My year in books: 2018

Well, 2018 has been safely over for two days and it’s about time I summed up my reading successes and failures of the last year. Again, I missed only one book club meeting (I went on a sailing trip… once in a lifetime thing, you know), I expanded my reading horizons genre-wise, I finished my Goodreads challenge and I participated in the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge 2018‘. I also tried to do the reading Bingo with my book club buddies, but I failed miserably so I won’t say no more. In total, I read 30 books or 8622 pages (it’s about 800 pages less than in 2017 but still fairly good). 9 of the books I read in 2018 were in Latvian (my mother tongue), mostly translations (only one by a Latvian author… a bit disappointing).

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I have to admit that the mismatch between my page count and the book count is largely due to my first attempts at reading graphic novels. I tackled 6 volumes of Saga and I was not disappointed. It took some time to adjust the reading process of following not only the text but also the picture. I think I got the hang of it around the third volume (and it’s nice that you can finish them in one sitting). As Goodreads counted each Saga volume as a separate book, I upped my challenge numbers from 25 to 30 to make it fair.

I was also happy to find my way back to Russian authors in 2018. I have always had a special relationship with Russian literature (I was once hooked on Dostoyevsky… don’t ask). I read 3 books by Russian authors and plan to read more in 2019. I also got my obsession with Sergei Dovlatov out of the way (I was on a mission since I saw a film about him in Berlinale and didn’t know who he was). It turned out that his books have not been translated into Latvian so I had to read in English (and I have another one on my TBR shelf waiting for its turn).

Geographically, I also ventured a bit into Australian, Japanese and African literature partially due to our book club topics and partially due to pure accident. And I found a couple of authors I would gladly come back to in the future.

If I had to pick books from my last year’s reading list that I could easily recommend, three books come right on top:

  1. Māris Bērziņš “Svina garša” [full review in Latvian]. This one will only be of interest to fellow Latvians as it was the only book by a Latvian author I read in 2018. It’s a very impressive historical novel about a complicated time in my country’s history from the perspective of a simple man. And a mind-blowing ending to top it off.
  2. Evgenij Vodolazkin “The Aviator” [full review in Latvian]. I read it in Latvian, but there’s also a translation in English.  It’s easily my favorite read by a Russian author in a long time. The author is playing with concepts of time and memory in a way only Russians can pull it off.
  3. Nevil Shute “A Town Like Alice” [full review in English]. A random pick for a summer read turned into a favorite classic of the year. It’s a crowd-pleaser with a positive message.

We also had some fun topics for our book club, but you’ll have to excuse me for being too lazy to make a wrap-up this year (it’s not like you can join in anymore anyway). I’m happy that I didn’t drop the ball on my book count (I was worried for a moment there…). I have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019 at 25 books at the moment, but I hope to improve on the average page count per book (some massive tomes sitting on the shelf is all I’m saying). I’m thinking about joining another round of the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge’ and continue pushing my reading limits genre-wise. Anyhow, here’s hoping for another bookish year! 🙂

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