Normally I'm not a fan of the "Year in Review" type of thing. Whether it is "Looking Back on" a year in the news, the year in photographs in the newspaper, or any version of this, I tend to skip it and move on. Then a friend shared a link to The Book Stop's "2018: My Year in Reading and Blogging" and I started thinking about the whole retrospective idea in a different way. So I've decided to give it a try and look back at my 2018 through books.
The last few years I've done the Goodreads Challenge for how many books you plan to read in a year. For 2018 I aimed to read 120 books. A bit of a lofty goal, but since I frequently read more than one book at a time and have been aiming to read enough new books to keep this blog interesting, I thought I had a shot. I ended up reading 168 books. Ok, some were novellas- but not that many. How did I manage such a larger than average reading list?
1) No TV. I'm not generally a huge TV watcher, but when you have access, you tend to watch something. So when I no longer had access through work (and am probably one of the only people alive who hasn't gotten into streaming yet) I read more in the evenings.
2) No job. In September I left my job at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum and moved back to New York for medical reasons. Long story short, for several months I was focused on health and not even looking for my next job. Think about the last time you had a doctor's appointment. How late was the doctor? You know you got way more reading done in that waiting room than at home where people kept interrupting you.
3) NetGalley. I definitely discovered more new authors or books scanning NetGalley this year than anywhere else. Between one thing and another I didn't spend much time browsing bookshelves at my library or favorite independent bookstore. But the magic of NetGalley and the internet still introduced me to some of my new favorite books
A few surprises . . .
Thanks to NetGalley I read more biographies and histories than usual. From Napoleon to U.S. Grant, politics before the Civil War to the sinking of the Indianapolis, I enjoyed discovering more histories and have definitely been recommending them to people!
I was surprised to add these up and find I read fewer sci-fi and fantasy books than usual. Not sure why that happened, but I will be trying to read more in 2019!
I also expected to find I'd read more than 20 mysteries. Maybe the year as a whole was too dark for heavy murder mysteries?
This didn't really surprise me. 2018 was definitely a year I wanted to read books with happy endings.
In the end, I ask myself the same question that curlygeek04 asked. Does reading and writing about books really matter in the big scheme of things? Between politics, the environment, and all the things that are meaningful and impactful, do books make a difference? To me, the answer is: yes. We turn to books for escapism, for happiness, for familiar friends and worlds. We learn about people, food, and cultures. At the end of a bad day we turn to books for comfort.
Books matter. So if my blog introduces someone to a book they'd never heard of that becomes their new favorite, that makes me happy too. Which is sort of the point, isn't it?