2018 Book List
So many books, so little time! Reading is one of the greatest pleasures in my life—and one of the few things I can do indefinitely without feeling like I “ought” to be doing something else. Reading supports many of my personal values and is one of the few forms of recreation I embrace wholeheartedly. I read widely, as I like to know what’s happening in various genres, and I listen to audiobooks daily—while walking, driving, folding laundry, exercising—while doing most anything physical that doesn’t require concentration or conversation.
Each year I set a target number of books to read and track my titles on Goodreads. Typically my target is 50 books. This year I hit 53, although the year isn’t over yet (I hope to finish Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness before 2019; thus far I’m not liking it nearly as much as The God of Small Things, which is one of my all-time favorites).
I read a lot of books pertaining to racial justice this year, which is a primary area of interest. I also did some catching up on often-taught classics (such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Wuthering Heights) that I’ve long wanted to read or wanted to read more closely.
One of my favorite discoveries of 2018 is the poet David Whyte, who writes what I would call poetry-based self-development. Whyte lives in Washington State, and I had the opportunity to attend one of his live events last month. Believe it or not, poetry can actually be a seriously inspiring shot in the arm.
As a category, the very best books I read this year were memoir. I highly recommend all six of the titles in the category below. Below, I’ve segmented my 53 reads into categories and marked all of my favorites with an asterisk; books by friends or in-person teachers are marked with (RL) for real life, meaning that these books have an extra layer of personal relevance. I added a few “meh” tags to the books I struggled to get through.
If you’re a book freak like I am, please leave a comment with a few of your personal favorites of the year and any thoughts on the titles below!
- Educated, Tara Westover*
- Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon*
- The Only Girl in the World, Maude Julien*
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou*
- A Second Chance: For You, For Me, And For The Rest Of Us, Catherine Hoke*
- Open, Andre Agassi*
- The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, Michiko Kakutani*
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford
- Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France, Magdalena J. Zaborowska
- The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Steven Pinker
- Atomic Habits, James Clear*
- What to Remember When Waking: The Disciplines of an Everyday Life, David Whyte*
- Midlife and the Great Unknown: Finding Courage and Clarity Through Poetry, David Whyte*
- Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, David Whyte*
- The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts*
- Your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt*
- Living Forward, Michael Hyatt*
- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, William B. Irvine
- Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Jaron Lanier
- The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone
- You Are a Badass Every Day, Jen Sincero
- How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t, Andrea Owen
- Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, Sam Harris
- The Introvert’s Way, Sophia Dembling
- The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, Haemin Sunim
- Quiet, Susan Cain*
- Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, Henry Cloud (meh)
- What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America, Michael Eric Dyson*
- Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”, Zora Neale Hurston*
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Austin Channing Brown
- So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin*
- James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, James Baldwin
Books on Writing
- Story Genius, Lisa Cron*
- Writing to Change the World, Mary Pipher*
- Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day, Chris Fox (RL)
- Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman*
- Self-Help: Short Stories, Lorrie Moore*
- Germinal, Émile Zola*
- Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin*
- Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, James Baldwin*
- If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin*
- The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, Robert Dugoni (RL)
- The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (RL)
- Hot Head, Damon Suede (RL)
- Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
- Still Me, Jojo Moyes
- The Hating Game, Sally Thorne
- Less, Andrew Sean Greer (meh)
- The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson (meh)
I look forward to learning your faves!
My most recent favorite is A Man Called Ove. I fell in love with Ove and saw so much of my husband in his grumpy, but very kind, ways. Also finished The Orphan’s Tale last week and loved that as well. I stick with fiction for the most part though I will occasionally read a memoir.
I loved A Man Called Ove too, Kelly! Have you read any others by Fredrik Backman? I also loved Britt-Marie Was Here 🙂
This is so great to have. I’m always looking for lists of really good books to take to the library with me. This should keep me going for a while – the library too as often they have to get them from other libraries. But they do without any complaints!!! We all LOVE BOOKS!!!