Best Reads of 2018

For several years now, my only reading resolution has been to read 100 books. I keep track of them at Goodreads and everything counts — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, audiobooks, essay and short-story collections, but not individual short stories. Novellas? I don’t know. I don’t come across many.

I made my goal of 100 books in 2011, then skipped three years, but met the goal in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Missed it again in 2018, by quite a lot, which I attribute to three different vacations in Europe. I never read much when on vacation. The days are full, dinners are late, after which I fall into bed.

I read just 72 books in 2018, and they included more nonfiction than fiction — which may be a first.

Five-star nonfictions: Pep Talks for Writers, by Grant Faulkner (founder of NaPoWriMo), Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder (deserves a reread soon), Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen, , Subliminal How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone, How to Write Non-Fiction by Joanna Penn, Christ Stopped at Eboli, by Carlo Levi, The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz (a book that really did change my life), Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon (about intermittent fasting), Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, The Coming Storm by Michael Lewis, Clean Meat by Paul Shapiro, The Library Book by Susan Orlean.

Five-star fictions: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith, The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller, American by Day by Derek B. Miller, Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart (4th in the Miss Kopp series).

Five-star poetry collections: Add Water, Add Fire by Karie Friedman, The Billy Collins Experience by A. M. Juster (a reread). In general, I don’t give star ratings for poetry (mostly because I have so many poet friends). But Friedman is deceased. And Juster’s book is a standout to read again and again.2

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