My Favourite Reads of 2018

The best books I read this year. You won’t want to miss this.

2018 has come to a close and I had another great year of reading (I hope you did too)! I’m pretty happy that I managed to reach my reading goal again this year and I am hoping to amp up my goal in 2019. As I like to do at the end of every year, is look back at the books I read and pick my top five fiction reads and my top five non-fiction reads. So, here we go! 

Fiction:


The Travelling Cat Chronicles
I am not a crier. I don’t think I have ever cried reading a book but damn, this one brought me really close. I enjoyed this light-hearted novel so much that I read it twice in 2018. If you want an easy read that’s narrated by a cat, check this book out.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane 
It isn’t very often that I read a description that legitimately makes me want to read a book and sticks with me. I enjoyed this book so much that I gifted three copies of it this year because of its great plot and characters.

Killing Commendatore 
I waited years for the next Murakami novel and it finally arrived late in 2018. I was not disappointed and in my opinion, other Murakami fans won’t be either.

A Spark of Light
This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I am sure now it won’t be my last. This timely and relevant novel impressed me with it’s depth and readability as well as its perfect commentary on current political events in the US involving women’s reproductive rights.

The Space Between Us
This was my first book by this author. I was really impressed with the character depth in this novel and felt very involved in this dramatic novel involving families. Thankfully the author released a sequel to this book in the late spring of 2018 that I still need to add to my reading list.

Non-Fiction:

Into Thin Air
Okay, so I was a bit behind on this bandwagon but that doesn’t make this novel any less riveting. If you want to know what climbing Mt. Everest is like without having to step foot on it I don’t think there are too many other books that could give you that experience. This book is a nail-biting and heart-breaking read.

Precious Cargo
One of my favourite reads from the Canada Reads 2018 debate for its funny and heartwarming tale of some pretty awesome kids and one lost adult who learned a lot from them.

Forgiveness
This book actually won Canada Reads 2018 and while I enjoyed this novel, I appreciated Precious Cargo a bit more. This novel has some phenomenal historical content that I feel Canadians should read.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
This book was all the rage this last year due the author’s untimely death which also helped with the arrest of this elusive killer. The author’s voice is unique and engaging and it is a shame that we have lost such a great true-crime writer with such passion and talent.

Tea and Tea Set
I have read a few books on tea and so far this one has been my favourite. It’s nearly an unknown book but it’s content is quite good. I picked it up at a teahouse in Hong Kong and if you want to learn more about Chinese tea and can get your hands on this book I would highly recommend it.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

You think, “Great, I understand this. I got this. I can understand Stephen Hawking, damn I’m smart!”. It is a false hope.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 280 pages
Read from September 26, 2018 to October 5, 2018.

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant man, I don’t think there are many that can deny that (well, maybe a few religious fundamentalists). All over the world, the science community mourned the loss of Hawking this last spring when his struggles with ALS came to an end. Hawking made powerful contributions to the realms of physics, he was also an accomplished author and was one of the most recognizable faces of a modern-day genius. After his passing, I meant to finally read one of his books and while it’s a bit delayed I did finally manage to. I clearly did not know what I was getting into.

Despite being an English major, I have always enjoyed the sciences. That is, except for physics because I fucking suck at it. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in the questions that physicists have, it’s that my brain isn’t capable of doing the equations to solve them. I’m still interested in the process and the conclusion, just when someone else does them and then I can read about it later. Having said that, this book was by no means a cakewalk and I would be lying if I said I understood it all. The first part of the book gently sucks you in as the content feels like a nice refresher on high-school level physics. You think, “Great, I understand this. I got this. I can understand Stephen Hawking, damn I’m smart!”. It is a false hope. sh I do not know the target audience that Hawking was aiming for as some parts of this book break down the concepts so well that any beginner can grasp them but the once the quantum physics comes in and Hawkings starts talking about black holes, he just assumes that his brief intro to physics basics will be enough to understand the hard concepts and theories he then elaborates on for the rest of the novel.

Would I say this book is enjoyable? Not really. Is it worth reading? Yes. Is it important? Yes. Despite its challenges this book is probably as simple as these complex concepts are going to get and it’s mind-blowing to look at our world, space and the universe from this perspective.

“I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.”

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of “We Should All Be Feminists…””

4/5 stars.
ebook, 32 pages.
Read September 20, 2018

I can’t recall how I found this short essay but I’m really glad I did. I have often a wondered what exactly feminism means today? Especially in this volatile political environment. How can we as women explain our situation to the many men (and some women) who still don’t think that it is a relevant position to take a stand on in the present day? Well, I think the continued awareness and prevalence of rape culture, that a misogynist is the American president, how toxic masculinity is creating more and more troubled men, and the potential uproar over women’s basic rights in first world countries and all over the globe is more than enough time to consider how important feminism still is. This essay is important, so much so that I wish I could casually hand a copy of this to nearly everyone I know.  Essays like this should be required reading in high school and universities everywhere. 

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

How do you persuade people to understand a point of view? You explain how your point of view will benefit them and to not attack them for their current views. Chimamanda finds this wonderful balance between stating facts firmly to diffusing difficult aspects of feminism with grace and humour. She discusses the marginalization of men and women and the archaic beliefs that shape this discrimination, while also recognizing that we’re all unconsciously shaped by our culture so it’s easy to get caught up in what’s perceived as normal. Feminism is here to help us dismantle the beliefs that no longer benefit us in society, and that’s for both men and women. Feminism is not something to be feared, as many men do, as there is a history has a prevalence of fearmongering when it comes to women empowering themselves and others. 

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. “

In end, people will believe what they want to believe. You cannot move people like Trump and those who follow him, but for the rest of us that want better for humanity and are constantly trying to understand and improve, this essay is a wonderful, pervasive and persuasive read. 

“A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”