A Look Back at My 2018 Reading Year

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of 2018! It’s been a good reading year for me. I set a couple of goals this year:

  • Read more non-fiction (memoirs, biography, history, science, etc.)
  • Try to read at least one play and one collection of essays
  • Read 100 books

I am excited to say I met all my goals! I read exactly one play and one collection of essays. Ha! But I read 14 non-fiction books. Most were memoirs. And I did read one history book (I finally read The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill which is the first in his series A History of the English Speaking Peoples. I’ve been wanting to read through this series for awhile now!) And finally, I ended up reading 106 books this year. That’s actually a lot for me. When I consider my reading goals for 2019, though, I don’t think I’ll be setting a numerical goal. But I won’t discuss 2019 reading goals for now. It probably needs it’s own post…plus I’m still thinking about my goals! 🙂

Today, I want to share highlights from my reading year. I will break this down into just a few categories. First I will share my three top favorites for the year. Narrowing down favorites to share is not easy! However, these top three are all hands-down 5 star reads. Then I will share other favorites in the following categories:  Fiction (General, Historical, and/or Contemporary), Non-Fiction, Classics, and Children’s. I’m not including re-reads in this list except for the Narnia books. I’m listing the Narnia books because this is my first time reading these since I was a kid. (My parent’s read the series to my sister and I when we were kids.)

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Top Favorites

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – In my opinion, this is an example of a well-written, character-driven book. I kept telling people about this one after I read it. A good sign of a 5 star book for me. 🙂

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon – I really do think that this was a case of the right book at the right time! I absolutely loved this….from the gorgeous pictures, to looking through all the recipes, to some of the many thoughts and reflections Witherspoon shared. This was another one I kept telling people about after I read it.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis – Absolutely magical!

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Fiction Favorites

I have a lot of favorites from what I read in contemporary fiction this year. From the more character-driven, contemplative to the lighter, more breezy. I enjoy a really good lighter novel (not necessarily lighter as in fluffy, but in more hallmarky-has-a-good- ending type novel even if it tackles some heavy topics). So I think I will break this one down in sub-categories.

General Fiction

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger – If you like The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (which I read last year and really liked), I think you will like this one. I think this one could fall into the category of character-driven and plot-driven.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – This was one of my picks for the reading challenge for the banned book category. I read that this book was banned because of profanity. So heads up, there is a good bit of language, including strong language. But this story drew me in and I felt that the author created a character that could help readers understand a little bit more about the world of autism. I read this in a day.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan – This novel is considered historical fiction. However, I think Callahan did a great job using the fiction platform to tell Joy Davidson Lewis’ story. I tagged a number of statements and passages in this book.

Lighter Reads

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller – This book, along with the Allen books listed next, are ones I would describe as a Hallmark meets Gilmore Girls type book. They’ve got the happy endings. They can be a bit edgy at times. However, these are not fluffy novels. They each tap into some heavier topics.

Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen – See comments above. 🙂

The Austin Escape by Katherine Reay – This was just a plain fun read! I really liked it!

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Non-Fiction Favorites

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor – I really loved this book! Being in mid-life myself, I think I especially appreciated this book because of the mother’s story….her journey with mid-life and faith.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel – This was so fun to read! As a reader and book nerd, I could totally relate to some of the things Bogel talks about in this book. If you are a lover of books and reading, I think you’d enjoy this book.

Reading People by Anne Bogel – I love reading about personalities and that’s what this book is about.

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Classics

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – Why did I wait so long to start reading these books???? I really enjoyed The Hobbit and can’t wait to begin The Lord of the Rings series. (I plan to start Fellowship of the Rings this week!)

Dracula by Bram Stoker – This was one of just a handful of books that took me by surprise. All I knew going into this book was that my hubby and another friend said they were surprised how much they liked it; and my husband even described it as frighteningly good. It’s probably one of my top favorite classics I read this year.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I can’t say that I love all the Dickens’ books I’ve read or even that Dickens is a favorite author; but I do have a great appreciation for his works. However, I did really like Great Expectations. I felt that Dickens’ writing in this novel was much more concise. In other words, he wasn’t nearly so wordy! 🙂

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I think I have to describe this book as, well, interesting. But it was one that I had a hard time putting down.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – This was another novel that took me by surprise. I had no idea what I would think about this one before I read it. I knew from all I’d seen from reviews that people seem to either love this book or they hate it. I fell on the love side. It is NOT a happy story by any means. But I felt that Brontë did an excellent job crafting the story and creating her characters. And I had to keep reading to find out what happened!

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers – This is the other book that surprised me. I typically don’t like to read crime novels/mysteries/detective type stories. But I read this one and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It made me realize that I think I probably would like lighter mysteries.

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Children’s Literature

I tend to read a LOT of children’s fiction because my youngest is a voracious reader and I’m always trying to find good books for her to read. Plus we also do read-alouds. I will narrow this list down to just a handful of favorites I either pre-read or read as a read-aloud.

The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis – We are currently reading through the Narnia books as a family read-aloud right now and we just finished with Prince Caspian today. These have all been very good. We won’t start the next book in the series until tomorrow or Wednesday…which will be 2019.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – I loved this book and so did my daughter!

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place:  The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood – This book had my daughter and I both laughing out loud.

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What were some of your favorite reads in 2018?

 

 

 

 

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Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

This has been the third year I’ve participated in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I was able to complete all the categories and even could have filled more than one book title I read this year in several of the categories. In the end, I am only listing one book per category (with just a couple of exceptions) and then will hopefully do a post next week with a review of my 2018 reading year.

Without further ado, here’s what I read for each category. I gave ratings to some, but not all, of the books I read this year. I’m trying to do better at rating each book. It’s a work in progress. 😉 If I rated a book, I will share how many stars I gave it. I also make a few comments here and there as well.

 

MMD 2018 Reading Challenge

A Classic You’ve Been Meaning To Read
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
*The author succeeded in crafting a good suspense story. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the novel and definitely like the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie production of the novel much better. Still, this novel makes a great book club selection because there are many topics that could be discussed. I gave this one 3.5 stars.

A Book Recommended By Someone With Great Taste
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
*I enjoyed this novel and would definitely consider reading another title from this author. 4 Stars for this one.

A Book In Translation
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A Book Nominated for An Award In 2018
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

A Book Of Poetry, A Play, Or An Essay Collection
Poetry – Felicity by Mary Oliver
Play – She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith
Essay Collection – Upstream:  Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

A Book You Can Read In A Day
The Novel on the Tram by Benito Pérez Galdós
*I enjoyed this novel and would definitely consider reading another title from this author.

A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
*This is one of two longer books I read this year. The other was Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for either of these titles and only gave 3 stars to each of them.

A Book By A Favorite Author
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
*This is a new author I discovered this year. I read her book The Sugar Queen at the recommendation of a friend and enjoyed it. So then I read The Girl Who Chased the Moon next and Garden Spells after that. I would describe these books I’ve read from Allen as kind of a combination of Hallmark meets Gilmore Girls with some magical realism thrown in. I gave 4 stars to all of these titles.

A Book Recommended By A Librarian Or An Indie Bookseller
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
*This was one of my favorite books I read this year. I gave it 5 stars.

A Banned Book
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
*I’m listing two because I chose to read a modern and a classic for this category.

A Memoir, Biography, Or Book Of Creative Nonfiction
Memoir – Traveling with Pomegranates:  A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
*Of the seven memoirs I read this year, this was one of my favorites.

A Book By An Author Of  A Different Race, Ethnicity, Or Religion Than Your Own
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I plan to participate in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge and am looking forward to thinking about what titles I might want to read for each of the categories!

 

 

What I’m Enjoying Right Now

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted….too long in fact. I thought I’d kick off getting back into the swing of writing here by sharing some things that I’ve been enjoying this winter season. And I’ll be back soon to share a wrap-up of the reading challenge I completed, a review of my reading this year, and a look ahead at reading in 2019.

#1 – Christmas Movies

I love watching Christmas movies! This year, there have been a handful of Hallmark Christmas movies that have been especially heartwarming and good. And of course, there’s also good old standby Christmas favorites…some that have fantastic music, some that make me laugh out loud, some that are more serious. Shown above are just a few of my Christmas movie favorites. (I like a ton of Christmas movies!)

 

#2 – My Sweatpants

I love to feel cozy. And my sweatpants are just that for me. Nothing speaks comfort to me more than being able to put on a pair of my sweatpants and a comfy t-shirt or sweatshirt, slip on my slippers, and curl up on the couch to read or watch a movie or favorite show.

 

#3 – Sangria

Reggae Sangria

I discovered this brand of sangria recently and it has become a favorite. I’m pretty particular in my tastes when it comes to wine; in fact, I don’t like a lot of wines. But this sangria is so, so good.

 

#4 – Hazelnut Creamer

I love coffee. And I enjoy my coffee with a good creamer. Right now, I’ve been enjoying hazelnut creamer. And sometimes, if we have it on hand, I’ll top it with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum!

 

#5 – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I am reading this book right now along with my husband. I’m reading it in paperback; he’s listening to the audiobook. We’ve been discussing it as we go along. Then we plan to watch the movie again once we both finish it. I’ve never read this book or the Lord of the Rings series; but I have seen the movies and love them. My husband, on the other hand, has read this series many times and they are special books to him. I think he is a wee bit excited that I’m finally reading them. 😉 I’m really enjoying reading The Hobbit and am looking forward to reading The Lord of the Rings series. But I am especially enjoying reading this series for the first time with my husband!

What are some things you’re enjoying right now?