Monday, December 31, 2018
Looking Back at 2018
What. A. Year.
Anyone else feeling like that? And also that we feel like that at the end of every year?
It seems like the year has flown by for me but it's also been jam packed. Most of it was all good things but there's been a ton going on. Mostly thanks to the new job I started back in March - woot! That defined my year, for sure, but in between all the learning and the growing and the learning (so much learning), I kept at the blog and read my little heart out.
Even though a lot of mental energy has been sucked up by getting used to a new position, I've been finding I've had much more energy for blogging. I've also been reading a whole lot more. I now have an hour lunch break, instead of the half hour I used to have. I try to take the full hour every day (sometimes work takes precedence but I know myself and I know I need that break that, well, I'm entitled to). That's a lot more reading time! There's a park just a few blocks from my office so this summer and fall I risked cutting into my reading time to wander down to sit and read in the sun. So worth it. I'm making it to the gym a whole lot more too (also helps me feel so much better) and that allows for reading time while I do cardio. Related: I've listened to a few more audiobooks this year which is nice for not only walking around downtown but also for listening to during an entire workout, weights included.
I'm still writing reviews for a local magazine, Niagara Life, and that allows me to get out of my comfort zone and read more widely. Another thing helping me expand my reading horizons is my monthly book club. I think it's been just over 3 years since I've joined the club and it's been so great to get together with like-minded women and chat about books and life. And drink wine. Book club allowed me to finally read The Alice Network (SO GOOD) by Kate Quinn and Beartown (SO EFFING GOOD) by Fredrik Backman.
I'm finding it harder and harder to get to book events in Toronto (reminder: I'm about an hour and a half, in good traffic which isn't a thing that exists, away from the city) but I did manage to get to a few over the last year. The events I'm attending are changing, just as the blogging world has. I'm hopeful there will be even more adult reader events in the next year.
My first event of the year was the launch for Marissa Stapley's second novel, Things to Do When It's Raining (check out my review here). It was lovely to see all of the support she has from her friends and family. She has a great network of women authors who were (mostly) all there and it blows my mind that they know who I am. These women include contributors to a national newspaper and multiple best-selling authors. I wrote in my Instagram post about the evening how crazy and wonderful that is.
The library in Grimsby, a city in my region, hosts authors once a month for about six months of the year and tickets are always sold out. Luckily my boyfriend gets free tickets so I get to experience this great event. In April, Jennifer Robson was one of the authors. I hadn't read her books but I've purchased them for gifts. I was so enthralled by her talk that I bought Goodnight from London and devoured it a few days later. Read it.
HarperCollins Canada had a few great events I was lucky enough to attend this year. In May, they held a Meet and Greet with Joanna Goodman (author of The Home for Unwanted Girls) and Ellen Keith (author of The Dutch Wife). Even though the books were still very new, I had already read (and thoroughly enjoyed) both novels for Niagara Life (you can see the issues with my reviews here and here). Listening to the women talk about their novels was so great. You can read my full event recap post here.
The second Meet and Greet event I went to at HarperCollins was in June and featured three authors - Karma Brown (author of The Life Lucy Knew), Tish Cohen (author of Little Green), and Uzma Jalaluddin (author of Ayesha at Last). Jalaluddin's book was a highly anticipated read for me so I was thrilled to hear her speak. I've met Karma on numerous occasions and was really looking forward to her new book too. I've only read one of Cohen's (many) books but loved it. It was so cool to hear from three authors who are at very different points in their careers speak. Also, the inscription in my copy of The Life Lucy Knew may be my new favourite. Karma had no idea what to write so I just told her to write "s'up" - and she did.
Speaking of Karma, she came down to Niagara for a Wine and Words event (a local library, where I worked a few years ago, has an author visit a different winery every month-ish). I love supporting libraries and local events and authors I love so of course I went (you can see my Insta post here). A friend came with me - and ended up purchasing a book too! I also helped a couple of other older ladies decide which books to purchase for themselves. I just love talking about books!
In a completely different type of event, my friends and I went to Word on the Street in September and also got tickets to watch the premiere of Anne with an E. We got to see the show on the big screen at a theatre, with some of the actors there, and afterwards we got flower crowns. It was a really fun and neat experience. And free!
HarperCollins also hosted a wonderful tea featuring Jennifer Robson (yes, my second Robson event, if you're keeping track) and Kate Quinn. As soon as I saw tickets go on sale I jumped on it because I knew they'd sell out (they did...in less than 24 hours, I think). My friend, Natalie, managed to get on the wait list and scored herself a ticket. Remember that group of authors I mentioned who are friends with Marissa and who all support each other? Natalie and I were seated with all of them at this event. It was so lovely! A bit surreal. But lovely. Jess Allen from The Social hosted and interviewed the authors and we learned so much about their writing process.
In October a friend and I went on an epic road trip for an author event featuring K.A. Tucker (one of my favourites), Marissa Stapley (second event of the year for her too), and Joanna Goodman (yep, second event). We drove a couple of hours to visit my friend's new baby, then had a flight of cider and beer at a local brewery/cidery, followed by lunch with Tucker and a group of her fans (!!!), and then the event. And then a drive home. Phew! It was an amazing day though and the event was wonderful.
I went to a second Grimsby author event in October which featured Joanna Goodman (the third time this year I've seen her!) and Eden Robinson (author of Trickster Drift). The stories these women told were amazing and it was a great event. Then, in November I went to a third event with Beverley McLachlin (the former Chief Justice of Canada and author of Full Disclosure) and Dave Williams (former astronaut and author of Defying Limits). It was probably my favourite event they've hosted because McLachlin and Williams had such fascinating lives to share with us. Every event Grimsby holds is well done because they put so much effort into it.
Wow. Looking back I've realized I really have been able to go to a lot of events. Lucky me!
As for the actual reading I've done? I read more books in 2018 than I have in years. I'm working on book #110 because I like nice, round numbers. You can check out my full year in books on Goodreads here. I learned the shortest book I read was Half Spent Was the Night at 112 pages and the longest, at a whopping 656 pages, was Lethal White. Two very, very different books. I wanted to read more diversely this year but I didn't do as well with that as I would have liked - only reading 5 that could truly be called diverse. Gotta do better in 2019. I read way more books by men this year than I have in awhile, with 10. 89 books were from women. 32 books were by Canadians, 6 were YA (that number keeps dropping, which isn't surprising), ad 4 were non-fiction. I posted last week about my favourite books of the year so check that out and let me know what your favourite books of the year were.
Overall, 2018 was a really lovely, bookish year. I'm hoping I can read a lot next year as well and do better about reading more diverse stories and authors. Attending as many author events as possible is also on the agenda.
I hope you all had a great 2018 and wish you all the best for 2019!