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The 9 books I read in 2018 that I can’t stop thinking about

Reading is my favorite relaxing hobby, and nothing makes me happier than to dive into a stack of books.  In fact, I’m pretty much convinced that as a designer, I’m constantly on a mission to create The Ultimate Places to Curl Up With A Book (as evidenced by this porch swing and this nook).  I set a goal to read 55 books in 2018, which didn’t happen, but I came close with 42 completed which means that my mental health was in an excellent place (haha).

For most of the year, I’ve been relying on the local public library; I had shifted away from reading on my iPad because it was bothering my eyes, frankly (gahhh oLD AGE IS COMING FOR ME!) despite my love of the immediate download on iBooks. I felt immediately superior – YES! I am a reading PURIST – away from me, ye evil devices!

But . . .  Right before we went to Paris, I took the plunge on a Black Friday special on the Kindle Paperwhite so I didn’t have to pack a bunch of books. I was intrigued by the extremely long battery life as well as it being waterproof. Plus, it uses a different type of light than the iPad  so it doesn’t bother your eyes in the same way that the iPad does, nor does it affect your sleep. (Bonus points – my kids can’t steal it from me to play freaking Fortnite on because hello! IT’S ONLY BOOKS!) I’ve since entered the 21st century, swallowed my pride, and learned how to borrow books digitally from the local library, and the long battery life means I’m not having to charge it all the time (ahem – I’m lookin’ at you, Apple).

Anyway, the trip proved to me that the Kindle Paperwhite is a keeper, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. (As a student in Paris nearly 20 years ago, I had a small suitcase just for books!)

I primarily love fiction, but there were a couple of great self-help and memoir reads for me this year too. Here’s the roundup of all my favorites:

 

THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER

I adore Kate Morton‘s writing and this book was a bit slow to start, but it picked up steam and I didn’t want it to end.

THE MAP OF SALT & STARS

A beautiful read on Syrian refugees and their harrowing journey to escape the brutality of the regime there. I love books that help me see inside a different culture than mine, and this one was so beautifully rendered.

AMERICAN WIFE

Curtis Sittenfeld is a new favorite author – I read Eligible and laughed out loud at the snarky reinterpretation of Pride & Prejudice – but American Wife takes a different tone and approach. It’s loosely based on the life of Laura Bush but before you get too comfortable and think it’s going to be a predictable tale, it takes a sharp turn that will shake everything up.

THE LIGHT WE LOST

SEVEN DAYS OF US

If you loved the movie The Family Stone, you’ll appreciate Seven Days of Us. An enjoyable read that takes place with an entire family under quarantine, it’s funny, smart, and a good page-turner.

PACHINKO

A sweeping epic that explores racism, culture, and family in 20th century Japan. Another culture I know very little about, it was emotional and gripping from the beginning.

EDUCATED

I know, I know – everybody’s talking about this one. But for good reason! The shocking true story of a fundamentalist Mormon family in rural Idaho was a book I could not put down, and I immediately wanted to talk to everyone I knew about it. It’s amazing the lengths that the author goes to in order to rectify the craziness that happens to her family AND to assert her right to education. Crazy inspiring.

COME AS YOU ARE

The best self-help book I read this year was this well-written science-based look at women’s sexuality. What’s normal? What’s not? Why can’t we seem to be able to overcome cultural taboos to talk about how our bodies work? The author provides a reassuring voice backed with fact and evidence, as well as plenty of tips on understanding the intricacies of our bodies. I wish I’d read it as a newlywed 14 years ago!

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