Before I get into what I’m reading this year, I’d like to talk about my favorite reads of 2018. I haven’t included Ready Player One or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in this list because I’ve talked about the former already and the latter merits its own post.
Choosing only five books out of 148 was pretty agonizing, but here goes!
1. The Goldfinch
This Pulitzer Prize-winning bildungsroman details the life of Theodore Decker, who survives a terrorist bombing at the Met as a 13-year-old. Although he loses his mother in the accident, he acquires a Dutch Golden Age painting, The Goldfinch, which comforts him and anchors him to reality as he navigates his turbulent life (emphasis on turbulent…it gets wild)
Oh man, this book was a RIDE. At 771 pages, it’s the longest book I’ve read since 1Q84 (which takes readers 27ish hours at 250 WPM. Wow.) The plot, while substantial, definitely does not require nearly 800 pages, but the beauty of the book is in the details. The prose is absolutely stunning—you know a book is incredible when you not only can picture images vividly, but can see them erupting before your eyes. I usually don’t read books on planes because they tend to make me feel even queasier, but this one—wow. It was immersive. I’m so glad I lugged it all the way to India…Also, PSA: the movie, which stars Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort, releases on October 11 this year, so read it before then!
If you have read this book, tell me: how do you feel about Theo?? I’m curious.
2. Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters In the End
This book is truly sobering. As its title suggests, it offers insights about how we can shift our perspectives regarding illness, geriatric care, and death. And since all of us will encounter these at some point in our lives, this book is relevant to everyone. I’m fortunate enough to have elderly relatives who are all in good health, so the book’s deep discussion of age-related frailty was pretty shocking to me—the visuals of how our bodies deteriorate and decay as we age were…intense. Although terrifying, this book is nothing but informative, and Atul Gawande’s prose is incredible. I loved it so much that I immediately picked up The Checklist Manifesto, which is also by him (I unfortunately never finished it and restarted it recently, but still…)
3. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
As an ardent Freakonomics fan and a prospective Data Analytics major, I thought this book was fantastic. Several of the insights this book offers are pretty astonishing—especially those revealed by Google search trends regarding racism in America. The anecdotal analyses of data generated from scouring Wikipedia, Facebook (and even PornHub) are engaging and illuminating as well. I particularly enjoyed the third section, which elaborates on the Foucauldian implications of data science. Anyway, if you’re interested in finding out how sketchy everyone is IRL, this is definitely worth the read!
4. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
This novel is *ahem* absolutely remarkable. I devoured it in one sitting since I had been searching for a book like it ever since finishing Ready Player One. For a synopsis, all I can really say that it’s about a (very relatable) woman named April May who finds a giant robot in Manhattan. She films it, goes viral, and is sucked into a ton of crazy stuff as a result.
Read this!!!! It’s so worth it!!!
5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
This book is BEAUTIFUL. Its premise is pretty straightforward—Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo opens up to reporter Monique Grant about her scandalous past—but it contains so many unexpected elements that will keep you hooked. It can be classified as historical fiction since it features the trials and tribulations of 1950s Hollywood, as well as the Stonewall Riots (!!!), but it really is timeless. It’s the perfect beach read since it’s not abstract or deep, but it is very compelling. I listened to this on Audible and was completely immersed, so if you’re looking for your next audiobook, try this one out!