Books I read: 2018 Edition

For the last couple of years,  as my children are older, I have returned to reading. I have always loved to read. My favorite past time when I was a teenagers was to curl up with a book and my cat and dog in our living room and escape to a new world. While my favorite literature types are science fiction and mysteries I don’t necessarily limit by reading to just those.

This year I challenged myself again to read one book a month and I was successful!

This post is meant to summarize those books, and give you a few sentences of my thoughts of each one. Presented in the order I read them last year, here are the Books I read in 2018.

George Lucas: A Life, by Brian Jay Jones

Truth be told here, I read about half of this book and listened to the audio book for the other half. Star Wars is the most important piece of entertainment in my life, and I’ve read several books, articles, and other pieces on its creator, George Lucas. I definitely enjoyed this one and it solidified my opinion that Mr Lucas himself would have done something far different and much more uplifting than the new sequel trilogy.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

I picked up my second book of the year on recommendation from an internet friend of mine. As with the Lucas biography, I listened to the audio book of this one, primarily because Elizabeth Gilbert herself reads it.  It was definitely inspiring for my creative side. I read “Eat, Pray, Love” with my sister a few years back and was surprised at how much it resonated with me. This book, while smaller, did the same. It helped me with my 2018 resolution to draw more.

It’s Your Universe: You Have the Power to Make It Happen, by Ashley Eckstein, Stacy Kravetz

I had to read this one even though it’s really more for pre-teen and teens as they are figuring out who they want to be, because it’s written by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano and founder of HerUniverse.com. I adore Ashley, for Ahsoka and for Her Universe and for her infectious positivity. Bucket list for me would be to finally meet her and thank her for being a shining light in my Star Wars fandom. The book is adorable, and meant to be written in, as young girls do their own dreaming for their future.

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

I read this one because it one goes back to my love of mysteries and because I saw there was an HBO miniseries retelling staring Reese Whitherspoon (whom I also love). I typically like to read the book before seeing the movie. Yes, that always leaves me disappointed, but it allows me to enjoy the book without being spoiled by the movie. I had also “The Husband’s Secret’ by Ms. Moriarty a year or so ago, and enjoyed her ability to intertwine mystery with drama. After reading the first chapter, I worried I wasn’t going to like how this one ended, but I m happy to say that it ended just as it should have. That is all I will say.

Most Wanted, by Rae Carson

After seeing, and loving, Solo: A Star Wars Story, after definitely not expecting to, I thought I’d pick this one up and read some backstory of a young Han and Q’ira in this new Star Wars Canon. This is definitely a young adult novel, with only a few characters, but it added some relationship backstory between Han and Q’ira that dovetailed nicely with their relationship on the screen.

A New Hope (Star Wars: Novelizations), by Alan Dean Foster (Ghostwriter), George Lucas (Story & Screenplay)

Feeling the need to go back to my Original Trilogy love, I broke out my old copy of the original Star Wars; A New Hope novelization. It was a bit of a pallet cleanser for me after all of the disappointment with Disney’s direction of the Sequel Trilogy. I read this over and over again when I was young, and it brought me back to those days. Still such a wonderful story, and wonderful world building. Nothing today comes close to how much I enjoyed Star Wars as a kid.

Alliances (Star Wars: Thrawn, #2), by Timothy Zahn

Mr. Zahn has written the only stories I will ever accept as those that follow the end of Return of the Jedi in the Star Wars universe (in spite of Disney Designating all Star Wars Expanded Universe materials as “Legends”).  I hadn’t read the first of his new Thrawn books when this came out this summer, but I decided to jump in anyway. I read this in less than a week on our annual trip to Canada and loved every page. The action here takes place in two timeframes, prior to the fall of the Jedi and prior to the events of A New Hope, and focuses on Anakin and Padme and Darth Vader and Thrawn respectively. I found my favorite parts were those of Anakin and Padme. What surprised and delighted me was that as I read, I heard the voices of Matt Lanter and Cat Taber, the voice actors to provided their voices in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If you’re a Clone wars fan, or a Thrawn fan, or both, I highly recommend this one. I have the first book in this trilogy and have it on my to read list for this year.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom

This one had been on my list of books I was interested in for a while. My daughter had to read it for her summer reading between 7th and 8th grade, so as I did with my son with his last summer’s reading, I read along with her and we had our own little Book Club. I didn’t expect anything from it and found it to be both melancholy and really charming.  After complaining about having to read during the summer for a couple chapters, my daughter fell in love with it too. It made us both smile and cry. Beautiful reminder that we all have an impact in the lives of others.

Unqualified, by Anna Faris, Chris Pratt (Foreword)

I am not quite sure why I read this one. I am not an Anna Farris fan. I am, however, a Chris Pratt fan. I love him as Peter Quill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Guardians of the Galaxy) and I appreciate that he’s one of the few folks in Hollywood willing to be open that he is a person of faith.  Written before they separated, this book has a bunch of anecdotes from Anna’s life before and during her relationship with her then husband Chris. After having read it, I found myself sad that they couldn’t make it last. Definitely a fast read and something I didn’t spend much time thinking about.

Season of Storms, by Susanna Kearsley

These days, I would have to say that Susanna is my favorite author. I read her “Winter Sea” several years ago and was instantly hooked on her time traveling drama/romance style. I’ve read one of the Outlander books, and while those are similar, I grow tired of all the terrible things that keep happening. Susanna is obviously a hopeless (or is it hopeful) romantic and it shows. There’s always a happy ending. I got my youngest sister hooked on her too, and now I have to catch up with her and get through more of her books.

#sleevelife: Losing Half of Myself and Finding the Rest, by Jonathan P Dichter

I’ve been listening to Jonathan Dichter on various Disney parks related podcasts for so long now that he feels like a friend. Over the last year, he has recounted his experience having gastric surgery and losing over 100 pounds. His health and love life have made dramatic improvements and his positivity and perseverance shows in this book. I bought it to support him, but read it to join him on his journey. Those considering the surgery will get a first hand look at what it entails. I wish him nothing but much success and happiness.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

This is another book I read in anticipation of possibly watching the movie/miniseries version. I love Amy Adams, so I thought I might eventually watch the adaptation. I still haven’t. I read “Gone Girl” before it was made into a movie and, well, I hated it. It was well written and constructed but the two main characters were so awful, the reader just couldn’t like any of them.  This time, it was slightly different. I actually thought the main protagonist was sympathetic at times. Still, it was another book filled with broken and messed up people. I don’t really enjoy these sorts of stories. After two strikes, I don’t plan on reading any more from Ms. Flynn.

And the last book…continuing the theme of reading the book before watching the movie:

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1), by Kevin Kwan

I read this book in four days. That’s a record for me these days, when I have very little free time and have to borrow time from my sleep to do any reading. “Luckily”, I was home due to the government shutdown, so in addition to cleaning out the basement and taking things to Salvation Army, I did some reading. This one was completely a light beach read. Loads of drama and back-stabbing. Had the title and character names not been Asian, this story could have been set in any rich family, which tells me that money does the same thing to people, no matter the culture. I was intrigued by Singapore and its history, and might actually add it to my list of places to see one day.

And that was it.  Looking back over the list, again my reading was all over the place, from beach-reads and drama, to dark materials, Star Wars inspired and autobiographies.  I’ve challenged myself again to read another 12 books in 2019 (and have already finished one). I Look forward to putting together my summary in next year’s first blog post.

Happy Reading!
RSM

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