One last look back at 2018 before we get too far into new, exciting reads! I was tagged by Rachel for these out-of-the-ordinary superlatives.
1. The longest book you read this year, and the book that took you the longest to finish:
Interestingly, Stephen King fits both of these answers. It was the longest book I read in 2018 with a grand total of 1,156 pages. I buddy read this book over the course of a month, but it didn’t really take me that long to read. I focused on it for two or three days each week for four weeks, and it flew by. I loved it, even while I read other books on the side.
For the book that took me the longest to finish I could go several ways, but I’m choosing not to name any of the books that I paused and returned to months later- instead I’m naming the book that I consistently tried and failed to finish: the third novella in The Bachman Books (only about 200 pages, titled Roadwork) was my sole reading focus for over two weeks and I just could not get through it. This collection of 4 novellas took me a whole month to finish though it was nearly 500 pages shorter than It and I wasn’t reading anything else in the meantime. The Bachman Books slumped me.
2. A book you read in 2018 that was outside of your comfort zone:
I did a lot of branching out this past year, but the title I want to talk about here is a YA contemporary that I did not expect to find especially challenging: Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It. I read several books (YA and adult) in 2018 that dealt with rape culture, but this one was absolutely brutal to read. The fact that it felt so plausible and relevant really got under my skin. This book made it to my favorites list for the year, despite the unlikable main character and downright disturbing turn of events, but I still can’t think about it without cringing- it’s that powerful.
3. How many books did you reread in 2018?
I haven’t been rereading much in recent years, but I would like to change that. In 2018 I reread four books, and took quite a journey through examining my changed opinions. This is not the first year I’ve reread Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s Hawksong, a favorite from my middle school days, and I still enjoy that one with all its nostalgia, though its sequel (Snakecharm) didn’t impress me this time around.
But I’ve also been undertaking a bigger project, rereading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga one chapter per day in order to make a study of how my reading tastes have changed over the years. I finished both New Moon and Eclipse in 2018, and came up with some interesting reflection posts for both (linked through the titles). Though I don’t enjoy the series anymore, pushing through one chapter per day and asking myself what I liked about the books originally and why I dislike those same things now was a very interesting and educational exercise. I do intend to finish the reread with Breaking Dawn in 2019, but I’m also hoping to pick up some rereads that I actually expect to enjoy!
4. Favorite reread of 2018:
Probably Hawksong by default because it was the only really good rereading experience I had in 2018. It’s been one of my all-time favorites since I was eleven or twelve, and even though I’m not longer obsessed with it I do still find YA fantasy elements that I appreciate in the short and sweet reread.
But my Eclipse reread generated one of my favorite posts of the year as well, so I guess I’m glad I suffered through that one also.
5. A book you read for the first time in 2018 that you look forward to rereading in the future:
I could list so many! But to name a few, Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin is an epic fantasy/family saga with a brilliant ending that will definitely change the way I see the rest of the book the next time I pick it up. I also loved Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Anna Burns’s Man Booker-winning Milkman, both of which I look forward to enjoying all over again in the future.
6. Favorite single short story or novella that you read in 2018:
I didn’t read very many short stories last year, and I didn’t like many of the few that I did read. So we’re back to Stephen King’s The Bachman Books for my favorite novella: The Long Walk. It’s a creepy story about 99 teenage boys who walk until they die– and one who outlasts them all. I liked it enough to finish it in one day during my busiest time of year, and bought my own copy of the single story after returning the collection to the library.
7. Mass appeal- a book you liked and would recommend to a wide variety of readers:
I’m taking a surprising break from fiction here to recommend an essay and an essay collection. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. should be required reading; it’s a short, historical, and still impactful examination of human rights, and I’m so glad I finally read it in full. If you need more incentive, it now comes in this cute tiny bindup from the Penguin Modern collection.
Additionally, Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, is a collection of essays in a variety of forms from men and women who have something to say about rape culture. This is the book you never knew you needed until you started reading it. It sounds straightforward, but each of the thirty essays shows a different angle to a problem we’ve all seen and experienced in some form or another.
8. Specialized appeal- a book you liked but would be hesitant to recommend to just anyone:
Melissa Broder’s The Pisces is a fantastic novel about a student struggling more than she can admit to finish her thesis, and the merman she falls in love with in the meantime. I picked this up in the midst of the mermaid-book-fever this summer and can honestly say it’s one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. Also one of the most compelling. But the main character is rather unlikable and the merman romance is rather graphic, and I honestly don’t know who I would recommend it to who would embrace the abrasive details to appreciate the unique voice that drives this novel. It’s seriously good, but also seriously weird.
9. Reflect on your year as a bookish content creator (goals met, good/bad memories, favorite
videos blog posts you made, etc):
I don’t really set blogging goals for myself, other than just not to quit. Talking about books is what I do for fun, so I like to just keep it fun and not make a chore of it for myself. But I did manage to complete every post that I meant to in 2018, and I am glad I kept coming back to the blog despite some disruptions in my real life schedule. I know I tend to post way more reviews here than anything else, but that’s what I like to write most so I don’t mind? I hope you don’t mind either.
One post I’m particularly happy with this year, and that I think I’ll keep up in the future, was my 2018 Almost-Favorites. Maybe every year I won’t have so many, but in 2018 I had so many runners-up favorites that I didn’t want to be left out of my end-of-the-year lists, and Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time to talk about those second-best books that I appreciated throughout the year.
10. Tag some fellow bookish content creators
I fell a bit behind between Christmas and New Year’s this year, so I’m not entirely sure who’s already posted what for wrap-ups. And so as I continue to catch up with viewing those, I tag anyone who feels up to answering these questions! Please link back so I can check out your answers, as I do love wrap-ups, and I think these are great questions!
The Literary Elephant