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Friday Fish Wrap

Three Things About My Reading in 2018

I've reached that time of year . . where I begin reflecting.  Looking back over the past year -- before I look ahead to the coming year.  I usually start with some easy reflecting (what did I read, for example) before I tackle the harder stuff (did I accomplish what I hoped to accomplish, for example).

So. Let's talk about reading, shall we?


According to Goodreads, I've 66 books so far this year.  That's fewer books than I've read in years past, but that was actually by design.  (Yes.  That's right.  I opted to slow down my reading this year; to focus more on what I was reading, and to try to make deeper connections with the books I did read.)

Turns out I read mostly 4-star books (by my own grading system), which is typical for me.  I'm pretty choosy about the books I read, and I have a good idea of what I tend to like, so it doesn't surprise me that most of my books end up with 4 stars.  Besides, for me, 5-star reads just don't come along very often.  (A book has to be really fabulous for me to give it 5 stars.)  That said, I also read a few real duds this year, too!

My top 5 books of 2018? *

And here are three things I've learned from my reading in 2018:

  1. Early in the year, I decided I wanted to focus more on my reading.  I spent a while thinking about what that meant, exactly.  (Especially because I have always - all my life - focused on my reading!)  I came to the understanding that what I wanted . . . was to focus more on making my reading meaningful.  I decided to slow down.  To make better connections with what I was reading - and to, ultimately, remember more about the books I read.
  2. I started taking notes about each book I read this year.  I don't mean . . . notes like you take in school or anything (I certainly wasn't outlining chapters here).  But I did create a format for myself so I could jot down a basic synopsis, a list of characters, my impressions, and quotes I particularly liked from each book I read.  I discovered that by taking notes, I was connecting at a deeper level with what I was reading -- and I'm certainly remembering the books more than ever before.  These notes helped me write reviews on Goodreads (another reading goal of mine for the year), and it helped me create . . . space . . . between books.  In years past, I would open another book as soon as I closed one.  By taking the time to go over my notes and put together a review, I was creating a boundary between my books -- and that turned out to be a great strategy for me in slowing down and finding more meaning.
  3. I used my library more than ever.  While this was frustrating for me sometimes (because I couldn't always get the books I wanted WHEN I wanted them), it taught be other lessons.  Like just because a book finally pops up on Overdrive -- along with 3 others! -- you don't have to pressure yourself to read it Right Now.  You can put yourself back on the hold list and read it later.  (That was a big lesson in letting go for me.)  There were still times I purchased a book because I didn't want to wait (my Overdrive wait for Michelle Obama's Becoming was 8 months long, for example, so I purchased it on Audible), but I was much more likely to wait for books from my library.

Looking back, it's been a really great reading year for me.  I know that there will always, always be far more books out there that I'd like to read . . . than I'll ever have time to read.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that!

How about you?  What were your favorite books this year?


* My other 5-star books this year:  Calypso (David Sedaris), The Overstory (Richard Powers), From a Low and Quiet Sea (Donal Ryan), Our Souls at Night (Kent Haruf), Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)  The Ninth Hour: A Novel (Alice McDermott), The Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander), The Temporary Gentleman (Barry Sebastian), Winter (Ali Smith), and Reservoir 13 (Jon McGregor).


Be sure to visit Carole today, for more Three on Thursday posts.



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This is excellent! I have been thinking about my favorites of lots of things this year - and there a several books are on my list that are on your list!

kathy b

Wow you read a lot!!!! Im impressed. I have only read just a few this year. Nothing stood out. Im busy reading blogs daily and my blog rolls gotten longer. The conversation and inspiration from the blogs makes me happy. I'd say I read blogs about an hour a day


I have really enjoyed your reviews on GoodReads, I'm glad you started writing them! And I have to say #3 is my favorite, I love that you're using the library more!


I wanted to read 25 books this year and I was pretty much on track for most of the year, but I lost my mojo -- ALL the mojo -- the last few months, and it currently stands at 15. I'm excited about some recent additions to my Want to Read list, though, so maybe it's coming back...


What a fantastic post!


I read hardly any books this year and even fewer memorable books. I think moving twice (with all THAT entails) left me too keyed up to settle down and read.

2019 ----------that's got to change. Reading needs to become a priority again.


I've not yet thought about my favorite books this year, so that will have to come later, but I must say that I really like your idea of taking notes. I like to review most/many/some books on goodreads, but often I don't review them until a month or more later when I'm "catching up" on goodreads. I think my reviews could be much better if I was using notes to remind myself of important points about the books, so that is definitely something I'm going to start doing.


I like your ideas about slowing down your reading, especially taking notes and reviewing them in between books. Something about physically writing - not typing on a keyboard - is a good way for me to think and ponder ideas. I have read in several places that note taking by hand is more effective for learning than the more transcription type of note taking via a computer. Great list. I too am quite choosy about what I read. Time is precious.


I am going to try to put some of your learnings into practice myself next year ... specifically around slowing down and paying close attention. I've actually been pretty successful with the library/hold thing, especially letting go of books that arrive at inconvenient times. My current dilemma is the neighborhood bookclub. The last several books I've chosen have been duds (When Breath Becomes Air, A Gentleman in Moscow) and I find most of the books the others choose are at best a Like (3 stars). I know you're in a bookclub (or two) - and I'd welcome tips!!


This is such a great post. I have a few of the same 5 star books and I'm happy to see you gave Our Souls at Night 5 stars as it will always sit very high on my list of great books. I think I'm at 31 for a goal of 35. I've just started listening to Jane Eyre and in the manner of slowing down this appears to be a book I'm going to have to really listen to and I'm looking forward to that!


Becoming and Circe would be on my 5 star list for the year, as is the classic, Middlemarch. I read so many 5 star books it's hard to boil it down to 5. I have Everything Under because of your review and plan to read it after I finish Jude the Obscure (book group).


I enjoyed this post Kym. I started keeping a journal (of sorts) this year listing books that I read. I just give the title, author, date I finished reading and my rating. Come January I'll look back and see what I've read and how many I enjoyed. It has become easy for me to return books that I am not finding to my liking (whereas in the past if I started a book I just HAD to finish it) - life is way too short and there are way too many excellent books out there. I do like your approach of being more mindful about your reading...and I really appreciate your reviews (my TBR list has been added to....).


This post is very timely for me. I've been thinking about how I read and how to get more pleasure out of my reading in 2019. I seem to get so caught up in what my local group and my friends are reading that instead of enjoying the book I'm currently reading, I'm always thinking of what is up next. I really like your idea of note taking and I have a blank journal just for that purpose.
Among my favorite reads of the year are The Veins of the Ocean, The Sport of Kings, Circe, Our Souls at Night, and The Ninth Hour.
Here's to a new year of enjoyable reading!


I am loving Becoming! Circe is also on my nightstand...slower-going than I'd planned when I 'first started it but Becoming interfered! I appreciate your thoughtful approach to your reading and as a former librarian: thank you for using your public lib... Having said that: I buy books more these days than I ever did in the past...
Looking forward to your 2019 reading.

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