I’ve always love reading, and as long as I can remember, we always had lots of books in the house. One time as a child, I glued little slips of paper on the inside covers of all of my books to create my own library so I could check books out to my friends. I don’t think anyone ever checked out a book, but at least I had a good system in place!
When I was a kid, I plowed through all of the books in the Little House series, read every Judy Bloom book I could get my hands on, spent summers reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries, and then eventually graduated to the Flowers in the Attic series as well as Steven King books. By college, I was reading Tom Robbins in addition to all of the classics that English majors had to read. I even took an entire course on Flannery O’Connor in which we read every thing she ever wrote.
As an adult, my reading habit slowed down (came to a complete halt?) after having kids. It seemed that for many years, they occupied every spare minute of my days. But by the time they were in elementary school, I was lucky enough to join a book club that a good friend of mine hosted. I am still a member of this book club, having read many good books over the years (and only 1 or 2 crappy ones).
Now, as an empty nester, I have much more time on my hands than I used to. Sure, I do other stuff to occupy my time, like projects around the house, gardening, baking, blogging, and shopping, but there’s just something about sitting back with a good book in the evenings. It’s a nice break from binge watching shows on Netflix! Additionally, we did a lot of traveling this summer, which allows for even more reading time. I’ve read more this year in 8 months (it’s only August) than I have since I was in college. And that’s a good feeling!
Below is my 2018 Reading List. I have indicated which were book club picks, and which I read on my own. And, since I do have a few months to go this year, I need to add a few more to the list. I started the year with a Flannery O’Connor book that I had already read in college. The reason for this is that last year, our book club read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikery. You can read my blog post about it here. Throughout the book there are references to lots of other books, some real, some made up. One of the characters in this book mentions that A Good Man is Hard to Find was her favorite book, so I decided it would be good to re-read it. I’m so glad I did – I had forgotten how dark Flannery O’Connor could be!
Theresa’s 2018 Reading List
A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor – self pick
A collection of short stories that, in typical O’Connor fashion, are dark, and often deal with themes of religion and grace. Spoiler alert: she wasn’t into happy endings!
The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn – book club pick
The story of a reclusive day drinker who loves to spy on her neighbors through the lens of her camera, but gets caught up in a murder mystery that has her questioning what she saw as well as her own sanity. Very suspenseful – it made my heart beat very fast towards the end. I can see this making it to the big screen.
Catering to Nobody, by Diane Mott Davidson – book club pick
This is Book 1 in a series of 17 books featuring Goldy Shulz, a caterer turned mystery solver. In the books, the author (via Goldy) shares real recipes. Cute concept, but the “cozy mystery” genre isn’t really my thing. I found the lead character, Goldy, extremely annoying.
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware – self pick
Similar to The Woman in the Window, this story’s main character is a traumatized woman who drinks way too much, and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery in which she saw something she wasn’t supposed to – and then has to convince other people of what she saw. This was in fact so similar to The Woman in the Window it was strange, except that instead of being set in Brooklyn, NY it takes place aboard a luxury yacht cruising the North Sea to witness the Northern Lights.
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah – self pick
While we talked about perhaps reading this for book club, we had agreed to a moratorium on WWII era books. I’m so glad I went ahead and read it, because it is definitely on my list of Top 10 Favorite Books. Wow. It was beautifully written, taking place in France during the German occupation, telling a story I had never heard before about women who helped downed Allied airmen escape German occupied France. I cried during the last chapters, it was so touching. Highly recommend!
The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin – book club pick
Starting out in New York in 1969, four siblings go to see a psychic who claims she can tell them the date of their deaths. The book is broken into four sections, one for each of the Gold kids, and tells the stories of how they lived their lives with this knowledge. I liked it because it’s a very unique story, well written, and gets you thinking about life and death – if you knew when you were going to die, would you live your life differently?
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel – self pick
This is a post-apocolyptic novel about a group of traveling actors and musicians who are trying to keep the arts alive after a flu epidemic wipes out 90% of the population. The story follows them, and weaves together a story about a movie star, a former paparazzo, and a management consultant through pre- and post flu days. Not the typical book I would read, but I really enjoyed it, even though I found a lot of it not really plausible. But hey, it’s fiction.
No One is Coming to Save Us, by Stephanie Powell – self pick
The story of Ava, an African-American woman in North Carolina and her struggles with fertility, a failing marriage, a controlling mother, and a past love that moves back to town and tries to win her over. I did not realize it while I was reading it, but it turns out it’s supposed to be a modern day Great Gatsby, but I have to admit I just didn’t see it. Overall, it’s a good story, but the editing was lacking – I saw many grammatical errors that could not be attributed to character voice. It was also a bit of a slow read for me, but by the second half it picked up some steam. Not my favorite read of the summer, but definitely not bad either.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman – self pick
My second favorite of the summer! I absolutely adored this book. It was brilliantly written, and I was shocked to find out that it was the first book by Honeyman. This is the story of a socially awkward 30 year old woman who lives a lonely life – no family, no friends – and has a very unique perspective of the world. She seems to be completely clueless on modern culture, doesn’t know how to behave in public, and has no filter, speaking whatever is on her mind. All of this due to a traumatic childhood. This is the story of Eleanor finding herself, and along the way there are lots of laughs, but there are plenty of tears as well. I read this in 3 days – I simply could not put it down.
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – self pick
Currently In Progress! I will update this post once I finish the book.
Now, what else should I add to the list for the rest of the year?