2018 was the first year I started tracking everything I read, and I clocked in 58 books for the year. That’s about 1.1 books per week. And the first question I get when I tell people my stats is “How?”
Well, I usually have 2 books going at any time - one audiobook, and one physical or ebook. Why two? I’m a pretty fast reader - I can read about a page a minute if I’m uninterrupted, but I’m rarely uninterrupted. And sometimes when I’m at peak multi-tasking, audiobooks are generally easier (albeit slower) for me to consume.
I also very rarely buy any books. Since I work downtown, the Cleveland Public Library is right there, and I just have a running list of books perpetually on hold. Sometimes this means that 6 books come in at the same time, but the beauty is that the library auto-renews unless there’s a hold, so unless it’s a wildly popular book, I’m pretty well covered.
I read a pretty diverse range of books in 2018, so I’m summing up the top 3 of what I read in each category (in no particular order).
Best Trashy Beach Reads:
Blind Item: New Ohio transplant Nicola is an assistant publicist that ends up in a romance with a big Hollywood Star. This book is written by two Hollywood Insiders, and although all the names are changed, all the stories are (allegedly) true. This is such a fun beach read - it’s like the literary version of People Magazine
Limelight: Dallas mom Allison Brinkley moves her family to NYC, and through a twist of events ends up being a babysitter/personal assistant for a bratty teen pop star. Another taste of celebrity, this one is a sweet, fun, entertaining read, and i kept imagining the pop star as Justin Bieber.
Fitness Junkie: Janey Sweet must lose 30 lbs or her job, and embarks on a fitness journey where she meets wildly popular workout guru Sara Strong. A fictional, veiled account of some very well know fitness and wellness personalities - this one is fun and fluffy and I couldn’t help but speculate how much of it is true.
The Seasonaires: A group of 20-somethings are picked to live in a house in Nantucket as brand ambassadors for a clothing brand and document their lives on social media. The Real World in 2018, and oh, there’s a murder. So much drama. So much fun.
The Last Mrs. Parrish: Amber Patterson is a nobody social climber who falls into a friendship with socialite and philanthropist Daphne Parrish. Amber embeds herself into the family, and well, you just have to read it to find out what happens. One quick warning - the main character Amber Patterson is highly unlikable, but the fast pacing will keep you turning pages to find out what happens next.
One of Us is Lying: This book is like The Breakfast Club, if one of them didn’t make it out of detention alive. Relive every high school cliche personality. So many secrets and so much drama = so much fun.
Best Love Story:
My Favorite Half-Night Stand: This was by far my favorite love story of 2018. I loved that this was a very modern love story - the two protagonists are best friends, who end up needing to find dates for a gala. Along with their other friends, they turn to dating apps, and the woman, Millie, creates a profile under her middle name, effectively cat fishing her best guy friend. And oh by the way, they also have an unrelated half-night stand. The book is funny, charming, and gave me warm fuzzies, and I highly recommend you read this.
One Day in December: This is not a Christmas book, so don’t feel like it’s “out of season”. That said, this book is like the best kind of Hallmark Christmas movie - lots of frustrating missed opportunities, but no villains, and a completely fulfilling romance. This one is also a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick, so you’re probably seeing it all over Instagram too. Laurie sees her “the one” at bus stop one December day, and when she finally meets him a year late, he’s dating her best friend Sarah. This isn't quite a love triangle in the way you might think, but the story unfolds over 10 years as their lives intertwine.
Love and other Words: This book is a slow burn with a satisfying end that reminds you of your first love. There’s a ridiculous “secret” that causes the essential conflict, that really could have been resolved with a simple conversation, but practicality aside, I really enjoyed this book.
Best Non Fiction:
Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture: This is one of the best travel books I’ve ever read. Not only was I incredibly hungry reading this, but I wanted to drop everything and go to Spain ASAP. This is an amazing love story - to a woman, a place, people and their food. Highly recommend.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: The author is a popular writer for Buzzfeed Canada (and you can see her on Buzzfeed’s Netflix show too) and I really enjoyed her witty take on growing up South Asian in Canada. This one was funny and charming, and I found it incredibly relatable, for obvious reasons.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood: I’m a Trevor Noah fan - I love his smart, observational humor. This book is different from The Daily Show, but has the same vein of humor woven into a memoir. Definitely get the audiobook version of this if you can - it’s worth listening to this rather than reading it.
Best Fiction (unclassified):
Americanah: This is the story of two young Nigerian lovers, who get separated by time, goals, and politics. Ifemelu moves to the United States to study. Obinze plans to follow, but politics result in him being an illegal immigrant in the U.K. Eventually they both move back to Nigeria, and their paths cross once again, reigniting their passion. This book is so beautifully written, I cannot say enough good things about it. I had so many feelings reading this book - sure there’s a love story, but it’s so much a story of survival, race, what it means to belong, and where home truly is.
Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win: Charlotte Walsh is a Silicon Valley exec who moves back to her small town in Pennsylvania to run for Senate. This story is enlightening and frustrating, but says so much about the record-breaking number of women who ran for political office this year, and the incredible odds they had to overcome (mostly due to gender) to win. It will give you a new appreciation (and disgust) for politics in America - particularly relevant in our current political climate.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Eleanor Oliphant lives a simple, routine life, but she has no friends. A random event changes her entire world - this book is sweet and charming, and made me tear up a tiny bit but is so lovely that you should definitely read it.
I’m excited to get a start on books in 2019 - do you think I will beat 58 books?
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