Here's What I Read in 2018

Monday, May 6

I like compiling and publishing this list for one simple reason: I am constantly on the hunt for great book recommendations. In my opinion, there's simply nothing better than being in the middle of a book that you cannot put down. So here's the full list of what I read last year! You'll notice I have a nice blend of...call it fluff, with pop culture favorites, and a "new classic" or two.

As a note, my goal was to read 18 books and I kinda made it - technically I finally finished The Goldfinch in January but it could count as at least three books so...you be the judge. 

These mini reviews are paired with a very simple rating system: would I recommend this book to you?

Priya the Blog, Nashville lifestyle blog, Nashville lifestyle blogger, 2018 Reading List, What I Read in 2018, book recommendations, reading list, 2018 Book Recommendations
1. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson | I started the year in a solid 1940s/WW2 mood (this selection was immediately following The Nightingale.) This story, and the way it is written, is incredible! Atkinson has a brilliant mind. This book follows a character who continuously dies and comes back to life, each time correcting what killed her the last. It's kinda like The Butterfly Effect but in World War II England? I absolutely loved the heroine, Ursula Todd, and another aspect of the story I thought was so special was her relationship with her younger brother, Teddy. But more about him below. Would I recommend this to you? A resounding yes! 

2. The Year of Less - Cait Flanders | I can't remember whose blog I read about this book on, but it intrigued me and then ultimately was a large part of the inspiration behind my no-buy year. This book chronicles the no-buy year of the author Cait Flanders, going month by month. It was a very interesting read with a lot of great ideas! I was fascinated to see how a no-buy year transformed the author's life, not only in terms of addressing materialism, but affecting her overall mental and emotional well-being. Would I recommend this to you? Whether or not you are interested in your own no-buy experiment, yes, there's something for everyone to learn. 

3. The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank | Can you believe I had never read this book cover to cover? Even after going through an intense Anne Frank phase as a kid, where I read everything I could about her...except for, yes, her actual book in full. I think the key to this book is a big fat dose of perspective. There are many wonderful words to take away, and when you think about them against the backdrop of when this was written, they are even more powerful. I'll leave you with one quote, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." Would I recommend this to you? Yes, everyone should read this!

4. In Her Shoes - Jennifer Weiner | This falls into the category of "beach read classic", as the debut novel of the beach queen herself. Don't get me wrong - I love a fluffy read! I've tried to explore the classic works of all the beach queens - Weiner, Giffin, Hannah, Straub, etc. But this book was honestly one of the worst I've ever read. I can't put my finger on it but as is usually the case for me - I didn't enjoy either main character so I found it very hard to care about their story. Would I recommend this to you? No. 

5. The Actor's Life - Jenna Fischer | Is this a good time for me to tell you that I dabble in some talent work on the side? I was so excited to read this memoir/guidebook by the lovely Jenna Fischer (who is not a fan of hers???) It's peppered with stories that I absolutely loved about her journey into the biz, as well as super practical advice for anyone in the acting world. I really enjoyed reading this, so much so, that I'd like to read it again! Would I recommend this to you? Yes!

6. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline | Reading this was meant to be a peace offering/the perfect compromise in my relationship. My boyfriend loves anything SciFi, I hate it, but i DO love anything that draws on 80's themes. I wanted to read this so we could, for once, enjoy something SciFi related together and maybe go see the movie?? But I really don't like SciFi, guys. I found this book extremely difficult to follow, what with the multiple layers of the world/planets/galaxies? Maybe I'm just dumb. Would I recommend this to you? Eh...yes? If only for cultural relevance? 

7. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes | A heralded novel that I was a few years behind on. I loved reading this story - I especially loved the quirky heroine, and the description of her outfits, all amidst the lovely English backdrop. Be warned: it is a bit sad! Would I recommend this to you? Yesssss.

8. I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara | I have been very interested in true crime for a looong time. I am a total wuss while at the same time have a strong stomach for it? I can't explain it. Anyway I had to read this book. Extremely well done, true crime but written like a narrative, and absolutely terrifying. I honestly lost sleep while reading this. The story of how this was written and then completed is both sad and triumphant! Would I recommend this to you? Yes, but be warned - it is not for the faint of heart. 

9. The Help - Kathryn Stockett | This was a re-read! For whatever reason I came across this book again and realized it was great enough to read a second time. Actually - listen to. Which made it even better? This is an excellent story with a cast of characters that is hard to top, and a message that is exceedingly relevant today! Would I recommend this to you? A thousand percent yes, this is a book every single person will enjoy. 

10. In a Dark, Dark Wood - Ruth Ware | This recommendation was from Kate (the definition of a voracious reader who consistently posts reviews!) I think my genre of choice at this point is "beach read thriller" (right, me and everyone else), a cross between a classic beachy girl read and a crime mystery. This totally fit the bill! I won't say too much about it, but, a couple nice twists that I enjoyed. Would I recommend this to you? Yes. 

11. Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan | I am a staunch "book before movie" advocate (see also Me Before You and Ready Player One.) Naturally, with this movie being everywhere, I had to read the book first. It was a fun, cheeky, read! I had trouble following the many many characters chronicled, but otherwise enjoyed it. I have to confess I still haven't watched the movie! Would I recommend this to you? Yes.

12. A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson | This is somewhat the companion of Life After Life, but told through the eyes of the main character Ursula's brother, Teddy. It doesn't follow the same storyline exactly, but explores how Ursula & Teddy's lives overlap, and is also told through the lens of Teddy's daughter. I wanted to enjoy this so badly because I loved Life After Life, and especially Ursula & Teddy's relationship, but it was really hard to get through. Would I recommend this to you? No, unless you're very into WW2 because there are some dense combat chapters.

13. Yes, Please - Amy Poehler | I can't believe it took me so long to read this book! Actually, we listened in the car (on the way to New Orleans I think?), because with some of these memoirs written by comedians, you MUST listen to them narrate. I really enjoyed this at the time but can only remember bits and pieces. It's completely chock-full of hilarious anecdotes from throughout Amy's entire life, and was one of those books I immediately knew I would need to read again. Would I recommend this to you? Yes!

14. The Vacationers - Emma Straub | This was on all the book lists a few years ago, so I wanted to give it a try. I remember somewhat enjoying the story as I was reading it and not finding all the characters totally off-putting...it was only in retrospect that I thought to myself, uh, that book wasn't very good. Would I recommend this to you? No, I really think there are better options out there!

15. All We Ever Wanted - Emily Giffin | I've read and enjoyed a couple of Emily Giffin's books, and was excited to learn her newest novel was set in Nashville! Naturally, I had to give it a go, if only to laugh at the Nashville references. The story itself was just alright, but overall, I enjoyed it. Would I recommend this to you? Yes.

16. The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager | Another rec from Kate! This is another "beach read thriller" that follows a woman facing her demons, by going back to a Summer camp where her three friends disappeared from years earlier. A few nice twists and turns, but overall, the characters were all pretty irritating to me. Would I recommend this to you? No

17. Molly's Game - Molly Bloom | This is cute - I was chatting with my brother last Fall, and he was talking to me about Poker (he's a talented player/scholar.) He always has interesting stories from being in casinos, and I asked him if he would ever write a book about poker, but make it more on the anecdotal side, for non-players. He proceeded to tell me about this, and I said "this is my kind of poker book." The book centers on Molly Bloom, who moves to LA and starts hosting a high-stakes poker game for celebrities and generally rich people, but eventually loses herself in the process. This book wasn't very good and ultimately her character was super irritating to me. Oh, it was also recently made into a movie! Would I recommend this to you? Yes, if only for the DiCaprio/McGuire antics. 

18. The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt | This was my sabbatical read, but it took me wayyy longer than a month to finish. I admittedly started reading other things and only, finally finished in January. I had heard a lot about this book, from reading lists and friends who had read it, and I was familiar with Donna Tartt after reading The Secret History a couple years ago. I was hoping I would like this better than TSH but I have to say...I don't think I do. Tartt is a very talented writer, and I was initially intrigued by the set up of the story and the main character, Theo. I was disappointed by the ending and I have to say *SPOILER* I was really hoping for some sort of conspiracy/mystery with the painting or message from Theo's mom at the end. However, I somewhat understand that that's not the point of the book. I have continued to learn and better understand some of Tartt's themes by reading about the book after finishing it (meta.) Would I recommend this to you? I still think, yes, because it's a beautiful piece of literature. Not a breezy read!

Hope you found a book rec or two from this list! 

I would love for you to tell me the last great book you read. Let me know in the comments! 


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