Reading Round-Up: 2018 Books

It’s the start of a new year and my blog reader is filling up with people’s lists of what they read in 2018 — sometimes everything they read, sometimes just the highlights. I like to recap my reading every month, but just like I did for 2017, I’ve compiled a master list of every book I finished last year.

Here are my stats:

  • Total books read: 132
  • Monthly average: 11
  • Fiction: 71.5 (53%)
  • Non-fiction: 60.5 (46%)
  • New reads: 111 (84%)
  • Re-reads: 21 (15%)

The “.5” in both fiction and non-fiction — I know that looks weird — is because of C. S. Lewis’s Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories which, as the title implies, is half essays and half short stories. As far as the rest of my stats go, I note that I pounded my previous record for non-fiction (29%) with a balance approaching 50/50 on the F/NF split. I wasn’t shooting for this, really: the big difference this year, I think, was discovering how much I love reading memoirs. People are endlessly fascinating, and so between memoir and poetry, I got in a lot more non-fiction than I usually do. This year also had an unusually high proportion of new reads vs. re-reads. Again, this wasn’t deliberate — just the way things shook out. I’m certainly getting my money’s worth out of our library system!

There were a few themes that emerged in my reading this year. I continued my personal, informal “Race in America: Seriously, What the Heck?” study series with new-to-me authors like Gail Lukasik, Julie Lythcott-Haims, D. Watkins, and others. As previously mentioned, I read a lot of memoir this year: Tara Westover’s Educated, Lynn K. Wilder’s Unveiled Grace, and Jennifer Fulweiler’s One Beautiful Dream stood out to me as particularly fine examples, along with both of Sara Hagerty’s books.

I read a number of books on technology and social media — Manoush Zomorodi’s Bored and Brilliant, Antonio García Martínez’s Chaos Monkeys, Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock, and Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now — which collectively led me to delete my Facebook account once and for all. You can read about that here (scroll to the bottom to read it in chronological order). It’s been about half a year since I made that change; no regrets so far.

Other highlights include reading through Winston Graham’s Poldark series (a mere twelve books!), Naomi Novik’s new fairy-tale novels, reading the Divine Comedy in its entirely for the first time, and Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. All in all it was a very pleasant reading year for me; I think I learned a lot along the way (some lessons; bees are great but I don’t want to keep bees; it’s ok to purge your children’s toys with impunity; Fredrik Backman is even better than I remembered).

Click through if you want to see the whole list; the asterisks denote new reads and the months link to their respective round-up posts if you would like further thoughts on any of the lists.


  1. The Return of the King (J. R. R. Tolkien)
  2. Let’s Pretend We’re Normal (Tricia Lott Williford) *
  3. White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing (Gail Lukasik) *
  4. A Tangled Web (Lucy Maud Montgomery) *
  5. Write the Perfect Book Proposal (Jeff Hermann and Deborah Levine Hermann) *
  6. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (C. S. Lewis) *
  7. The Wind Through the Keyhole (Stephen King) *
  8. The Narnian (Alan Jacobs) *
  9. The Divine Comedy I: Hell (Dante, tr. Dorothy L. Sayers) *
  10. The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass on Tour (Adrian Plass)
  11. The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 62 3/4: Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend (Adrian Plass) *
  12. The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory (Dante, tr. Dorothy L. Sayers) *


  1. And Life Comes Back (Tricia Lott Williford) *
  2. The Four Tendencies (Gretchen Rubin) *
  3. The Divine Comedy III: Paradise (Dante, tr. Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds) *
  4. Follow My Leader (James B. Garfield)
  5. One Step at a Time (Deborah Kent)
  6. Real American (Julie Lythcott-Haims) *
  7. Persuasion (Jane Austen) *
  8. Camino Island (John Grisham) *


  1. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Andy Crouch) *
  2. Ross Poldark (Winston Graham) *
  3. Demelza (Winston Graham) *
  4. Jeremy Poldark (Winston Graham) *
  5. Warleggan (Winston Graham) *
  6. The Black Moon (Winston Graham) *
  7. The Four Swans (Winston Graham) *
  8. The Angry Tide (Winston Graham) *
  9. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America (Barbara Ehrenreich) *


  1. The Stranger from the Sea (Winston Graham) *
  2. The Miller’s Dance (Winston Graham) *
  3. The Loving Cup (Winston Graham) *
  4. The Twisted Sword (Winston Graham) *
  5. Bella Poldark (Winston Graham) *
  6. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Rhoda Janzen) *
  7. Mennonite Meets Mr. Right (Rhoda Janzen) *
  8. Simplicity Parenting (Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross) *
  9. The Year of Less (Cait Flanders) *
  10. Human Chain (Seamus Heaney) *


  1. The Client (John Grisham) *
  2. Sestets: Poems (Charles Wright) *
  3. So You Want to Talk About Race (Ijeoma Oluo) *
  4. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (Trenton Lee Stewart) *
  5. Revival (Stephen King) *
  6. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) *
  7. The Partner (John Grisham) *
  8. Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult (Bruce Handy) *
  9. Jesus Feminist (Sarah Bessey) *
  10. Little Bee (Chris Cleave) *
  11. Henry Huggins (Beverly Cleary)
  12. Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Left the Mormon Church (Lynn K. Wilder) *
  13. A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)


  1. … And Ladies of the Club (Helen Hooven Santyer)
  2. Felicity (Mary Oliver) *
  3. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Natalie Goldberg) *
  4. Upstream: Selected Essays (Mary Oliver) *
  5. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (Tracy Kidder) *
  6. Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home (Natalie Goldberg) *
  7. The Secret Keepers (Trenton Lee Stewart) *
  8. A Phone Call to the Future (Mary Jo Salter) *
  9. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Jaron Lanier) *
  10. Aimless Love (Billy Collins) *
  11. One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both (Jennifer Fulweiler) *
  12. The Rooster Bar (John Grisham) *
  13. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Jan Karon) *


  1. Come Rain or Come Shine (Jan Karon) *
  2. To Be Where You Are (Jan Karon) *
  3. Pilgrimmage: The Book of the People (Zenna Henderson)
  4. The House on the Strand (Daphne duMaurier) *
  5. Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It (Jennifer Fulweiler) *
  6. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley (Antonio García Martínez) *
  7. Kindest Regards: Collected Poems (Ted Kooser) *
  8. Beartown (Fredrik Backman) *
  9. Us Against You (Fredrik Backman) *
  10. Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed (Sara Hagerty) *
  11. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (Trenton Lee Stewart) *
  12. Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  13. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (Fredrik Backman) *
  14. The Art of Stillness (Pico Iyer) *
  15. The Deal of a Lifetime (Fredrik Backman) *


  1. Present Shock (Douglas Rushkoff) *
  2. The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football (John J. Miller) *
  3. The Quiet American (Graham Greene) *
  4. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self (Manoush Zomorodi) *
  5. Decline and Fall (Evelyn Waugh)
  6. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet (Sara Hagerty) *
  7. Golden Age and Other Stories (Naomi Novik) *
  8. Open Mic Night in Moscow: And Other Stories from My Search for Black Markets, Soviet Architecture, and Emotionally Unavailable Russian Men (Audrey Murray) *
  9. Uprooted (Naomi Novik) *
  10. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (Lisa See) *
  11. Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Laura Hillenbrand) *
  12. The Wife (Meg Wolitzer) *


  1. Educated (Tara Westover) *
  2. The Whistler (John Grisham) *
  3. How to Think (Alan Jacobs) *
  4. A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles) *
  5. From A to Bee (James Dearsley) *
  6. Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling) *
  7. The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir (D. Watkins) *
  8. China Dolls (Lisa See) *
  9. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Frederick Douglass) *
  10. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (Julie Andrews Edwards)
  11. The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America (D. Watkins) *
  12. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloan)
  13. Sourdough (Robin Sloan) *


  1. Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear (Kim Brooks) *
  2. Spinning Silver (Naomi Novik) *
  3. Mandy (Julie Andrews Edwards) *
  4. Step Aside, Pops! (Kate Beaton) *
  5. Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices that can Transform Your Life and Relationships (Curt Thompson) *
  6. The Fourth Bear (Jasper Fforde)
  7. The Last Light of the Sun (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)


  1. The Best American Poetry 2018 (ed. Dana Gioia) *
  2. Rules of Civility (Amor Towles) *
  3. Southern Discomfort (Tena Clark) *
  4. The Best American Poetry 2017 (ed. Natasha Tretheway) *
  5. Possession (A. S. Byatt)
  6. The Reckoning (John Grisham) *
  7. Stress Family Robinson (Adrian Plass)
  8. Out of the Silent Planet (C. S. Lewis)
  9. Perelandra (C. S. Lewis)


  1. That Hideous Strength (C. S. Lewis)
  2. A Season of Little Sacraments: Christmas Commotion, Advent Grace (Susan H. Swetnam) *
  3. The Figure of Beatrice: A Study in Dante (Charles Williams) *
  4. The Man Born to be King (Dorothy L. Sayers) *
  5. The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (Alan Bradley) *
  6. Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon (Kelley and Tom French) *
  7. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (tr. Simon Armitage) *
  8. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Fannie Flagg) *

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