Reading the Year: 2018

Michael and Janet from The Good PlaceDear readers, Every year Smart Bitches, Trashy Books does a “Best of” podcast. I had to miss the podcast, so I wrote these notes, and Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell has graciously allowed me to share them here!


Reading The Year: 2018:


This year I was looking for empowerment, diversity, and hope. I gravitated to things with a lot of humor, or violence, or both. I was less interested in genre and more interested in whether I was getting some or all of those ingredients, although I still want a happy, or at least hopeful, ending regardless of genre. My reading tastes have shifted in that I’m much more demanding. I used to finish every book I read. Now I’ll toss it aside if it doesn’t grab me within the first chapter or two. I read across genres and subgenres I never would have considered before – horror, inspirational romance (I’m an atheist, but I find that they have some unusual plot lines), suspense, as well as my old favorites, looking for new stories about diverse characters that are cathartic and give me some kind of hope, and I don’t have the patience for anything bland.


There’s a lot of romance that I read and enjoyed in 2018, but none of it seems to have really stuck with me other than Alyssa Cole’s A Duke by Default. The books that sunk in and remained memorable a year later tended to be crossover of some kind. I found that on the one hand, YA took a lot of bold chances with diversity in romance and fantasy and science fiction, so I read of ton of it. On the other hand, I can’t take much more first-person present tense narrative, so I might take a break.


In terms of other fiction, I adored We Sold Our Souls, by Grady Hendrix and have also made it a tradition to re-read at least part of his first novel, Horrorstor, every time I go to IKEA. It’s so rewarding to watch this writer grow, and his descriptions of women’s hopes, fears, and friendships are spot on and their empowerment stories are incredibly exhilarating.


In comics, Boom Studios has been just killing it with a variety of comics topics and styles. My personal addiction is to a formula of diverse people getting ino wacky hijinks. The formula is basic but the art, characters, and plots varied, and I love the diversity of the characters. Lumberjanes is a tribute to Girl Scout camp (without using the word “Girl Scout.” Misfit City involves women in their late teens and early twenties in a female-centric tribute to “The Goonies.” Heavy Vinyl involves the same age range of women in a record store in the 1990s, and The Backstagers is about a Boy’s School theater group. I just can’t get enough of these – they are funny and goofy and sweet.


I read The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone all the way back in January and it is still making me laugh.


I got addicted to two TV shows this year. I watched Killing Eve over the course of two crazed days and I loved every single minute of it except for that hairpin thing in Episode One. The acting was incredible, the mix of humor and suspense and horror impeccable, and the various types of diversity represented in the casting was delightful. On a completely different note, my daughter and I cannot get enough of The Good Place.
This has been my year of making money from knowing about weird things (ask me about the Spanish Flu!). My favorite non-fiction book this year was Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith. I also turned a lot to a book I read last year but can’t resist mentioning again: Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her Daughter Mary Shelley.

Readers, what were some of your reading (and viewing) highlights from 2018?

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