Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Books

I read 104 books in 2018, which which is about the same number I read every year. Here is the list, in the order I read them.

My star system is idiosyncratic. Five stars go only to a very few all-time favorites and a hardly ever give five stars. Four stars go to books I think are really good or would recommend to anyone (I'm trying to be freer with my four stars). I rate a book a 3 if I liked it personally, but wouldn't think to recommend it. Most books get 3.5, which means that I liked it and would recommend it to people who like that genre or type of book. See this post for details.

The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt (4/5)

The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau (4/5; Pulitzer Prize winner)

Jake’s Thing by Kingsley Amis (4.5/5)

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (3.5/5)

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (3.5/5)

The Days When Birds Come Back by Deborah Reed (4/5)

Open House by Elizabeth Berg (3.5/5)

Mao II by Don DeLillo (2/5; PEN/Faulkner Award winner)

Lord Mullion’s Secret by Michael Innes (3/5)

Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone (3/5; National Book Award winner)

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (4/5)

From a View to a Death by Anthony Powell (4.5/5)

LaRose by Louise Erdrich (3.5/5)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (5/5)

Long Ago in France: The Years in Dijon by M. F. K. Fisher 3.5/5)

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance by Thomas McNamee (4/5)

The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer (3/5)

Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner (3.5/5)

Apple of My Eye by Helene Hanff (3.5/5)

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (3/5)

The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America by Arthur Brooks (4/5)

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (3.5/5)

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson (4.5/5)

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (3/5)

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (3.5/5; Edgar Award winner)

H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald (4/5; Costa Book of the Year Award winner)

Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury (4/5)

Larry's Party by Carol Shields (3.5/5)

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (4/5; James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner))

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer (4/5)

Scandalous Risks by Susan Howatch (3/5)

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (4/5)

Canada by Richard Ford (3.5/5)

Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg (4.5/5)

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer (3/5)

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (4/5)

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (3.5/5)

The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth (4/5)

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (3.5/5)

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope (3.5/5)

Exodus by Leon Uris (3/5)

Manners by Kate Spade (3.5/5)

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (3.5/5)

Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis (3.5/5)

Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George (3.5/5)

A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd (3.5/5)

A Morning for Flamingos by Lames Lee Burke (3.5/5)

The Perfect Murder by H. R. F. Keating (3/5)

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer (3.5/5)

The Sacred and Profane Love Machine by Iris Murdoch  (3.5/5)

The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchey (3.5/5)

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd (3.5/5)

There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction by Saul Bellow (4/5)

Barbara Bush: A Memoir by Barbara Bush (3/5)

Holiday by Stanley Middleton (3/5)

An Amis Anthology: A Personal Choice of English Verse, edited by Kingsley Amis (5/5)

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (5/5)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (2.5/5)

About the Author by John Colapinto (4/5)

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (3.5/5)

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield (4/5)

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (3.5/)5; Edgar Award winner)

A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century by William F. Buckley, Jr. (5/5)

The Red Road by Denise Mina (3.5/5)

Blandings Castle by P. G. Wodehouse (4/5)

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (2.5/5)

Persian Nights by Diane Johnson (3.5/5)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (4.5/5)

California Girl by Jefferson T. Parker (3.5/5; Edgar Award winner)

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming (3.5/5)

A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black (3.5/5)

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach (3.5)

Florence of Arabia by Christopher Buckley (3.5/5)

Stet: A Memoir by Diana Athill (3.5/5)

Down among the Women by Fay Weldon (3/5)

Indignationby Philip Roth (3.5/5)

City of the Mind by Penelope Lively (4/5)

Her First American by Lore Segal (3/5)

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (3.5/5)

The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney (5/5)

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin (3/5)

Dead Souls by Ian Rankin (3.5/5)

All Set for Black, Thanks: A New Look at Mourning by Miriam Weinstein (4/5)

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose MacAuley (4.5/5)

Delicious by Ruth Reichl (3/5)

A Welcoming Life: The M. F. K. Fischer Scrapbook, compiled by Dominique Gioia (4/5)

Home by Marilynne Robinson (4/5)

Absolute Proof by Peter James (2/5)

Wildlife by Richard Ford (3.5/5)

Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene (4.5/5)

The Message to the Planet by Iris Murdoch (3.5/5)

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann (3.5/5)

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (4/5)

Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike (4.5/5)

No Smoking by Luc Sante (3.5/5)

The Bachelors by Muriel Spark (3.5/5)

You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats by Francesco Marciuliano (3.5/5)

Something Fresh by P. G. Wodehouse (3.5/5)

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy (3/5)

The Senator's Wife by Sue Kidd (3.5/5)

Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh (3.5/5)

Outline by Rachel Cusk (3.5/5)

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford (4/5)


  1. I like your numbering system. I have Gentleman in Moscow on my shelf and will move it up, now I see where you rate it. I read Absalom, Absalom back in university in my American novel course and remember enjoying it. I have some other Faulkner on my shelves that I should read as well.
    Thanks for this list.

  2. Thank you for commenting on my blog and introducing me to yours! Some wonderful books here. I read The Lesser Bohemians and Eleanor Oliphant in 2018 as well and thought they were both fantastic

  3. Shonna: Gentleman in Moscow might be my favorite for the year, it was so good! And everyone I know who has read it loves it, from my 80 year old dad to my 33 year old female co-worker. Happy reading!

    Jasmine: Thanks for visiting! Good luck with your new blog!

  4. I'm glad you rated Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities a "5." It's one of my favorite reads of all time. Just hilarious.

  5. Deston: Bonfires is one of my all-time favorites as well. It was a re-read for me, which is why I didn't include it in my Top 10 list for 2018. I reread it when TW died this year.

  6. What a great year you've had! I'm equally stingy with my 5 star reads; I saw so many Goodreads summaries where people's average star ratings were 4.5+ and I was like "... but how?". I think we approach star rankings quite similarly on the whole, makes me feel less alone/miserly ;) Looking forward to seeing how you go in 2019!


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