2018 Reading Wrap Up

I hope it’s not too late to wish you a Happy New Year.

I moved home on the 17th December and then was ill all of Christmas week. The two things are probably connected but it didn’t spoil the holidays too much. I’m gradually settling in and I know it’s just a matter of time before I completely adjust.

I’m designating this month ‘Slow January’. I will be putting zero pressure on myself and doing little more than curling up with a good book.

With one thing and another, I missed my Reading Challenge goal for 2018 by 2 books. I managed 33 in all which is still perfectly fine with me.

Of these 33 books, I gave 18 a rating of five stars on Goodreads, which shows it was a good reading year overall.

The ten books that impacted me the most for various reasons were:

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

I finally found out what all the fuss was about. What a stunning novel. I want to read her other books now and will try Jamaica Inn next.

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

This book taught me that regularly practicing self-compassion can change your life. I will re-read it at some point.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I was worried I wouldn’t get on with this Japanese modern classic, but I was captivated by it. I felt so much affection and empathy for the main character and his angst.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I couldn’t get enough of the chilly, fantastical atmosphere of this novel set in medieval Russia. I read the second book and have pre-ordered the final instalment of the trilogy which is released on 10th January.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I know some literary types look down their noses at this one but I found it to be a great tragi-comic read.


12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

I don’t go along with all his views by any means but this book was what I needed at the time to push me into action.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Right up there with Song of Achilles, another wonderful Greek myth re-telling from Madeline Miller.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This personal memoir of severe depression coupled with crippling anxiety made me feel less isolated when I was going through issues of my own. Matt Haig comes across as hugely likeable. I’d like to read his fiction at some point.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

This beautiful book set in coastal Essex in the late 19th century made me want to read more historical fiction. I loved the relationship between widow, Cora and vicar, Will, not to mention the mystery of the Essex serpent.

The Chimp Paradox by Dr. Steve Peters

The metaphors get a bit convoluted but the basic premise that our emotional brain is stronger than our rational brain – and how to deal with – will stay with me.


My most read genres were fantasy, self-improvement and classics, which is reflected above. I’m particularly glad I set the target of reading a classic a month because it led me to some amazing books I might not have got round to otherwise.

This year I want to continue reading classics I might have missed as well as more historical fiction. How about you?

Any literary highlights from 2018?



Filed under Book Review

32 responses to “2018 Reading Wrap Up

  1. jilliecat

    What a fantastic fireplace and a great view from your window! And you have curtains (we still don’t). It looks like it’s your home already.

    Excellent selection of books, and I have to warn you that once you start on Daphne du Maurier you become addicted; once I read Frenchman’s Creek I had to go to Jamaica Inn, and then couldn’t stop. I really liked The House on the Strand, which was one of her late novels and quite different from all the rest.

    Hope you are feeling much better now and that you will go from strength to strength. And no, it’s not too late to say Happy New Year!


    • Thanks, jilliecat. I’m feeling loads better now. My reaction on first viewing the apartment was “”Wow” but the anxiety kind of stole that away from me. I’m hoping to get it back over time. I know I did the right thing and am very happy with the move. You know, part of the reason I settled in quickly – and have curtains! – is because planning the furnishings and getting everything in place helped me do something proactive with the stress.

      You’ve made me really excited to read more Daphne de Maurier now.


  2. Greennote

    It’s so lovely to see that you’re all moved in and having a slow January, you so deserve it.
    I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first this year, loved it, and then I read The Help, two views of essentially the same story, both excellent. I’d also recommend The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, a small, quiet, beautiful book.


    • I truly appreciate that, Greennote. I hope you had a good break and are feeling positive about 2019.

      I ADORED To Kill A Mockingbird. I also thought The Help was great, if rather heart-breaking. I’m putting The Summer Book on my reading list right now. It’s something I’ve been meaning to check out for ages. Maybe I should wait for warmer weather though…


  3. Hamamelis

    Hi Tara, haven’t commented anywhere for a long time due to health challenges and perfume fatigue. Both seem to take a slow turn for the better so maybe I can take up Slow Commenting! What a lovely view and fireplace, I wish you a very happy new home. We share 2 books we read, the Chimp, and the Bear and Nightengale, loved the Bear (and the sequel) and found the Chimp useful. In the Christmas break (coinciding with being couch bound) I read A Gentleman in Moscow which I absolutely loved, one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read for a long time. I’ve read the last Gamache, I always enjoy them. And I wore Vol de Nuit yesterday, extract but not vintage, I have a small decant. It is beautiful and I may try to find an affordable vintage version. All the best this year!


    • Hi Hamamelis,
      Lovely to see you whenever you feel up to commenting. I truly wish you increasingly good health this year. Good to hear you’re turning a corner.

      I heard a negative review of A Gentlemen in Moscow and it put me off but maybe I should give it a try. Most people, like you, seem to rate it highly.
      I’m wearing vintage Vol de Nuit edt today!!!


      • Hamamelis

        You smell beautiful! As for the Gentleman, as I have been in a lot of pain I am not up to suffering in books or movies. I found the rhythm and language soothing and some passages hilarious, always healing for me. But I am not a native speaker/reader which I think at times makes me miss the things native speakers find irritating. I think it is worth a try and may fit Slow January!


  4. davina

    Hi Tara. Thank you for yet another engaging and encouraging posts. Loved it. And many congratulations on achieving your reading goal. 33 in a year is pretty remarkable. Seriously impressed. You definitely inspire me to soend more time reading. It is such a healthy and enjoyable thing to do. And I like the way you reflected on the genre of books you’ve focused on. It says a lot about where you are in life I think and why they spoke to you. That’s ehy i love having a book case – a good reminder of who you are and what’s helped to lead you to the present. I’d like to set myself a reading goal,and less screen and tv time….xx


    • Cheers, Davina! It is SO tempting to let YouTube wash over me but I try and read for at least an hour a day. Upping my game last year made such a difference. I highly recommend joining Goodreads so you can set a goal and monitor your progress. It’s also fun 🙂


  5. I love your flat so much! And also the idea of ‘slow commenting’. That is particularly true of my blog! I read fewer books than I meant to – I think it worked out at one and a half a month instead of my target of two! – but Eleanor Oliphant was in my top reads thanks to you.

    I have just finished “An Almost Perfect Christmas” by Nina Stibbe. A quick read and one I kept nodding along to, especially the chapter on different (desperate!) ways to cook a turkey. It is not too unChristmassy to enjoy it in your slow January. 😉


  6. V, that means a lot. As I lost that loving feeling thanks to the anxiety attack, I’m relying on others to feel it for me until I get it back.

    I heard great things about Love Nina and the Christmas book sounds like a good read too.

    Slow commenting is the way to go 🙂 Thanks for making the effort even when you’re not on these shores.


  7. OMG! Your new place is freaking gorgeous. I’m going to come over so soon and sit there.
    Books! I just finished Tuesdays With Morrie. It was excellent.
    Portia xx


    • Hey Portia,

      Really looking forward to you seeing it at some point. When we were talking it over in Australia, I never expected to become a reality by the end of the year!

      Good to hear you enjoyed Tuesdays With Morrie. I remember reading Five People You Meet In Heaven by the same author a long time ago.


  8. Hayley

    I’m definitely back into reading and my reading list is huge with quite a few from your book posts!
    Last year I enjoyed Emily of New Moon books by L.M. Montgomery and am on book 3 of Elizabeth Jane Howard the Cazalets series, all easy soothing reads. I have just started the Essex Serpent which I’m enjoying too.
    All the best in your new home!


    • Hayley, Anne of Green Gables is on my reading list for this year. I loved the TV series in my youth.
      Great that you have got into reading again. Easy, soothing reads are perfect for these winter days. I’m really happy you’re enjoying The Essex Serpent. It has such a great sense of time and place as well as a good plot and interesting characters.

      Thanks for your good wishes! I’m happier and more at home here every day.


  9. That fireplace is so beautiful and unique! I hope you feel better. I’m so impressed by your reading so many books! I’ve always loved to read but I’ve really slowed down in recent years. Now I tend to juggle books and jump around among them. I always have a stack by my bed, though. I recently re-read one I’ve enjoyed before as an easy, quick read: The Third Witch. It is a retelling of Macbeth’s story.


    • Hi Old Herbaceous,

      The fireplace is original Art Deco and I love it. I do feel much better thanks.

      I’ve only read about one book a month in the past but I got into BookTube and joined Goodreads last year which has upped my game. I’ve set a target for 25 books this year which is more achievable.

      The Good Witch sounds like a nice read. I love re-tellings.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Norma MILLER

    Hi Tara and Happy New Year and Slow January, which of course will turn into February in a blink of an eye!! I love hearing about all of the books you and the others read, I just cannot read books, I get up to page 12 and ZZZZZZZ, sound asleep. Having said that, I have read a couple in my lifetime. I just LOVE your new home, I am sure you will have fun decorating it to your taste, GO GIRL!!! Luvandhugs,Aunty T xxx


    • Hi Aunty Tracey!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You’re the best. You have way to much energy to sit and read a book 🙂

      I’m thoroughly enjoying getting place how I want it.

      Hope you’re coping with the heat down under.


  11. francescabelanger

    What gorgeous photos of your new flat! I hope it will bring you much happiness. Your literary list is so interesting, and I’m glad you loved A Gentleman in Moscow as much as I did—it was my favorite novel of last year.


    • Lovely to read your comment here, Francesca. I hope you consider starting a reading blog with your spare time now. I’d be an avid follower!

      Very happy you like the photos of my new place. I love it more and more every day. It suits me perfectly.


      • francescabelanger

        Just realized I misread the discussion of A Gentleman. Yes, there is suffering, but I can reassure you you will be satisfied and delighted if you pursue it till the end! ❤️


  12. Slow January sounds great! I’ll see if I can take on that mode, without self-flagellation 😉 I did read some marvellous books his year, but was particularly gripped by Suite Francaise by Nemirovsky. I also loved Colette’s The cat and finally read the moving Night Flight ( Vol de Nuit) by Saint-Exupery. And because I don’t keep a track, neither with books on goodreads nor on perfumes on Fragrantica, I can’t remember much else right now…
    Must look into ‘the chimp paradox’ and I liked the sound of the bear and the nightingale too.


    • You know what? I’m going to do Slow January every year. The absence of self-flagellation is what it’s all about! Give it a good go.
      I admire your taste in books. I should give Collette a try and Vol de Nuit.
      The last book in the Winternight trilogy dropped today so it’s a good time to try The Bear and The Nightingale.


  13. Ahhhhhh those windows are absolutely stunning! Totally gorgeous and hopefully I’ll get to visit soon(ish). Great reading list. I will grab some of those for sure 🙂 xoxo


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