Twenty Eighteen

2018 in Review: Reading Stats, Music, and Miscellanea

2018 is drawing to a close, and in a lot of ways it feels like the longest year I have ever lived. It was a good year though, lots of change and new things coming on the horizon. Can I just mention how satisfying it has been to watch Trump’s presidency begin to crumble all around him these past few weeks? Every day is like a beautiful gift.

Kevin Kelsey at Petit Jean State ParkThings I did this year: slept through a third of it, turned 34, read a bunch of books, kicked Facebook and Instagram to the curb, closed the computer repair business I have been running for the last eleven years, raised three and a half chickens in my backyard, ate their eggs (tasty), helped save The Expanse, paid off my house (yeeees), wrote a few terrible short stories that I’m going to fix in 2019, voted, subscribed to a newspaper, volunteered at the Blair library, went on a podcast, camped/hiked at Petit Jean State Park, published a few dozen reviews and essays, went on a lot of bike rides, started writing a thing with my brother, had a few panic attacks, distanced myself from the panic inducing news cycle, and finally finished a bunch of house projects.

Books
The Gigantic Beard that was EvilI read fewer books in 2018 than any other recent year. I bailed on a lot of books halfway through as well, something I usually don’t do. When I hit a point where the only thing keeping me engaged is the resolution of the plot—a thirst that could easily be quenched with a quick Google search or wiki article—there’s not much point continuing until the end. Where I’m at right now, if something doesn’t grab me with its prose, entrance me with its characters, or wow me with its world building in addition to telling a great story, I’m just not interested. If there is no subtext to be found in a story, a ragtag spaceship crew is only a ragtag spaceship crew, and sure, that’s fun, but that’s been done a million times.

As a result, I’ve read about half as many books this year compared to 2017, but they have mostly been a higher caliber experience, and I’ve found many new favorites—Several of which I still haven’t written about, mostly because I’m trying to get my take on them just right.

Mr. GwynNew favorites I discovered in 2018:
Mr. Gwyn, by Alessandro Baricco
The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
The Wilds, by Julia Elliott
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch (review)
Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway (review)
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid (review)
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil, by Stephen Collins
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Consuming Fire, by John Scalzi

2018 Reading Stats
Because I’ve been obsessively tracking my reading habits via a Google Docs spreadsheet over the last four years, I have some fun stats to share. Click any of the charts to see the full document with lots of charts and graphs.

This year:

  • I read 18,537 pages spread across 65 books published from 1932 to 2018, written by 58 writers from 8 different countries.
  • I averaged 50.79 pages per day, and 5.48 days per book.
  • The author I read the most was John Scalzi. Mostly because I was sick for a week in October and I did nothing but read Scalzi books, one right after another. I highly recommend it.

Detailed Reading Stats

Of the books I read in 2018:

  • 6.2% were audiobooks
  • 46.2% were trade paperbacks
  • 21.5% were non-fiction
  • 11.1% were short story collections
  • 29.3% won awards
  • 32.3% were part of a series
  • 26.2% were written by women
  • 4.7% were translated from a foreign language
  • 39.2% were science fiction
  • 4.6% were written by people of color (this is abysmal, it’s something I’m improving in 2019)

Detailed Reading Stats

2018 Music

I found so much incredible music in 2018. Janelle Monáe’s terrific Dirty Computer, The Presets’ nineties electronica throwback HI VIZ, and Metric’s Art of Doubt were all on high circulation in my headphones this year.

One of my favorite musical discoveries of 2018 is Cigarettes After Sex. They’re incredible. Calm like Mazzy Star, but with highly sexualized lyrics. Their vocalist’s voice is just transcendently soothing and beautiful.

Here are the 100 songs I listened to the most in 2018. There are some incredible tracks in here, but then again, I’m extremely biased.

Things I’m excited for in 2019

Be excellent to each other. See everyone in 2019!