Reading Log, 2018

For the last couple of years I’ve kept a record of the books I finished in a year (you can see 2017 here). For 2018 I had a few simple goals in mind:

  • Read 52 books, averaging out to one per week.
  • Read more books by women and people of color, or folks at the intersection of those two very broad groups. I wanted at least half of the books I read to meet those criteria.

Here’s the list, in the order in which I finished each book:

  • The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
  • Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
  • Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway
  • Death of a King, by Tavis Smiley
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin
  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes, by Jason Fagone
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Sourdough, by Robin Sloan
  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
  • Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
  • Dear Cyborgs, by Eugene Lim
  • Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone
  • The Stone Sky, by N. K. Jemisin
  • Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler
  • Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  • The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • America is Not the Heart, by Elaine Castillo
  • The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante
  • The Animators, by Kayla Rae Whitaker
  • The Uncoupling, by Meg Wolitzer
  • Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown
  • Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
  • Little, Big, by John Crowley
  • Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong
  • The Book of Essie, by Meghan Maclean Weir
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman
  • Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
  • Travelling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
  • Broad Band, by Clair L. Evans
  • Girl Meets God, by Lauren F. Winner
  • Bourbon Empire, by Reid Mitenbuler
  • Circe, by Madeline Miller
  • The Music Shop, by Rachel Joyce
  • Beasts of Unusual Circumstance, by Ruth Emmie Lang
  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Air You Breathe, by Frances de Pontes Peebles
  • Who is Vera Kelly?, by Rosalie Knecht
  • Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
  • The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
  • A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
  • Plan B: further thoughts on faith, by Anne Lamott
  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, by Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker
  • The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante
  • The Incendiaries, by R. O. Kwon
  • The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
  • Hild, by Nicola Griffith
  • The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Caregiver, by Samuel Park
  • The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
  • The Sin of Certainty, by Peter Enns
  • Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
  • Educated, by Tara Westover
  • Exit West, by Mohsin Hahmid
  • An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
  • The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, by Chris Colfer
  • Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
  • Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
  • The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner
  • Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
  • The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
  • Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich
  • Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

In all, I finished 70 books this year, which was way above my goal. It helps that my commute is via train — four days out of the week, I ride SEPTA in to Fishtown, Philadelphia. It turns out that with a little bit of discipline I can hammer out a bunch of pages.

I read 51 books by women and/or people of color. (This assumes that Elena Ferrante is a woman, and not a pen name for a white man).

To make room for reading I had to make a few adjustments. My schedule didn’t change much, so it was more about shifting the makeup of my media consumption — I spent less time on Twitter and social media, and I also watched fewer movies and TV shows.

I read a mix of ebooks and paper books. My general pattern was: ebooks for reading on my commute, paper books at home. That meant I was usually juggling two (sometimes three) books at a time.

What’s next? For 2019 I’m less fixated on the volume of books. There were times where I felt good about tearing through my reading stack, but at times it felt a little bit like racing through a meal without really savoring it. This year my goal is to dig a little bit deeper and gather a bit more data about my reading, like the date I started a book and finished (or abandoned) it. I also want to record my notes and impressions instead of just logging titles.