Here are one sentence reviews and ratings of all the books I read in 2018. I got the total up to 40, which I’m relatively pleased with. Also, I’ve linked a few of the longer discussions and reviews I’ve written on this blog if you’re interested. Enjoy!
The Iliad (2.5/5) Unless you like war and Achilleus aka the most annoying epic character ever, it drags a bit to be honest.
The Odyssey (3.5/5) This is my favorite epic and one that really benefits from the full text rather than an abridged or simplified version, but it is still 300 pages of an ancient Greek translation.
Sophocles’ Tragedies (4/5) Ajax didn’t deserve any of this, nobody likes Heracles, and Sophocles really thinks Odysseus is mean.
Theban Plays (4/5) Oedipus was never going to have a good life because ~prophecy~, Antigone wants to rule the world, and Ismene gets a bad rap.
The Aeneid (3.5/5) The most musical, but also most derivative of the epics; seriously, Virgil, this is just Homer fanfiction.
Dog Songs (3.5/5) It’s moving poems about dogs that make your heart hurt, what more do you want?
Love that Dog (4/5) This verse novel is geared for a younger audience, but I still enjoyed its unique voice, its heartbreaking and enthusiastic moments, and the clever way it ties all its loose strands together.
My House (4.5/5) This book of poetry about life is rich with the author’s identity but still open enough to feel and relate to.
Ron Rash Poems (3.5/5) How many poems about death can you write, Mr. Rash?
Short Story Collections
Jesus’ Son (1/5) I have very little patience for people who ruin their lives willingly, and even less for those who write pretentious stories about people who ruin their lives willingly.
Can’t and Won’t (5/5) This is a book that deserves to be read carefully, full of short stories which are almost poetry-like at times and strangely poignant (read my longer review/discussion here).
What is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2/5) This collection of short stories is mostly style over substance, and a little too weird to be wonderful for me.
Anatomical Shape of a Heart (4/5) A bit cliché but it had some unique components and a fairly solid YA romance.
Once and For All (4/5) Sarah Dessen is a pro at fluffy contemporaries, but I do prefer some of her other books, even if they’re all kind of similar.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (3/5) I’m not quite sure why everyone loves this book when it’s half glorification of drugs and destructive friends and half phony celebrations of literature that the characters don’t support.
Turtles All the Way Down (5/5) This is a gut-wrenching and powerful depiction of obsessive compulsive disorder that is just beautifully written.
Eliza and Her Monsters (4.5/5) I hadn’t realized how invested I’d gotten until the turning point of the story punched me in the gut and gave me a panic attack; highly recommend (read my longer discussion/review here).
Saint Anything (3.5/5) Another solid Sarah Dessen novel, but a few of the side characters and subplots didn’t work as well for me, and the ending was unsatisfying.
Radio Silence (2.5/5) The plot literally only advances when the characters get drunk and make stupid decisions, and the mom is a strawman villain.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (4/5) This teen romance got its moment this year with a Netflix movie, and it was nothing incredibly unique but still a cute read.
The Cold Light of Mourning (3/5) This pretty typical mystery setup falls down in the actual mystery mechanics and the author’s disdain for anyone younger than her.
Ten Dead Comedians (4/5) It’s a murder mystery dinner that does what it says on the tin, with a surprising but not necessarily gratuitous amount of violence.
Chasing Vermeer (5/5) I’ll admit that my nostalgia goggles are on, but this is just a really good middle-grade mystery adventure novel.
The Wright 3 (4/5) Still colored a bit by nostalgia, the sequel to Vermeer is a bit of a classic of my childhood, and I enjoyed the re-read.
The Calder Game (3/5) The plot points in the series’ third book don’t hold up as well, but it’s still a great use of art in fiction.
The Conspiracy of Us (3/5) For a wish fulfillment teenage run-around-in-fancy-dresses-and-run-the-world novel, the main character is surprisingly inactive for the first half of the book.
The Map of Fates (3/5) I’m still annoyed the first book tricked me by not saying it was part of a series until the end, but the Conspiracy sequel is another fairly trashy YA adventure spy novel, which I say with affection.
The Ends of the World (3/5) The series’ finale is about 20% mystery action adventure and 80% traumatized teenagers giving each other therapy, with a cop out twist ending.
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
The Magician’s Elephant (5/5) This is a charming little book with a strangely powerful mood and atmosphere that feels just odd enough to be enchanting.
War of the Worlds (4/5) This classic is fascinating just as much for its simultaneous commentary on humanity and utter lack of characterization as it is for its inconsistently sound scientific explanations.
The Night Circus (5/5) This is an 1800s magical realism novel with writing that is gorgeous and so completely tangible that it truly feels as if you are wandering around the circus, each tent more incredible than the last.
Dune (2.5/5) How was this such a massive franchise when the plot is so nonlinear and the main character guy is such a Mary Sue?
High Wizardry (5/5) It’s difficult to describe or even identify why this book is so important to me, but I’ve read it enough times to know I’ll be reading it over and over for the rest of my life.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (4/5) The writing gets in the way of the story a little, but it has some really insightful things to say about fame and the culture of the social internet and world at large.
Silver (3.5/5) This book is a fairly interesting zombie apocalypse/horror novel, but the themes are fairly surface level and the characters’ reactions often don’t quite feel realistic.
The Galaxy Game (2/5) It’s a little Ender’s Game-esque but with more unexplained galactic politics and confusing lore that just made me angry because I had no clue what was going on or why I should care.
The Princess Diarist (4.5/5) This autobiography feels like watching a car crash in slow motion and listening to the thoughts of the person in the front seat (read my longer discussion/review here).
Mere Christianity (4.5/5) This is basically C.S. Lewis’s required reading for any Christian or anyone interested in Christianity; highly recommend.
The Cellist of Sarajevo (4.5/5) The simple development of the story and harsh descriptions of a home in the middle of a war zone would only lack power if you were devoid of all empathy and compassion (note: this is only based off a true story, so it’s not really nonfiction but I didn’t know how else to categorize it).
The Man Who Created Narnia (4/5) This is a simple biography that I got for Christmas and very much enjoyed reading.
Favorite new read of the year: The Night Circus
Biggest disappointment: Radio Silence
Made me the most emotional: Eliza and Her Monsters
Biggest surprise: The Princess Diarist
Favorite re-read: It’s always going to be High Wizardry
Thank you for reading. If you’re interested in my longer-than-one-sentence thoughts on any of these books, please let me know in comments!
(cover image from Pexels)