2018 Reading Year in Review

2018: a total mixed bag when it comes to my reading life. Here’s the year-end review…

The bad

So I didn’t meet my Goodreads goal of reading 75 books this year.

And am I feeling comfortable with that? No, I am not.

But… life goes on. And in other (more important ways), my reading year was quite fruitful.

The good

  • I met my goal that 20% of the books I read would be by diverse authors. Hooray! And great reading!
  • I read 19,089 pages. (I’m actually not sure whether this is impressive, but it’s the first year I’ve calculated the number, so I’m happy with it.)
  • In spite of a year filled with some unexpected challenges, I read 65 books.

The ugly

Good people, I created some charts in Google Sheets to visually represent my year of reading. These charts are not beautiful. Here they are…

So, if you had to predict what I read this year, you’d say, “Nonfiction book by a female author.” And actually, many of my favorites this year were exactly that.

The year ahead

Reading goals:

Other than that, I’m keeping it free and easy. No other goals… just some reading bliss.

What are your reading goals for 2019? Or do you just read & enjoy?

18 for 2018: done!

Early in the year, I set up 18 goals — some big, some small — for 2018.

And then I started pickin’ ’em off…  

And I kept at it, sort of.  

And then completing the list wasn’t looking likely during the Fall Update, but I pulled it off in the end. 

Here’s the account of the final 3 items on the list…

Buy typewriter key jewelry

Way earlier in the year, when I was trapped someplace with only my phone at hand, I scouted out some sources for typewriter key jewelry. And then I sat on it for months, because busy. So in mid-December, I re-did the search cuz the clock was ticking. And while I’d love to be able to wear a bracelet of typewriter keys, I just can’t do bracelets. (They get in my way!) So I went for the necklace. This one.


Memorize five quotes

Done! (I’d share them, but they’re for myself alone*)  

Invite friends for dinner

I’m a nervous chef who performs best without pressure.

And dinner guests = pressure.

Plus, lots of us are tricky to feed (special diets, specialized palate, restrictions, all that stuff).

So I’m calling this good: we invited the Dear Man’s Dear Sister and Dear Brother-in-Law (who definitely are our friends), and we ordered a pizza from a local place that makes deep dish pizzas that one cooks at home. So:

Friends    CHECK

Applying heat to dinner  CHECK

Serving said dinner to said friends CHECK

Stick a fork in it: it’s done!

Here’s the full (completed!) list of my 18 for 2018…

  • Call old friends on a regular basis
  • Buy typewriter key jewelry    
  • Go on southern vacation with the Dear Man and Younger Sister
  • Go on northern vacation with the Dear Man and Older Sister
  • Roast vegetables once a month
  • Burn a candle when writing
  • Buy fresh flowers & watch a YouTube video to figure out how to arrange them
  • Invite friends for dinner
  • Begin meditating
  • Memorize 5 quotes    
  • Visit 3 history geek places
  • Replace long wool coat
  • Bake 2 family recipes
  • Buy warm winter coat & boots
  • Remind myself to slow down once per day
  • Complete 2 of the 3: Book Bingo, Read Harder, and Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges
  • Zipline
  • Do a deep decluttering of my house

And now it’s on to planning my 19 for 2019…

What’re your favorite accomplishments of the year?

*Not true: The Dear Man knows what they are

Best Books of 2018: my top 10 favorites

Narrowing down my books to my Top 10 of 2018… not too difficult.

But narrowing down my favorite memoir? Impossible. So I went with the 3-way tie that felt right to me.

And there’s a 2-way tie for literary fiction, too. Because I just can’t decide.

And I get to write the rules around here  : )  so here we go…  

Best Short Stories

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Give this book a whirl if you like… celebrity authors, well-evoked characters, short stories from a variety of viewpoints, typewriters

Best Self-Improvement

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

Give this book a whirl if you like… exploring everyday life through new eyes, thinking about timing, considering factors that surprisingly affect outcomes, Freakonomics

Best Memoirs (3-way tie)

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs of an unusual childhood, reading about life during and after apartheid, outsider narratives

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs of city dwellers moving to the country, middle-aged love stories, a light touch of humor, compulsively readable writing

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

Give this book a whirl if you like… tiny snippets of story, memoir in bite-sized pieces, poetic and perfect writing, humor

Best Young Adult Fiction

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Give this book a whirl if you like… a realistic teen viewpoint, reading fiction inspired by current events, contemplating Black Lives Matter, exploring complex issues in a nuanced way, powerfully emotional novels

Best Biography

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

Give this book a whirl if you like… discovering the real person behind the stories, learning about a literary legend, learning about the author of children’s classics, American history through the life of one pioneer, overcoming hard times

Best Women’s Fiction

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

Give this book a whirl if you like… dual narratives, seaside settings, second chances, finding love, life after a breakup, heroic characters quietly saving lives

Best Literary Fiction (2-way tie)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Give this book a whirl if you like… lovely writing, creative use of language, Black Lives Matter, Fates and Furies, he said/she said narrative style, considering social issues through fiction

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Give this book a whirl if you like… big stories, books about complex families, stories about people’s lives falling apart, stories about houses, dual connected timelines, the life of a scientist, individual evolution and evolution of species

So, my fellow readers… what’re your favorites of the year?

Currently: holiday cozy

We’re approaching year-end, and things are busy and pretty darn good. Here’s what’s been happening at the Unruly household…

Reading | The last few months, the reading’s been splendid. I whizzed through The Library Book by Susan Orlean and kept reading passages aloud to the Dear Man because Orlean so perfectly captured aspects of library life and the dedication of librarians to their work.

And I’ve been devouring books about food and cooking. Current obsession: My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl.

Listening | On my 3-minute commute and occasional trip to the grocery store, I inched my way through the audiobook Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willick and Leif Babin (which they read themselves, and dude, they sound scary.) And just started listening to Transcription by Kate Atkinson, which is making me happy to be driving.

Watching | The Dear Man and I are completely hooked on Samuel and Audrey’s travel and food YouTube videos. YSam’s even a Cubs fan, and if we ever encounter them on a sidewalk in Prague, they’re gonna be freaked out because we’ll be acting like we know them.

Learning | We’re doing seasonal decorating here at the new old house, and it seriously takes two to do this kind of thing. I’ve got no decorating game whatsoever, so my tactic is to look up stuff on Instagram and Pinterest, then show pictures of stuff I like to the Dear Man, who has an artist’s/designer’s eye and can make suggestions about our space. Then we wander through the flea market and boutiques and craft stores and we figure out which pieces will work. It’s all a little bit bumbling, but it’s fun to work on it together and learn what we can do.

Island Christmas

Organizing |  After several false starts, we finished organizing the closet, which is such a relief and delight. We had to buy shelves, which had to be custom cut, and then right in the middle of the project, the store discontinued the shelves we were using. But: we got it done!

Yes. It is a thing of beauty, this closet. 

Eating | It’s the holiday season, and we’re surrounded by treats!

Definition of a happy holiday: My friend made this bowl. 
My man filled it with treats for us.

Loving | Our new house. I love our new house.

Anticipating | We’ll be spending time with both sides of the family this holiday season, and that means laughing. Can’t wait!

This one says, “Happy holidays.”

What’re you looking forward to this season?

Announcing Book Bingo 2019

Welcome to Book Bingo 2019!

It’s our fifth annual Book Bingo event, and we’re so glad you’re here.

Once again, my collaborators and I have pondered categories and themes for the annual bingo card, and we realized we have several categories relating to fire and rebirth… so we’ve got a fiery theme and a hidden Phoenix this year.

Big thanks to the two people who make this possible:

My dear friend, who conspires with me all year long to develop this list of categories. So much fun.

The Dear Man, who goes into his office and then says, “Do you have a minute?” and shows me the most gorgeous design that captures every aspect we wanted (and then a little bit more). I love this.

How to Play

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2019. Books started in 2018 but finished in 2019 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category.
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

About the Categories

Edgar Award: First Novel – A mystery that was nominated for — or won — the Edgar Allan Poe Award for First Novel

Heroine –Strong female voice: author, character, or subject

Palate cleanser – A book that refreshes and balances out what you’ve read lately     

Genre-bending – A book that plays with genre — it might break the rules or be categorized in more than one genre

Gen X author – A book written by an author born between 1961 and 1981

Odd couple – A book about an unusual pairing

Classic I’ve never read –A book that’s stood the test of time

Pushing boundaries  –A book that challenges your worldview or awareness. Or a book whose pioneering character or author breaks new ground.

Explore  – A book that takes you or the character to a new place

Place Name – A book with a place name in its title (examples: Looking for Alaska. Or Alaska by Michener)

Life hack –A book with a shortcut that makes makes your life (or a character’s life) easier

Unbelievable – Nonfiction that’s stranger than fiction, or a novel whose premise you’re not buying

Green – A book with a green cover, or a book about nature, money, envy, or any other green thing

Fire –Literal fire, passion, or something burning within

Birth– The beginning or a fresh start

Romantic –Idealistic or passionate

Language –A book with a distinctive voice or a book in translation

LGBTQ –A book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ

Novelty Book –A book structured in an unorthodox way

South Pacific – A book set in, or written by, an author from the South Pacific

Folktale –A story incorporating elements of a myth, legend, or fable

Map –A book about a journey, a guide to self-discovery, or simply a book with a map in it

Deep Dive – An investigative, immersive reading experience

Unruly Woman –A book about a woman who breaks out of the mold

Lost & Found – A story of rebirth or redefining a sense of self

To Sign Up…

Add your blog name & URL in the Comments. Easy as that.

Questions? Answers!

If you have any questions about any of the categories, ask your question in the Comments, and I promise to respond.


Printable bingo card