An Open Book: What I Read in December

Well. 2018 was a heck of a year for reading.

Reading is such a big part of my life, yet I was surprised to realize I ended up reading 63 books in 2018. I’m honestly not sure how that happened, except that I do read several books at a time, and I’m always listening to at least one as well.

From audio books I listened to while taking afternoon walks to illustration-filled books I checked out of the library while visiting my parents, it was a full and satisfying year of reading, thinking, imagining, and living in a world of words.

Looking back over the books I read in 2018, the ones I most enjoyed were probably Born a Crime and The Shadow of the Wind. I was sadly disappointed with Desert Solitaire, a book with which I always assumed I’d fall head over heels in love. There were a few doozies as well: The Savage Detectives and Rabbit, Run (the last book I read in 2018) were among the worse offenders.

What book hit a high note for you in 2018? Any must-read books on your list for 2019?

December book reviews

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (4/5 stars)

Three-line review: This beautifully written piece of literary fiction was lovely to listen to as an audiobook. It thoughtfully and lyrically wove the stories of a quiet man and two runaway girls throughout the adolescence of one of the girl’s daughters. I like these kind of sagas when I have lots of time to really immerse myself in them, though this one felt a bit padded at times.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars)

Three-line summary: Gaiman’s fun, adult-friendly fairy tale is a great way to escape and wile away a few hours. I loved the twists and turns, the magic and fantastic creatures, and the deeply satisfying ending. Though fantasy isn’t normally my genre of choice, this one was well worth picking up.

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens (3/5 stars)

Three-line summary: Complicated, thoughtfully considered, and well researched, this book puts forth undeniably logical arguments for skepticism of organized religion. I am not well versed in religion or religious texts, so many of the specific examples offered were unfamiliar to me, but the general tone and overtures of the book are sound and solid — and Hitchins leaves no doubt where he stands on atheism. Best read in small pieces with plenty of time to digest everything, God is Not Great should be required reading for anyone interested in challenging the pre-conceived religious notions plaguing the world today.

Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1/5 stars)

Three-line summary: My last read book of the year was misogynistic and repulsive with unlikable characters and a plodding story line; in other words, a big, fat disappointment. Updike is apparently a literary genius, but his stream-of-conscious writing could use an experienced editor. Skip this one.

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