2018 Year in Review

As I prepare to go dark at the end of this week, here’s how the year stacked up. I’m taking some liberties with a few books that I’m not quite finished, but certainly will be before Dec. 31, including the Short Story Advent Calendar.

Books Read

every boy

My Goodreads Challenge got arrowed

About the Author

  • 56% female, trans, or non-binary
  • 64% person of colour
  • 24% Canadian, 31% American, 29% European, 5% Asian, 4% South American, and a couple from the Middle East, Caribbean, and Africa
  • 54% originally written in English, 14% in French, 8% in Spanish, and a few each in the following: Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Danish, Italian, Latvian, Greek, Korean, Norwegian, Iraqi, Hungarian, Polish, and German.

I basically speak French now

Blog Stats


Great Success

Five I will remember

  1. The Idiot by Elif Batuman inspired me to get back in touch with an old internet friend.
  2. Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me by Teffi made me wish she’s lived long enough to have a blog.
  3. Comemadre by Roque Larraquy was the weirdest book I read this year, and that’s saying something.
  4. Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont has made me into one of those people who make excuses to bring it up in conversation so I can push it on people. Sorry!
  5. Mean by Myriam Gurba is the Gen X memoir I’ve been looking for all my life.

I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed

  1. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai was supposed to be a smart and funny (and sexy) romance but it was so, so boring.
  2. American War by Omar El Akkad nearly won Canada Reads and it almost would have been worth it for the outraged rants that would have ensued.
  3. Sick by Porochista Khakpour was a highly anticipated Gen X memoir, but it was a sloppy, self-indulgent, meaningless mess. Actually, I am mad about this one.
  4. Washington Black by Esi Edugyen won the Giller Prize despite not having a plot, voice, or style that made any sense.
  5. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani won the Prix Goncourt but I forgot it moments after reading it on an airplane.

My Book of the year

Only one book hit all the high notes of my other memorable books (weird, timeless, touching, gritty) while avoiding the pitfalls of my bottom five (boring, unbelievable, thrown together, self pitying, transparent). Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk is my book of the year, and really, it’s a book of next year, because it’s not out here till 2019. I’ve just had a look at the Canadian cover (second from left below) and… it’s okay. Also not too fond of either the Dutch or Polish movie poster (but still want to watch the movie, with subtitles of course).

Tokarczuk combined two things that are often thought to be in opposition, or at least, are thought to be beyond the talents of most contemporary writers: an absolutely original, believable, enchanting voice, and a social agenda presented in a way that isn’t pandering, condescending, or moralizing. Russell Smith recently wrote (paywalled, sorry) about the “lost art of the perfect sentence,” and contends that Canadians love “lifeless novel-writing if they feel a story is ‘important.'” He says that things are different in Europe, that “being clever or funny or even maintaining a certain stylish hauteur is not seen as a moral liability” and I’d say Tokarczuk proves him at least half right. And perhaps I can prove him half wrong, at least anecdotally – I’m Canadian, and I loved this book, important or not, because it’s full of life and stylish and clever and funny (and sad, and horrific, and scary, and…)

And with that, I’m on hiatus till Q2 2019. Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you in Spring!




    • lauratfrey

      I’ve seen an overall or American one before (I think Book Riot and Lit Hub were the top blogs and I’m like… those are barely blogs, lol) but the Canadian one might be new. Lots of familiar faces! I have no idea how it’s compiled, I can’t imagine I’m there due to traffic or number of posts…

      Yes please do read The Idiot. It’s a tale for all us Oregon Trail Generation kids. I know you’re slightly too young but I think you’ll get something from it!

  1. Jo

    I know it’s what you were aiming at Laura but your author stats were still very impressive and Drive your plow over the bones of the dead is on my list for next year. Enjoy the time away from the screen and look forward to your return before too long!

  2. bookbii

    Drive Your Plow has been so well received, I am jealous I can’t yet read it (itching to buy right now, resisting). Enjoy your time offline. At the darkest time of the year, going dark can be a relief though I look forward to reading you again when you’re back online.

  3. Naomi

    I always love reading your end-of-year posts. My daughter thinks that Joey speaking French is the most hilarious thing ever.
    Songs for the Cold of Heart is probably going to be my favourite book of the year, but haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this yet. My end-of-year post might not be out until the new year.
    I don’t know where that Top 100 Canadian Book Bloggers list came from, either, but it’s nice to see that someone’s noticing us!
    Have a good holiday, and a great internet break!! 🙂

  4. writereads

    The internet is a strange place. Like any meeting space, you get used to certain people always being there. I am very emotional at this time of year (and I’m having Bailey’s in my coffee this morning) but I have to say that I’m going to miss your online presence. That being said, I may be missing everybody’s online personages. Your resolution to go offline has made me think of doing something similar. When you wrote about your pre-internet brain it really struck a chord with me. I think it was also influenced by reading The Idiot and remembering what it was like back in the oldeny times. For all that we’ve gained from this great wonderful world of ones and zeros there are things that I feel that I’ve been slowly losing since the early aughts. Anyways, there goes Kirt makin’ it about him.

    Maybe in the new year, when we’ve all returned from the non-internet wilderness, we can get together and talk about books or something. Spring is, traditionally, time for Reading In Bed month at Write Reads. Until then, enjoy the holidays and life without all of this (gestures at a virtual world). – Kirt


  5. Kristilyn

    I have Songs For The Cold of Heart and The Idiot on my shelf to read and I really look forward to reading them! I didn’t expect Songs For the Cold of Heart to be so large. lol. Congrats on #74! I’ve never heard of that before, but still very cool. Have a fun 2019!

  6. Pingback: Most Disappointing Books of 2022 | Reading in Bed

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