It’s coming on to the new year. A time of reflection for many and of making resolutions. I don’t do resolutions much but I like reflecting. That’s part of the reason I love recording what I have read in Goodreads and then looking back on them. According to Goodreads, I read 46 books this year. The shortest was the picture book Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills and the longest was Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This not only shows the wide variety in lengths but also the wide range of my reading. I read 8,993 pages – sounds impressive that way, doesn’t it! However, it’s an incomplete picture of my reading. It doesn’t include short stories, poems, essays, articles and other reading that didn’t include reading the whole book. It doesn’t include Bible and devotional readings. And it doesn’t include the things that I put down or those I finished but disliked.
I made a decision when I started recording, rating, and reviewing books on the site that I would not record the ones I didn’t like. To someone looking at my reviews without reading my profile, it might seem like I love everything I read. I made this decision for two reasons. The first is that I am all about encouraging reading and supporting writers so I hated to speak badly about them and perhaps discouraging others from at least checking them out (there was one exception that my entire book club hated and I reviewed a while back…but I digress).
The second reason that I don’t record the books disliked or even hated and quit on is a question of being fair. Some of the books that I have read and didn’t like may have more to do with me than with the book or author. An example: I couldn’t finish Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. The reason actually has something to do with how well it was written. As a teacher who was dealing with the death of a student, I just couldn’t bear the pain of the book. As with anyone’s list of hits and misses, it may be that the ones I can’t read are the ones that others love.
I only list books that I can give three to five star ratings (and sometimes I leave off the three star ones for various reasons). This, of course, means that I get an incomplete look at my year in reading when I look back on it. I am not reminded of the books that fell under the “Life’s Too Short to Read Lousy Books” column. Some were just meh. That’s okay.
Those that make the cut are the books I want to remember and feel that I can encourage others to read. As I looked back on my list from this year I was surprised by a couple things. I felt like I read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give so long ago and it was such a part of my reading life that I wasn’t sure I read it this year. I don’t usually reread books, but on the list this year are several that I read more than once including The Hate You Give, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, and For Everyone by Jason Reynolds. I thought about giving my copy of For Everyone away as Jason Reynolds encourages, but I just have to buy another copy to do that with! I love it enough to read it again and again, and since it is so short, I can do that easily without significantly diminishing the time I have to read something new. Finally I learned that ruminating on a book often changes my initial reaction. I found that I went back and changed a few ratings – adding or taking away a star.
MY LIST OF FIVE-STAR BOOKS OF 2018 (As always it is in alphabetical order rather than by how much I like them – that would be too hard!):
ADULT AND YOUNG ADULT BOOKS
- Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
- The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
- Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
- The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo
- The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See
- Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
- Educated – Tara Westover
- For Everyone – Jason Reynolds
- Hillbilly Elegy – J. D. Vance
- Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
- As Brave as You – Jason Reynolds
- Hello, Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly
- She Persisted – Chelsea Clinton
- She Persisted Around the World – Chelsea Clinton
- The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street – Karina Yan Glaser
- I Am Enough – Grace Byers (PB)
- Islandborn – Junot Diaz
- Love – Matt De La Peña
- Show Way – Jacqueline Woodson
- A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (Read by Tim Curry)
- The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore (Read by Jeff Bridges)
- The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See (Read by Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, Alexandra Allwine, Gabra Zackman, Jeremy Bobb, Joy Osmanski, Emily Walton, Erin Wilhelmi)
- Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin (Read by Richard Thomas. Doris Kearns Goodwin reads the introduction.)
CURRENTLY LOVING AND PROBABLE TO BE ON NEXT YEAR’S LIST
- Leadership: In Turbulent Times – Doris Kearns Goodwin (Read by Beau Bridges, Richard Thomas, David Morse, Jay O. Sanders. Doris Kearns Goodwin reads the introduction and epilogue.)