Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Reading Year In Review

For the first of January it's sunny and not too ferociously cold here in Toronto. I'm going to take what I can get and be thankful...and that, of course, includes books...

Best of Year

My Classics Club list proved to be shockingly fruitful in terms of good reading this year. Four of the top five were things I'd already suspected were going to be good:

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Well, you may have heard it's a great novel. I had, too, but somehow it still escaped me until 2018. It's not unknown that I cry at books or movies, mostly when things are sad but happy, too, when people who don't entirely deserve it get redeemed. This goes on that list.

Morte d'Urban by J. F. Powers

A lot of people seem to see this book as more savage in its satire than I do. It's funny about bureaucracy in the church, but I thought it was also touching. Fr. Urban is a good man in the midst of a bureaucratic tangle. I thought it was wonderful.

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Well, I didn't love it for the cover of my edition, that's for sure. So it must have been the writing and the story. "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."

Narrative of the Life by Frederick Douglass

There were a lot of things about this book that didn't surprise me, especially now. What did surprise me was how direct, how punchy the prose was. A great read in more ways than one, at least one of which I didn't expect.

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

Teenagers in love. Except they weren't entirely sure of it. Who meet twenty years later. Nothing really happens and that's kind of the point.

OK. That list is looking a little antique-y. My favorite new releases were:

The Odyssey tr. by Emily Wilson
Fox by Dubravka Ugresic
Essayism by Brian Dillon
Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
Changing the Subject by Raymond Geuss


Because who doesn't like some statistics? Well. You can skip this if you like...

Percentage of books from the Toronto Public Library... 30%

Percentage of books by women authors... 30%
-plus two anonymous authors. I'm an adherent of Samuel Butler and was half-tempted to say The Odyssey is by a female author, but didn't...
Percentage of books that I posted about... 60%

Percentage of books released in the last three years (including new translations)... 17%

Percentage of books in translation... 27%
-source languages covered: Greek (ancient and modern), Latin, French, German, Croatian, Italian, Polish, Albanian, Russian 
Percentage of books written in a language other than English... 0%
-this one I intend to do something about in the new year. I'm supposed to know some other languages, but they aren't getting any better like this...
There's probably enough information should you care, but to save you the algebra...that's 135 books in 2018.


I added a few challenges to my list for 2018. In addition to my ongoing Classics Club list, for which I read twelve last year, I signed up for and completed My Reader's Block challenges Just The Facts, Ma'am, Read It Again, Sam, and Mount TBR; Girlxoxo's Monthly Motif challenge; the European Reading Challenge at Rose City Reader; and did ten out of twelve books for the Back To The Classics challenge at Books and Chocolate. That last one irks me a little bit, but since six was counted as success, I guess I will, too.

I also participated in RIPXIII, Nonfiction November, and the 1944 Club.

The Canadian Book Challenge hosted by Melwyk at Indextrious Reader runs from Canada Day to Canada Day; I read eleven books for that this year.

Thanks hosts and moderators! Some wrap-up posts yet to come.


Other than read books and have fun? Isn't that enough? A bunch of new challenges should keep me in line, and as noted above I would like to read more in a language other than English. We'll see.

I've got two enormous books on my Classics Club list: Gibbon's complete Decline and Fall and Burton's translation of the complete Arabian Nights. I figure I'd better read one this year.

Best Wishes to all and hope your past reading year was great and your new one is even better!


  1. Wow, I really like your reading style. I sense I could trust your modern book recommendations. Morte d'Urban sounds interesting and I own that exact copy of The Leopard but haven't read it yet. If you liked Frederick Douglass, you might absolutely LOVE Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery. It's such a uplifting book on a very sad topic. Best of luck with your challenges and your reading for 2019!

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts & to you as well. I've never read Up From Slavery but that's a very good thought.

  2. I also loved Silas Marner and Narrative. They were fantastic.

    1. Both had been on my shelves for so long. What had I been doing?!