Oh, drumroll please. Ready? Here we go.

I’ve ready a total of 71 books in 2018.

*Thank you, thank you, you’re too kind.

(Okay, I assume you were clapping when you read that.)

Twenty eighteen has been such an enriching year to me, in terms of reading. I’ve never read that many books in one year before, and I have to say that I’ve tried my best to read widely, from fantasy, memoir, fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, and more. I’ve decided to pick up books on topics I usually didn’t, and they are all wonderful. Even when they’re bad reads, they still teach me something in return.

In December, I’ve read seven books and they are all recommended. Really. All four nonfictions are great, especially Gourevitch’s story on Rwandan genocide and Westover’s story on growing up uneducated as a Mormon. The fictions are equally great, and I especially love to read the sequel to Mitch Albom’s Five People You Meet in Heaven, which used to be one of my favourite books growing up.

I’m going to do another Goodreads reading challenge in 2019. Thanks for reading my reviews and I do hope you get a few good recommendations on what to read and what not to. I’m always delighted when I post these reviews and one of you reaches out to me to talk about a book.

So without further ado, here are December’s books~

We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

Genre: nonfiction, memoir, Rwanda genocide
Recommended for: Everyone
Review: This is a very hard book to read. An important one, but hard nonetheless.

I’ve first known of Rwanda’s genocide through the movie Hotel Rwanda, and it’s stayed with me ever since. This book tells the whole story, and at times you just have to stop and ponder how humanity can sink any lower. And it’s easy to reach the conclusion that despite the countless war memorials and promises to “never again”, humans never actually learn.

Yet there’s also hope.

The book is highly recommended, and the author is brilliant in telling the story as well.

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Genre: fiction
Recommended for: Those of you who love Mitch Albom
Review: I actually didn’t expect this book to be that good, but I really do enjoy reading it. Mitch Albom’s books have been either a hit or miss… although I do love Five People You Meet in Heaven. This book has the same feeling—but I do have to admit that it’s not as brilliant as its predecessor.

That being said, this one is still highly recommended. I’m not a fan of Mitch Albom’s last two fiction books, but with this book he redeems himself (imho).

If you love the first book (Five People You Meet in Heaven), do give this one a read.

Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of The Dark Fairy (Villains #4) by Serena Valentino

Genre: fiction, fantasy
Recommended for: Fantasy lovers, and those interested in this villain series
Review: Three and a half stars.

I think Serena Valentino redeems herself (to me) with this book, which is way better than the Beast’s or Ursula’s. I genuinely want to know what happens next with this book. There are some plot twists, and the stories start to make sense more (especially on Circe and the Odd Sisters). That being said, I feel like Maleficent is not given enough air time as well.

I like the fact that all books are tied together. After reading this book, I skimmed through the Beast’s story again (since I’ve forgotten his story), and it really makes more sense now.

Will be reading Mother Gothel’s story next. I honestly like this series, despite the hit and miss.

Educated by Tara Westover

Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Recommended for: Everyone
Review: This is such a powerful book.

I’ve never read a memoir quite like this before. Probably because I’m living inside a box that doesn’t quite see what the reality is like for others who live in a very different setting than me. Reading this book makes me ponder of how much things out there that I have no idea about. I guess it’s true: the more you know, the more you realise that you don’t know anything.

I really can’t imagine Tara’s life. Even when I’ve read her words, sometimes I’m taken aback by how her families think or do. Sometimes I’m taken aback on what she does. But it’s a powerful and important story that needs to be heard.

Very highly recommended.

Mother Knows Best: A Tale of The Old Witch (Villains #5) by Serena Valentino

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Recommended for: Fantasy lovers, and those interested in this villain series
Review: I’m surprised to find that I actually love this one. I read it in one sitting, unable to stop even for a bit because I genuinely want to know what’s next.

Mother Gothel is clearly in the spotlight this time around—her backstory not just told in passing as Beast’s or Ursula’s. She’s such a complex character and my heart aches for her.

I can’t wait to read the Odd Sisters’ tale next year. We can finally know the whole story.

Close to Home by Alice Pung

Genre: Nonfcition, memoir
Recommended for: Those interested in reading about growing up in different countries
Review: I would say… three and a half stars.

I’ve always loved Alice Pung’s voice, but in more than one occasions I was quite confused on who’s talking and who the characters are, as she used both first person and third person POV in this book.

The book itself is a curation of her various published (and I assume unpublished) articles, some of which I actually have read before, but I still find them so good to read. I can relate to her various stories, being a Chinese Indonesian who’s currently living in Melbourne myself.


From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Recommended for: Those interested in reading about growing up in different countries
Review: It’s an almost four stars from me.

I’ve loved Caitlin Doughty’s first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and honestly, I quite enjoyed reading this one too, especially the part when she talks about Tana Toraja in Indonesia, as, well, I’m Indonesian. (And it’s very rare to read about your country, apart from things related to Bali and tourism, on print.)

I’ve read Mary Roach’s Stiff as well, and know a bit more about corpses and decomposing bodies. This book talks about the various rituals that humans do in regards to death, and I find it quite fascinating. Some are a bit too much for me (hint: sky burial, though I’m really intrigued by the idea), and some death rituals are so industrialised (and commercialised) that I also chime in: there must be a better way to die than this.

That being said, I hold up to the view that a death ritual is for the living that are left behind. And after reading this book, I hold on to the idea more than ever.

Those are December’s books. You can see all the books I’ve read this year on my Goodreads page. Twenty eighteen has truly been great, reading all these wonderful books. I hope to continue reading well in 2019—do stop by again next month to read my reviews! :)