A Look Back and a Look Ahead

Happy 2019, readers! We may be war torn, scarred, battered, and bruised, but we somehow made it through 2018 mostly intact. It was a rough year, y’all. I don’t know about you, but my 2018 was filled with only highs and lows. It didn’t feel like I had that many average days. As I type it, I’m not even sure what an average day is, but I know that I didn’t have many.

Not to dwell on the past, but 2018 had a rough start. You may remember that I wrote about deaths in my family the first week of the year. And just weeks after that, I packed up and went to New York to perform in Carnegie Hall. It was a wild year with a lot of memories. I took a leap of faith and switched from teaching music to teaching English. I made new friends and went on new adventures. My dog was diagnosed with cancer. It was just one of those whirlwind years.

Through it all, I’ve tried to stay positive. One of the many perks of being married to my wife is she is a perpetual ray of sunshine. She finds the beautiful, the positive in everything. And she helps me to remember that I aim to choose joy in everything I do. So instead of focusing on the awful things that went wrong this past year, I’m going to look ahead at 2019 as a year full of opportunity. And there really are so many opportunities ahead of me. I recently started a podcast with a friend of mine. We’re having the best time with it. It may not be successful, but it’ll be fun. I’ve gotten back into the rhythm of practicing my music, of playing video games that bring me joy, and of reading. I even beat my 2018 reading goal, which I set as a lofty one. This year, I read 53 books. That’s huge for me. I’m a very slow reader, and I work many hours. I have to steal away minutes for reading. But I did it. And I loved it.

I had the amazing opportunity to meet and chat with an author this year. I spoke with agents about my book. I had my work read by editors and publishers and authors. I grew tremendously this year. I read books I would have never attempted. I was contacted by reps and sent books that would have never hit my radar. I fell in love with new stories and new characters. I read the lives of amazing people I’d never heard of. This was my best reading year yet.

So, looking ahead, I can’t wait for what is in store for me. There are more books to be read, more stories to learn. There are crimes to report on my new podcast, Lifetime Sentence and places to see. This will be a year of growth, just as 2018 was. And I am filled with resolve to push myself harder than ever before.

So, happy new year, reader. May your 2019 be productive, strengthening, and full of renewal. Because sometimes, we all need a little reset and a new perspective.

The Plucky Reader

Edited to add:

I forgot to attach the list of books I’ve read this year, which was the entire purpose of this post. I got so caught up in my optimism, I forgot what I was here for.

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd
The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier
The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life by Lauren Markham
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
When the English Fall by David Williams
The Radium Girls: The Dark STory of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
Sonnets from the Portuguese by Emily Barrett Browning
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trapper
The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
The Handsome Girl and her Beautiful Boy by B.T. Gottfried
Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Lucas K. Law
Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die by Maya Angelou
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno
Scream All Night by Derek Milman
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Posted by John David Anderson
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of a Reading Life by Anne Bogel
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker
Fresh Ink by Lamar Giles
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes}
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Burn Zone by Renee Linell
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Blood on the River: James Town, 1607 by Elisa Carbone
Artemis by Andy Weir
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life by August Turak
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Golden Sequence: A Manual for Reclaiming Our Humanity by Jonni Pollard
The Giver by Lois Lowry
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Becoming Starlight: A Shared Death Journey from Darkness to Light by Sharon Prentice
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

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