2018 Classics Challenge, What Shannon Read

my fave books of 2018, plus geeky stats

Happy New Year! May 2019 bring you lots of fun and good books.

1I finished 2018 strong with 58 books total. The year started off with some heavy Tolkein as I re-read The Lord of the Rings, which was a really fun project to kick off the year. We usually watch the movies around the holidays, probably because we’re trained from their original debuts around Christmas time in the early aughts. So, I of course wanted to follow up with a re-read of the books.

After that, the classics challenge hit me hard (see below), I delved into myriad memoirs, and the year of reading kind of sped by. Below is a recap of all the fun, including geeky stats, which I thoroughly enjoyed writing up.

2018 Book Stats

spending-money-on-books1Female authors: 39
Male authors: 16
Author totals do not add up to the total number of books read as I read more than one book by some authors.
Fiction: 25
Non-fiction: 
33
Non-white authors: 4
Ick. I need to work on that in 2019.
E-books: 14
Made great use of my kindle this year and the hits to my debit card showed it. I spent $285.87 on ebooks. Most were not available at my library and some I just wanted to own. I didn’t finish or read them all, which is why the dollar amount is high but the # read is only 14. In addition, I downloaded several free classics.
Audio books: 5
I don’t have a long commute anymore, so my numbers in this category dwindled, but I particularly enjoyed Paris in Love by Eloisa James; Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand; and The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)? Adventures and Agonies in Fashion by Brittany Gibbons.
Re-reads: 6

Top categories:

12 memoirs

memoirsI guess I just can’t get enough memoirs. From the time I started reading them in college more than 15 years ago, I’ve found memoirs to be one of the best ways to peek into the lives, thoughts, and motivations of other people. I am clearly inherently nosy. Here are the memoirs I read this year:
The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi
The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted by Eric Nuzum
Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things that Matter by Diana Athill
Paris in Love by Eloisa James
Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison (a re-read)
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (another re-read)
Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly Conklin FitzGerald
The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?: Adventures and Agonies in Fashion by Brittany Gibbons

6 classics

The best laid plans…I started off strong with the 2018 classics challenge and, sadly, did not complete it. But I’m not fussed. I mean, I read Middlemarch, for goodness’ sake. That was a big deal. Did I read a book in each category of the challenge? No. I’ve been trying to finish Madame Bovary since, like, July. Did I read more classics than I otherwise would have? Absolutely. And I really enjoyed those I did read. So I’ll probably sign up for the 2019 challenge with hopes of the same.

Classics read included:
The Lord of the Rings series
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Evelina: Or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World by Frances Burney
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

6 fell into the category of social issues

Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents They Work for, and the Children They Love
All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian nicole LeBlanc
This was one of my favorite reads of the year.
Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker
Another favorite which both creeped me out and was incredibly informative.

5 books of essays

I balked at the idea of reading more essays when one of my fave bloggers started an essay project for the year, but this category turned up some of my favorite reads of the year! They include The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe, Walking by Henry David Thoreau, and Upstream by Mary Oliver.

4 each of historical fiction, self-help, mystery/thrillers

I meant to read more historical fiction this year and kind of failed. Maybe in 2019. My favorite was I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé.

Other Categories

Shortest book read: Walking by Henry David Thoreau

Longest book read: Middlemarch

Re-reads: 6
That is more than I usually re-read in a year. But I gave myself permission to just delve into whatever I wanted and it turns out I wanted to re-read the following:
The Lord of the Rings series
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Favorite Books of the Year

There are a lot, which is a good sign. Looking over my spreadsheet and recalling all my favorites was so fun (yeah, I have a spreadsheet; get on my level).

The Lord of the Rings series
Bad Marie by Marcy Demansky
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (I read this and then watched the movie – so fun!)
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimano
Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents They Work for, and the Children They Love by Tasha Blaine
Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet
The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
All the essays mentioned above
Paris in Love by Eloisa James
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Pleasures of the Cottage Garden by Rand B. Lee
The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Beck
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand (I recommend listening to the audio book; it’s a delight!)
How to Read a Dress: A guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th Century to the 20th Century

My Least Favorite Books of the Year

Given my policy on not finishing books I don’t like, I was surprised that I stuck with a few duds this year:
Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted by Eric Nuzum
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

My opinions only, obviously. This isn’t a comment on the quality of the work.

Books that fell in the middle somewhere

Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner
The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
The BTK Murders: Inside the “Bind Torture Kill” Case that Terrified America’s Heartland by Carlton Smith
Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
Masters of the Planet: The Search for our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

2019 Goals

15 books by people of color because 4 in 2018 is just abysmal
2019 Classics Challenge
Find a series I like

So, what’s your first book of 2019? I’m kicking off with a Mary Kubica thrillery thing and some decorating books because why not.

Would love to see what you’re reading!

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