I originally had an ambitious goal of reading 50 books in 2018 (because of my success with this goal in 2017), but around September I adjusted that goal to a more manageable 30. Well, 2018 is gone and I ended at a solid 25 books read. It was a busy year, I read a lot of “thriller” duds, I tried to make a dent in my Stephen King reading to-do list, and I read at least one book that has altered everything. Let’s get into the best and worst books I read in 2018.
In the Woods by Tana French
One of the only good thrillers I read this year! I love mysteries where you can’t trust your narrator, and this one really makes you question who the good guy really is. This book is very well written, where the characters have flaws but you still root for them (even though you’re not sure if one of them committed murder).
Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
I was not expecting this book to be so good. I tend to not trust the popular opinion on books, and since everyone had talked endlessly about how good this one was, I figured it couldn’t be that good. Well, I was wrong. This book had such deep philosophical questions permeating its pages, I often had to stop to process the decisions made by the characters. I loved it.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I’m always trying to read the classics when I get a chance, and this is one I never read! Most people I know read this in high school, but I never got assigned it. I’ve heard of Atticus Finch and Boo Radley, and knew racism was a theme, but I was surprised how little I actually knew about the story. I’ll admit it’s a bit of “racism seen through a white’s eyes” so it hides a lot of the harder stuff, but considering it’s technically a young adult book, I think it’s fantastic. I can see why it’s an American classic.
Revival by Stephen King
So I’m obviously partial to Stephen King if I’m trying to read through his entire bibliography, but I’ll be honest and say they’re not all gems. This one definitely is though. I kept expecting a stereotypical story from this, not really sure what the initial chunk of plot was leading me towards, but the ending is so perfectly brought together by all the years of the protagonist’s journey, it makes for quite the climatic ending. It also still haunts me a little, because it is not one of King’s lighter fares.
White Fang by Jack London
Okay, so I’m just discovering the genius of Jack London, give me a break. I never thought reading a book from a canine’s perspective would leave me so emotional. (Stories that pander to doglovers make me roll my eyes.) But seriously! This book has adventures in the wild, showcases the human heart, and took me on a complete journey.
Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This book was so, so boring. And purposely sad just to get a reaction it seemed. It is very finely written, I’ll give it that. But feels like reading someone’s high school assignment that the received a 100 on. As in, written to be perfect, rather than written for the story or the characters. If that makes sense. It’s beautiful, but so is some hotel art, you know?
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
This one and Bonfire (by Kristen Ritter) were my least favorite books of the year. But this one won out because it was harder to finish. This book was so hard to finish – even being an “Adventure Novel” which are my favorite – that I realized sometimes having a reading goal makes you waste your time for the check mark, rather than the enjoyment. I hated the characters, the plot was unrealistic, and the dramatic way of storytelling left me beyond frustrated.
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
I kind of have to mention this one because he’s my favorite actor. I’ll admit I didn’t expect much from this collection of short stories, but I was pleased with the quirkiness and full-hearted honesty of all his protagonist’s tales. Worth a read, especially if you love America’s Sweetheart, T. Hanks.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I picked this up for two reasons: one, because I loved his book, The Virgin Suicides, and two, because Emma Watson told me to. And shit, you guys. There’s a reason she’s become the voice of our generation. (Because she totally has, right?) Your right, your right, I should be focusing more on Eugenides and his life-altering book. This was my favorite read all year, and quickly entered the all-time favorite reads of my life. I felt it in so many ways, by all three of the main characters. All of who, are so, so different, yet so, so confused. Even recapping it right now, I’m not doing it any justice, but it makes me want to pick it up and read it all over. I took my time with this one because at points I felt physically hit with the power of some of the words and intention behind them. If you’re struggling with success, be it in your romantic life or career, or even the long-term goals of who you want to be in this life, this book is for you. So I guess what I’m saying is, this book is for you.
Not a bad year, but it has made me set my 2019 reading goal a little lower to begin with. I also want to try for specifics like 3 Stephen Kings, 3 classics, etc. For my full 2018 reads, check out the Highlight Reel called [2018 Books] on my instagram, @wherewithalicia. I only forgot to capture White Fang and Bonfire pictures. Anyway, here’s to reading in 2019!