How and Why

My Year in Reading, 2018

This year I decided I could read whatever the fuck I wanted. This doesn’t seem like that revolutionary a decision, but as a literary agent, I read for a living, so there is always something I have to read. Luckily for me, obligatory doesn’t mean boring or bad. I also have a strong sense of FOMO, and I want to read what everyone else is reading, so I can join in on the discussion online. I cannot read whatever everyone else is reading, because everyone is a lot of people. So last January, I gave myself permission to read whatever I wanted, FOMO and Twitter (but not work) be damned.

I read 85 books this year, including client manuscripts, more than any other year since I was in middle school, probably. I also kept a list of them for the first time, probably since middle school, just in my Notes app. That definitely helped me read more, because I like adding things to lists.

I have made some charts about my reading this year, because I also like making charts in Google Sheets. Here they are.

Methodology: I kept track of the books as I finished them, in order by month. There were two books I did not finish, and no I will not tell you which ones. I was tempted to count all the picture books I read my daughter at bedtime, but I’d only do that to make my total book count higher and higher, and that didn’t feel right. I did not count the draft of a book I wrote myself on this list, though I was tempted to. It was still a book I read. You’ll see that I read over 40 graphic novels this year, and I’ve seen a few of my friends start to say that these didn’t count, but they’re obviously wrong. Please tell Marjane Satrapi and Jason Lutes that their books don’t count. I didn’t count single issue comic books on this this, because obvs, but I did count trade paperback comics. Fight me.

I used the library more than ever this year. I read more ebooks and even my first audiobook. (I know, I know. Also, that counts as “read,” too. Don’t even start.) I’ve had more to talk about regarding my reading this year, even if I wasn’t reading what everyone else was reading, so my FOMO was unfounded. Putting no restrictions on my reading this year was one of the best things I’ve ever done, really. I should be adding my first finished book of 2019 to my list today.

Here’s my 2018 Reading in Charts:

Books Per Month.png

Obviously, things picked up at the end of the year. It helped that I read three volumes of SAGA in like a week. I also read several client manuscripts in the crunch before the holidays.

Format.png

I like physical books. It helps separate my work-reading from my personal-reading, since most of my work-reading is in digital manuscript form. I have discovered the joy of the library, and reading physical books, especially oversized, hardcover graphic novels. Enjoying a book and not having to find space for it on our crowded bookshelves was an unexpected bonus. Reading library books also spurred me to buy a few more books, because I loved them so (THE BEST WE COULD DO, Thi Bui) or because I didn’t want to wait for the author’s new one (ON A SUNBEAM, Tillie Walden).

Format, 2.png

Tbh, I expected there to be more MS (manuscripts) on my list. Next year, it could be totally different. A lot of my clients are in the middle of multi-book deals, which doesn’t require me to read a full manuscript over and over (usually). I am taking on fewer new clients these days, and sold more books on proposal this year.

Where'd I Get That Book_.png

I love you Brooklyn Public Library. I had about $5 in late fees all year.

Audience.png

I probably read fewer YA novels this year than previous years, even though I’m in a YA/MG book club and read that title just about every month. Graphic novels and comics are tricky, though, as the audience isn’t always as clear. When in doubt, I noted where the library shelved the book, and used that designation.

Genres4.png

Genre is tricky, too, but I did my best. I didn’t mark something as “YA Contemporary Horror” because I just had to draw the line somewhere. I have never read more comics as I have this year. It was great.

Here is my complete reading list, minus my client manuscripts, because you don’t get to know about those yet:

January
Turtles All the Way Down, John Green

The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani

That Kind of Mother, Rumaan Alam

February

Lefthand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin. 

March 

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle

What To Do When I’m Gone, Hallie Bateman and Suzy Hopkins 

And Now We Have Everything, Meaghan O’Connell

April

Paper Girls, Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang

The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt, Ken Krimstein 

Love, Hate, and Other Filters, Samira Ahmed

May

How to Write and Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee

Audubon: On the Wings of the World, Fabian Grolleau and Jeremie Royer 

Paper Girls vil 2, Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang (comic) 

Something New, Lucy Knisley

The Prince and the Dressmaker, Jen Wang

Speak, graphic novel, Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll

Robert Moses: Master Builder of New York City, Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez 

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman 

June

HP and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling 

The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Emergency Contact, Mary HK Choi

Maus II, Art Spiegelman 

A Contract with God, Will Eisner

The Golem’s Mighty Swing, James Strum

Stitches, David Small

July

Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi

(In a Sense) Lost and Found, Roman Muradov

Pictures Us in the Light, Kelly Loy Gilbert

Why art? Eleanor Davis

Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki 

The Lie and How We Told It, Tommi Parrish

Like a Mother, Angela Garbes 

August

Textbook, Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Sanpaku, Kate Gavino

The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui

Spinning, Tillie Walden 

September

The Lighthouse, Paca Roca 

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris, Bessora and Barroux 

Passing for Human, Liana Finck 

October 

Bingo Love, Tee Franklin

Turning Japanese, Mari Naomi

Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones 

 Boundless, Jillian Tamaki 

Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett Krosoczka

November 

Sabrina, Nick Drnaso 

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, Ari Folman and David Polonsky 

This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Heavy Vinyl, Usdin, Vakueva, Flores, Nalty

The Sigh, Marjane Satrapi

The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

Check, Please, Ngozi Ukazu

If Our Bodies Could Talk, James Hamblin (audiobook) 

December

The Wendy Project, Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish

Young Frances, Hartley Lin

Minding the Store, Julie Gaines and Ben Lenovitz

Pride, Ibi Zoboi

Saga, vol 1, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples 

Saga, vol 2, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner If Azkaban, JK Rowling

House of Women by Sophie Goldstein

Magritte: This is not a biography, Vincent Zabus and Thomas Campi

The Late Child and other Animals, Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger

Berlin, Jason Lutes

In 2019, I want to read more literary fiction. But only because I want to.

Kate Landon