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2018 Reading Challenge, Part 2

30 was a big thing in 2018 – also when it came to books. Did I manage to read 30 books?

If you love books and reading then this is a blog post for you! Have you heard of Goodreads? It’s a free online community for book lovers like you and me. I mostly use Goodreads to log the books I have read and keep a wishlist of books I would like to read. And to take part in the Goodreads challenge, of course.

The Goodreads challenge is quite simple really: you set yourself a reading goal for the year, keep track of your progress and feel encouraged by friends also pursuing their reading goals. In 2018 I turned 30 and joined the commuter team again with around 1,5 – 2 hours travelling to and back from work each day. So all that made picking a goal quite easy: I would try to read 30 books in 2018.

Around the end of June I was on track with 15 books read. Here is what I read during the second half of 2018:

16. Misschien wisten zij alles (Toon Tellegen) [Maybe they knew everything]

At first sight this looks like a Dutch children’s book. The stories about the ant, the squirrle and the other animals are quite short and concise. But as far as I can see they aren’t meant for children – there are tales about sadness, patience, loss and failure, about lessons learnt. I had this book lying around for ages and occasionally read a few stories in it. In 2018 I really committed and finished the book.

17. Getting to yes (Roger Fisher & William Ury)

2018 was quite a transitional year for me in multiple ways. I moved back to Belgium and changes jobs twice. One of the jobs I did was more sales-oriented than anything I’ve ever done before (working for an activation agency). Friends of mine had to read this book at uni and recommended it, so I decided to give it a go when I started this new job to learn more about the world of negotiation. And while I would argue that being able to negotiate well is a skill everyone should strive to attain – one of the things that I learned about myself when reading this book, is that the world of sales is not for me.

18. Dark Star Safari (Paul Theroux)

When I left my first job of 2018 my wonderful now-ex-colleagues gave me the sweetest present: they each contributed some money for a present, took my Goodreads wishlist and the money to a bookshop and bought as many books from the list as they could. This was one of them and I absolutely loved it. It was the first Paul Theroux book I read, and it follows him on his journey overland from Cairo to Cape Town. Really interesting read about this grand continent I don’t know much about.

19. How to be a Woman (Caitlin Moran)

I’ve been meaning to read this book for quite a while now – I mean, at thirthy I ought to know how to be a woman, right?! It was on my Goodreads wishlist so I got it as a present from my ex-colleagues as well. The first few chapters are very cringy, and as I mostly read on the tram during my commute I did feel a bit uncomfortable reading certain parts in public. But I enjoyed the second part of the book, especially the chapters on why you should or shouldn’t have children.


20. The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce) // 21. The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Rachel Joyce)

These two have been on our bookshelf for a while, I think my boyfriend picked them up at a second-hand book sale. Both books start off in a simple way, but portray two sides of the same story. However, then you learn about the sadness and hardships these characters endured, how tough life gets and how they had to deal with life’s tragedies. Luckily for me both books ended one a somewhat positive note – I can’t deal with sad or horror stories very well, there is enough tragedy in this work already, thank you very much.

22. Here I am (Jonathan Safran Foer)

I received this book as a gift a couple of years ago (can you guess my favourite type of present?!) and have been meaning to read it on holiday, as it is such a big and heavy book to carry around. In 2018 we went to Malta for a week for my 30th to relax and recover from what had been some very intense months. I took it with me, intending to devour it from the moment I got onto the plane… but I couldn’t. I struggled to stop my thoughts and focus on the story, I couldn’t seem to get carried away by it. Some hundred pages and a holiday later I finally did get stuck in, and I really enjoyed it! I have read ‘Everything is illuminated’ and ‘Extremely load and incredibly close’ by him in the past and really liked them, so one more now to add to that list.

23. The 100-year-old-man who climbed out of the window and disappeared (Jonas Jonasson) 

During that holiday in Malta it was my boyfriend funny enough who devoured a book – this book to be precise. No surprise really, because the same happened to me when I read it afterwards. Earlier in the year I already read ‘The girl who saved the king of Sweden’ and ‘Hitman Anders and the meaning of it all’ – both of which my boyfriend had also picked up at a second-hand book sale somewhere. I loved reading both, so I had to put this one on my wishlist… and that is where the wonderful ex-colleagues came in.

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24. Notes from a small island (Bill Bryson) // 25. The road to Little Dribbeling (Bill Bryson)

The book about Bill Bryson’s original trip around the UK I received as part of the wish list (a growing theme as you can tell). As someone who lived in the UK as a foreigner like Bryson, I absolutely loved it, and couldn’t help but tell EVERYONE about it. One of my good friends happened to have his second book, so when she came to visit we did a swap and I indulged on the second one. Absolutely recommend it to anyone with an affinity for the UK.

26. Life 3.0 (Max Tegmark) 

Another one from the wishlist, and recommended to me as well. It was a bit of a tough read at times, because this book tells you all you need to know about Artificial Intelligence: it’s history, what is going on in the world of AI as we speak and the potential scenarios for the future. I struggled a bit with the technical physics bits, but luckily there weren’t too many of those.

27. The Magician’s nephew // 28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe // 29. The horse and his boy // 30. Prince Caspian // 31. The voyage of the Dawn Treader // 32. The silver chair // 33. The last battle (C. S. Lewis)

Aka The Chronicles of Narnia. Ok, so I admit – mid-November I got a bit of a fright that I wouldn’t make it to 30 books. I think I was at 24 or 25 books at that point. So I borrowed my sister’s collection of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ (which I once gave her as a present). Each book is about 180 pages long and took me on average 3-4 days to read. I never read them as a child and in my defense I didn’t stop at 30 but read them all, to compensate for them being shorter reads but also because I genuinely really enjoyed reading them. Nothing better than a whole magical world to hide away in during the run-up to Christmas.

On the last days of 2018 I made a start on Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – and I guess that will be the first book to report back on in 2019! Overall in 2018 my favourite books were (in no particular order): Dark Star Safari, the Bill Bryson books, The Martian, Origin and Here I am.

What were your favourite reads in 2018?

Would you like to get even more inspiration for new books to read? Then check out these posts:

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