Robin Camille Davis
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Books I read in 2018

January 05, 2019

I read 41 books for pleasure in 2018, almost double last year’s count and the most I’ve read in a single year since college (!). Of those, 26 were written by women, so I have achieved my yearly goal of reading more books by women than by men.

Bold = faves (doesn’t include rereads)
* = rereads

  • The 13 Clocks (James Thurber)
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain)
  • A Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)
  • Abstract City (Christoph Niemann)*
  • Agamemnon (Aeschylus, trans. Anne Carson in larger volume, An Oresteia)
  • City of Glass (Paul Karasik, adaptation of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy)*
  • Coyote Doggirl (Lisa Hanawalt)
  • Exit West (Mohsin Hamid)
  • Fates and Furies (Lauren Groff)
  • French Exit (Patrick deWitt)
  • Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling):
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban*
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire*
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix*
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince*
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows*
  • Her Body and Other Parties (Carmen Maria Machado)
  • Hey, Kiddo (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Mohsin Hamid)
  • In the Woods (Tana French)*
  • The Obelisk Gate (N.K. Jemisin)
  • Pachinko (Min Jin Lee)
  • The Parable of the Sower (Octavia E. Butler)
  • The Parable of the Talents (Octavia E. Butler)
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship (Nicholas Gurewitch)*
  • The Proposal (Jasmine Guillory)
  • Shades of Magic series (V. E. Schwab):
    • A Darker Shade of Magic
    • A Gathering of Shadows
    • A Conjuring of Light
  • Short Stories (Edgar Allan Poe)*
  • The Sisters Brothers (Patrick deWitt)*
  • Sourdough (Robin Sloan)
  • The Strange (Jérôme Ruillier)
  • Strangers on a Train (Patricia Highsmith)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith)
  • Technically Wrong (Sara Wachter-Boettcher)
  • To Kill A Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)
  • Transcription (Kate Atkinson)
  • The Trespasser (Tana French)*
  • UnderMajorDomo Minor (Patrick deWitt)
  • The Wedding Date (Jasmine Guillory)
  • The Witch Elm (Tana French)

Top three books I read this year: I couldn’t stop talking about Exit West, Fates and Furies, and Her Body and Other Parties. All three are a bit difficult to describe, as they don’t fit easily into one genre. And all three made me feel something strongly: a sense of awe and beauty from Exit West, a slow simmering anger from Fates and Furies, and pure dread from almost every short story in Her Body and Other Parties.

Year of fantasy: Looking back on 2018, I can see that I craved escapism from my pleasure reads. I loved the world-building in A Darker Shade of Magic and To Kill A Kingdom. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, The Parable of the Sower really lodged itself in my brain as a model of what happens when a country crumbles politically. And I loved the comforting reread of the last five Harry Potter books, all of which I’d previously reread just two years ago.

Reading about being in foreign places: Exit West, Pachinko, and the graphic novel The Strange are all about people finding their way in a foreign place where they are unwelcome. Against the backdrop of multiple global refugee crises and the year-long political fight about immigration in the U.S., these were enlightening and moving reads.

Surprising classics: I really thought A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court would be a funny read, but it was actually a very long tirade about how great modern technology is and how stupid religious people are (according to Twain). The narrator was insufferable. It was not enjoyable at all. Meanwhile, in rereading Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories for the first time since high school, I realized that I misremembered how laughably (yet entertainingly) melodramatic they are. But I had also forgotten that Poe created Sherlock Holmes’ literary predecessor, C. Auguste Dupin, in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which was most pleasurable to reread.

Revisiting mysteries: Speaking of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” I was delighted to have forgotten how that mystery — and the mysteries of The Trespasser, In the Woods, and City of Glass — were solved. Isn’t it wonderful sometimes to forget what one has read? It makes the rereading that much more suspenseful.

On tech: This list is restricted to books I read for pleasure, so I don’t include work-related books, but I enjoyed Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s Technically Wrong so much that I’ve included it here. It’s a quick and insightful read, with plenty of examples of the ways the tech industry can fail the public — and some ways these problems have been fixed. Specifically, the chapters “Normal People” and “Delighted to Death” were fantastic and thoughtful critiques of user experience.

How I read: I read about half of these books on my Kindle Paperwhite. Being able to read in the dark without straining my eyes while my partner sleeps soundly at night was a gamechanger. I also read a handful of these books on NYPL’s SimplyE app, which I’ve praised to the heavens elsewhere. The rest were all in print, including a few from the library. No audiobooks this year, mainly because my audio routine on my commute is news-focused.

Since I began keeping track of my reads in 2009, I’ve read 310 books for pleasure! That averages out to 31 books per year.

This year marks the 10th year that I started this personal project of recording what I read on Daytum. Since 2009, the books I’ve reread the most are The Secret History (Donna Tartt) and Pastoralia (George Saunders), which I’ve read thrice each.

Previously: Books I read in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.