So. 2017. She’s done. She’s cancelled. SHE’S OVER.
While I did accomplish a great number of things this year (though a great number of things went unaccomplished, for that matter), one area I focus on is how many books I was able to enjoy. I’m proud to say I made it through 18 different adventures last year! So, time for some new goals for this year….
Reading goals for 2018:
- Read 20 books
- Read some non-fiction
- Finish Harry Potter reread
- Read some newly released books (stay up to date with trends)
- Catch up on 2017 New Releases I missed out on (looking at you The Book of Dust!)
- Get “Literary Darlings” off the ground! (reading adjacent)
- Blog book reviews, and more Literary Adjacent musings
- Incorporate more Literature into the podcast
- Join a book club(s) (Currently reading a book for a club NOW!)
So. Not too shabby for some bookish resolutions. Keep up with the blog to see how I do this year! And, without further ado, here are the 18 books I read last year, and what i thought about them!
Harry Potter– Books 1-5, by J.K. Rowling:
Granted, this was my 1,000th re-read of the Harry Potter series, they are still books I finished in 2018, SO THEY COUNT. Going into this re-read I had some objectives, since I was doing it to refresh myself for Podcast Episodes (over on Beauty and the Bitch). So, being as thorough as possible, I was looking for some critiques outside of my standard “these books are perfect in every way” go-to. With my critical eye I discovered some flaws and inconsistencies that I had always accepted at face value (but, literally,why did he have to compete in the Tri-Wizard Tournament? He could have just sat out and there would literally be no repercussions. I.e. when Fleur failed the second task; her sister did not die, everything was fine). In light of my new found questions (If I take the Polyjuice Potion and become a pregnant woman, COULD I CARRY THE BABY TO TERM, AND WHAT HAPPENS TO THAT BABY WHEN THE POTION FADES?!?!) I found an even deeper, more analytical love of these classics. I recommend doing many re-reads over the years, and I plan to do more myself.
Outlander- Book 1-3, by Diana Gabaldon:
This is easily my biggest obsession of the year. I got on the Outlander train so hard, so fast. I’m super late to the game, as there are nine books currently out, two side series, and they’re almost on Season 4 of the Starz adaptation. Better late than never though, right? I never knew what the series was about, and had always heard it associated with “Romance” and wasn’t totally sure if that was my genre (turns out it is, especially it involved Fantasy and Historical Fiction!). However, I caught one trailer for the TV show and decided I’d give it a go. With each book weighing in at over 1,000 pages…..I’d say I got hooked. I also just finished all three seasons of the show, and have begun book 4. If you love love, fantasy, time travel, historical fiction and adventure: this series is seriously for you.
Euphoria by Lily King:
For me, this book is a hidden gem. I saw someone else recommend it on social media somewhere, and I thought I’d pick it up and give it a try. It turned out to be a sweeping epic about cultural anthropology, women in science/social science, love and loss, and the experiences that shape us. I was drawn into these pages, and read this novel voraciously. Loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead (Pioneer of Anthropology), this book is poetic and graceful. As soon as you finish it, you’ll want to flip it over and start again.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson:
This hilarious look at goals, nature and the human condition won my heart, and earned Bryson a place on my “Favorite Authors” list. Though I’ve only read one other book by him (A Brief History of Nearly Everything), I am anxious to read more. If you’re in the mood for humor, nature, inspiration, adventure and relatability: this is a great non-fiction read for you!
The Silkworm and A Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith (AKA, JK Rowling)
This year I finished up books two & three of the “Cormoran Strike” series. Though my favorite in this series was the first one (The Cuckoo’s Calling) I really enjoyed rounding out this series. This modern noir book follows around (gruff) Detective Cormoran Strike and his unlikely assistant — the beautiful and fragile, Robin. If you love Rowling, and her flowing style, flare for detail, and artful character building you will love this series! BUT, be warned, it can be very graphic at times. I found A Career of Evil very disturbing, and difficult to read at bedtime. However, the pay off was worth it, and I love a good mystery!
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I went into picking this book up reluctantly. 2016 was one of my best years on record, and I was fortunate enough to travel a lot, and I didn’t want this book to bring me to folly over my 2017 prospects of staying grounded in ATX. Also, TBH, I felt there was a “basic bitch” stigma around this book and was a little embarrassed to take on the task. Nonetheless, I did it. This book did live up to some of the stereotypes in a lot of ways: it was, afterall, a book about a wealthy woman who was unhappy in marriage, but was well off enough to abandon her life and travel for a year. So, it’s not extremely relatable on that front. However, I did enjoy living vicariously through her memoir. Part of it were written extremely well, and there were certainly life lessons to be gleaned from her misadventures. All in all, it was a short and satisfying read and I would recommend it to anyone who has thought about picking it up. Would I ever read it again? Definitely not, but I am glad I gave it a shot! Check it out if you want some wanderlust, and a little bit of eye rolls.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I have a group of gal pals that enjoy all things murder and mystery as much as I do, and this was one of the books we were all excited about. I, however, hadn’t gotten around to reading it before the movie came out. One of my friends really wanted to catch it at the North Austin dollar theater before it was gone, and I was right there with her. It was Thursday, she wanted to go on Saturday, so what was a girl to do? Well, buy the book immediately, and finish it before the show of course! I went directly after work and read in every spare moment until the Saturday matinee. I actually think this in the best way to consume a mystery — binge reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, didn’t quite see the end coming (until it was a bit closer), and experienced a lot of sad moments along the way. The main character was struck by alcoholism and depression, and it hit a little too close to home for me. It was difficult at times to turn the page, but the pay off was worth it. Check out this book, in all its hypable glory, if you want a page turning mystery!
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
So, naturally, after all the Paula Hawkins hype, I couldn’t wait to see what she came out with next. Into the Water was a summer blockbuster, and I scooped it up and read it right away. I ended up enjoying it more than The Girl on the Train, and found it enthralling. It had a lot more complex character development, and a lot more gray area. I really enjoyed the dynamics of the relationships, the various points-of-view, and the underlying mythology of the setting. Definitely not for anyone who has a deep fear of water or drowning, but deliciously relevant to small town America and strained family relations. This is a great book for anyone who loves page turning mysteries, and anyone who likes to keep guessing to the very last page. A definite recommendation for the mystery maven.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
I have a full length blog up on this one, so I recommend you go check this out! I LOVED this book. I generally dislike when other people hype things up, especially books, movies, or TV, because then I get set up for disappointment and that overwhelming feeling that I’ve wasted my time. HOWEVER, in this instance, I was really glad I went for it. I opted for the audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton (who crushed it), so that I could pass the time on my drive to and from work. I quickly found more reasons/time to listen while I was at home….I had to know what happened next. Iit had the swift readability of other popular Fantasy/Sci-Fi types, and didn’t linger in parts unnecessarily. When i was finished I longed for a sequel, to know how things went for the characters. Lucky me, there’s one in the works! Definitely add this to your TBR list, and certainly read it before you see the movie that comes out March 30th. Though Steven Spielberg is spearheading the project, there’s a lot of room to fuck it up! Too much CGI/action, and not enough heart can kill a flick. Until then- read on BB’s!
The Belgariad 1 & 2 by David Eddings:
Listen. I’m going to be real with you on this. Not only are these books confusing, as far as when one book ends and another begins (they’re bundled, sort of anthology style), but I found the details sometimes difficult to keep up with. As I was reading, I would often get distracted, and when I would come back to, I’d have to re-read whole pages because the character names are all very similar, and the distinctions weren’t so great early on. As I got deeper into the series, past most of the introductions it really picked up pace. It did take me awhile to get through these two books, but I can’t tell you why. I do find the story enjoyable, the characters relatable, and the pacing really did pick up. This series is a Fantasy classic, and I’m so committed to finishing it….just not sure if it’s going to happen in 2018.
I can’t wait to see what I get through in 2018! Cheers to a New Year, new reading lists, goals and all the Literary Darlings we will meet along the way!
Morgan Messick is a Pop-Culture fanatic, Podcast Host, and total #BookBabe living in Austin, TX with her Husband and little dog Scoop. She aspires to grow her #TBR pile, do all of the hiking, travel as often as possible and make a joke at every turn. She utilizes laughter and yoga for daily medicine, thinks that Harry Potter is magic for all ages, and truly believes Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (SO DEAL WITH IT.) Catch her musings here, and around the web — links in the “about” page!