Thursday, December 27, 2018

The 10 best books I read in 2018

As every year, I present you with a list of the 10 best books I read over the past year. I don't make a list of the best books of the past year, since I read both recent and not-so-recent novels.

As I track my reading on Goodreads, I've learned that the number of books I read per year varies, but the total number of pages I read per year is rather constant (between 11000 and 12000 in 3 of the last 6 years; 2 years I read more, in 2017 the infant empress made me read less).

Here are my 10 favorites that I recently read:

10. You must be very intelligent - the PhD delusion - Karin Bodewits

I received this book as a review copy, and literally laughed out loud a number of times (I may have actually woken up or disturbed the infant empress in the process).

9. Your are not like other mothers - Angelika Schrobsdorff

The rise and fall of Else Kirschner: from a good young Jewish girl in Berlin, to a starved young mother during WWI, to a society figure in the rolling 20s, to a poor woman in exile in Bulgaria.

8. The Turner House - Angela Flournoy

I'm late to the bandwagon of the Turner house (which was published in 2015), but nonetheless deeply enjoyed reading this family saga. This is the kind of book that makes you enter a different universe for days on end.

7. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done - Laura Vanderkam

Those of you who've been following my blog for a while know that I'm a fan of Laura's work - and her latest book, based on research from actual time logs, is everything I love in a nonfiction book: well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking, and actually making me change the way I do things.

6. Hunger, a memoir of my body - Roxane Gay

A book for every woman who has a body and has thoughts about that body.

5. Educated - Tara Westover

The autobiography of Tara Westover is fascinating. She grow up without receiving any formal education, and went on to get a PhD. The added value of this book for educators is clear too.

4. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

I listened to this audiobook, and for weeks on end I was caught up in Jane's story during many long nursing sessions. A classic for many reasons.

3. Het goddelijke monster - Tom Lanoye

Tom Lanoye takes us to the underbelly of Flemish society in the 1990s. For those who read Dutch, the Flemish Dutch of Lanoye is quite an experience to read, and the insight in Belgium/Flanders is unlike what other authors manage to sketch.

2. Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

Disclaimer: I am a huge Saunders fan, and have liked every single piece of writing by Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel, and deals with the topic of grief and loss of a child (the son of president Lincoln in this case). While it took me some effort to get used to the writing style (a chorus of voices from the dead and living), this book touched me deeply.

1. Het hout - Jeroen Brouwers

In Dutch - the latest (and perhaps last) book of Jeroen Brouwers shows life inside a boarding school operated by priests, where pedophilia and abuse reign. A claustrophobia-inducing book about good and evil, and the choices we make in life. I hope for those who don't read Dutch that an English translation is coming soon.

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