2018 End of the Year Book Survey

Thursday, December 27, 2018

It was an interesting year for reading for me. I found some absolute gems, but read some forgettable ones too. For the first time in quite a while I was lacking in the classics department, though I did finally conquer Ulysses! This was also a banner year for new releases from favorite authors of mine. Some were beautiful (Bridge of Clay), some were disappointing (Nine Perfect Strangers and The Clockmaker’s Daughter), and The Labyrinth of Spirits provided closure to one of my favorite series (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books).  

Audiobooks have continued to be a lifesaver for me as I balance life with a toddler. We’re expecting a new kiddo in the Spring and so I’m sure that side of things will be even trickier next year. I maintain that even when life is crazy and you’re exhausted by work/kids/pregnancy/life you can still find time to read if it’s important to you. During my most hectic times I’ve learned that sometimes a comfort reread is just what I need. Other times it’s a brainless fiction story that won’t ask me to think too much. That’s ok! As long as I’m still reading, I’m happy.

Any books I reread this year are not eligible for this list. I also didn’t count the piles upon piles of children’s books I read, except to list a couple favorites. I also don’t limit myself to one book per answer if there are two or three that are a perfect fit.

Number of Books You Read: 142
Number of Re-Reads: 9
Genre You Read The Most From: Total mix of genres this year: classics, YA, fantasy, nonfiction, etc.
1. Best Books You Read In 2018?
Classics — The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Island of Dr. Moreau
Historical Fiction — Love and Ruin 
Mystery — Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel)
Literary Fiction — Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Nonfiction — All the President's Men, American Wolf, The Day the World Came to Town, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Fantasy — Circe, the Grisha trilogy 
Play — Henry IV, Part 1 and Birthday Candles
Poetry — Milk and Honey
YA — If You Come Softly,  An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Science Fiction — Sleeping Giants (The Themis Files), the Red Rising series
Children’s — Anatole, Where Is the Green Sheep? and Little Owl's Night
Graphic Novel — Displacement, Bones

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
How to Stop Time, Nine Perfect Strangers, and Crazy Rich Asians (loved the movie version of this one though!)

3. Most surprising (in a good way) book you read?
The Rules of Magic, I had very low expectations for this Practical Magic prequel, but I was pleasantly surprised to find wonderfully drawn characters.   
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Sleeping Giants 

5. Best series you started in 2018?
Grisha Trilogy and Red Rising

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?
Leigh Bardugo 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Reading People, a fascinating look at how personality types can impact the way we approach things.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Bird Box and the Red Rising Trilogy

9. Book You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Red Rising trilogy (are you seeing a trend? It was SO good!)

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?
Uncommon Type and Loving vs. Virginia

11. Most memorable character of 2018?
Sevro from the Red Rising trilogy and Uncle Hal in The Witch Elm 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?
Circe and Bridge of Clay

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, so many incredible women that I hadn’t heard of! I had so much fun reading it to my daughter.
Ulysses, this one was a struggle for me. But I got a lot out of it and I loved seeing the impact it had on censorship and literature.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?
A Wizard of Earthsea, planning to continue reading this quartet in 2019.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“I still find a long walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood teaches me more about what’s new and exciting than any number of hours of television can.” -Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

“Really, every time a person said good-bye to another person, they should pay attention, just in case it was the last time.”- When Will There Be Good News?

“What I really love about travel is that it takes us outside ourselves... it unhomes you. And allows you to see possibilities for change, growth, a new life.”- An Age of License

“At the time I was just a kid and life was still a few sizes too big for me.” The Labyrinth of Spirits

“It’s silence was something awesome—an enormous playground for the guilt to wreak havoc, to work him over.” - Bridge of Clay

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” - Music for Chameleons

“I don’t believe that blood makes a family; kin is the circle you create, hands held tight.” - An American Marriage 

“I suppose that is what every man must tell himself in war. That there will be an end, and when it is done, enough of himself will remain. Enough to be a father. A brother. A lover. But we know it isn’t true. Don’t we, Darrow? War eats the victors last.” - Iron Gold 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?
Kindred Spirits: 41 pages & Ulysses: 816 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most?
Bridge of Clay and Morning Sun  

18. Favorite Couple?
- Nate and Bronwyn in One of Us Is Lying 
- Max and Ory in The Book of M 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year?
- Auggie and Jake in Wonder 
- Flavia and Dogger in The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
- Fermin and Daniel in The Labyrinth of Spirits

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From an Author You’ve Read Previously?
Force of Nature and Circe 

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A
Recommendation From Somebody Else?
If You Come Softly and The Music Shop

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?
Jesse from Out of the Easy

23. Best 2018 debut you read?
The Book of M

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Smile: The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland. This one just gave me hope. On such a dark day, the world was still full of selfless people willing to help complete strangers.
Most Fun: The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, Emma Thompson is hilarious and I wish we were friends.

26. Book That Made You Cry in 2018?
- American Wolf, I don’t handle animal deaths in books very well.
- One True Thing, a Mom dying of cancer hits a bit close to home for me.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
I Am, I Am, I Am 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Under the Banner of Heaven, the book is well written, but the real events are just awful.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?
Sleeping Giants, loved this one! Even the way the author approached the story telling was unique. We see it all happen through interviews conducted by a nameless man. I would highly recommend the audio version of this one.

30. Book That Made You the Maddest?

All the President’s Men, excellent book, just a little too close to our current situation. 

Thanks to Perpetual Page Turner for once again hosting this survey! It’s always so much fun to look at everything I read throughout the year and think about what I loved/hated. 

Photo by me.

The Classics Club Challenge Part 2

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I had so much fun completing my original list of 100 books for The Classics Club that I've decided to dive in again. Though I finished my list last year, I obviously never stopped reading classics, so I'm making my "start" date April 2017, since I completed my first list in March 2017

I am giving myself a little grace here and instead of reviewing each one with a post, I may just mark it as complete when I am done. I am also allowed to swap books on or off if I find something else I'd prefer to read. 

I will be tracking my progress on my original list page here.
For more information or to join the fun, you can visit The Classics Club here

1) Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
2) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
3) Foundation by Isaac Asimov
4) Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
5) Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
6) The Professor by Charlotte Bronte
7) Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs 
8) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
9) Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
10) Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
11) Hard Times by Charles Dickens
12) Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
13) The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
14) The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
15) Juneteenth by  Ralph Ellison
16) Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
17) The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
18) The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
19) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
20) Neuromancer by William Gibson
21) The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
22) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy 
23) The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
24) Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
25) Ulysses by James Joyce 
26) Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
27) Independent People by Halldor Laxness 
28) The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin
29) Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
30) Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
31) Love by Toni Morrison
32) Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven
33) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
34) Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
35) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
36) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
37) Henry IV part 1 & 2 by William Shakespeare 
38) King John by William Shakespeare 
39) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
40) Sophie's Choice by William Clark Styron
41) The Death of Ivan Ilych and other Stories by Leo Tolstoy
42) A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain
43) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
44) The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
45) The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells 
46) The Once and Future King by T. H. White
47) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
48) Black Boy by Richard Wright
49) The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
50) We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

The Mark Twain House & Museum

Thursday, December 13, 2018

As you might have guessed, I love visiting literary spots while traveling. A recent work trip took me to Massachusetts via the airport in Hartford, Connecticut and I couldn't resist taking a quick side trip to the Mark Twain House & Museum

The gorgeous home is huge! No pictures are allowed inside, but an extensive guided tour gives you time to enjoy everything while learning about the famed author's life. I loved hearing more about his family life. There's also a separate museum with exhibits and a gift shop. You can see things like his desk (pictured above) and artifacts from his travels. 

I always assumed he build this home after becoming famous and wealthy, but it was his wife's family fortune that funded the home. He loved to entertain and the place is clearly designed for that. There are so many gorgeous details that have been preserved in the three-story mansion. Honestly, it's worth visiting for the home alone, even if you aren't a fan of the author! There's a little garden conservatory, a carriage house, huge winding staircases, and the author's study which has so many detailed elements dripping with his personality. 
Just across the lawn is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (pictured above). Although Twain is the more famous of the two now, at the time, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a household name. Make sure to save time to visit both places if you can. 

If you fly into the Hartford airport you can also check out the impressive Lego creation of Twain's home (above). It was amazing! 

Photos by me.

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

This year I found myself in Springfield, Massachusetts for a work conference. I knew nothing about he town before visiting, but quickly discovered it was the proud hometown of Dr. Seuss! 
Obviously I had to visit The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum while I was there. The fun little spot includes outdoor statues and that are perfect for photo ops and a multi-level museum to wander through. 
Theodor Geisel's history is outlined in a series of exhibits. Everything from his famous bow ties to his drawing desk are preserved there. I loved seeing random cards he sent to family with sketches of creatures drawn in his familiar style. 
Although I was there alone, my daughter would have loved to explore all of the kid-friendly sections of the museum. I'd say it's definitely a delight for any age group! 

Photos by me. 

Dickens and Poe

Saturday, December 1, 2018

I'm a sucker for a lovely new edition of a classic. It's seriously my Achilles' heel. When it's a cloth bound classic I'm doubly tempted. The sweet folks at Oxford University Press sent me a couple of these beauties and now I'm in danger of buying the whole series! 

The two pictured are "A Christmas Carol & Other Stories" by Charles Dickens, which is perfect for this season. The second is from one of my favorite authors, Edgar Allan Poe. He might not seem like the perfect Christmas choice, but for fans of his work he definitely is! Each edition includes a collection of short stories. A Christmas Carol also includes many of the original illustrations, which are particularly fun! 

I love the stories chosen for the Poe collection. It's filled with so many of my favorites and others that many are unfamiliar with. In the Dickens, you find the well-known Carol, but also many of his other Christmas stories. So if you're making your own Christmas wish list or shopping for others, you can't go wrong with these editions. 
I received these copies for an honest review.