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2018 Reading Challenge, Part I

In 2018 I read more than 30 books. Read on for the overview of what I read in the first half of the year.

So I’m a bit of a book geek, and that’s probably putting it lightly. In the past few years I was lucky enough to live very close to work, only a 10-minute walk along the Birmingham canals. Since we’ve moved (back) to Belgium in December 2017 however I have about an hour commute (each way). The flipside of that is that it gives me a lot of forced-reading-time.

If you like books I definitely recommend you to join Goodreads. It’s an online platform for book geeks where you can create a profile to keep track of the books you have read, are reading or want to read. You can find your friends who are also a member and get inspiration from the books they are reading. You can rate books and find recommendations based on what you like to read. And you can join the Goodreads challenge.

The challenge makes you set a reading goal for yourself. During the past few years this pushed me to finish about one book a month. This year however I set myself a more ambitious goal: as I’ll spend a lot of time commuting, I’ll have a lot of time to read. 30 is also the magic number this year, so I set myself the goal to read 30 books by 31 December. And I’m pleased to say that by the end of June I made it to 15 (just about).

So here are the 15 books I’ve read so far: 

Rohde Sketchnote Handbook1. The Sketchnote Handbook (Mike Rohde):

Let’s start with a little bit of honesty: technically speaking I started this book in 2017. But as I finished it in 2018 Goodreads counts it as my first entry for 2018. In any case, great book for anyone getting started with visual notes, sketchnotes or visual recording.





Book cover Harry Potter en de Relieken van de Dood2. Harry Potter en de Relieken van de Dood (JK Rowling): [Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows]

I had this project whereby I reread all seven Harry Potter (HP) books, but to give it some ‘educational’ value I read them in different languages. Only when I finished them this way did I allow myself to buy and read HP & The Cursed Child. So after reading HP1 in Russian, HP2 in German, HP3&4 in Polish, HP5&6 in French, I reread HP7 in Dutch (my mother tongue) as my second book of 2018.


Book cover Harry Potter and the Cursed Child3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (JK Rowling): 

I spent New Year’s Eve with my friends in London and while I was there I popped into a Waterstones to fi-nal-ly buy and ultimately read this one. We’ve got tickets for the play in October, so even more looking forward to it now!




Boo cover Origin Dan Brown4. Origin (Dan Brown):

The Dan Brown books really are a guilty pleasure for me. They’re an escape from the ‘real world’ for a few days because I get so sucked into the stories I just want to read them in one go. This one was no different, and of particular interest because of Artifical Intelligence.





Book cover The Arabs, a history

5. The Arabs, a history (Eugene Rogan):

I’ve had this book lying around for ages. It’s one of those books I bought out of interest, but never really got myself to sit down and read it. Since my trip to Morocco last November I found my interest sparked and the time ripe to dive into this beast of a history book. It wasn’t an easy read and it did make me lose faith in humanity quite a number of times, but definitely worthwhile reading.



Book cover The Martian

6. The Martian (Andy Weir):

We went to see the film when it came out in theatres in Birmingham and I loved it. It’s such a clever film, and the humour was amazing – just my kind of sarcasm. As always though – the book is better than the film.





Book cover Quirkology7. Quirkology (Richard Wiseman):

As I didn’t grow up watching telly in the UK I wasn’t familiar with the writer or the book. My other half picked it up on a second hand book sale and so I found myself picking it out from our bookshelf. Great book if you’re a fun facts lover like me, or just like to learn something new about human beings.




Book cover The Sympathizer8. The Sympathiser (Viet Thanh Nguyen):

I got this one as a gift from my sister’s boyfriend. I’ve travelled to and around Vietnam two years ago now, so I really appreciated to read a bit more about the Vietnamese side of history, as horrific it may be at times.





9. Calm (Fearne Cotton):Book cover Calm Fearne Cotton

Because there have been plenty of moments I have been far from calm, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come. Also got this one as a gift from a friend. Thank God for positive-mental-health-prezzies! Books are the best kind of gift. And bookshelves. And entire libraries. 





Book cover The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden

10. The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden (Jonas Jonasson):

A really funny read, and once again thanks to my other half picking it up second hand at a book sale. Even somewhat informative about South Africa and Sweden, but mostly utterly absurd. It does make me want to read more of Jonasson’s books.




Book cover The Shallows11. The Shallows (Nicholas Carr):

One of those books you read on the tram that gets other people to start a conversation with you (the non-flirting type). Sometimes a bit heavy for my still-half-asleep-commute, but a very interesting read on how the internet is changing how we think. Despite the book being published some years ago still very relevant.




Book cover Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All

12. Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All (Jonas Jonasson):

Because book n° 10 (see above) was so funny and we had this one lying around as well I thought I’d treat myself after the ‘serious’ read that was The Shallows. Not as funny as n°10, but still pretty funny in all its absurdity.




Almost adulting book cover13. Almost Adulting (Arden Rose):

I bought this book as a present for a friend. But it looked like such a good read that on the train journey to Germany to meet my friend I read the whole thing. Yes, I finished a book in about 3 hours. Felt like such an adult. Almost.





Book cover On the Road

14. On the Road (Jack Kerouac):

A classic that had been waiting for me on my bookshelf for a while. Part of me wishes I kept it as a holiday read, as it just really made me want to go on a road trip myself. The introduction to the book about Kerouac’s life was useful, but in the end his life and the story became a bit blurred, so I’m not entirely sure what was real and what was part of the story. 



Book cover Heart of Darkness15. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad):

Another one of those classics, and yes, same bookshelf, how do you guess? I’m glad I read this one for it’s cultural reference, but I found it a difficult and sometimes very confusing read.





And that was me at the halfway point! I wrote a separate blog post about the books I read in the second half of 2018. In 2019 I set myself a slightly less ambitious reading challenge, which you can read all about in this post. Whether or not I completed that reading goal I talk about here

Have you ever taken part in a reading challenge? Or just any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!


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