Lauren's Year in Books: 2018
As 2018 comes to an end, we consider the reading that defined each of our years. In this year’s final round, we catch up with Political Editor Lauren.
What kind of reading defined your year?
2018 was the first year that I actually put quite a bit of thought into which books I was reading; in the past, I’d just pick up whatever book caught my eye. This meant that I focused on women: books by women, books about women, books written specifically for women. I really have no interest in the male perspective, so why read books about it?
How many books are left in your to-be-read pile?
Always far too many, despite having read more books this year than I ever have before.
What are your top five books of the year?
Normal People, Sally Rooney
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
What – personally – is the most important book you read this year?
The most important book I read this year was by far Normal People by Sally Rooney. I am still digesting it, if I’m honest — its impact on me was so great that not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about it. Rooney is a master of her craft, a master at getting in my head and reading my mind, and a master at portraying relationships between human beings in a way that no other author has, in my mind, ever done before.
And in terms of public reach – politics, current events, topics, etc.?
War on Peace by Ronan Farrow and America, The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges both really hit a nerve with me. While Farrow focused on the US’s relationships with other nations at a time in which these relationships are fraught, Hedges takes the reader on a tour through the worst and most decrepit crevices of our country; you’ll come out the other end of the book with a sour taste in your mouth because it’s hard to believe we’ve really let things get this bad.
Did anything you read inspire you aesthetically?
I wouldn’t really say this was an aesthetics-focused year for me; the only book that really stands out in that sort of way would be The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. The visual descriptions (in my opinion, the best part) conjured up dark, dreary countryside feelings and made me wish I had a mystery to solve myself!
Did anything keep you up reading until the early hours of the morning?
I’m an old woman now so I know when it’s time to stop in the evening, but I absolutely couldn’t wait to get on the bus every day before and after work so I could dig into The Idiot by Elif Batuman. I just needed to know what, if anything, was going to happen between Selin and Ivan!
How many books did you finish?
I read 35 books this year, and I am very proud of that. My goal for 2019 is 45!
Were there any books that you abandoned? If so, why?
I actually don’t think so — I very specifically planned out most of what I read, so I stuck with the books I picked up, for better or for worse!
Did you reread any old favorites?
I just finished a reread of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, which is one of my all-time favourites. It goes down a treat in the bleak midwinter, and now I’m working through its sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Did you read anything outside of your preferred genre?
I’d say The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is certainly outside my preferred genre, as it is a Russian classic. I enjoyed it, but I definitely need to reread it as there was lots I think I didn’t pick up on the first time around that make it a favourite of so many others.
If you’re in the academic world, did you make time for leisure reading?
I’m not in the academic world anymore, which is tragic on one hand but on the other means that everything I read was for my own pure pleasure!
Did you read any books released in 2018? If not, are there any you want to read?
Normal People by Sally Rooney, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshtegh, and a few others were released in 2018. My number one that I haven’t read from 2018 would have to be Becoming by Michelle Obama.
What book do you most want to recommend to people?
NORMAL PEOPLE! Have I already said that? Sorry. Additionally, everything Madeline Miller writes is golden. It was difficult to pick between The Song of Achilles and Circe for my top five.
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