2018 Books: At Year’s End

65 books. 40 authors. 3 rereads. 36 standalone books. 29 series-starters or sequels. 25 new-to-me authors. Oldest book: circa 1200. Newest book: October 2018. Most popular author: Neil Gaiman.

Below is the list, alphabetically. * is a reread. † is a noted read (see below).

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill†
  • The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley
  • Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
  • Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
  • To Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
  • Make Me by Lee Child*
  • The Midnight Line by Lee Child
  • The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
  • The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo†
  • Silence by Shūsaku Endō
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2011 edition)†
  • The Graveyard Book, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman et al. (graphic novelization by P. Craig Russell)
  • The Graveyard Book, Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman et al. (graphic novelization by P. Craig Russell)
  • The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman et al. (graphic novel)
  • The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman et al. (graphic novel)
  • The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman et al. (graphic novel)
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  • Arabella by Georgette Heyer
  • Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
  • The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
  • These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  • MaraDaughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw*
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness*
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
  • For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • The Dire King by William Ritter
  • Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  • Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
  • Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Whose Body by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  • The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck†
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Prose Edda by Snorre Sturluson
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  • Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
  • The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak†

The daggered reads are just those: the ones that stick with you. Perhaps the story was striking and unexpected. Perhaps the book was hard to shake, even if it tasted bitter in your mouth. Perhaps the book opened up something dormant in you, both the dangerous and the cathartic.

I didn’t reach 100 books this year. But I was saturated in literature and have lived with words all year long. While I’d still like to hit that lofty goal, the point is to taste the richness of what is written: to identify the bitter and the sweet, to sort through what clogs the brain and what clears the soul. For better and for worse, that has happened. Cheers!

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I am

I am not Simeon,
waiting for the consolation of Israel,
cradling the Giver of life and death,
saying farewell with clear eyes, and
witnessing the embodiment of that for which was hoped.

No, I am Moses,
fleeing from shame and aggression,
hesitating before an incendiary presence,
stuttering over personal weaknesses, and
striking with rage rather than wait one more time.

I am not the Roman centurion,
commanding men upon men,
recognizing the stature of divine authority,
confessing to personal unworthiness, and
placing fixed trust so another might be healed.

No, I am the bleeding woman,
sneaking through these clamoring crowds,
pressing close for just one touch,
coming with a little faith and a hesitant hand, and
fearing yet more shame for what has been done.

I am not Abram,
leaving both home and ancestral country,
climbing in faith the mountain of sacrifice,
offering up the son of promise, and
trusting that this, too, would be kept by the Lord.

No, I am Jacob,
stealing a blessing with goatskin hands,
fleeing wrath from self-sown deception,
fearing for the safety of an embattled family, and
sending peace offerings of dread to stay another’s hand.

I am not Anna,
worshiping the One who allows there to be widows,
praying that the Lord might be known in glory,
weeping in tears of gladness, and
perceiving with fulfilled joy the Redeemer of Jerusalem.

No, I am Zechariah,
serving the Lord on the appointed day,
listening in fear of promise and redemption,
trembling and troubled by heavenly proclamation, and
losing speech by consequence of intimate disbelief.

I am not John,
seeing within exile the enthroned Lord,
bearing faithful witness to grace and truth,
singing with the saints before the throne, and
awaiting redemption to make all things new.

No, I am Jonah,
sneaking away from truth and trouble,
pouting under the nearest tree,
waiting for the destruction of the Lord, and
pining for judgment to give this unrest its meaning.

I am not Mary,
receiving the gift with honest fear,
pondering the redemption of human birth,
proclaiming the goodness of God from a rejoicing heart, and
saying do unto me, that the Word may become flesh.

No, I am Eve,
walking with man in God-breathed Eden,
accepting falsehoods from hissing lips,
grasping that which was never man’s to hold, and
choosing self and sin for the generations to come.

I am not,
turning away in the face of soul-searing truth,
faltering before commands that I do not keep,
stumbling in sin along my own-made paths, and
asking yet again for new-made mercies.

For I am not,
but I am His.

And He is the Son of the Father,
coming in Word and Truth and flesh,
giving Himself for the life of the world,
restoring trembling sinners in new-made bodies, and
promising His life for those who enter the waters of His death.

Lord Is Not a Word

Lord is not a word.
Song is not a salve.
Suffer the child, who lived
on sunlight and solitude.
Savor the man, craving
earth like an aftertaste.
To discover in one’s hand
two local stones the size
of a dead man’s eyes
saves no one, but to fling them
with a grace you did not know
you knew, to bring them
skimming homing
over blue, is to discover
the river from which they came.
Mild merciful amnesia
through which I’ve moved
as through a blue atmosphere
of almost and was,
how is it now,
like ruins unearthed by ruin,
my childhood should rise?
Lord, suffer me to sing
these wounds by which I am made
and marred, savor this creature
whose aloneness you ease and are.

“Lord Is Not a Word” by Christian Wiman

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.'”

Matthew 18:1-6 

Day 12 of The Advent Project of Biola University

graveyard dance

meet me by the cemetery
where we learned to ignore the dead
meet me where we laughed in the day
and buried any tears we shed

meet me in between the tombstones
where life and death as one have slept
meet me near your own inscription
the words you did not know you kept

meet me through these graying ashes
where we set alight what we feared
meet me within the drifting smoke
that now clouds over all our years

meet me here amidst the graveyard
here where we danced with ghostly crowds
meet me here where we thought we lived
here where we wore our handmade shrouds

2018 Books: November

I’m diminutively pleased by this month’s list. It’s a tonally weird collection of books that still managed to be excellent reads alongside one another. Here ya go (with blurbs this time!). 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

A rousing carnival read with delicious descriptions of place. I’m not sold on the characters, but I’m reserving the sequel. It’s called Legendary, and the ripples of time and place that Garber sequenced in Caraval are promising enough to receive that title.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A classic and weighty YA book that was published nearly twenty years ago. I’m glad I didn’t read this when I was younger, but I’m glad I read it all the same. I discussed this in a book club with A Monster Calls, and, whoa. 

The Dire King by William Ritter

The conclusion of a series with a fascinating premise, some glittering moments, and some confusing/boring lapses in story. If this series was a coat, it would be some sort of brilliantly asymmetrical, blue-velvet trench trimmed with gold thread and missing giant patches because mice, probably. 

The Prose Edda by Snorre Sturluson

The OG of Norse mythology, and not your traditional epic, but maybe that’s because it was written circa 1200. Tolkien, Gaiman, and the best fantasy legends of today owe their flavor (and names!) to these tales that often occur “while Thor was away fighting trolls…”

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

A clumsy, promising, and drowning-in-irony beginning to a series. The footnotes are brilliant, but the cycles of violence-and-reprieve turn over too often to hold you – all the while coated in blood and guts and a vague evil that literally crumbles to dust. Be sure to read to the end, though, where the series seems to land on its feet enough to continue.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

I FINALLY FINISHED THE FIFTH BOOK. Harry whines a lot and the obtuseness of the adult figures is frustrating, but both threads are vocally redeemed in the careful hands of Dumbledore. Also, I feel fully justified in my abhorrence of all things pink.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

I had terrible book hangover after The Book Thief, and Zusak manages another gut-punch with this one, over ten years later. His writing style is jarring, then surprising, then rich, then wondrous. The slow dive into the layers of Dunbar unfold a family history that is terrible, wonderful, violent, and terribly- wonderfully- violently-sad. By the end my heart was somewhere in ribbons and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. 

2018 Books: September & October

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw*

September and October were months without much reading completed, but much reading done. I’m in the midst of five different books, which are for three different book clubs and my own personal sanity.

I’m also still holding on to two books that I genuinely enjoy but haven’t finished…for several months now. Do you have those? The bookmark is sitting somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3 completed, and there it stays. Gah.

Onward and upward!

Coming to This

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

Coming to This” by Mark Strand