I ended up finishing 90 books this year, which is far more than I usually read. I have no idea what changed in my reading life. Did I spend less time doing something else? Did I use my time better? Did I learn how to read faster? I honestly have no idea. But what a wonderful reading year it was!
It’s too hard to choose my favorites, so instead I’ll list some books I loved within specific categories. I’ll also include my one-sentence blurbs.
Do less dumb stuff so you can do more smart stuff.
Best Literary Fiction (Tied)
Institutionalized racism hurts people.
Family is hard.
Best Creepy Read
This woman’s revenge plot is messed-up (and totally deserved).
Best Ripped From the Headlines Novel
It’s hard to know why people do horrific and tragic things.
Best Sci Fi
It’s easier to solve a space mystery if you have more than one body.
Funniest Book (Tied)
Extroverts are very tiring, especially if you are married to the queen of them all.
Humans are confusing to space aliens.
Best Historical Fiction
Love for a child grows in even the most challenging circumstances.
Happiness, as a concept, functions to marginalize people in ways that are insidious and dangerous.
What were your favorites of 2018?
I just finished The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker. The writing was fantastic, but the story didn’t pull me in as much as I hoped it would. I’d recommend to anyone who likes books about art and artists. In some ways it reminded me a lot of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.
I’m currently reading The Wife Between Us. It’s the perfect type of brain-candy-psychological-thriller book that I need at this time in the semester when I’m generally too preoccupied with grading to concentrate on anything else. I know some readers found it derivative and not riveting enough. It’s working for me in part because it isn’t demanding much from me. I also love books about flawed women and rich people.
Next up is A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne. I really loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies when I read it last year. This one also seems to be getting a lot of praise by reviewers and bloggers I trust. NPR described it as Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife meets Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. I liked both of those books when I read them years ago. I figure this will be a slam-dunk for me. This book is my treat after I submit final grades.
It takes a lot to make me laugh. And even when I do laugh, it’s usually just an internal chuckle. I have a weird thing where I rarely laugh out loud. (I internalized ideas as a child about the importance of being silent.)
Anyway, I read a book over Thanksgiving that did make me laugh out loud; it’s a sequel to another book that I lol’d over twice.
The first in the duology is Dear Committee Members. The second is The Shakespeare Requirement.
The author, Julie Schumacher, masterfully captures how ridiculous and petty and outright vicious academia can be. She also lovingly captures moments of grace and kindness–helpful reminders that all is not lost even if we faculty are mostly clinically unwell.
I guarantee at least ten or twelve decorous laughs.