2018 Reading Stats
Books Read: 63 Books
Favorite Read of the Year: Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
Least Favorite Read of the Year: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Number of Pages Read: 26,277 Pages (Average of 417 pages)
Longest Book Read: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, 1386 pages
Shortest Book Read: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 118 pages
Most Common Subjects: War, Death and Loss
Most Common Genre: Magical Realism and Satire
In 2018, I had a big time bounce back after having a very slow reading year in 2017. From a measly 42 books, I have leapfrogged into 63 books. 2017 was impacted partly by my venture into getting back into shape which ate a healthy portion of my time. Well, such is the reality of life: in order to accomplish one thing, one thing or another must give way. In 2018, I was able to dedicate more time to reading, hence, an overall more productive year. Here’s my wrap up report for 2018.
How about you, how did your 2018 go? Share it in the comment box or tag me in your wrap up report so that I can read it as well. Happy reading!
Top 20 Reading List
Just like the previous year, I came up with a list of 20 books that I have decided to read no matter what. Whereas I was unsuccessful in 2017 due to the difficulties I encountered with James Joyce’s epic Ulysses, I am glad to say that I was able to complete all 20 books in my 2018 reading list, although not without any difficulties. Well, I have no one to blame on this but myself because I confidently (read in between the lines: ignorantly) included some of the most difficult reads, ever.
It was with haste that I prepared the list but just like in the previous year, I included some of the most renowned reads there is such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy. I am actually proud of the list I came up with because it was a healthy mix of different genres dealing with different subjects, including young adult fiction (haha, surprises) and some award-winning works.
My reading journey (at least apropos the Top 20 Reading List)started quite late, in March (in 2017, I started in February). I started with Salman Rushdie’s Man Booker Prize Winning and ageless masterpiece, Midnight’s Children. And what can I say? It was a blast starting the journey with this colossal work. I was so impressed that it ended up being my favorite read of the year. To be fair, most of the books in the list I made are amongst my best all-time reads.
If there was one key in my being able to complete the list is that I didn’t stall reading the books in the list. In stark contrast with 2017, I literally went on a reading tear as early as May, slowly gaining momentum as I cross out one book after the other. In 2017, it was only in September that I sat down and pursued reading the rest of the books in my list. Although I was stretched by Infinite Jest and War and Peace, I was nevertheless able to complete all twenty books before the year ended. Props to me! I have gotten the hang of this list now, so I am currently working on my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. Any suggestions?
Book Reviews and Literary Appreciation
After gaining some needed momentum in 2017, I carried on writing book reviews in 2018. If one is to rely on the number of reviews alone, 2018 has been my busiest so far. I have completed 73 book reviews in all. The disparity between the books I read and the number of reviews I wrote is because 10 of them were carry-overs from 2017. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete these reviews in 2017.
I nearly fell into the same hole again in 2018. It was part of my resolution to write or publish a review immediately after reading a book. Again, I found it a challenge, especially at the middle of the year when pressing matters took precedence. Before I knew it, by September, the number of outstanding book reviews I had to do has ballooned. After resigning from my job, it was one of the first things that I decongested. I was able to find the time to complete one review after another and before the year ended, I have significantly reduced it to a manageable number. From the books I have read in 2018, I only have six outstanding reviews, although I did publish one already.
In 2018, I have started doing reviews for books I have read years aback. It is quite challenging because I had to recall everything about the story. Nevertheless, I the new challenge is welcome. As I have mentioned previously, doing book reviews have helped me become very critical of the books I read. It did take some time to get used to it but once I got going, I can’t stop. I began to enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I read. It maybe mentally taxing but it is a very satisfying undertaking that I intend to carry over in 2019.
Man Booker Prize
In 2017, I read a bunch of Pulitzer Prize- winning works, albeit without any intention of doing so. It is also without design or intention that 2018 shaped up to be the year of the Man Booker Prize winning masterpieces. Innocently, the journey commenced with A.S. Byatt’s Possession, then followed by the Booker of Bookers, Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Rushdie has lately become my literary flavor and Midnight’s Children happens to be part of my 2018 Top 20 Reading List.
I thought that the journey would end with Midnight’s Children. But I was wrong. Come September, I dedicated the entire month to reading purely Man Booker Prize-winning works, in the same manner that April was my Asian Literature month and August my Young Adult Fiction month. To say that Booker Prize winners are complicated is an understatement. However, they are amongst the most lyrically written pieces I have ever read (Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, Banville’s The Sea and Ondaatje’s The English Patient).
In total, I have read seven Booker Prize winning works. What made a mark for me is the way most of these books explored human nature in depth; it was simply astounding. Yes, read Booker Prize winners and you’ll be in a for a treat. What I have read this year is just a tip of the scale. The same is true with Pulitzer prize winners. In 2019, and in the years to come, I will endeavor to read more of these award-winning books. Anne Burns’ Milkman would be a great start; I heard that it is quite the difficult read. I am always in for the challenge. 😊
War, Magical Realism and Satire
If there is one subject that characterized my 2018, it would be war. Nearly 20 of the 63 books I read have at least mentioned war or highlighted its evils and consequences. All kinds of war were explored: from dystopian to civil wars to actual historical events. World War Two was a very prevalent subject (The Book Thief, Catch-22, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The English Patient, and Warlight). I have also come across books dealing on the Vietnam War (The Sympathizer), and the Napoleonic Wars (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and War and Peace). Lest anyone forget, wars are fascinating subjects because of their prevalence even today; their impact still resonate and perhaps will never be erased.
Aside from war and its evils, I have read plenty of satirical works and magical realism during the year. The Master and Margarita is the best and the biggest example of satirical work I had this year. Magical realism, on the other hand, is a genre I can never completely run from. The advent of the likes of Murakami, Rushdie and Garcia Marquez slowly transformed the landscape of literature, tipping it towards the fantastical while balancing it with the realistic. I am not going to be surprised if I encounter more this year. Not that I am complaining.
If there is a new genre that I have fallen in love with this year, it would be postmodernism, and what a way to baptize me into this amazing world. It all begun with Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler and David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Both books literally twisted and turned my mind and fed my imagination in a way that is fantastic. I am looking forward to more books of this genre and hopefully in 2019, I could do exactly just that.
2019 in Perspective
There are so many things to look forward to in the coming year. Slowly, I am regaining my reading momentum. I am making strides towards reading more relevant books and I guess I have to owe that to the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. It is making me step beyond my comfort zone, molding me into a better and a more critical reader. I know I can never fully resist going back to my roots (the Higgins Clarkses, the Steeles, the Sheldons, the Grishams), but I can take comfort in the fact that I am on the right track on my literary journey; not that such path truly exists. Each one to his own anyway.
Personally, I have not much expectation in 2019 because I just want to flow with the tide. I have to rely on the momentum I gained to propel me into the deeper world of literature. I am prepared to be transported into different and more fascinating worlds and dimensions that only books can. I hope that all of you will still form part of this journey. Here’s to an amazing 2019 reading journey!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss