According to the Chinese calendar, 2018 was The Year of the Dog. According to the Calendar of Joan, 2018 was The Year of the Bookworm. Yep. I read 20 books this past year, an all-time record for me, or at least I think it was. I am proud of my achievement, but I know that there exists scores of Evelyn Wood speed readers who make my list look mediocre, pale, gaunt or even a tad bit pathetic. I know of one such “reader extraordinaire,” Nick B., who recently published his 2018 reading list which contained an astonishing 61 titles! That, my friends, is A LOT of books!!! By the way, Nick’s surname is not Book, though I think it would be fitting.
It would seem rather obvious that in order to read a lot of books, one must also have the gift of time. I did have the gift of time for the better part of 2018, and I chose to spend a fair amount of it alone, in quiet, save for the company of a book or magazine. Below is a list of fifteen books I have read since my last update in September. It contains four works of fiction, as well as memoirs, two anthologies, and a sampling of self-help type books.
If you are NOT a reader and therefore would be bored and uninterested in perusing this post, scroll down towards the end, just past the last title on the list. I have included a little teaser about a book not yet published, but one that is in the works. Here is the list of books that captivated my attention from late summer into winter:
1. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory– by Caitlin Doughty
This book was an easy read for me. Miss Doughty found her way into the business of death (and yes, it most certainly is a business) at a rather young age. The book was enlightening and entertaining despite its somewhat macabre subject matter.
2. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions– by Amy Newmark and Kelly Sullivan Walden
How can you go wrong with a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology? This one does not disappoint, and is chock full of mini stories about dreams and things to come.
3. Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life– by Caleb Wilde
Caleb was born into a family where both sides, maternal and paternal, worked in the funeral industry. Like Ms. Doughty’s book, Caleb also shares stories about the people and families he has served as a funeral director.
4. Reaching to Heaven– by James Van Praagh
5. Healing Grief-Reclaiming Life After Any Loss– by James Van Praagh
These two James Van Praagh books were recommended to me. I read Reaching To Heaven some time ago, and still owned a copy. I reread it and then obtained a copy of Healing Grief from the local library. If you are not familiar with James, he is a Medium and one of many who have gained notoriety via television. These two books mostly reaffirmed things I already knew, but I am always up for a refresher.
6. Almost Everything-Notes on Hope – by Anne Lamott
I am a longtime fan of Ms. Lamott. I greatly enjoy her humor and admit that I am a tad bit envious of her writing skills. As she traveled the country promoting her latest gift to the literary world, she made a stop in my hometown. It was at this event that I picked up my copy AND was treated to time spent in her company. She shared a bit about what motivated her to pen this latest work, and then spent time reading portions of it to the mostly female audience.
7. At Peace-Choosing A Good Death After A Long Life – by Samuel Harrington, M.D.
This book is relevant, important and timely. We are all getting older, with many of us living well into our 80’s, 90’s and beyond. This book speaks to our societal death phobia as well as our lack of planning when it comes to end-of-life care, funeral and estate planning and more. If you are a caregiver to an elderly parent (or two) and/or are getting up there in age yourself, this book is a must read.
8. The Book Thief – by Mark Zusak
I was a late bloomer to this work of historical fiction. The book was published in 2005 and quickly rose to the top of the bestseller list. The book has a unique narrator that is Death, which also happens to be a common theme in the books I listed above. Mr. Zusak is a fabulous writer who “shows us” rather than “tells us” this heartfelt story.
9. Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It – an anthology inspired by the bestselling memoir.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray Love, became an instant hit among hordes of women (and a few men, too) when it hit the shelves in 2006. Ms. Gilbert apparently inspired many to launch their own search of self, which in turn, created many similar stories of self-awakening. A sampling of these quests are shared within the pages of this anthology.
10. Organized ENOUGH-the anti-perfectionist’s guide to getting and staying organized– by Amanda Sullivan
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE books and stories about getting organized, downsizing and de-cluttering. Even though I live an organized and de-cluttered life, it does not prevent me from wanting to read and learn more about this subject. This book was written by a professional organizer, who just happens to be the cousin of a friend of mine. If you are looking for something to motivate and inspire you to take control of your STUFF, then this book just might be for you.
11. Where The Crawdads Sing – by Delia Owens
This murder mystery will capture and captivate you until the bitter end. It is the beautifully written story of the “marsh girl,” set in South Carolina. This book brought back fond memories of the writings of a favorite author from that region, the late and great Pat Conroy.
12. Mr. Mercedes – by Stephen King
I was loaned this book by a family member and was admittedly reluctant to read it. I have read only one book of fiction penned by Mr. King, The Shining, which scared the bejesus out of me. Once I decided to give this murder mystery a chance, I ended up finishing it in about three days.
13. The Lovely Bones – by Alice Sebold
The Universe sent me two very clear suggestions to read this book. And. I. Did. I thoroughly enjoyed this story told from the heavenly view of its narrator, a young girl who was brutally raped and murdered. This first novel penned by Ms. Sebold, catapulted her into her own literary heaven, the one where your story resonates with scores of readers, landing it atop a bestsellers list.
14. Death-What Is It? – by Jane Halliwell Green
I picked up this little book at a Psychic Fair after attending a mini seminar Ms. Green (a Medium) presented about death. The message contained within the book is valid and worth sharing, however prior to self-publishing it, the author could have benefited from some professional editing and organizing of the material.
15. The Book You Were Born To Write – by Kelly Notaras
This 15th and final title on this list is perhaps the most important one. The book is a newer release, and one that I was meant to read. Ms. Notaras shares a plethora of information regarding writing and publishing a book, knowledge she acquired after years spent working in the industry. I picked up this gem from my local library just about the time I enlisted the services of a professional book coach. It is here where this list ends and my announcement begins.
I have spent the better part of two months seated at my desk, typing away on my computer. I am very close to completing the first draft of a memoir I have been wanting to write for some time. Once the initial manuscript is complete, my book coach, Christine, has instructed me to step away from it for at least two weeks. When I return to this project after the suggested respite, I will be reading and re-writing it through the eyes of an editor. First comes my own self-editing, and then I will most likely enlist the help and guidance of a professional.
I plan to share my progress as I navigate my way through the unfamiliar territory of self-publishing. This is both an exciting and somewhat intimidating time for me as I will learn rather quickly whether or not my writing can move beyond the safe and small confines of this blog (and my very private journal) out into the real, competitive and somewhat saturated market that is the book world. I intend to share more about my book writing journey on this blog, via emails as well as social media. In addition to publishing, I will also be responsible for marketing my work as well.
As 2018 came to its natural end just weeks ago, a new year began. I believe that 2019 will be for me, The Year of The Book. (No worm.) And this time, it will be mine.