2018 in Books

As I’ve done the past few years, I participated in Goodreads’s annual reading challenge. Having exceeded last year’s goal and finishing at 19, I set my 2018 book goal at 20 books.

I wound up reading almost 30, coming in just short at 29 books.

A few quick reflections on my reading challenge this year:

  • I felt a lot faster finishing books this year, in large part because I was not reading the A Song of Fire and Ice series this year, having finished that last year. It took me weeks to finish each of those books with the scant amount of reading time I had, so the quantity of books I read last year took a toll because I read several 1,000+ page books.
    • The longest book I read last year was 1,177 pages, whereas the longest book I read this year was 818 pages.
  • That being said, I sped through my first five books and then really felt my decrease in velocity when I hit that 818-pager.
    • It typically takes me a few days to about 3 weeks to finish a book, given that I read almost exclusively on my commute to and from work. It took me almost 3 months to finish this year’s behemoth.
  • I enjoyed reading a lot more mindfully this year. There were days when I would steal away for a quick walk outside to clear my head during the workday, or take lunch by myself on a nearby bench, with my Kindle in tow to get some sunshine and reading done.
  • I much preferred the mindful reading to what I find myself doing often, which is walking to and from the subway while reading. This is, admittedly, not a very safe practice.
    • But! While doing this in DC one day, I walked past a friend who was doing the exact same thing! She was the one who looked up from her book to recognize me, but I felt so validated seeing her with her open Kindle in hand, too.
  • With the end of the Blogging for Books program, I didn’t feel as much of the obligation getting through books I didn’t enjoy but was reading for review this year.

Here are the books I finished reading in 2018:

Collage of book covers
The covers of the 29 books I read in 2018

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The Comic Book Story of Video Games | review

The gaming industry produced over $100 billion in revenue this past year, and that number is only going to go up. Within any of our lifetimes, whether your first game was Angry Birds or Pong, the progression of video games has been astounding. The Comic Book Story of Video Games is an incredibly informative graphic novel that tells the incredible story of the electronic gaming revolution.

http://images.randomhouse.com/cover/9780399578908?width=450&alt=no_cover_b4b.gif

This graphic novel starts with the history of video, which is the actual logical place to start the history of video games! Don’t be deceived by the fun drawings and the inclusion of video game characters through this history (it’s a fun Easter egg to spot them!), but this was actually a fairly technical background on the technology behind video and gaming! I loved learning so, so much about the technological innovation that went into bringing video games to life.

I also really loved learning about the context of some of the biggest games in history. What was the historical context for Pong and Pac-man and Pokemon? What technological advances were necessary for each of those games to come out? What made Microsoft come out with XBox? What is the highest-selling console of all time? How did console gaming finally take off to begin with?

These questions and more are answered in this fun read, and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a tiny bit of interest in video games and technology.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

2017 in Books

My books resolution last year was 15 books, and I used Goodreads to track my progress with that resolution as I have the past few years. I was reading very long and hefty books this year, which was sometimes very frustrating with hitting a certain number of books (versus pages, I guess) because the 14th book I started reading this year was super dense and fairly technical. I loved the book but it was frustrating to read for hours and only have progressed 2% further than when I started that day. If I hadn’t started other books before finishing it, I would never have hit my goal of 15. I also read most of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, aka the Game of Thrones books, which are very, very long. The longest book I read this year, according to my Goodreads Year in Books, was A Storm of Swords at 1,177 pages. For reference, the average number of pages of the books I read this year was less than 500.

Without further ado, here are the books I read this year:

2017 in Books

  • In Other Words – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin
  • Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby – Sandi Metz
  • The Inkblots – Damion Searls
  • A Feast of Crows – George R. R. Martin
  • A Dance with Dragons – George R. R. Martin
  • China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • The New York Times: Footsteps
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan
  • Modern Lovers – Emma Straub
  • Spark Joy – Marie Kondo
  • Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
  • everyone’s an aliebn when ur a aliebn too – jomny sun
  • The Comic Book Story of Video Games Jonathan Hennessey & Jack McGowan (review coming soon!)
  • Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  • The Pragmatic Programmer – Andrew Hunt & David Thomas
  • The Gene – Siddhartha Mukherjee

I already have some titles loaded on my Kindle Paperwhite and I’m very excited to get reading this year! Here’s hoping I can make good progress with some easier to manage books and avoid pedantic fictions that make me so nervous about checking out new fiction titles…

Do you have any book recommendations for me going into 2018? Read anything good last year that you’d suggest? New titles, classics? Fiction, non-fiction?

What’s your reading look like? What are your 2018 reading goals?

Previous years: 2016

I Suck at Quitting When Things Suck

In trying to meet my resolution for books read this year, I often will look at book recommendation lists by bloggers and by my library. Heck, sometimes I just go into my library’s eBook collection and just look at what is available to borrow that moment and is popular.

This has led to some pretty frustrating books.

I’ve never been good at quitting anything. It took me much longer than it should have for me to quit being pre-med, the first time I ever quit something really big. But I also tend to be the kind of person who watches bad movies to the end, reads bad books to the last page, and sits through a terrible show until the lights unexpectedly come back up. (In my defense, I was hoping for a consolation prize for enduring the entire thing. Like maybe it was a test, and the people who stuck around would get their money back?)

I know that one of the logical fallacies I am most prone to is the inability to cut my losses. It’s difficult for me to not get wrapped up thinking about the time and/or money I’ve already sunken into something. This isn’t particularly logical, and I know that in the back of my mind, but when I am rolling my eyes so hard at a book that I’m getting a headache, I still can’t help thinking, “Well, I’m not going to be able to get that hour back. At least if I finish, I can definitively say the book sucked all the way through, and I’ll be one book closer to my book goal this year.”

But I’m trying to stop this.

I have a shelf on Goodreads that is for books I started and don’t intend to finish. I am trying not to feel as bad about adding books to that shelf and taking them off my “Currently reading” shelf, forever preventing them from joining the others on my “Read” shelf.

Are you good at quitting things when you should?
Do you have any good book recommendations? I just borrowed a bunch of Kindle books, but the first tone has been pretty annoying and I don’t think I’m going to finish it, so now I’m getting nervous about the rest of the haul. Please please share any books you’ve loved lately! Any genre welcome.

The New York Times: Footsteps

If you enjoy dreaming of visiting the places whose beauty and spirits inspire some of literature’s great authors, you may love The New York Times‘s “Footsteps” column. Their newest book is a collection of a few of these columns, if you want to keep a physical copy of these little bursts of literary travel to flip through. After all, it makes sense that someone who wants to see the physical spaces that inspired stories we have only lived in our imaginations might relish the physicality of flipping the pages of this book.

http://images.randomhouse.com/cover/9780804189842

I’ll admit that The New York Times: Footsteps was not the best book for me to read during my subway ride. Normally, I think anthologies of short stories are good for my commute, as I only get about 15 minutes each way (20-25 minutes if I decide to read while I walk!) and it can be very frustrating to have to break up my reading time if I’m reading a very addictive book. (You don’t want to put it down!)

Additionally, I found that this wasn’t as enjoyable for me to read because:

  1. I wasn’t familiar with all of the authors referenced throughout.
  2. I wasn’t familiar with all of the destinations referenced throughout.
  3. The differences in writing style sometimes felt a bit disjointed.

The columns I enjoyed most were, of course, about authors whose work I am familiar with and/or with travel destinations I am familiar with. Columns about a place I haven’t heard of that inspired a poem I’ve never read were difficult for me to feel any connection to. That being said, some of the columnists used their words to craft a beautiful image of a destination that drew me in, and/or they were able to describe a piece of literature in such a compelling way that I want to read an author for the first time.

I’d recommend having a look at the list of authors and destinations and seeing if any are of interest to you. I love the idea of retracing the footsteps that inspired a piece of literature or an entire body of work and looking at that destination through this lens.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.