reading lists

2018 in Books: Year-End Reflections, part 2

The more times you’ve gone around the sun on this crazy bio-spaceship of ours, the harder it gets to remember all those en-route events, especially since we’re not “going anywhere” technically; mostly in a big loop. No destination in sight.

What I’m saying is, it’s hard to remember stuff. The older you get, the worse this particular glitch becomes.

One of the ways I remember my life is by recording the books I read. These books serve as landmarks of thoughts and events; book choice is often tied to what’s going on around me. For example, Ursula K. LeGuin passed away early in 2018, and so I read a lot of her work. A family health emergency in the summer meant I couldn’t handle a lot of new thoughts, and so I re-read books I loved in childhood to relax. There are also quite a few non-fiction books on Zen Buddhism toward the end of the list, as I’ve started exploring meditation and Zen thinking.

Also, I read a lot. The books all kinda blur together. I do this so when people inevitably ask for a book recommendation, or ask what I’ve been reading, I actually can tell them.

And…this was one of my most popular blog posts from last year, so I’m reprising it. 🙂

So, here’s my reading list from 2018.

Bold books are recommendations/favorites I would read again. Italicized books are re-reads, and also recommendations (as I only re-read books I really love).

(NF = nonfiction, SFF = sci-fi/fantasy, YA = young adult, F = fiction)

  1. The Kite Runner, Hosseini (F)
  2. The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton (NF)
  3. Gormenghast, Peake (SFF)
  4. In Other Worlds, Atwood (NF)
  5. Mr. Fox, Oyeyemi (SFF)
  6. Sailing the Sea of Story, LeGuin (NF)
  7. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel, Clarke (SFF)
  8. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles), Meyer (YA, SFF)
  9. Contemplative Prayer, Merton (NF)
  10. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination, LeGuin (NF)
  11. The Heroine’s Journey, Murdock (NF)
  12. The Tombs of Atuan (The Earthsea Cycle), LeGuin (SFF)
  13. The Farthest Shore (The Earthsea Cycle), LeGuin (SFF)
  14. Borderline (The Arcadia Project), Baker (SFF)
  15. City of Stairs (The Divine Cities), Bennett (SFF)
  16. City of Blades (The Divine Cities), Bennett (SFF)
  17. City of Miracles (The Divine Cities), Bennett (SFF)
  18. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Yu (SFF)
  19. Goodbye Things, Sasaki (NF)
  20. The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion (NF)
  21. Spaceman of Bohemia, Kalfar (SFF)
  22. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, Basho (NF)
  23. Out of Africa, Dinesen (F)
  24. Help, Thanks, Wow, Lamott (NF)
  25. Gather the Daughters, Melamed (F)
  26. American War, Akkad (SFF)
  27. If on a winter’s night a traveler, Calvino (F)
  28. The Secret Garden, Burnett (YA, F)
  29. A Little Princess, Burnett (YA, F)
  30. The Best of All Possible Worlds, Lord (SFF)
  31. Phantom Pains (The Arcadia Project), Baker (SFF)
  32. Ninth City Burning, Black (SFF)
  33. The Way of Zen, Watts (NF)
  34. Updraft (Bone Universe), Wilde (SFF)
  35. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Koningsburg (YA)
  36. Cloudbound (Bone Universe), Wilde (SFF)
  37. Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot (NF)
  38. The Man in the High Castle, Dick (SFF)
  39. Alias Grace, Atwood (F)
  40. Shadows on the Grass, Dinesen (F)
  41. Horizon (Bone Universe), Wilde (SFF)
  42. Imperfect Birds, Lamott (F)
  43. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis (YA, SFF)
  44. Station Eleven, Mandel (SFF)
  45. This Census-Taker, Mieville (SFF)
  46. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini (F)
  47. The Lola Quartet, Mandel (F)
  48. Veniss Underground, VanderMeer (SFF) THIS BOOK, WHILE WELL-WRITTEN, WAS VERY GORY AND DISTURBING. PURSUE ONLY WITH DISCRETION. IT FREAKED ME OUT AND I ONLY SKIMMED THE ENDING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED.
  49. Children of Blood and Bone, Adeyemi (SFF)
  50. Tree of Smoke, Johnson (F) I only got halfway through this one. I found it slow-paced and difficult to follow.
  51. You are Here, Thich Nhat Hanh (NF)
  52. Mr Palomer, Calvino (F)
  53. Finding the Still Point, Loori (NF)
  54. Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden, Miller (NF)
  55. The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, Oates (F)
  56. The Girl with All the Gifts, Carey (SFF) One of the best first chapters I’ve ever read!
  57. The Power, Alderman (SFF)

Started in 2018 but still in progress:

  1. Wonderbook, VanderMeer (NF)
  2. Italian Folktales, Calvino (SFF)

BEST FICTION OF THE YEAR: Hands down, Tomi Adeyemi’s brilliant fantasy novel, Children of Blood and Bone. The world needs more books like this, and I’m on the edge of my seat, credit card ready, to buy the next in the series when it comes out.

BEST SERIES: The Divine Cities Trilogy, by Robert Jackson Benett. The first novel is City of Stairs. Each is a gem, the world is fascinating, and I’m actively seeking more books by this writer.

BEST NON-FICTION: The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, by Matsuo Basho. This is a collection of essay and haiku from the master poet himself, recording his travels in Japan. Sparse, gorgeous, inspirational.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen, aka Karen Blixen. Absolutely beautiful prose. More a collection of fictionalized memories than a connected novel, but such a lovely collage.

If you’ve got a book I should check out in 2019, post below! I’d love to hear what you read. I’m always on the hunt for a good book…

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