2018 – A Bookish Year in Review & My 2019 Hopes and Dreams

2018 in Review -- The Riverside Library

This is mildly embarrassing – I started this blog post on the first of January, but never got around to finishing it, and now it’s the twenty-sixth…. Nevertheless, despite it being near the end of January, here is my Bookish Year in Review + My 2019 Hopes and Dreams.

Hello, 2019. I feel like I know you well already, perhaps because I’ve accidentally been saying that it’s 2019 for the past few months and it oddly feels like 2020 to me already. That also means I’ve aged myself an extra year, how kind I am. I’m sitting in my local library with music in my ears, books all around me and a surprisingly fast wifi connection – I have all I need, and 2019 is off to a great start. But, before I crack on with 2019, I think it’s only appropriate to look back on 2018 and see how the year went by. So here it is, my 2018 in review.

Books

We shall start this post with the inarguably most important subject – books. I started the year hoping to read eighty books by eighty different authours from eighty different countries, which soon went to the dogs when I realised how difficult it was to find books I actually like. I’m a fantasy girl through and through. Sure, I like to expand my tastes and try more things, but I always find myself gong back to the same genre… and it was somewhat surprisingly difficult to find books from a bunch of countries in that genre. I saw three million literary fiction titles and they’re just not… me. That doesn’t mean I’m très unsophisticated, thank you very much, it merely means I am exceptionally fantastical. But I digress. I soon chucked that goal out the window, and that may have been partially due to the fact that two of my first reads were just… not me.

I was off to a bumpy start with my first book of the year, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, which quickly taught me that surrealism is not my genre at all. Don’t get me wrong, Murakami does surrealism well, but a little bit too well for my liking, because I felt like I had a giant huntsman spider crawling up my neck the whole time – if you don’t know what a hunstman is, please come to Australia, they are heaps of fun (read: giant spiders that can grow to the size of a dinner plate). Ergo, this wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable experience for me. The challenge further soured after reading Around the World in Eighty Days, which inspired the whole thing in the beginning, and I did not like it one bit at all. It’s an adventure novel, but honestly! Shopping lists are more exciting than that book. What a dull thing. Sure, I bet it was groundbreaking in its day, but I’m not looking at it through those rose tinted glasses because I was promised entertainment and all I got was… well, let be honest, all I got was a yawning fit (gosh, I’m not usually this salty, and now I have sunscreen in my eye. Leave me alone, karma).

Thankfully, when I soon abandoned that challenge and my reading year greatly improved. I picked up Eliza and her Monsters one afternoon when I wanted a book to make me feel something (unlike you, Around the World in Eighty Days), and boy! That book did not disappoint. I got major Fangirl vibes, and if you’re a new reader here, you might not know how much I love Fangirl, but I love it a lot. Granted, Eliza and her Monsters didn’t quite cement its place in my heart like Fangirl did, but I laughed, and I cried, and my heart absolutely ached. I definitely recommend reading that one if you’re considering it.

Come February, Allen and Unwin NZ sent me a copy of Obsidio, a few weeks before release date and my family had never seen me that excited ever before (they kept telling me that for weeks). I hugged that shiny silver book for a decent hour. All thanks to a half-asleep email I sent at midnight when I was in Wellington and I simply couldn’t bear to wait any longer to read the book, so I simply had to ask for it. I stayed up until 2 am reading it, and I was so stressed but it was everything I personally wanted from the finale to the Illuminae Files, and I adore seeing it sitting pretty on my shelves.

I read Madness, Rack and Honey in May and found an all-time favourite book. My heart aches when I’m just thinking about it. It’s the kind of book I could sit there and weep over for no real reason at all. I just feel like Mary Ruefle gets me, and there are few better feelings than relating to an author or a book like that.

I discovered Scythe midway through the year, and devoured it! Scythe had such an interesting premise, and although there were a few flaws that irked me a tad, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I cannot wait for the final book in the series to come out! I don’t even know when the release is, but I am squirming in my seat for it. I need to know what happens, I tell you! NEED.

I finally read the Fellowship of the Ring during winter, and I can’t believe it took me two years (yes, two years) to simply get past Bilbo’s birthday party! I think I’ve seen that scene in the movie a million billion times, so reading it was a little bit of a bore, but once that was through, I flew through the book and I loved Frodo’s journey. Also, can we just spend the rest of eternity talking about Samwise Gamgee, because I love him. He has to be, hands down, one of my favourite literary characters ever. As someone who values loyalty above almost everything else, I appreciate Samwise Gamgee so very, very much.

I binged some series throughout the year, notably To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Mortal Instruments, the Wrath and the Dawn and The Lunar Chronicles. I liked the last two most of all, which did surprise me a little, because I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of Cinder, the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, but I did really enjoy the books as they went on. I’m not sure why I didn’t expect to love The Wrath and the Dawn, but my word – did I ever! I’m so glad I picked up the sequel The Rose and The Dagger for $2 on a sale stand at a store in New Zealand.

Blog

2018 was an important year for my blog, it was the year it really all began. I tried to post frequently like a good blogger, but I didn’t really manage to achieve that. It definitely gave me an insight as to how difficult coming up with content for a blog is, and how hard it is to finish a blog post (exhibit A: This post).

Some of my favourite posts I published this year were:

How to Write a Book Review

Dear Bookish Social Media, We Need to Break Up

Writing Tips I Wish I Listened To

I see a trend here, don’t you? I was most proud of the posts I wrote with the intention to help rather than to update you on my life (which is totally what I’m doing now. Whoops).

2019

Ah, 2019! A year of promise! Like all years are until Netflix pops itself up on your computer and you end up rewatching Outlander for the 47th time and you realise you haven’t actually done anything constructive the whole year, meanwhile, Netflix has uploaded The Christmas Prince 5 and it’s actually December 2021.

Let’s try to stop that from happening by setting some goals, shall we?

Books

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog (which, if you are, can I just say, thank you so so so so so so so so much, you’re one of my favourite people on the planet), I’ve permanently set my Goodreads goal to 20 books. I honestly do not care how many books I read this year – I just want to read books I’ve wanted to read forever (looking at you War and Peace), and the plethora of new releases I am so hyped for.

This is the year I read for the reasons I always read for before. I will read for enjoyment, enlightenment, and escapism. Not to make my insta feed look *fab* and keep my blog *fresh*, not that I’ve ever actually done that, it’s just always been sitting at the back of my mind.

Blog

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot lately, and I think its about time I start taking it a little more seriously than I have been. It always takes me quite some time to feel settled into a new venture, and it’s taken me a year to get there with this, but I’m finally here, and I think I could actually love doing this – which is weird I guess, and Coetzee may disapprove of my loving something that isn’t a person, but what Coetzee doesn’t know can’t hurt him. Not that he’d actually care. Perhaps I should say his narrator in A House in Spain, instead of Coetzee himself… But I’m off track again. What I mean to say, is that I wish to blog more, and I wish to blog differently. I want to add all different types of content to The Riverside Library, all with a bookish twist, and I know I’ve probably been saying that for eons, but I think this might be time I actually do it. I’ve been making lists upon lists of different types of blog posts that I can make (and add a literary flair to), so now it’s time to get typing away (even though I swear people are glaring at me for my loud keyboard and speedy typing, but then again, they might be glaring because my stomach is rumbling, and I make a weird face at my screen every time I spell something wrong – who knows?)

This is the year of my blog. Also the Pig I think, but I’m not really up with the Chinese zodiac.

Life

I’ve had a story idea plaguing me for quite some time, in fact, I’ve had many. I’m hoping to compile a short story collection to post online, because I love to share what I create. It’ll be a nice change from writing novels all the time (especially novels that’ll just sit on my computer and collect the digital equivalent of dust). So do keep an eye out for that if you’re interested, and if I ever get around to it, which heaven knows if I will.

And thats that! Thanks once again for reading!

What are your bookish/blog/life goals for 2019? Sound off in the comments, I want to hear about all the great things I know you’ll all achieve this year. Let’s make it a great one!

Mikaela | The Riverside Library

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