I’ve been keeping a written account of what I’ve read since 2006. And it began with a bet.
A friendly enough competition, of all things, between my then girlfriend (now wife – don’t worry, the competition didn’t get out of hand) to judge who read the most in any given year. She was an English major, and I was in History, so we both read our fair share. But without the data to back it up, who could say for sure?
So it really began with an old Moleskin notebook that I found in a desk drawer. I scrawled our names on opposite pages and began numbering, leaving two lines for each entry. Every book, complete with title, author, completion date and number of pages was dutifully recorded.
We kept that Moleskin for years and years – until Goodreads came along. I began inputting the details into my Goodreads page and slacked off with the paper copy; my wife gradually stopped inputting her results.
I still have the Moleskin. I’ve been thinking lately about unearthing it and recording the data in there again. I won’t have it in real time as I do with the Goodreads app on my phone.
But maybe that’s a good thing.
Here’s what I checked out in 2018:
- Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
- Paper Juggernaut by Walter Stewart
- When the Facts Change by Tony Judt
- Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard
- The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
- Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese
- The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan
- Fantasyland by Kurt Anderson
- The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell
- The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
- Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Perry
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson*
- Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life by Matt Hern and Am Johal
- I Can’t Breathe by Matt Taibi*
- No is Not Enough by Naomi Klein
- Give People Money by Annie Lowrey*
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
- Rising by Elizabeth Rush
- Hard to Do by Kelli Maria Korducki
- How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan*
- Nomadland by Jessica Bruder*
- Towards a Prairie Atonement by Trevor Herriot
- Learning to Die by Robert Bringhurst
- No Place to Go by Lezlie Lowe
- Fractured Lands by Scott Anderson
This list is in order of when I completed a book throughout the year, and not a ranking of how much I enjoyed them. That would be hard to say, though I do join just about everyone else in saying that Killers of the Flower Moon and How to Change Your Mind were two of the best books I (and many other people) read this year.
Honourable mention goes to Ghosts of the Tsunami, a book that didn’t get a lot of attention in North America, it seems, having been written by a British newspaper correspondent living in Japan. The book is about one school that was destroyed by the 2011 Japanese tsunami and the reaction of grieving parents and loved one who pick up the pieces in the aftermath. It’s incredible and (this doesn’t happen often to me) was so deeply sad at times that I had to put it down to take a moment and collect myself.
I’d strongly recommend any and all of these books to you for 2019. And Overrun! Out March 12! Give it a look!