Growing up I was such a bookworm – I would borrow 15 books from my local library (the most they’d allow you to have out at one time) and get through them all in a few days. Reading is something that’s stayed with me, except that now I’m an adult I have to do things like go to work everyday for the next 40 years, clean my house, and buy groceries. Between all that and the solid 10-12 hours a week I spend complaining about being an adult, I don’t have a lot of time for reading anymore.
Earlier this year I rediscovered Goodreads, and decided to use the reading challenge feature to set a literary goal: read 15 books in 2018. With a couple of weeks left in the year, I’ve already read 16 books (go me!) and I’m on track to finish at least or possibly two more. I’ll have to aim higher next year.
Looking back at my book list from this year, it’s an interesting mix: there’s some productivity/self-help books, some lovely stories, and several collections of writings and letters. I’m not going to go through all 16 (don’t worry), but here are the ones that stand out as being real favourites from 2018.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story – Liane Moriarty
I read Big Little Lies last year, and it made me want to read more by Liane Moriarty. Thankfully there are already heaps, and I really enjoyed The Hypnotist’s Love Story. It’s probably not quite as clever as Big Little Lies, but it’s just as much of a page turner and has another great twist ending. This was the only Moriarty I read this year, so I will definitely be looking to read a couple more in 2019.
Getting Things Done – David Allen
As a bit of an organisational and productivity freak, I will read any book about being more efficient and developing systems to work smarter. This guy is a little old school (‘sure, you could use a computer rather than pen and paper, but it will take you just as long to work out how as it would to just do it the old fashioned way’), but some of the general principles in this book were really helpful. I like his two minute rule: if something is going to take two minutes or less, just do it now, and the idea of having everything written down in organised lists rather than trying to keep it all in your head makes a lot of sense.
The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion
I read The Rosie Project a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so I very happily accepted when my friend offered to loan me her copy of the sequel. I’d heard that it wasn’t as good as the first one, but it’s been so long since I read The Rosie Project that I couldn’t really compare them. Regardless, I really enjoyed The Rosie Effect. It’s funny and warm, and a little bit sad – the perfect combination.
Us – David Nicholls
This was another loan from my lovely friend, and it’s probably my standout read from the year. It’s such a wonderful observation of humans and relationships. It’s equal parts laugh out loud and sob disgustingly, and the narrator is real and flawed and human. David Nicholls also wrote One Day so I should have been prepared for how sad it is, but I wasn’t. Don’t make the same mistake as me: have tissues at the ready.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal
It could just be that I read it while on my only holiday for the year, relaxing by a pool in the Gold Coast, but when I think about this book it makes me smile. This is a lovely story; it’s funny and warm, and a great showcase of the strength and joy of female friendships. I read it in one day and about six cups of tea.
The Forever Girl – Alexander McCall Smith
I just love everything Alexander McCall Smith writes. I’m slowly making my way through the Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street series, but this is one of his stand alone novels. It’s been sitting on my shelf unread for a few years after I picked it up in my favourite little bookshop in Yarraville, Melbourne. Last month I finally decided I should just pick it up and read it. Of course I enjoyed it. McCall Smith is such a clever observer of people and our little quirks. The Forever Girl isn’t funny in the way many of his other books are, but it’s very sweet and very clever.