2018: A Year in Books


As 2018 ended, I finished my seventy-second book of the year. It was the second year I was aiming to hit 100, but didn’t, so in 2019 I am not setting any number goals—just going wherever the reading journey takes me. I can’t tell you enough about what books mean to me. I have started a whole Instagram just devoted to my reading @bookandbird and am thankful on a daily basis for the comfort, inspiration, and perspective books provide. Without further ado, here’s my 2018 list in the order each was read. Any books with a * are re-reads for me and I will give more thoughts at the end about my favorites and other reading notes.


  1. The Axe Lectures by Brianna Johnson

  2. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

  3. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

  4. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

  5. Women & Power by Mary Beard

  6. The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

  7. The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

  8. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

  9. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

  10. A Baker’s Year by Tara Jensen

  11. Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips

  12. Reframing Organizations by Bolman & Deal

  13. River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

  14. Arcadia by Lauren Groff*

  15. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

  16. Hekate Her Sacred Fires by Sorita D’Este

  17. I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell

  18. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

  19. The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

  20. Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer

  21. Full Woman, Fleshy Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda*

  22. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

  23. Circe by Madeline Miller

  24. The Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

  25. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

  26. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

  27. The Thorn Necklace by Francesca Lia Block

  28. Still Lives by Maria Hummel

  29. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

  30. Wild by Cheryl Strayed*

  31. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  32. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

  33. The Hope of Floating has Carried Us This Far by Quintan Ana Wikswo

  34. Kings Cage by Victoria Aveyard

  35. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

  36. Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

  37. King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes

  38. M-Train by Patti Smith*

  39. The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

  40. The Mermaid by Christina Henry

  41. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

  42. The Empath Experience by Sydney Campos

  43. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

  44. The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch*

  45. The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

  46. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

  47. Sightlines: a Conversation with the Natural World by Kathleen Jamie

  48. Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

  49. Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

  50. Getting Free by Melinda Alexander

  51. Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

  52. Educated by Tara Westover

  53. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

  54. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

  55. The Electric Woman by Tessa Fontaine

  56. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

  57. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

  58. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

  59. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

  60. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

  61. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

  62. Untwine by Edwidge Danticat

  63. The Clockmakers Daughter by Kate Morton

  64. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

  65. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

  66. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

  67. Stormwake by Lucy Christopher

  68. The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg

  69. My LIfe in a Cat House by Gwen Cooper

  70. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey

  71. Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

  72. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

In 2018, I only had five re-reads. Of my seventy-two read, six were written by men. This is because I have an ongoing commitment to read work by women as much as possible. That said, I will still read books by men when I am truly interested in them—and I loved the ones I read and reread by male authors in 2018. As usual, fiction dominated. What was new this year was the sudden and unexpected appearance of Young Adult literature. I think I needed the escape and the magic the genre gives. I feel like this trend may continue in 2019 and I’m not mad at it! I didn’t read much poetry, though I originally planned to. I am completely up for bookish surprises in 2019—so, I am eager to see what will come. I’m already into my first book of 2019 as I write this.

My top books of 2018 (in no order)

  1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

  2. I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell

  3. The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

  4. Educated by Tara Westover

  5. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

  6. Circe by Madeline Miller

  7. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

  8. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey

  9. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

  10. Sarah J. Maas—both series

Coming up with a top list is a challenge because I could easily have said ten others on a different day/in a different mood. But, the ones above stayed with me. In a list of over seventy, I think that makes them worthy of mentioning twice. It also is “cheating” to choose Sarah J. Maas as a writer and not just one book, but I read two series of books from her and was completely engaged in both. They are YA fantasy fiction—a complete change for me as a typically die-hard literary fiction reader, as I mentioned above. I am completely ready to go with building my 2019 list. If you have any suggestions, please come find me on Instagram at @bookandbird and let me know! Happy reading!

King Kong Theory

  "I like myself as I am, more desiring than desirable." ~Virginie Despentes~

Did I love this book? Did I feel challenged, frustrated, and provoked by this book? Yes--to all of these. Yes. It is the most evocative reading I have done in a long time, though, and is the only book of 2018 (so far) that I re-read immediately upon finishing. Please read Virginie Despentes for yourself. It won't be a gentle journey and her whole existence is one giant "trigger warning," but that's exactly why she should be read. This is the time for voices like hers to shake things up and raise some hell. Our society has aided and abetted the silencing of volatile, brutal, brillant women for far too long. 


Lady Bird, 1996


Lady Bird, 1996, Victor Vazquez

Lack of love can be forgiven. Break her law and her god. How a wild thing hunts its prey. Smell of metal. Fear. Breath. Caught in a throat or hammering a ribcage wild. Instinct. Tooth and claw. I enter like a dark, twisted thing. To do what cannot be done. Singing love songs from the shadows. Suffering the consequences. Wipe the blood clean and never say a word. Biding my time. 

2017: A Year in Books


This year, I ended 2017 by reading my *seventy-fifth* book! I had secretly been hoping to hit 100, but I fell short of that goal. Still, I am so glad I got to read so many amazing new books this year (and to re-read a few old favorites, too). Here is my list in chronological order. I will note my favorites at the end and any ones that have a * are re-reads. I hope my list gives you some ideas for your bookshelf.


  1. Syllabus by Lynda Barry
  2. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  3. Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens
  4. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley *
  6. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
  7. Bruja by Wendy Ortiz
  8. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  9. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
  11. Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
  12. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  13. Marlena by Julie Buntin
  14. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
  15. The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry
  16. Page After Page by Heather Sellers *
  17. Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson by Modern Library *
  18. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  19. Rookery by Traci Brimhall *
  20. A House of my Own by Sandra Cisernos
  21. Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
  22. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  23. Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
  24. Bright Air Black by David Vann
  25. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  26. Woman Most Wild by Danielle Dulsky
  27. Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas
  28. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  29. Witch by Lisa Lister
  30. Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
  31. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
  32. A Million Junes by Emily Henry
  33. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  34. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
  35. Hunger by Roxane Gay
  36. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes *
  37. Euphoria by Lily King
  38. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
  39. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
  40. Women in the Material World by Faith D'Alusio *
  41. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  42. The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
  43. House of Names by Colm Toibin
  44. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  45. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
  46. The Nix by Nathan Hill
  47. Witches of New York by Ami McKay
  48. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  49. Lit by Mary Karr *
  50. What Happened by Hillary Clinton
  51. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
  52. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
  53. Norma by Sofi Oksanen
  54. Devotion by Patti Smith
  55. The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
  56. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
  57. The Power by Naomi Alderman
  58. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
  59. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
  60. The Art of Misdiagnosis by Gayle Brandeis
  61. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi
  62. Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  63. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  64. Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process by Joe Fassler
  65. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
  66. Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  67. Literary Witches by Taisia Kitaiskaia and Katy Horan
  68. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg *
  69. Saudade by Traci Brimhall
  70. Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood *
  71. Witch Wife (poems) by Kiki Petrosino
  72. Blue Pastures by Mary Oliver *
  73. Autumn by Ali Smith
  74. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison *
  75. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Of my list, eleven were rereads (about 14%), sixty-two were written by women (about 83%), and nearly 25% were books by writers of color. As for genre, fiction was the favorite--about 65%, with non-fiction at 24% and poetry at just six books total. In 2018, I hope to keep increasing cultural diversity and to incorporate more poetry. 

My top books of 2017 were (in no order)

  1. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
  2. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  3. The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
  4. Hunger by Roxane Gay
  5. Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
  7. Autumn by Ali Smith
  8. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
  9. Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
  10. The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
  11. The Art of Misdiagnosis by Gayle Brandeis
  12. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  13. Bright Air Black by David Vann
  14. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  15. Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Writing my "top books" list was nearly impossible, since I read SO many books I loved. Priestdaddy and What Happened were probably my "least favorite" reads and are the only ones I wouldn't likely recommend, though there were a few others that didn't *quite* live up to the hype for me personally. Overall, 2017 was a powerful reading year for me. I am excited about at least a dozen books coming in 2018, and looking forward to the ones I never saw coming to knock me out, too. If you're a writer, please keep writing. I want your book on my list someday. Happy 2018 and happy reading!

Light & Shadow


The whole world feels like it is mutable. Inconsistent. Unsettled. We all tumble through the latest headlines and heartbreaks and blessings and brokenness. Finding ourselves, if we are lucky, tangled in a large swath of light. Finding ourselves tangled in a lover’s arms. A kiss as remedy. A conversation as medicine. A flare in the darkness. A touch and we remember what hope feels like.

Read the rest of my most recent photo essay at Modern Creative Life: HERE