I wrote a post like this in December of 2017, about a year ago, and lamented that I had read only 29 books that year. I have done better this year, and while I haven’t hit that target of 52 books (averaging one per week) in 2018, I am not dissatisfied.
I have read 42 books in full, and parts of several more. That’s too many to discuss in detail, but here’s the breakdown by category:
She gets a category all to herself this year. Technically, her books belong in the crime genre, and certainly there is always a crime in each book, and the main characters are police or involved with helping the police. However, George is a category unto herself. The closest comparison I could make is to Dorothy Sayers’ crime novels. Her characters have a depth that bears no resemblance to a stereotyped Hercule Poirot or Nancy Drew. They grow and change across the books, and it’s fascinating to be inside the head of one character in this book, and a different character in the next book. There is also wise commentary on the human condition with spiritual overtones. I really can’t explain it well, but they are well done—a bit gritty, but nothing gratuitous, and best read in order. All were rereads, except the most recent title as noted, and they’ve formed quite a chunk of my fiction reading (eight titles!) this year.
Payment in Blood
Well-Schooled in Murder
A Suitable Vengeance
The Punishment She Deserves (new in 2018)
Playing for the Ashes
Deception on His Mind
In the Presence of the Enemy
If I have a favorite from this list, it’s the new one—just because it’s new, and moves the story forward.
Classic or Literary Fiction
I could subtitle this category “books worth reading.” I managed to read thirteen of these, so approximately one per month. Grisham may or may not deserve to be in this category instead of the next one, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt because Sycamore Row was a sequel to A Time to Kill.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread)
War in Heaven by Charles Williams
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (reread)
Silence by Shusako Endo
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe
Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban (reread)
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (audio book)
Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin
My favorite from this category was probably Lila. Some of these were really heavy, dark reading, and when I finished Silence, for example, or The Sorrows of Young Werther, or War in Heaven, I was almost desperate for something lighter, not to say frothy and insubstantial.
An elbow chair is simply a chair with arms, to contrast with the straight-backed, armless, hard chairs favored by disciplined Victorian ladies. Charlotte Mason said that sometimes “the mind is in need of an elbow-chair.” The implication is that an elbow-chair is a place to relax from the discipline of sitting ramrod-straight without a place to rest your elbows. I can only imagine how she might have viewed over-stuffed recliners. These books are mostly over-stuffed recliner reading. I read ten of them. If I have a goal for 2019 in this category, it would probably be to read fewer books in this category.
These are books I read to pass the time, take a break from heavier reading, or give a new author a try. I didn’t love any of these, so there is no favorite.
Split Infinity by Piers Anthony (reread—wanted to revisit my 1980’s teen reading)
The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne
The Unexpecteds by Katharine Judson
Endure by Craig Martelle
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
Working Fire by Emily Bleeker
Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
Vanished by Irene Hannon
Finding Lucy by Diane Finley
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer
Much of my nonfiction reading is related to education. My only regret on that score is that I don’t read more of it, but the days are full and the eyes are not getting younger. All the Charlotte Mason titles are rereads. I read eleven books in this category—again, averaging one per month, although I read parts of quite a few more.
The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain
Home Education by Charlotte Mason
Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason
Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness & Beauty (Classical Education Guide)by Stephen R. Turley
John Milton: Classical Learning and the Progress of Virtue by Grant Horner
My favorite from this category was definitely The Liberal Arts Tradition, although I also enjoyed The Great Divorce very much.
The only embarrassing thing about this list is this post. I set myself the goal of reading at least nine nonfiction books, and I posted my plans there. I read 8/9 of the fiction titles, but only 2/9 of the nonfiction ones, although I did read parts of at least three more.
We can be sure of one thing, anyway—I read for myself—to learn, to think, to grow, to enjoy, sometimes just to escape. I certainly don’t read to make myself look good in these year-end reading posts.
I write this kind of post, however, because I really enjoy reading them. If you’ve posted about your reading in 2018 or your plans for 2019 reading, let me know. I’d love to look at your lists (and probably add a few more titles to my ever-growing to-be-read stack).