2018 Book List in Review

I set a goal on Goodreads to get through 12 books in 2018.  I learned a few years ago not to make any New Year’s’ resolutions that involve actual numbers (miles run etc.), but Goodreads asks you for a number so I thought a book a month was reasonable.  I ended the year with about 28 books read and the important parts of several others skimmed. This is the list and a few notes (not all the partial reads are included here). Also, I currently have zero friends on Goodreads so I’m available if you’re interested.  You can search for me under Apalaz.

Life Changing

  1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  This really has impacted how I approach life and work. 
  2. Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller.  This is a memoir of growing up with parents who were hoarders.  I grew up in a similar but also different situation and this book hit home.
  3. Educated by Tara Westover.  This is a memoir of growing up with parents who live and keep their children on the margin of society.  They prevented their daughter from obtaining any education, yet her (and her siblings) hunger to learn triumphed in the end.  This one also hit home for a lot of different reason and is an important book for homeschoolers.

Maybe not life changing, but SOOOO good.

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. MUST READ.  This book has it all. Yes, its it’s about the apocalypse but I think what it’s really about is art and beauty and how they persist and help lift us up again.  I listened on audible and it’s beautifully read.
  2. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft (Books) Stephen King.  I can’t say it enough:  I love Stephen King.  This is an unusual book for him.  First, it’s short.  Second, it’s non-fiction.  The first half is a memoir of how he grew to be a writer.  It’s beautifully told and the deep love he feels for this mother, wife and children shines through.  The second half is what he thinks about writing and how to do it.  It’s fascinating.  Imagine a grammar book you can’t put down.
  3. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.  Excellent listen on Audible.
  4. The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party  I know this sounds weird.  That’s what I thought too when my brother in law recommended it.  But he is one of my best sources for books so I took a listen on Audible.  The author did a lot of research for this book.  Not only does he tell the tragic story of these people, he also sets it in the context of its time by including really interesting political and cultural information. 
  5. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I picked this up again because Miriam was reading it.  It’s worth a reread or two.  The story, characters and setting are unforgettable.  I can’t resist including this passage, which is one of my favorite descriptions:  “We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end.  The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seem to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out of the other like pale flags, twisting them up towards the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine colored rug making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea. The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which to young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon.  They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after short flights around the house.  I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the grown of a picture on wall.”  I can see this room as if it were one of my own memories.
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rawling.  We listened to this on Audible.  It may be one of the highest rated books there.  The narration is amazing.

Fabulous Kids Books.  You will enjoy these as much (or more) than your kids:

  1. The Witches Roald Dahl
  2. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  3. Charlotte’s Web (Trophy Newbery) Trophy Newbery by E. B. White
  4. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  5. Sarah, Plain and Tall Patricia MacLachlan

Not timeless works of literature but well worth the read:

  1. The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey This is another British zombie story, this time about kids who retain their personalities and ability learn after becoming zombies.
  2. The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
  3. Circe by Madeline Miller, an enjoyable listen on Audible but rarely  kept my in the driveway.
  4. Lightning Thief, The (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) Rick Riordan. Almost done with this one. my son loved it so I wanted to see what it was all about.
  5. The Late Show by Michael Connelly
  6. Two Kinds of Truth Michael Connelly
  7. The Crossing by Michael Connelly
  8. The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
  9. The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines.  I listened on Audible and the book is read by Chip and Joanna.  It was a fun listen while running.

Interesting Non-Fiction.  Disclaimer:  I don’t always read every page of non-fiction books, unless it’s a story like The Indifferent Stars. 

  1. Don’t Waste Your Time Homeschooling: 72 Things I Wish I’d Known Traci Matt
  2. Flourish by Martin Seligman.  I had to read this for a committee I’m on at work.  Seligman was Angela Duckworth’s mentor (see below).  This book is about positive psychology (how to make non- mentally ill people happier, which turns out to be different than how to make people with mental illness happier) and what it means to be happy.  The concepts are really interesting but the writing is overly wordy, coming off as intellectual snobbery and hard to read.
  3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. Didn’t finish it but got the main idea.  Let me sum it up for you:

    Talent x effort = skill

    Skill x effort = achievement

    Her point is that effort (sustained by grit and passion) count twice as much as skill.  So you can go father than those who are more talented if you work harder.  Now you don’t have to read the book.  


  1. Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel.  I read this because I SO loved Station 11.  But this book felt like a beginner that hadn’t been edited.  
  2. A Quiet Life In The Countryby T E Kinsey.  Someone recommended this series to me and it was okay but I’m not planning to read the rest.
  3. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.  This was part of the book club at work (which I don’t go to but sometimes read the books).  It is beautifully written but very dark and often too graphic for me.
  4. I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart – I listened to this on Audible but couldn’t finish it. 
  5. The Life We Bury Allen Eskens.  This is the book that finally made me accept that I can’t do books clubs.  Everyone loved this and I thought it was terribly written, predictable, boring, cliched and thin.  I think it was a NYT bestseller so I’m probably the odd one out in my opinion.
  6. Cast Under an Alien Sun by Olan Thoresnsen.  This was an interesting premise and okay to listen to in the background but not worth getting the second book.

That’s it! What books did you read this year? Were any of the life changing or unforgettable?

2018 Book List in Review

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