2018 … A Year of Reading – Part 1

I didn’t set out to do this, but 2018 turned out to be a perfect storm of reading for me! I read more books during this past year than I believe I have in any other year before. And I enjoyed my time reading, too. It never felt like work at all, because I didn’t set a target number of books to read. I just kept reading books as they came to me … either from my own shelves, or given to me by other readers, or won in giveaways, or – the way I received most of what I read – borrowed from the library!

I didn’t enjoy every book I began reading, and I didn’t keep track of those I abandoned, but I do know there were quite a few. Some were highly praised and award-winners, but I discovered they just weren’t for me.

I read a large number of non-fiction books this year, more that I normally would, primarily because I read a lot of political books, trying to keep up with what’s been going on in this crazy world. I also read several very good biographies of musicians and one extremely accomplished and inspiring woman. Books on travel, writing, and even several generally inspiring books rounded out the non-fiction titles.

I began collecting some of my old favourite children’s books with the idea of creating my own permanent library. These were the books I remembered borrowing most often from the local library branch where I grew up in Toronto.

Beaches Branch, Toronto Public Library
(archival photo)

Many of these books were originally published in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Children’s publishing didn’t become a big thing it seems until after I was finished with reading them. This is something I recommend that all readers do now, as you grow older. Go back and look for the books you read as a child. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful memories and pleasure this simple act will bring back to you.

Far and away the biggest number of books I read though were fiction – novels, short stories, novellas, graphic novels – and one book of poetry. That’s because this is what I enjoy reading most often, and I always have.

Rather than list my Favourite Books I Read in 2018, I decided to just list whatever I enjoyed reading in no particular order other than those divisions I listed above. These are all books, however, that I rated on Goodreads as being 5-star, in my estimation. There are a few books that were worthy of more than 5 stars though and I have marked them by including their covers. Full disclosure: I’ve also mentioned if I happen to know (in person or online) or have previously met the author. Just so you know, I had good reason to read these books of theirs and my interest was often personal.

(All links will take you to the Goodreads listing for each title.)

Fiction

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (This is one of the top books I read this year,
and by a new-to-me American author)

The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson (I know the author)
And Then the Sky Exploded and Last Song Sung by David A. Poulsen (I know the author)
The Dry and Force of Nature by Jane Harper (I thought so highly of this new-to-me Australian author’s series that I already have a hold at the library for the soon-to-be-released third novel, The Lost Man)
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Deal of a Lifetime and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (I have and will continue to read everything by this author!)


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Return to Hiroshima and Heart Fever by Bob Van Laerhoven (I know the author online)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd
Once Upon a Night by J.F. Kaufmann (I know the author.)
Summer Hours at the Robber’s Library by Sue Halpern
A Darkness of the Heart by Gail Bowen (I definitely know this author!)
Indian Horse and Starlight by Richard Wagamese (I met the author)

The Overstory by Richard Powers (One of the best books I read this year that led to me reading non-fiction books about trees and looking at trees in a completely different way.)

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
The Best We Could Do by Tui Bhi (This is a graphic novel.)
The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones (I know the author)
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Where’s Bob? by Ann Ireland (I knew this author who was one of my writing instructors and sadly died in Sept.)

Doomed to Repeat and 24 Minutes by Tim Baker
(I know the author online and helped with beta-reading and editing advice)

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion
The Washington Decree by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Kerouac’s Ghost by Ken McGoogan (I know the author)
Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River to Hiruharama by Antony Millan (I know the author online)

The Storm by Arif Anwar (This novel by a new-to-me author was outstanding in every way!
Thanks to fellow author Ranjini George for recommending to me.
I now know the author online.)

The Flame by Leonard Cohen (I have met the author)
Gone to Pot by Jennifer Craig
Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
(An excellent novel involving books, readers, reading … and ghosts!)

(Blog Post Continued in Part 2)

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20 responses

  1. I love going back and reading some of my favourite children’s books. They remind me why I loved them in the first place. I reread Anne Franks Diary and noticed things I missed the first time I read it at a much younger age. You read some amazing books last year.

    1. Thanks, Darlene! Not all books stand the test of time, but many can offer even more when read as adults, as you say with your rereading of Ann Frank.

  2. What a broad list of titles. Envious of yourself giving the gift of reading to yourself – (may be headed that direction myself this year. Reading is so renewing and balancing)
    I’ve been collecting children’s books for some time – they look/sound simple, but are in reality quite complex with many levels ( especially the older ones) During the 80’s some stellar Canadian children’s authors emerged, too.
    If a child learns to love books early, then he/she is probably set for life.

    1. I was fortunate to be a sales rep for and have the opportunity to meet many of those Canadian children’s authors over the years! I’ve kept the signed samples of their books in my own library all these years. I should do a blog post about them some time.

      1. Ditto. Even better read when you know the author. Yes, do that post!

      2. Just need to take some photos to add to it …

  3. Wow! What an inspirational list. I’ve added a few titles to mine. Thanks!

    1. Good to hear that you saw some that caught your fancy! Happy reading!

  4. Reblogged this on The Red Cliffs Chronicles and commented:
    A huge thanks to Susan Toy for her recommendations. I’m honoured that Once Upon a Night is among them. I had the pleasure of reading, reviewing and recommending, through my book lists, her two Bequia Perspective Books – Island in the Clouds and One Woman’s Island.

    1. Thanks for your reading and reviews, jfkaufmann, and thanks too for reblogging this post!

  5. Great post! And yes, go back and read your childhood favorites.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennie!

      1. You are welcome. It was a pleasure!

    1. Thanks for reblogging, Felicity!

  6. Some great sounding titles here. I might keep the list and seek some out.

    1. It was a great year of reading for me, Mary!

      1. It certainly sounds like it – and I’ve now looked at your second post with the non-fiction titles. All the best for 2019!

      2. Same return, Mary! Happy reading!

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