I decided to continue this habit I started in 2017 of keeping a record of all the books I read throughout the year. And for 2018 I decided to up the ante, considerably. I saw this article promoted on LinkedIn about how most CEOs read 50 books a year that piqued my interest. Did you know that Bill Gates reads anywhere from 50-60 books a year? Damn, son! That’s some impressive numbers. Afterwards I thought to myself that I’m a bad boss bitch myself, there’s no reason I can’t go toe-to-toe with ol’ Gatesy on this. I love to read! And I’ve heard that the more you read the better you write. (That’s some wisdom from Stephen King, who also reportedly reads anywhere from 50-70 books a year!)
The math on this checks out. There are 52 weeks in a year, so 50 books is an attainable goal. Those extra 2 weeks would give me the same supportive comfort I’ve come to expect from the finest pair Costco stretch pants money can buy. I decided that 2018 would be the year I read a minimum of 50 books.
And you know what? I fucking did it! I did it so hard. I read a whopping 63 books in 2018. And I loved every minute of it. In 2017 I only read 18 books, which I feel is a totally respectable number as well. I was questing for the Dark Tower during the last half of the year and truly savouring those stories.
But knowing that I was able to triple my reading made me feel good too. I read so many books I needed 3 pages in my notebook to list them! I also have this darling 12-pack of multi-coloured fine point pens that I used to spruce up my list. Because, yay pretty! I also started recording the date that I finished the book, which I hadn’t done the year prior. It allowed me to better track my trajectory.
Check it out dudes, here’s my reading list!
Here’s the complete and comprehensive list of all the books I read in 2018 so you don’t have to squint read it from the photos:
- The Fireman — Joe Hill (January 6th)
- Fahrenheit 451 — Ray Bradbury (January 10th)
- The Bat — Jo Nesbo (January 17th)
- Heart-Shaped Box — Joe Hill (January 23rd)
- Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood (January 30th)
- The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood (February 12th)
- MaddAddam — Margaret Atwood (February 17th)
- Love is a Mixed Tape — Rob Sheffield (February 18th)
- The Chalk Man — C.J. Tudor (February 19th)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — Ken Kesey (February 26th)
- Lord of the Flies — William Golding (March 2nd)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — Ransom Riggs (March 13th)
- The Damned — Andrew Pyper (March 16th)
- The Man in the High Castle — Philip K. Dick (March 29th)
- The Rosie Project — Graeme Simsion (April 4th)
- The Killing Circle — Andrew Pyper (April 10th)
- Marathon Man — William Goldman (April 15th)
- Sharp Objects — Gillian Flynn (April 22nd)
- The Westing Game — Ellen Raskin (April 24th)
- The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer (May 13th)
- The Couple Next Door — Shari Lapena (May 14th)
- In a Dark, Dark Wood — Ruth Ware (May 19th)
- Luckiest Girl Alive — Jessica Knoll (May 27th)
- The Road — Cormac McCarthy (May 30th)
- Lost Girls — Andrew Pyper (June 10th)
- The Woman in Cabin 10 — Ruth Ware (June 17th)
- Neuromancer — William Gibson (June 30th)
- The Silent Wife — A.S.A. Harrison (July 2nd)
- Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut (July 3rd)
- Misery — Stephen King (July 6th)
- The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath (July 9th)
- The Heart Goes Last — Margaret Atwood (July 18th)
- The Demonologist — Andrew Pyper (July 25th)
- The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald (July 28th)
- The Girl Before — J.P. Delaney (July 29th)
- Roadwork — Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (August 3rd)
- The Running Man — Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (August 9th)
- Truly Madly Guiltily — Liane Moriarty (August 19th)
- Anasi Boys — Neil Gaiman (August 26th)
- Dying Scream — Mary Burton (August 31st)
- Inherent Vice — Thomas Pynchon (September 6th)
- On Writing — Stephen King (September 9th)
- We Were the Mulvaneys — Joyce Carol Oates (September 17th)
- A Stir of Echoes — Richard Matheson (September 19th)
- Gerald’s Game — Stephen King (September 25th)
- My Best Friend’s Exorcism — Grady Hendrix (September 30th)
- Duma Key — Stephen King (October 12th)
- Coraline — Neil Gaiman (October 13th)
- The Other — Thomas Tryon (October 22nd)
- Gwendy’s Button Box — Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (October 22nd)
- The Shining Girls — Lauren Beukes (October 30th)
- Broken Monsters — Lauren Beukes (November 5th)
- Strange Weather — Joe Hill (November 10th)
- Something Wicked this Way Comes — Ray Bradbury (November 12th)
- The Girl Next Door — Jack Ketchum (November 14th)
- Bird Box — Josh Malerman (November 18th)
- Rosemary’s Baby — Ira Levin (November 21st)
- The Haunting of Hill House — Shirley Jackson (December 10th)
- Hell House — Richard Matheson (December 14th)
- Audition — Ryu Murakami (December 16th)
- The Devil in Silver — Victor LaValle (December 24th)
- The Woman in Black — Susan Hill (December 27th)
- The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved — Joey Comeau (December 29th)
So first off, I’m obviously not reading a bunch of business or tech books like Bill Gates probably is. My tastes are apparently quite murderous. Funny story actually, I was walking to the library in the fall and I had Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls in my hand. While I was waiting at the cross walk the woman next to me noticed my book and asked what it was about. I told her it was about a serial killer who stalks women through time and the one woman who survived his attack trying to hunt him down. She looked horrified and said to me “You must not read these kinds of things! The mind is so sensitive and these terrible things make such an impression on it. You don’t want to take all that nastiness with you into the next life.” I was genuinely taken aback by that response. It was so unexpected and unnerving. At that point in the year I’d already read my fair share of gory murders and heinous crimes to be solved by plucky heroines that I was starting to think this was the beginning of my very own real-life story! An ominous warning from a stranger is a classic horror trope and the people who buck those warnings are always in for trouble. I brushed it off though and continued on, next reading Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters which was even more fucked up than The Shining Girls. But I loved both books. Both are well-written and riveting, I would recommend them to anyone who doesn’t mind having terrible things imprinted on their brain.
There are a few books here that I’d read before but wanted to reread like Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, and Lord of the Flies. All three are excellent reads that I would also recommend. Looking back I see that I had quite a few little binges throughout the year where I just gobbled books up. There was a long weekend in February that was horribly cold and snowy so I literally read all weekend long, finishing up three books in three days. It was so lovely, and so needed. There’s nothing I needed more this year than solitude and books. It was good for my soul.
It’s amazing how much time there really is for reading if you make the effort. I was reading in bed late at night, on the subway when commuting, in waiting rooms at appointments, on my lunch break even. In the summertime I was reading in the park and it was absolutely delightful. I hit my goal of 50 books on October 22nd at 11:47pm EST when I finished Gwendy’s Button Box. October 22nd is special because I finished two books that day. I finished Thomas Tryon’s The Other on my Monday commute, then started Gwendy’s Button Box around 9pm as my nighttime read before bed. It was a quick read, and totally engrossing so those 171 pages were easily devoured.
Of everything I read this year there was only one real dud. It was Dying Scream by Mary Burton. What a shitty fucking book that was. I bought it off the 2 for $15 paperback rack at Indigo because I assumed it was another basic serial killer, crime solving caper. Buyer beware, amiright? I didn’t notice the “Romantic Suspense” label on the spine when I bought it. D’oh! It was also apparently the second book in a trilogy, and not having read the first book made it that much worse. But I powered through nonetheless and checked the rest of my book spines thoroughly to mitigate risk of another stinker like that one.
I would also say that The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum is a psychologically traumatic read, so please don’t read it. As someone who regularly faces down spooky, gory, and macabre stories without issue, this one genuinely unsettled me. It’s in a class all its own of awfulness. Any time I tried to convince myself that the situation couldn’t get any worse, it always did and went to levels of depravity that I couldn’t even fathom. It hurt my heart reading this book, truly.
Overall though, this is a list of awesome reads and I’m proud of myself. If I had to pare this list down to the Top 5 Best of the Best, it would be:
- Marathon Man — William Goldman
Such an exciting read! I loved every minute of it. This is pure entertainment.
- On Writing — Stephen King
The only non-fiction I read this year and frankly, long overdue. You know how much I respect and admire Mr. King, so learning about his approach was endlessly fascinating. Truly, this is a must read for anyone who writes. Any genre, any kind of writing, you have to read this book.
- The Fireman — Joe Hill
First book of the year and it set the bar. A post-apocalyptic type of story with well-rounded characters that you care about and hope survive.
- Inherent Vice — Thomas Pynchon
So many laughs! This is the wittiest writing I’ve ever encountered and I actually laughed out loud while reading, numerous times. Pychon is devious and masterful. Nobody writes like this, he’s divine.
- The Shining Girls — Lauren Beukes
This one is a slam-dunk. It’s got a fresh, interesting concept, a perfectly vile villain, and is so fast-paced you can hardly stand to put it down. It’s fantastic.
Boss bitch status achieved! 2018 was one for the books alright, heh heh, pun intended. I proved that I could continue to live my normal life as a career obsessed woman who wants it all while reading just as much as the average CEO reportedly does. For 2019 I’m already underway tackling Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next year.
I leave you with this final thought: READ.
Reading is good for you. Do it. Make time for yourself, for stories, and for adventures or learning. Whatever it is you like to read, make time for it and do it.