What I Read in 2018

Update: I have transitioned my site to a new URL and moving forward will be posting at http://www.rachelstriving.com. Click here to follow along!

Today wraps up an excellent year for reading! All in all, I read 55 books, which is an absolute record for me (my previous best was 50 books when I was 18).

This year, I really made an effort to choose books I could learn from, books that would expand my perspective and make me think differently about the world and my place in it. In that vein, I am happy with the genre splits showed below: of the 55 books, 21 were non-fiction, 26 were adult fiction, 3 were self-improvement books, and the final 5 books were in the young adult fiction category.

Truly focusing on reading was one of the best things I did this year. I have a tendency to forget that reading makes me more thoughtful, creative, and

Inspired by Grace’s post, I decided to rank the books I read this year by category. I’ve added stars by the three books (one nonfiction, one fiction, and one self-improvement) that were my absolute favorite books of the year.

For more on these books, I also posted full reviews of what I read for a few months this year: April May June / July August September.

This was by far my favorite category from this year, and the one I’m most excited to continue diving into in 2019. Blue Like Jazz and At Home in the World were particular favorites, and I also loved both books by Atul Gawande.

  1. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller**
  2. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider
  3. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi
  4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  5. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  6. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 by Robert Kurson
  7. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  8. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
  9. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  10. Educated by Tara Westover
  11. The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple
  12. Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan
  13. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  14. Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey
  15. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  16. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  17. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  18. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
  19. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  20. Calypso by David Sedaris
  21. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

There were also some great, diverse books in this category, which was one of my goals for the year. I especially loved A Place for Us (my #1 favorite book of the year) and Beartown.

  1. A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza**
  2. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  3. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  5. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  6. All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva
  7. Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.
  8. There There by Tommy Orange
  9. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  10. This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  11. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  12. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  13. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

My clear favorite in the “light reads” section this year was the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown, a science fiction series set in a dystopian future. I blew through these three books in the matter of a week. The remainder of these books in this category were fairly forgettable (particularly #s 10-13), but they served as a fun distraction and occasionally a “palate cleanser” between more serious books.

  1. Red Rising (Red Rising, #1) by Pierce Brown
  2. Golden Son (Red Rising, #2) by Pierce Brown
  3. Morning Star (Red Rising, #3) by Pierce Brown
  4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  5. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  6. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  7. The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
  8. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  9. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
  10. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
  11. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan Full review here.
  12. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  13. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Self-improvement books are a fun category, but one I don’t often dig into since it can be difficult to find a good one. I’m so pleased this year with my discovery of Brene Brown’s books – her work is incredible and so important. I also loved Girl, Wash Your Face and will be using it as inspiration for my 2019 goals.

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown**
  2. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  3. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Young adult fiction is often overlooked as frivolous, but in practice many of these books address important issues and are a delight to read. Circe was one of the most beautifully written books I read all year, and The Hate U Give was my first 5-star book I read this year. They are definitely worth checking out!

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. A Million Junes by Emily Henry
  5. Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

What did you read this year?! I’ll be back in the next week or so with my reading goals for 2019.

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