02 January 2019

2018: Last Year in Review


Oh, 2018.  What a wild ride it has been.  2018 was a year of fresh starts and difficult losses and everything else in between. I said goodbye to a beloved job to take a chance on a new one. I moved for the third time in three years (not recommended) to the other end of the state. My father died. My new job was challenging and fulfilling, but also exhausting. I sorely missed my old home and friends in western MA and found it more difficult than expected warming to my new home and making new friends. However, I visited new places and old friends. I joined the board of my regional trade association and felt recognized for my contributions to New England bookselling for the first time. I bonded with my stepmother and realized that I still have family in MS even after my father’s passing. I have friends deep in my heart who helped me through many rough patches, even if I’ve never met some of them in person.

This may also be my last blog post. My new job is more demanding than my last one, and while I’m extremely pleased that my annual reading is back on track, or at least on its way to being back on track, I’m not sure that I will have the time and inclination to continue. We’ll have to see...

Here, then, is a summary of my reading for 2018, and a glimpse or two at some of my travels that I didn’t cover on my blog. I met my goal of reading 80 books and then exceeded it by two for a total of 82. A secondary goal for the year was to read with intention, diversifying my selection of books and the authors who wrote them. Here are some stats:

Books by female writers: 45
Books by male writers: 35
One anthology, one book written by one man & one woman
Books written by non-binary genders: unknown

Fiction: 63
Non-fiction: 19
Short stories: 9
E-books: 7
Graphic Novels: 5
Middle Grade/YA: 15
Diversity challenge: 30

I read so many excellent books this year, giving 4* or 5* to a much higher proportion of my reading than usual.  One thing I delighted in was the freedom to read anything I desired, whether it was previously published or not, once I started my new job, and I think my ratings reflect that.  In no particular order, here are the best books I read this year (not including any re-reads):

Sorry for the formatting issues.  Blogger isn’t cooperating with letting me put more than one image per line.  It’s unusual that three short story collections would make my top ten, but they were all incredible. Four of these books are by debut authors, which also seems like a high percentage. I sometimes have to fudge the numbers to include a children’s book or any nonfiction in my top ten reads for the year, but the Walter Isaacson and the Sy Montgomery, while being radically different, were both superlative. Ditto for Holly Black’s second series installment and Jarrett Krosoczka’s heartbreaking graphic memoir. 

My new work crew, accepting a local award
Despite starting a new job, commuting back & forth for a few weeks and then moving, and then being away to care for my father and my stepmom, I was able to do a little traveling. I started the year in Memphis with a trip for work that I combined with a visit to see my best friends. I made fun day trips to Brattleboro, VT, and Newport, RI, one with my beloved and one with his family. We bought season tickets to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY, and have traveled there to see Les Miserables and other shows (with Hamilton to look forward to later this year!). We also spent a week near Acadia, Maine, reconnecting with a friend from high school, getting to know his family and friends, and seeing some of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

I suppose that 2018’s high and lows weren’t necessarily more numerous than other years, but the lows in particular were certainly more intense. I’ve had much to reflect on, with much more yet to come. Along the way, I was grateful to share the journey with the people in my life who mean the most to me. I’m looking forward to 2019 and the new adventures it will bring, including trips to Albuquerque for work, to Memphis to see friends, and to London for the very first time. I’ve completed my first book of the year on the first day of the year, so I hope that bodes well for a good reading year to come. I thank everybody who is reading this, whether you found me for my book reviews or my traveling writing, and I hope that 2019 becomes a year of possibility and hope for us all.