What I Read in 2018

2018 wasn’t a very effective year for me in terms of reading. Until October, I hadn’t read a single book all year. However, since then, I’ve so been enjoying getting back into the swing of reading. I’ve taken to spending my lunch breaks and train journeys with my face in a book instead of scrolling mindlessly on my phone, and I’m glad for it.

So, on that note, let’s chat about what I read in 2018.

Stack of books- Turtles all the way down, Unf*ck your habitat, the roanoke girls, you do you

The plot centres around Lane Roanoke, a 15-year-old who goes to live with her grandparents after her mother’s suicide. She begins to learn of unspoken dark truths about her mysterious family and finds out what it means to be a Roanoke girl. 11 years later, after her cousin goes missing, she is forced to go back. The present-day narrative is interspersed with flashbacks of Lane’s first summer with her grandparents, and entries from other Roanoke girls.

This book took me a couple of tries to get into; the first time, I managed about 50 pages and then fell out of the habit of reading. However, when I picked it up again in October, I was very quickly enthralled. This book sounds like your run-of-the-mill psychological thriller, à la anything by Gillian Flynn, but it had twists and turns that were far more thought-provoking than expected. A very well-executed addition to the genre. This page-turner had me staying up until the wee hours to finish it. Definitely worth a read.

After much prodding from my sister, I finally gave this a go and I’m so glad I did.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life full of safe routines; she wears the same clothes every day, she eats the same meal for lunch, and she buys the same 2 bottles of vodka and Tesco pizza on Friday nights. She’s content, though she doesn’t fit in; people don’t really understand her, and she doesn’t really understand them. However, one day, everything changes for Eleanor. She falls in love with a musician she’s never met, she meets a new co-worker and is involved in a small act of kindness. Soon, she’s faced with navigating her social world in a way she’s never had to before.

Eleanor was such a special and endearing character. Her way of looking at the world was so different but so entertaining to read; I almost missed her after I finished.

This book was full of moments that had me laughing out loud. It also made feel very uplifted; it made me so happy to see the character evolve throughout the book. An excellent look at loneliness, and a nice reminder of the importance of showing kindness, even to those who are different.

Stack of books- Turtles all the way down, Unf*ck your habitat, the roanoke girls, you do you

Despite being a huge vlogbrothers fan, John Green’s books are something I’ve found a bit hit-or-miss in the past. I loved The Fault in Our Stars but struggled to warm to any of his other books. However, a female protagonist with anxiety piqued my interest.

The plot centres around Aza, a 16-year-old who lives with anxiety and OCD.  Aza and best friend Daisy hear that local billionaire Russell Picket has gone missing, and that there is a hefty cash reward for anyone who can help find him. What’s more, Russell is the father of Aza’s old friend, Davis. The story revolves around Aza’s blossoming relationship with Davis, the mystery of Russell’s disappearance and Aza’s experiences with anxiety and OCD.

While I did enjoy the book, it’s not necessarily something I would read again. However, I recognise that I’m no longer really the target market for YA fiction. What it might have lacked in intricacy of plot, it made up for in the depth of the characters.

The exploration of Aza’s mental health was the strongest aspect of the book, for me. The first person writing style really gave a sense of how harrowing it can be to live with OCD. It’s clear that John Green did extensive research into the condition, as well as working from his own experiences of living with OCD, and it worked incredibly well. Definitely worth reading for this alone.

I’ve never been a naturally tidy person; my teenaged bedroom basically didn’t have a floor and, until recently, I didn’t really care about mess. However, in recent years, I’ve become what my mum once described as ‘house-proud’. Maybe it’s the expectations of having an Instagramable home, maybe it’s the worldwide obsession with decluttering, maybe it’s just becoming an adult; but I’ve become very intent on keeping my space clean and tidy. But changing life-long habits is a tricky process and I was in need of help.

After some browsing of the self-help section, I came across this. Unf*ck Your Habitat is a realistic, no-nonsense guide to tidying your home. Based around the 20/10 system (where you clean for 20 minutes and have a 10-minute break), the aim of this book is to help you develop life-long cleaning habits.

If you looked at the Marie Kondo method and screamed to yourself “who has the time?!”, this is for you. Filled with lists, challenges and helpful how-tos, this book throws away the aspirational and unrealistic methods of decluttering and focuses on achievable tasks for everyone, whatever your life situation.

Stack of books- Turtles all the way down, Unf*ck your habitat, the roanoke girls, you do you

I’d heard a million great things about Sarah Knight but had never got around to reading any of her books. However, during a period of low self-confidence, the title You Do You seemed to call out to me.

In a world of societal expectations, You Do You is all about learning to shake off those expectations and just be you.

This book was incredibly well-written and Sarah Knight’s sense of humour is hilarious. Her sweary and no-nonsense style of writing was thoroughly entertaining to read.

This book was full of insightful points about doing life in a way that works for you and letting your freak flag fly. However, there were some areas where I felt she could have went into more detail. She made a great point about accepting your flaws and turning them into positives but, for me personally, I didn’t find she went into enough detail about how to do that.

Generally, the book had some great ideas. But its effectiveness as a self-help book is very much down to the individual. It’s all about being able to put her advice into practice in your own life.

When I heard Hank Green was releasing a book, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to read it, as I assumed it would be aimed at a similar demographic to John’s books. However, upon reading it I found that, though it could be appropriate for older teens, it’s more of an adult fiction novel.

The story centres around April May, a 23-year-old in New York City. Roaming the streets at 3am, she stumbles across a 10ft tall robot sculpture, which she names Carl. She and friend Andy film a video about it, which he uploads to YouTube. April wakes up the next morning to find her life completely changed. There are dozens of Carls in metropolitan areas across the globe without any explanation and, as the first person to document it, April finds herself at the centre of the media spotlight. We follow her as she deals with her new internet-famous identity and its effects on her relationships, while trying to solve the mystery of the unexplained Carls.

Its science fiction plot was captivating, with elements so bizarre it almost reminded me of magical realism. While the mystery of the Carls had me enthralled, what struck me most when reading was how it tackled socially relevant themes. It cleverly exemplified the changing nature of fame in the age of the social internet; a theme Hank Green is more than aware of.

Interesting plot with a clever message; couldn’t recommend it enough and can’t wait for the sequel.

This was picked up on a whim, but I was completely addicted within the first page.

This book documents Adam Kay’s time as a NHS junior doctor. We’re shown his career through diary entries written during his training. He delves into his experiences on the front line of the NHS, discussing everything from bizarre patients, to hospital politics, to the taxing effects on his personal life. And with all this, he does it with a remarkable sense of humour.

Both hilarious and heart-wrenching, in equal measure. Full of moments that made me snort-laugh while reading on a train. And, if nothing else, I now know more than I ever needed to know about what kinds of things some people will put inside themselves.

My knowledge of the medical profession is more or less limited to 14 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. However, this book was totally accessible for those not in the profession. Footnotes are provided to explain medical jargon and procedures, all written in a clear and simple way that even I could understand.

This realistic look into the profession was eye-opening. It truly makes you appreciate the work our doctors do and dispels any misconceptions that doctors are just in it for the money. The ludicrously long, and often unpaid, hours, the demanding workloads; it truly is a thankless job. Next time you’re stuck waiting in A&E for 6 hours, or complaining about waiting for test results, spare a thought for the sheer amount of exhausting and emotionally-taxing work that NHS professionals are doing.

I’m slightly sad to have only managed 7 books in 2018, but I’ve set a (hopefully) realistic goal of 25 books for this year. Onwards and upwards!
What were your favourite books that you read last year?  

Stack of books- Turtles all the way down, Unf*ck your habitat, the roanoke girls, you do you

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