2018: Stats, Favorites, Looking Ahead, and So Much Thanks
Having had our first child this year, I think I can safely say that 2018 will always be a memorable year! It also happens to have been the year that I started this blog, obviously deciding that now was THE time to blog. Ha. Really though, I was looking for a creative outlet and way to continue to connect over something I love and this blog has indeed been that (as well as a lot more work than I would have thought!). I’ll be writing some more thoughts about blogging soon, but basically it’s been a lot of fun and it makes me so thankful that so many of you actually take the time to come over to this site and read what I’ve written and be a part of this in whatever way you choose. I know time is precious, so thank you for spending some of it here with me. When my husband was recently telling me some of the blog’s numbers I was feeling very honored and grateful. It means a lot. Thank you, thank you!
I also really want to express my gratitude to all the people who were guests on the blog this year. Each person was such a joy to talk and connect with and I was blown away by the creativity of all of their choices. If you click on the section of the blog titled “Categories” and into “Guest Posts” you’ll be able to see the wide range of characters that these lovely people chose to make come alive with their imaginary book stacks, in addition to getting to know each of them a little better. Make sure you’re following all of them because they’re really such wonderful people. I am so truly grateful for their time, hard work, passion, and kindness. Book people are indeed the best people.
As far as my not imaginary, but in fact very real, book stacks from this year, you can see the 151 books I read this year under the hashtag #erindotsmithreads2018 on Instagram. It was such a fun and insightful challenge for me to try to succinctly process my thoughts about every book I read. I started trying to gather some statistics about what I read and counted up a few basic genre categories, but I stopped after a bit because (1) I have a tendency to miscount, so who even knows if these numbers are correct and (2) Some books are difficult to sort into genre and many overlap and I didn’t really want to struggle over that. If you like statistics, though, as I’ve noticed many of you do, here is what I scrawled on a pad I took from a hotel room:
Middle grade: 34
Contemporary Lit: 13
Young adult: 7
Historical fiction: 8
Graphic memoirs: 5
Books published in 2018: 22
The numbers aren’t too surprising to me, although I’ve never read graphic books before (eee that term) and I thought I read more middle grade and less nonfiction. I’ll likely return to this another time to try to extract a bit more out of it. In the meantime, if you’re a stats junkie, maybe you can provide some insight for me.
As far as goals for my year ahead, I’m mainly focusing on things outside of my reading life. I did, however, realize while reading and listening to many of your inspiring resolutions, that, whether or not I was looking at them as goals for 2019, there are in fact some things that I plan on doing that relate to my reading life that I’m happy to have thought through a little more.
Looking at the year ahead I want to:
- Complete my #goingclassicat30 project. Before my 30th birthday I picked out 12 classics I’ve never read before to read each month of my 30th year. I’ll be halfway through after this month when I finish The Count of Monte Cristo.
- Continue my monthly reading recaps. This is another thing that’s a lot more work than it seems, but I’ve also found it to be a valuable exercise.
- Continue not buying books on Amazon and instead continue to support independent bookstores. Thanks to Chelsey of @chelseyreads for the reminder about this and Annie of @anniebjones15, the owner of The Bookshelf in Georgia, for being so wonderful about showing the person behind the store and what spending your money locally means for each individual. If you’ve never done it, you can order any book you’d like to your local bookstore to pick up there or you can order online from the vast majority of independent stores.
- Make more blogging connections. More on this another time.
- Get better about not finishing books I’m not liking. I don’t know why I do it. Do I think it’s going to get better? Not want to “lose” all the pages I’ve already read?
- Read less and write more. I have a middle grade novel I’ve been writing for a long time now and it’s time to finish my life goal of writing a book! Maybe more on this later, too?
Alright already, you’re thinking, I thought the title said something about your favorite books from this year. Okay, okay. Here they are:
Favorites of 2018
I reread a lot, and get a lot of pleasure from that, so the ten books pictured are my ten favorite books I read for the first time this year. My pattern loving brain initially was puzzled by this stack because each book could be in a different section of the bookstore, but then I think I identified some overarching commonalities that feel very true to my reading wheelhouse:
▫️a distinct sense of place
▫️a bit of old-fashioned charm
▫️an endearing voice
I also noticed that I have clear memories of reading each of these books. I believe strongly that reading the book at the right time makes a huge difference in your impression of the book, so I’ve detailed a few of my thoughts on each book and my reading experience with it below.
- James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small
- Herriot’s memoirs of himself as a young vet in England’s stunning Yorkshire region are charming and hilarious. I read this one while we were on vacation and can picture sitting out on our hotel balcony overlooking the pool while Herriot wrote about being awoken in the middle of a freezing winter night to go assist in a cow’s birth. Which reminds me, I thought I’d never want to read about that type of thing, but it’s fascinating and I found it strangely comforting before giving birth haha.
- Maud Hart Lovelace’s Carney’s House Party
- If you haven’t noticed, my evangelism of choice is the Betsy Tacy series. Somehow, though, I had never read this one, which is about one of the characters from Betsy’s high school years during the summer after her freshmen year of college. I sat in the car maybe an extra half hour to finish reading this one because it was such a pleasurable experience. Comfort and joy at its best. I’ll be adding it to my pretty much always ongoing rereading of the Betsy Tacy series right in between Betsy and Joe and Betsy and the Great World.
- Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime
- This book is that rare blend of informative and hilarious and heartwarming. I remember starting this in an amazing cafe in upstate Massachusetts that’s a converted mill. We had seats right in this big window that overlooks the dam and the book was so good that, despite our beautiful view, I wanted to keep reading. I plan on listening to the audiobook sometime this year.
- Beverley Nichols’ Down the Garden Path
- I read this when it was still cold and winter seemed to be lasting forever. Even though I like the idea of gardening much more than the practice, this made me feel all inspired and ready to get out there come springtime (I didn’t). Also, he is so funny and, while this is about his garden, it’s also not.
- Sloane Crosley’s Look Alive Out There
- I quickly realized while reading this that Crosley is one of those writers who is plain masterful at her craft. I laughed out loud and I marveled over her writing.
- Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor
- I listened to this one in August, walking around the neighborhood very slowly in the heat and feeling the weight of my pregnancy more and more. I love an author who can build a whimsical world and Townsend does that amazingly, with quirky characters and fast-paced, exciting plot to boot. Took me right out of that heat and heaviness!
- Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders
- You know how when you’re in labor you need something to distract you? Thanks, Anthony Horowitz! I’m not kidding. While I was pacing around the house or standing in the shower during the first stage of labor, I was listening to this excellent audiobook. I liked it so much that I finished it in the hospital while our daughter was off getting a scan.
- Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading
- When we got home from the hospital, I eagerly checked the mail to see if the review copy of this one had arrived- normal, right? I will always remember reading these relatable essays with Maeve in my lap. It was my first calm, quiet time alone with her and these essays felt just right. I believe I’ll reread this one often.
- Lucy Knisley’s Relish
- I heard about this graphic memoir on Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next. I’ve been wanting to try out graphic books for a while now (still don’t like that term) and I thought a foodie memoir would be the perfect in for me. It was. I read this in an afternoon while our baby was swaddled up against me, fast asleep.
- Leif Enger’s Peace Like A River
- I read this one in December and I think it’s the perfect read for when the weather is feeling raw. This book is one that absolutely blew me away and I can’t recommend it highly enough.