I had to text my brother (who never reads) about it. Did I mention I curated Melmoth into my library? Hag was excellent (my first book I’ve read that has roots in Scotland). But the story that really scared me this year was David Mitchell’s Slade House (another curated book).
The Best Stories: The stories I really enjoyed in 2018 beyond the ones mentioned above are: Before We Were Yours, The Air You Breathe, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Sommelier of Deformity, Dietland, The Escape Artist, The Girl You Left Behind, and The Other Side of the Bridge.
The Book Deserves Its Own Category: James Comey. A Higher Loyalty. The book was excellent…until the last 3 chapters. This book helped me to understand my guys a lot better, because they used to work with Comey. There’s so much about leadership that I recommend for all lawyers/public officials to read. But the parts that really stood out to me is how he found a silver lining in life when he was faced with tragedy. It made me understand the book Everything Happens for a Reason so much better. [Review]
Food: Every single cookbook I read this year was so amazing. I loved Siriously Delicious so much, I bought the book. Then I found out Siri Daly was signing the book. I showed up and told her who I was and she said she read my review and loved it. Copycat Cooking from Six Sisters’ Stuff is also one of my all-time favorite cookbooks now. The In N Out Burger and fries recipes were so much better than the real thing. I can’t visualize a burger any other way now. Glow 15 made me look at caring for myself differently now. I take different vitamins now and eat differently because of it. I recommend all 3 of these books. [Reviews: Siriously Delicious, Copycat Cooking, Glow 15]
The Classics: My work husband saw Villette sitting on my desk and he asked me about it. He was a literature major in college, so naturally, he would ask. I didn’t have the heart to tell him why I was reading it. It’s a book you read when your heart has been broken. It’s about unrequited love. It took me most of the year to read it, but when I got to the end, I sat there heartbroken for Charlotte Bronte. My friend was going through something similar where someone was in love with her and acting like M. Paul. She couldn’t understand his crazy. I explained to her what was really going on. Men haven’t changed so much in the last 200 years.
I finally read another monster classic: The Invisible Man. I will say I was unimpressed. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow read exactly like the Disney cartoon. Kudos to Disney! I don’t understand why Of Mice and Men is a classic. I’m wondering if it has more to do with the language Steinbeck chose. The highlight and uplifting classic of the year beyond Villette was T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. It had a very profound affect on me.
I also finally read The Great Gatsby. I read it alongside The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. It helped me to really understand the depths of how beautiful this book is. I do not recommend reading The Great Gatsby without Clark’s commentary (it’s only a chapter in X-Ray). You will miss the importance of some of the elements used in the book, like color.
Best Non-Fiction: Slave Stealers. I learned so much about slavery then and now. It’s not so different. The providence at work for Tim Ballard and his team as they try to free children from the depths of hell just amazed me. I remember sitting in bed, reading, exclaiming out loud, “No fucking way!” Just amazing to see the Universe working to help people who are saving the innocents. I highly recommend this book about real life work around the world to stop human trafficking (aka slavery). [Review]
Below is the complete list of books I read this year. If you’re interested in any of them, just click on the book and it will take you to Amazon where you can read more about the book and you can order it from there.