My Year in Books – 2018

2018 was a good year for me, especially when it comes to my reading habit. Not only was I able to read a LOT of books, fiction and non-fiction, I also managed to record which book and the month in which I finished it. The “Book Babble” section has been one of the key reasons which has pushed me to read more and more.

Considering it’s the last Friday of the year, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to my bibliophilic tendencies to note down my 2018 in books. The slight hitch is that my record for the year starts from February as the noting down of books read started from my habit of bullet journaling.

While the list below consists of over 40 books, book titles are either hyper linked to the posts about them or the respective Goodreads page. This post only talks about the books I did manage to finish. In this year, I took James Clear’s advice to heart and did quit books if I found myself struggling beyond a few chapters.

February

Thinking fast & slow: Daniel Kahneman

This is one book whereby I seem to have adopted the learnings in my regular thought process. The idea about having two sides to your brain – the fast instinctive one and the slower, more deliberate yet lazier side was an eye opener and a real value add.

The Scorpio Races: Maggie Stiefvater

This book about young Puck Connolly and her chances of winning the Scorpio Races invites you to imagine the world painted by the writer. While some readers on Goodreads proclaimed it to be slow and building up too much to the races, I quite liked the dark and thrilling world brought to life by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Good House: Ann Leary

This is one of the rare books in the list that I don’t recall too well. Suffice it to say, it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

March

The Bogleheads guide to investing: Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBouef and Taylor Larimore

One of the investing classics, the book has a lot of must-know information and practices one should adopt while investing. However, considering John Bogle is the one who came up with the concept of index funds, the book devotes a lot of space to talking about why index funds are the best possible instrument of investment. Being an Indian market investor, I am still not on board with the idea of index funds completely. So, the book worked for me on some fronts and did not work on others.

Nudge: Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein

The first time I heard about Nudge was on the Freakonomics podcast when they talked about The White House getting into the Nudge business. That episode intrigued me about the idea of doing small things to nudge people to make the right decisions and take the right actions. Some of the anecdotes mentioned in the book remain lodged in my memory.

Circling the sun: Paula Mclain

A biography, this book talks about the real-life story of Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. A feminist myself, reading about any woman who’s strong and an achiever is always a good experience.

April

The little book that creates wealth: Pat Dorsey

This book is a good read for any one looking to research into and invest in direct stocks. While most other direct stock investing talks in terms of financial ratios, this book talks more about the business overall. It looks at the business from all angles and comes up with the concept of an economic moat, very similar to Porter’s five forces.

Dave Ramsey’s complete guide to money: Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a name synonymous with money and healthy financial habits. This book is no different. Here, he talks extensively about some good money habits which includes our rational and emotional sides.

May

How dare the sun rise: Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta

I think this book should be mandatory reading for any person who doesn’t realise the privileges of their world. Sandra, a girl from the Republic of Congo tells us her story of moving to the US, the difficulties that she faces and how she gradually settles in to her new life. The most revealing part of the book is when she describes how she feels at the excesses she sees around her. This is one book that will make you feel grateful for all that you have in life – safety, security and the basic necessities.

June

Orbiting Jupiter: Gary D. Schmidt

This book proved to me that size does not matter. A very short book, it made for a poignant read of a situation seen through the eyes of a little boy Jack. The book shatters conventions with a 13-year old main character looking for his daughter. The evolution of his relationship with his foster parents and stepbrother who adores him, are beautifully penned down by the author.

The Intelligent Investor: Benjamin Graham

Another investing classic and a must read for anyone wanting to learn about value investing, this is a book that the investing legend Warren Buffet swears by. This was my second attempt at reading this not particularly easy book. Even synthesising it into two posts did not come very easy but was definitely a rewarding experience.

Mark of the thief: Jennifer A. Nielsen

This was a book that I devoured rapidly and tried to get my hands on to the rest of the triology and as many as possible of Jennifer Nielsen’s books. This book taught me that you can write a Fantasy series (even if it is Young Adult) and still make it witty and funny. This was the book where Nic, the smart mouthed yet brave protagonist became one of my favourite characters, with the only competition being another of Nielsen’s protagonist from her Ascendance triology.

The bastard of Istanbul: Elif Shafak

One of my fellow reader colleagues lent this book to me with the knowledge that I would like this book. Well, she wasn’t wrong. The book could have been edited a little more sharply but the prose is beautiful. If I had more time on hand and if I wasn’t obligated to return it to her, I would have made sure to write down a few paragraphs as inspiration for how well to write.

July

Success principles: Jack Canfield

One of my favourite non-fiction reads of the year, me and my husband often talk to each other about what we learnt from the book. In fact, this is the book that made me start writing my vision every day. This book has made me dream big with the confidence that I will be able to achieve it all if I work right and smart.

Deep Work – Cal Newport

In the days that I still listened to a lot of podcasts, one of the books that seemed to be everywhere and making waves was Deep Work. The more I heard from Cal, the more I realised how much I wanted to read it. If you are looking for personally doable ways of increasing productivity, this is the one book you must read. In fact, I remember raving about the book to anyone who would listen to me. In my life, I can still see the impact of the book and how much I have tried to adopt it.

It had to be you, This Heart of mine, Nobody’s baby but mine, The first star I see tonight – Susan Elizabeth Philips

I like to believe I do not have a lot of typically feminine traits. However, one of my weaknesses in content consumption is romance be it in movies through the Chick flicks or in books with the Chicklit genre. My first brush with Susan Elizabeth Philips was with her fantastic and till-date my favourite chick lit – Match me if you can. While none of the fore mentioned books come close, SEP’s books are still enjoyable and a breezy respite from the heavier reads that I indulge in simultaneously.

Your money or your life – Vicki Robins

While most people rave about this book, considering I am still not in the early retirement camp, I found the hatred towards work a little distasteful. Let’s just say this book wasn’t my cup of tea which came out strongly enough in my post about it.

August

The Ascendance Trilogy  – Jennifer A. Nielsen

If I had to name a favourite series of the year or a series which made me wish I could write such engaging fantasy, it’s this one for sure. I gobbled it up as quickly as my eyes could scan the words and my brain could register. Starting with the fantastic premise of an evil noble grooming four look alikes to become the next in line in The False Prince to the missing king on the run in The Runaway King and the culmination of the trilogy with The Shadow King. This was a well-planned and beautiful trilogy which was a breeze to read.

Heft – Liz Moore

This book was really really slow and I am still not sure how I managed to finish it. What it did do was cover quite a niche with the protagonist Arthur Opp being a really heavy guy who had limited movements thanks to his heft (hence the name). The story deals with the relationships that Arthur Opp has with his house keeper, a former student and her son. Not the best read in a year but a different story for sure.

The year of less – Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders, another personal finance blogger, released her book this year where she talks about her year of Shopping ban. It does a good job of exploring the emotional aspects of money.

September

Fly away: Kristin Hannah

I have been a fan of Kristin Hannah since the time I read her beautiful historical book The Nightingale. This book was an interesting story of two friends and the paths that they took as well as what grief can do to people. While it still doesn’t match up to my first read of the author, this was still a good read in the Drama genre.

Secrets of Power Negotiation: Roger Dawson

One good non-fiction book which yet again lodged some points deep into my memory and also gave me a lot of action points too.

Found: Margaret Haddix

The premise for the book was very interesting and this first part of the Missing series was quite well-paced. I was intrigued and picked up the second part which unfortunately became one of the books that I chose to drop quite quickly.

Save the date: Mary Kay Andrews

A chick lit which made me realise that it’s not easy to write in this genre. While there were enough sub-plots to keep one engaged, the writing was not particularly impressive for me.

Four pillars of investing: William J. Bernstein

One of the most terrible personal finance books I have ever read. I never really understood what the author meant by some of his statements and yet this book is a classic among people. There is fear psychosis built up in the writing and a lot of wrong things portrayed.

The Selection & The Elite: Kiera Cass

The first two installments in the very popular Selection series by Kiera Cass had me hooked. The plot, the characters and the entire setting in the make-believe world were engrossing. While I would still rank the Ascendance trilogy slightly higher for the sheer wit in the writing, this was more in the intersection of Fantasy and Chick lit which surprised me, to say the least.

Principles: Ray Dalio

This long winded book was a heavy read, neatly divided into work and life principles. While at times it took some time to ensure I finished the book, there were some good lessons in there.

October

The One: Kiera Cass

The final book in The Selection series was the epitome and yet another enjoyable one. It tied up all details of the series nicely enough to bring closure. Looking at this list, I realised I am yet to read the last two parts in the series which cover the story of the next generation.

I will teach you to be rich: Ramit Sethi

I often enjoy the newsletters that I get from the Ramit Sethi portals be it I will teach you to be rich or Growth Lab. I also find the online course empire that he has built quite impressive. All this made me curious to read his first book. The book was a decent enough read though I guess a lot of excerpts and ideas have been recycled by him in his emails and posts in the eleven years since it’s release.

Crazy Rich Asians: Kevin Kwan

This was a fun book and a glimpse into a very different world of the rich Chinese of Singapore. The politics and the inter-woven web of people dynamics all made it a fun read that had me hooked. Alas, I can’t say the same about its’ sequel which fell on to the sidelines soon enough.

November

Tell to win – Peter Guber

Another gem of a non-fiction book that I read this year brought home the importance of stories in every sphere of life for us. Considering the book is about the magic of storytelling, it is peppered with great anecdotes to take the reader through what aspects of and why storytelling is so crucial.

The Flavours of love: Dorothy Koomson

An eerie thriller with a gruesome murder at the heart of the plot, I guess I expected a more humane twist till the end which really never came. Life can be rough some times and this book shows the reader just that. The plot is pretty different and the story telling kept me hooked.

Millionaire Women next door

With a lot of commonalities to the block buster book Millionaire Next Door by the author earlier, this one though focusses only on the first generation female business owners. Frugality and rare displays of wealth are just two of the lesser elements covered with a lot more facets of success for the women mentioned later.

December

The beach café: Lucy Diamond

While I pretty much lapped up this book that I picked up at a used book stall, in hindsight it was not that much of a riveting read. A breezy feel good book about how a girl finds herself once she starts managing an unexpected inheritance of a beach café from her aunt.

Hardball for women: Dr. Pat Heim

If you are a woman in a corporate job, this is a mandatory read. As men and women, be it in negotiations, body language or even verbally, we often unconsciously communicate very differently. Corporate world is a still a man’s world and this book is a fantastic primer that gives a brilliant insight into navigating this land.

When I lost You: Kelly Rimmer

One of the last few books that I completed this year, it was a refreshing look at romance and marriage. It’s a beautifully viewed story of a couple that drifts apart and decide to separate when the husband meets with an accident and loses memory of the last four years. The book weaves in and out of the past and the present to build a beautiful tapestry of their lives. Made me look at romance differently, especially beyond the conventional happily-ever-after.

Stick with it: Dr. Sean Young

How many of us make New Year Resolutions to end up breaking it in the first one month of attempting it? Sticking with a habit is a science and Dr. Sean Young explains 7 steps we can all take to integrate some habit or kick off a bad one from our lives. Wondering why this is the only book title that is not hyperlinked? Watch out this space for a full post on this as the first book in the Personal Growth category that I will cover in the next year 🙂

So, that’s been my 2018 in books. Do you read and keep a track of the books completed? How was 2018 in terms of books for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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