18 Books in 2018!

(I know you all want to know how things are coming with Know and Tell—very well, I promise. Update soon!)

Last year, I didn’t plan my reading very extensively—only 3 or 4 books each for fiction and nonfiction.

I do like to let my reading happen organically, but in the end, I wasn’t happy with the total amount I read. Twenty-nine books for the year (okay, it ended up being 30—reread from a favorite crime novelist) is barely finishing one every two weeks. And it isn’t that uniform in reality, because I spent months reading The Brother Karamazov, and probably blew an afternoon on Grace Livingston Hill.

There are lots of “reading challenges” out there, and I was tempted to pick one and join, but in the end, it sends me looking for books that fit someone else’s categories, and I have plenty on my plate already.

So, I decided to arbitrarily pre-plan “18 books for 2018,” and divide them equally between fiction and non fiction. The first few were easy. Of course I have books on my immediate horizon. It’s harder to think about what I might read several months from now, and I suspect that sticking to the list will be harder still. So, this is a plan—not a promise. We’ll evaluate next December and see how it went.

Fiction for 2018

There are just a handful of living authors whose books I will read as soon as possible when they are released. I’m actually behind on a couple, so I’ve purposed to catch up a bit.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I started rereading Gilead this year, but didn’t finish. I’ll probably finish that before I read Lila. I read Home in 2016 and don’t feel the need to reread that one.

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon. I’m several books behind in Mitford, and this is next up. A new book was released this year, and I can’t even think about reading it!


The Punishment She Deserves: A Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George. Elizabeth George has created her own genre—the literary crime novel. I don’t have space here to explain it, but she is brilliant. This book is due out March 20; I’ve already pre-purchased it; and I should just block out two days on the calendar to do nothing but read this book, because that’s what’s going to happen anyway (guess which crime novelist I reread on New Year’s Eve?). If you have never read her, you cannot start with this book. Begin with A Great Deliverance (my reread), and I apologize in advance if you fall behind on cooking, laundry, and homeschooling.

Silence by Shusaku Endo. Yeah, that was the one on last year’s list that I didn’t read. Technically, it’s first in the queue for 2018. But I started reading it, and it mentions torture. There are some things I just don’t want to read about. You already know that vampires are on that list. Torture is another thing. I will try—it’s not gratuitous violence in this book, just reality. But still.

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin. This one has been highly recommended everywhere by readers I trust. I want to read it, too.

And then it gets hard. That’s five books, and I only need to plan four more, but I found myself floundering. When you’ve been reading voraciously for over 40 years, you’ve already read a lot of the standard titles on lists, or have decided you just don’t want to (I haven’t been able to work up any enthusiasm for Moby Dick or Catch-22, and maybe I never will.)

Since the other books on my list are 20th century or newer, I want these ones to be more classic.

It’s taken me a long time to decide, and I still reserve the right to change my mind, but the plan is:

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe

A Passage to India by EM Forster—Actually, another 20th century book, but I’ve only read a couple of Forster’s best-known titles, and this is a glaring omission that must be remedied.

I had to look at my beloved Victorian novelists for one choice. I’ve read all the obvious titles, many of them more than once, so I decided to choose something from the bottom shelf. The lesser-known books probably deserve to be, but I’m going to tackle Daniel Deronda by George Eliot.

And what will that one final book for this list be? I still don’t know. Fiction title #9 will be the book that everyone is talking about or comes out as a movie, and so I jump on the bandwagon, grab a Kindle copy, and read it, too. This is bound to happen, right? I have a lot of reading friends. (See The Circle and Wonder on my 2017 list…I’ve seen a lot of buzz about A Gentleman in Moscow and The Awakening of Miss Prim so maybe one of those?)

Nonfiction for 2018

This is dangerous, because I do read fewer nonfiction titles, and I don’t rush through them. I’ve already got two rereads underway (A Philosophy of Education and Coleridge), so planning nine new books is actually a bit unrealistic. There is a very real chance I won’t get through them all.

So, I’m cheating on the first two.

Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor—a reread

The Liberal Arts Tradition by Clark and Jain. Half-and-half. I read 50 percent of the book on Kindle and decided I needed to read it in book form. I have the book now, and I’ll read it through from the beginning.

The Education of the Young in the Republic of Plato by Bernard Bosanquet—this book is part of the “what did Charlotte Mason read?” reading plan.

The Legacy of the Ancient World by William DeBurgh—ditto.

Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott. I’ve been meaning to read this ever since Cindy Rollins blogged about it, and that was a LONG time ago. I fear this is the “most likely not to get read” book on my list, and that’s because I have it on the Kindle and I may not be satisfied to read it that way, but I’ll give it a try.

The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis—It’s been on my “to read” list for a while.

Early Christianity and Greek Paideia by Werner Jaeger—I went on a bit of a book-buying spree recently and bought this book. I’m putting it on the list, but it’s not first in line, so again, I have fears that I won’t get as far as this one. But I hope I do!

John Milton: Classical Learning and the Progress of Virtue by Grant Horner. Because if I don’t have at least one short, easier book on this list, I’ll be lucky to get half way through it. I picked this one up at the CiRCE conference in 2016, along with another in the same series about Plato. I read the Plato one, and I’ve read Milton’s Treatise on Education more than a few times, but I think it will be interesting to read someone else’s perspective of it.

The Emperor’s Handbook by Marcus Aurelius, in David Hicks’ new translation. Because I need to read something that’s really, truly, authentically classical.

I won’t look at this post again until December 2018, to see how I did (I’ll be writing the titles in my Bullet Journal so I don’t forget them). If my list gives rise to any recommendations, toss them my way. I’m always open to suggestions!

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2 thoughts on “18 Books in 2018!

  1. I want to give a recommendation for “The Awakening of Miss Prim”. I don’t read much fiction, and when I do, it’s not light…. so I avoided this one for a while because all I’ve heard was it is “light reading”. I find I am still thinking about this book a year later. I have a commonplace full of quotes. It’s not a perfect book, but it will strangely stay with you. I can’t explain how a book sometimes classified as a “romance” (not my genre either) is really about education, classical homeschooling, marriage, libraries, free market enterprise, utopias (can we create them? Should we?), feminism (it challenges it), finding Jesus in children’s literature, and how small stories point to the Great Story. Also food and tea and coffee thrown in. The one caveat is it is translated from Spanish, so the grammar can be a little awkward. The other thing to know is it does lean towards Catholicism and I am not a Catholic so I looked past that emphasis. If not for those two things the book might be one of my all-time favorites.

    1. I didn’t know it was translated from Spanish! It’s already on my Kindle, so I’m serious about reading it, but I read a book that was poorly-translated from Spanish last year (or maybe it’s just hard to translate from?), so that worries me. But you had me at education and classical homeschooling. I think I’ll have to give it go!

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