In 2017 I challenged myself to read 12 books - one per month - and I managed to squeeze in 13. So in 2018 I decided to up the ante and set 15 as my book reading goal for the year, and I'm pleased that I managed to finish all 15, down to the wire be that as it may.
I mentioned on one of my Sunday posts that I was falling a bit behind, and a couple of interesting comments came in. One reader said that she, too, was always ahead of her goal in the first half of the year, but by autumn is struggling to keep up. This has certainly been my experience in the past couple of years of setting a book goal.
Another reader said that she questioned the merit of a book reading goal to begin with - and it's a fair point. What counts as a book, anyways? Some of these books I tore through in a single day, while others felt like drudgery.
I follow another blogger who posts about her book reading goal each year, and was always astounded by how many books she managed to read alongside everything else on her plate. We're talking 30 - 40 books per year, while also working full time, having two kids, writing (and recipe testing and photographing) a food blog, knitting and sewing her own clothes, and teaching fitness classes. I mean, is that even real?!
But then I found out that a good portion of the books she finished were audio books. Do those count?! I've asked this question to several people, with a variety of responses.
Some people love audio books because they can listen to them while driving or folding laundry. Others like to listen to non-fiction as narrated by the author themselves so they can get a clear idea of their voice. Another person said she started reading a book on a really heavy topic and found it difficult to will herself to read, and so switched over to the audio book to finish. Fair enough.
For me, part of a book reading challenge is that it forces me to set aside time for myself. Sure I could listen to a book while folding the laundry, but I'd rather sit and read in peace and quiet after everyone else has gone to bed. It's the effort of reading that makes it challenge-worthy to me.
So, while 15 books might not seem like a lot to some people, for me it was an achievement. 2018 was a busy year. It was my first full year being self-employed. I got super serious about treating this blog like a business, rebranded the site, and did an SEO audit. And, I grew, birthed, and have been nurturing my second child. No small feat to have carved out enough time for myself to read 15 books amongst all of that.
I'd love to know what you read in 2018. Hit me with your recommendations! Do you have a book reading goal for 2019? I'm going to hold mine at 15, but if I manage to squeeze in a couple more I won't be mad about it.
1. Everything I Never Told You
I have a habit of buying / uploading books onto my e-reader and letting them sit there for years. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was one of those books, and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. The story of a mixed-race Chinese American family whose daughter is found drowned in a lake, told by various members of the family as their lives unravel around them.
The book is beautifully written, painful, beautiful, funny, and eloquent. It's definitely worth your time.
This book ended up on my e-reader from a folder of probably pirated e-books I got from a friend. I actually thought it was something else when I started reading it, and forced myself to finish reading it anyways as I thought it might be inspirational for me as a self-employed business lady.
I guess it was a little bit? But I think the target audience is more towards cool chicks in their early 20's who want to start their own Etsy shops, and less towards Nutrition Ladies in their very late 30's (I'm not 40 for another few weeks, okay?!!). Probably don't bother with this one.
3. The Fault in Our Stars
When reflecting on the books I read last year, it struck me that this was the only one that was written by a man. I know this is supposed to be a young adult novel, but I do enjoy a good YA read now and then, and this one was no exception.
Geeze, what a sob fest! The tender love story of two teenaged cancer patients who met in a support group, I couldn't put this book down. Sounds cheesy but isn't cheesy, and if you like good books that are substantial with a bit of fluff, this one is for you.
4. Tiny Beautiful Things
I love, love, love me some Cheryl Strayed, and this is some great work. A collection of questions and answers from her time writing the Dear Sugar advice column, there is something in here for everyone.
I like to keep a book on my phone at all times, preferably non-fiction, so that when I find myself on the bus or waiting at a restaurant or something like that, instead of getting stuck in a social media wormhole I can get some reading in. This one took me quite a while to get through, but every single story was worth while and I've since started buying this book as a gift for basically everyone I know. Definitely worth your time.
5. The Hate U Give
I know, I know, another YA novel, but trust me on this one. The story of a 16-year-old black girl who is the sole witness to the police shooting and killing an unarmed black boy. It's a timely novel, and I think provides some good insights for those of us who live with the privilege of whiteness. Well-written and thought provoking, I highly recommend this one.
6. What Alice Forgot
Liane Moriarty is one of my favourite authors when I'm in the mood for fluff, but substantial fluff. I think I've read just about everything she's written (Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret, etc) and What Alice Forgot was another fun, lighthearted read.
If you're into this kind of substantial fluff, I HIGHLY recommend you check out books by Rainbow Rowell. Elenor and Park might just be my favourite book (in this genre) of all time. I Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
7. Braving The Wilderness
I always enjoy work by Brené Brown, and Braving The Wilderness did not disappoint. There were some really thought provoking sections, including interesting points to do with living in today's political climate. It kind of makes me want to go back and read Daring Greatly all over again.
8. Real Food For Pregnancy
I don't normally include reference material on my reading list, but I did read this entire book from cover to cover so I'm putting it on this list. I am not, however, including the potty training book that I also read cover to cover.
Regular readers will have heard me refer to Real Food For Pregnancy a few times before. It was really great to take a deep dive into pregnancy nutrition as this isn't a topic we covered in my MSc (and I specialized in an entire different area of nutrition). This book is forward-thinking and progressive, incredibly well researched and has over 1000 citations so you know it's legit good science.
I've summarized some of the key takeaways in these pregnancy nutrition posts, but if you want to take a deeper dive, I recommend snagging a copy of this book.
Pregnancy Nutrition: The First Trimester
Pregnancy Nutrition: The Second Trimester
Pregnancy Nutrition: The Third Trimester
Did you ever listen to the episode of This American Life with the story of the comedy writer who took down her troll? That was Lindy West, and she's one of my favourite writers.
Shrill is a collection of essays on life, love, comedy, feminism, fatness, and more. It's one of those books that I was sad to be finished with, and I hope you all will read it. Shrill has been made into a series on Hulu, starring Aidy Bryant, and I sure hope we end up getting it here in Sweden.
Lindy has a new book called The Witches are Coming, out in May 2019 and you better believe it'll be on my list for this year!
10. Like A Mother
This is another book that regular readers have heard me refer to a bunch, and definitely in my top reads of the year. As the subtext says, Like A Mother is a feminist journey through the science and culture of pregnancy and childbirth. I was pregnant when I read this book, but I think it would be a fascinating read for anyone who is a mother, wants to be a mother, is trying to become a mother, can't become a mother, has a mother, lost a mother..... basically just go read this book, okay?
11. The Handmaid's Tale
I read the Handmaid's Tale back in the 90's when I was an Atwood-obsessed writing major at the University of Victoria. She was my favourite author at the time, and I read everything she'd ever written. Since I've loved the Hulu series inspired by the book, I decided to read it again. I feel like I didn't really get it when I read this book as an 18 year old, so am glad to have re-read this one.
As a side note, my friend Emily asked me if re-reads count towards a book reading goal, and I figure they do since you're still reading? I tend not to re-read books usually, mostly because I remember what happens and then I find the book super boring. In this case it had been over 20 years since I read the Handmaid's Tale, so the content seemed pretty fresh to me.
12. Wine. All the time.
Last year the wine book Cork Dork was one of my favourite reads of the year. Wine. All the time. Was recommended on another book list I read, so I decided to check it out this year and I really liked it! It's easy to read and super approachable, not at all snobby, and makes appreciating (and drinking) wine super fun.
I read almost all of my books digitally (with the exception of those for reference material) but there are always one or two that I end up buying in paper as well. I've already bought a couple of copies of this one on paper so that my friends and I can work our way through the to-drink lists and learn more about wine as we go.
13. My Brilliant Friend
14. The Story of a New Name
15. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
I'm discussing these books as a group since they're part of a series of four books (I'm working on the 4th book as we speak) that I picked up after both reading about them on some book lists and hearing some friends rave about them.
Let me tell you, the first book took some effort to get through. It was borderline drudgery and I couldn't see what the fuss was about for the series. I had no intention of reading any of the others, because the first one was so blah.
That is, until I go to the last paragraph of the first book and then I was like OMG AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS??? I texted my friend Amy and asked if the remainder of the series is better and she said the felt exactly the same way about the first book and then tore through the remaining three.
I'm so glad I stuck it out because this series is incredible! I'm forcing myself to hold off on starting the HBO series until I've finished all four books, which should be soon!
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Excellent list! I read Like A Mother recently due to you recommending it in a pregnancy nutrition post, and loved it! I'm 32 weeks pregnant with my first baby and have really appreciated the real talk in your pregnancy (and parenting!) posts. Thank you!
Isn't that a fantastic book? I absolutely loved it. Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy!
Well done on reaching your target! I finished reading my 30th book of my 30 book target mid afternoon on New Year's Eve. Hoping to space things out a little more evenly this year, although increased my target to 35 as there are just so many books I want or need to read.
I track all my books on goodreads, which is great for recommendations but also for looking back on what I've read when. There's a lot of fluffy books on my list from last year, and also a fair bit of YA, which shows I wasn't feeling 100% and needed to comfort read a lot.
And re-reads definitely count, particularly if it's been a while.
Enjoy the experiences of your 2019 target 🙂
Thank you for your recommendations - I have added several to my Amazon wish list.
I love to read - I am already knee deep into my third book this year. I mostly like to read memoirs and autobiographies (particularly ones which involve travel) but I also dip in and out of other genres.
Based on what I have read this year my recommendations would be:
Female rights/Feminism - The War on Women by Sue Lloyd Roberts
Humour - That Bear Ate my Pants by Tony James Slater/Trailer Trash, with a Girls Name by Stacey Roberts
Fiction - A Saint for the Summer by Marjory McGinn
Travel memoir - Il Bel Centro by Michelle Damiani
Thriller - the Mark Taylor series by M P McDonald
Occupational memoir - This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
Love story: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
Heartwarming - Many Thorns, Yet Still Roses by Jessie Gallaher
Special mention for the Greek Island and the Greek Village series’ by Sara Alexi and the Grape series by Laura Bradbury too.
Thanks for the recommendations, Natalie! I've read The Rosie Project, but all of the others are new to me. Definitely putting some of these on my to-read list!
Oh. My. Goodness!! Thank you SO MUCH for setting me up for my 2019 reading. Just enough info to whet my appetite for (almost) all of the above books. Now I can truly feel that your website feeds not only my body, but also my soul! Happy to you and your little family!
I hope you enjoy some of these books, Alice!
I was surprised to see you read 3 books in the Elena Ferrante series because I did too. I just finished the 3rd one and couldn’t believe how it ended! I will start the 4th today. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Elena and Lila. Beautiful writing. Wonderful characters. It’s good to read about two women who are lifelong friends and to see how their lives drift apart and come together again and again. Happy reading!
It's really a great series. I'm so glad I stuck with it!