books i read in 2018.


One of my goals last year was to read 12 books. Not a lofty reading goal, but I was (and still am) trying to not overestimate how much time I actually have to get stuff done. (Anyone else do this? Think you have all this time so you overcommit and then get overwhelmed and do nothing? Yeah, me, too.) But then I (finally) got a library card – yay for not buying books I’ll likely only read once! – and I actually read much more than I expected. Here’s a look at the 29 books I read in 2018.

1 – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

While not as good as The Handmaid’s Tale, you can’t go wrong with anything by Atwood. Can’t wait for the Tale’s sequel (and for the three season of the hulu hit)! 

2 – The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs 

I found this book after reading When Breath Becomes Air (my favorite book ever). Such a beautiful memoir (she also wrote the wonderful NYT piece When a Couch is More Than a Couch). 

3 – Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The story of three women during WWII and how their lives are intertwined. I really enjoyed this page-turner.

4 – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Pretty much nodded and agreed with everything in Manson’s book. So good. 

5 – Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

I’m usually pretty big on motivational/self-help/performance books, but this was one of two I read all year. They just seemed too heavy when all I really wanted to read were good stories. That said, Hutchinson’s a fantastic storyteller, too, which makes the sciencey research stuff in the book more relatable. A must-read for all athletes.

6 – The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

This is a book to own. A friend loaned it to me, and then after finishing it, I promptly ordered my own copy. 

7 – The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy

Another WWII book, this one’s about two Jewish children left by their parents and taken in and saved by another woman. 

8 – The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

A quick, but great read about twins separated at birth by their doctor father who delivered them. 

9 – Rabbit: the Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams

I read this after hearing the author speak at the Terrible, Thanks For Asking podcast live with Nora McInerny. I cannot imagine her childhood – great whip-through-it read. 

10 – The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

A friend recommended this book, and it didn’t disappoint. A beautifully written book on grief and love. 

11 – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

By far one of the top books I read last year – I’m still thinking of Jude. At 800+ pages it’s a little daunting at first, but keep at it – it’s worth it.

12 – The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This was painful and hard to read at times, but overall a good book.

13 – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I couldn’t put this one down. Relationships, timing, communication – probably something we all can relate to. 

14 – Microcopy: discover how tiny bits of text make tasty apps and websites by Niaw de Leon

You probably didn’t know this, but in real life, I’m a web copywriter/UX writer for a health insurance and health care company. This was a professional read on microcopy. You know the short snippets on webpages when you’re filling out a form or making an appointment, clicking a button? That’s the kind of copy I write.

15 – This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel 

This book! I couldn’t put it down. A must-read for everyone on unconditional love and acceptance and modern families. 

16 – The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I honestly had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up at the library. Nick’s response: the word “fielding” didn’t give it away? Ha! Anyway, it took me a bit to get into it, but once I did it was an enjoyable read on baseball and relationships (even though I think baseball is about as exciting as watching paint dry).

17 –  What I was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman 

I certainly didn’t have Kristin’s life when I was single, but a part of me wishes I had. Because traveling the world living and experiencing life! Enjoyed this light read a lot.

18 – Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

OMFG. This book was insane. Go read it immediately.

19 – Tears of Salt: A Doctor’s Story by Lidia Tilotta and Pietro Bartolo

Not the lightest or easiest book to read – a doctor on the island of Lampedusa off the southern coast of Italy treats refugees fleeing Africa – but so important and relevant and heartbreaking. 

20 – Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel by Shobha Rao

Such a great read about two girls in India, the power of female friendship and never losing hope. 

21 – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Everything you wanted (or maybe didn’t want to?!) know about working in a crematory. Absolutely fascinating. 

22 – A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson

This one took me about 100 pages to get into, but given the author’s from Minneapolis, I stuck it out – and enjoyed the all the Minnesota references. 

23 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 

Friends raved it about this book, but like the previous, it took me a while to get into it. It’s written in letter correspondence so perhaps that’s why? Decent once I finally got into it. 

24 – Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery by Steph Jagger 

This book is similar to Eat Pray Love except Jagger’s yearlong adventure is skiing 4 million vertical feet. Excellent read. 

25 – A Stranger in the House: A Novel by Shari Lapeña

Meh. A predictable thriller.

26 – The Martian by Andy Weir

I enjoyed this movie a few years ago, but the book was even better. Weir is an incredible, detailed, smart and witty writer, and I really felt like I was on Mars with Mark Watney.

27 – Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

The story of Dr. Paul Farmer who dedicates his life to treating TB patients in Haiti. Not always easy to read – we are so lucky – it was eyeopening. Great book. 

28 – What is This Were Enough?: Essays by Heather Havrilesky

This was an impulse buy after reading about it on instagram or a random blog (I think?). Loved these essays – such great reminders to embrace the now – and need to read them again. 

29 – Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll

I’ve long been a fan of Rich Roll’s podcast, so after Nick finished this book, I picked it up. It’s a bit preachy at times, but it has changed how we eat (and kinda makes me wanna do an ultra). I rarely eat meat other than at dinner, and we both eat a green smoothie for breakfast almost daily. We just bought the Plant Power Meal Planner, too. 

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  • Reply Celeste E. 01/14/2019 at 12:37 pm

    That’s an impressive list! Way to go.

  • Reply HappilyOutdoors 01/15/2019 at 1:08 am

    I am really excited for this list and will definitely come back to it the next time when I’m searching for something good to read. I’m currently reading “The fear factor” by Abigail Marsh – super interesting!

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