That’s it. 2018 is over. If you thought last year was fast, then this year passed in little over a blink.
2018 was yet another year where people online couldn’t stop talking about Donald Trump. For once, they spoke about someone else connected to Trump and forgot about him for a few brief moments. The bliss on the internet from lack of references to DJT was comparable to peace on earth. Politics became more divisive than ever.
Everyone was obsessed with Netflix originals. I discovered one I really enjoyed: The End of the F***ing World. Go watch it. It’s amazing. Rostered On, an Australian show, is also an underappreciated gem. YouTube kept trying to be TV and failing. Its 2018 incarnation of YouTube Rewind was the most embarrassing yet.
It was the year Meghan and Harry tied the knot. Social media, in particular Facebook and Google, became more creepy in their attempts to swindle all info they could from us for advertising bucks. Is Mark Zuckerberg even a human being? #AndroidsCanManipulatePeopleToo. Celebrities had careers destroyed over tweets and comments they made years ago. There were more shooting in the United States. Because of course. Musicians Aretha Franklin and Avicii, Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee and meme legend Stefan Karl Stefansson all passed on.
In 2018, I continued my political website The Fifty Percent Review, albeit on a less frequent schedule. I discovered an old novel hidden in the depths of a portable hard drive and decided on a whim that it was salvageable. This novel, which was 40,000 words in, was one of my more readable works of fiction from my high school years, so over the course of a month, I rewrote it and added another 10,000 words. It’s still about 5,000 to 10,000 words from completion, but I’m hoping to complete this novel–which could possibly be described as part psychological thriller and part transgressive fiction–by the end of 2019. Stay tuned for more info. I also released a short story on this site: a post-apocalyptic piece called No Zombies in the Real World.
According to my WordPress stats, my most popular blog post for 2018 was my review of Masih Alinejad’s The Wind in My Hair.
Reading wise, 2018 wasn’t an excellent year. I started too many books and didn’t finish a lot of them, and of what I did finish, I don’t feel they were the best of the bunch. I did watch a lot of movies, discovering some gems (Heathers and Circle), some goddamn awful ones (Hostel, Fifty Shades of Black) and some definitely overhyped movies (Idiocracy and Natural Born Killers). In regards to books, I still don’t consider my tally of nine read books a failure. Whether you read one book (like the average Joe or Joanna), nine (like myself), or ninety-nine (like your typical BookTuber), don’t be too harsh on yourself. Instead of trying to devour as much as you can, without really taking in the message; in 2019, why not focus on reading slowly? In this fast-paced now now! culture, why not strive for mindfulness?
Before I descend into mindless rambling and this Year Review is longer than a PhD student’s doctoral thesis, here’s my 2018 Reading Wrap Up:
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is the first Christie book I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read any of her works, particularly the Hercule Poirot series, this would be a great introduction, as it’s a standalone. It has an ending you won’t expect at all. If you love murder mysteries, Agatha Christie, crime novels, classics, or are even just a fan of the amazing 2009 show Harper’s Island, then you should read this!I reviewed it here. 4.5/5
Devils Attic by Vicki Adrian is an indie book that is in good need of an editor, spellcheck and a rewrite. While the premise is interesting, it is littered with numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes and tense changes. Devils Attic (yes, there’s no apostrophe) can’t decide if it’s a mystery or a gritty love story (the mystery is better). This book is so-bad-it’s-good, and you’ll enjoy the first three-quarters, despite the abomination to the English language. If you’re looking for a good romance, stay away. I reviewed it here. 2.5/5
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. Much like most 2010s Gone Girl-esque thrillers, this is a quick, easy read with an unreliable narrator (this time she’s just as bad as the antagonist) and the killer is exactly who you’d expect. Can I have one psychological thriller where the killer isn’t the only likeable character!? On the other hand, the author’s weaving of movie trivia into this book is engaging. Another positive? Well-written representation of mental illness. I reviewed it here. 3/5
The Wind in my Hair by Masih Alinejad is an engaging and memorable read that anyone who claims to be a feminist, egalitarian or believer in equality should read. This is a memoir about Masih Alinejad, an Iranian woman forced into exile in the United States, who is fighting for women to be treated equally in Iran: for the right to show hair and not wear forced hijab. She is incredibly brave, doing many admirable acts even the strongest female activists in the West would not be able to do. Despite a few parts of the book I wished were expanded upon (mainly near the end, which felt a little rushed), this book was excellent. I reviewed it here. 4.5/5
The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Yuko Uramoto is a beautifully drawn manga (Japanese comic book) of Kondo’s first book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While the original book is wonderful, and probably the best one I’ve read on minimalism/decluttering, the manga is more accessible, and the story of Chiaki and her neighbour is just so adorable and spellbinding. Must read for Konmari fans. 4/5
The Ones You Trust by Caroline Overington is yet another quick psychological thriller, perfect for the parent (or prospective parent) who wonders What if it was my child who went missing? If you can look past all the shoehorned political commentary, it is a pretty decent thriller, but the ending is a major letdown. It’s only there to show you how girl power can defeat those evil big boys, which is ridiculous, considering the mastermind of the kidnap of the main character’s daughter is not actually a man. Yes, I’m just as shocked as you. I reviewed it here. 3/5
Dangerous Girls by R.L Stine is one of those books I reread whenever I’m feeling bored and not in a reading mood, so I’ve probably read it about ten times. I first bought it for like thirty cents at a library sale in the middle of the vampire trend in the late ’00s, when I just wanted to devour anything vampire. This is one of the only books that has survived that era (the other being this one), and that’s because it’s such an easy read. It’s by R.L Stine, of Goosebumps fame (which I haven’t read), and it’s simple, engaging and a good trashy read for when you don’t want to read something with substance. Just look at its Goodreads reviews! 5/5
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto is a short guide by a Buddhist monk on how to keep your home and mind clean. The book is pretty Japanese-specific, but it was interesting to learn how monks view possessions. The gist of this book seemed to be that if there is something dirty in real life, then it will dirty and clutter your mind, so keep everything pristine and clean and your mind will thank you. 3.5/5
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks is a “beginner’s guide” to feminist theory that is too jargony and repetitive for the regular person (or “folks”, as hooks says liberally) to comprehend. It is all theory and no action, and is basically a manifesto ranting about rich white women not doing feminism the way hooks wants it done. She blames all the mistakes of feminism on rich white women and the mainstream media. I was expecting a short, easy to read book with the definition and history of feminism, as well as clear concise reasons to be a feminist. This was not it. hooks rarely ever uses citations, and I tired of the overused jargon she never truly defined. Best left for Gender Studies majors. If you’re a regular folk, steer clear. I analysed it here. 2/5
I also started reading Pale & Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote, an interior design book that, while it was full of gorgeous photographs, the text was so, so pretentious. I got about sixty pages in. Better suited as a coffee table book, not to be actually read.
2018 was the year I started too many books but didn’t finish them. Hopefully some of these—mainly All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford—will make appearances on this blog in 2019. I’m also on a very slow read-through of The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. Fingers crossed for finishing The Shallows by 2020! I started Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, and Book of the Kindred by a bunch of Vampire the Masquerade people, which were both interesting, so they’re not in the DNF pile, just on hiatus. I’m also looking forward to Fiona Barton’s third book, The Suspect, which is due for release in 2019. Here’s to actually finishing books in 2019!
Have you read any of the same books as me? Did you love ’em or loathe ’em? We all have different opinions! Do you have any interesting books you’d like to recommend for 2019? I’d love to hear from you.
In any case, I’ll see you in 2019!