Year End Update: #MustReadin2018

In January, I had 30 titles on my #MustReadin2018 list and a plan: read at least 20 books on the list.  Permission to read most of the titles makes for a more enjoyable year of reading. I still have unread titles on my list. Some I likely will not read and some just haven’t been read yet. The year isn’t over – perhaps I will be updating this post in the next few days!


Making a list like this is about being enthused about a year of reading ahead. It is also about building community. 24 other bloggers joined me in making #MustReadin2018 lists of their own. Many people remained connected all year, posting (purely optional always) updates.  Others only occasionally glanced at their lists. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about being excited about an ever growing and changing book list. And sometimes, just making the list signifies a commitment to being a reader even if you don’t read a single title from your list! Other reading happens.


This year, I finished 23 out of the 30 titles. I am very pleased with this as I feel like my reading “volume” has slipped a lot this year. I am working hard to have work life balance and while reading is definitely in the “life” not “work” category, other things have pulled me away from being constantly lost in a book. Like dance classes. My family. The garden. I can read while folding laundry but don’t think I will ever figure out how to read and still tap dance!I have posted updates all year so will include just a few words about the last books on this list that I finished. Our last update was in September. I finished these four titles since that date.

Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl ShurtliffI

I was so very pleasantly surprised that I was able to fall into this story so fully and be transported to the imaginative fairy tale world that Shurtliff can build so wonderfully. I still love Rump the best, but this title is a close second. Can’t wait to see where Liesl Shurtliff goes next!

Grump- The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Sunny by Jason Reynolds

I so loved Ghost, the first title in the Track series. Through first Patina and now Sunny, we have been able to read about the other characters in depth. It was hard to sit still while reading this book (now I understand why the audio edition is so highly recommended). The reader needs to bounce, tap, shimmy and shake while reading. Sunny is a must meet character.

Sunny Jason Reynolds

Breakout by Kate Messner

Whoa. This book has so much going on beyond a prison break in a small town. It tackles a myriad of themes: friendship, systemic racism, small town dynamics, growing up. It is told through a collection of pieces meant for a time capsule: news articles, journal entries, text messages, transcribed recordings and some pretty incredible poetry (with hat tips to some sensational writers like Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Grimes and Lin Manuel-Miranda), One main character has a brother in the prison, one has a family member soon to be named as a suspect and one has a father who is the superintendent  of the town’s maximum security prison. Highly recommended.

Breakout Kate Messner

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Such a read. Walk through Vincent and Theo Van Gogh’s lives as though walking through a museum. Stop and enjoy a scene from their childhood. Marvel at their supportive connections. Shake your head at their many intense quarrels. Peek at their relationships – often unrequited, hidden or secretive and never ending in happiness. watch as Vincent settles into the life as artist. It is far from easy. But each step is fascinating. An emotional, beautifully written, well-researched story of the lives of Vincent and his brother, Theo Van Gogh.

Vincent and Theo- The Van Gogh Brothers

Want to know more about #MustReadin2018? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read in 2018 lists.

Thinking about joining us for 2019? Please do! Make a list and read some, none or all of the titles on it. Reading is amazing but reading plans are pretty wonderful too! Just reading all of the lists is a great reason to pour a big cup of coffee and do some book dreaming! I am always in awe of the creative ways people plan and think about their reading lives.

We will be sharing lists beginning January 1st 2019! Please join in using the twitter hashtag #mustreadin2019 or by leaving me a comment on this blog (when the post is up) and I will add your list.




Fall update: #Mustreadin2018

It’s time for the fall #MustReadin2018 update!

How are you doing with your list? Which titles have been favourites? What other books might have distracted you? It’s time to share!

I have 30 titles on my list this year and my goal, like last year, is to read most of them. At least 20 and then, I feel like it is progress! At the spring update in April I had read 9 titles. Now I’ve completed 19! So I am well on my way.

Since April, I have completed these titles and am again sharing my brief thoughts and impressions:

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore 

This is the one title I had to work hard to complete. I wanted to love this YA novel. And I really liked aspects of it. But, it was just not for me. Multiple possible endings. And realities? Just too much.I was such a Graceling fan so I was disappointed that I didn’t really enjoy this book.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Now this book! LOVED!! Ivy’s family survives a hurricane but then she must navigate cramped family quarters, less attention from her busy Mom overwhelmed with caring for baby twins, feelings of love that are new and unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and have quite the soft spot for Ivy. I would instantly place this title in my classroom library if I was teaching Grade 5 or higher.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

I finished this book more than a month ago and I still think of it every few days. Truly haunting. A story of ghosts – dead black boys who have been killed in ridiculously unnecessary ways. Blurs history with fiction. Such a read. Would make an incredible read aloud in a middle school classroom.

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Beautiful writing takes us through the hard and heartbreak of the grieving process – sometimes so muddy and muddled we need a lot of guidance getting through. Loved Klee and all of those guiding him through. Polisner is one of my favourite YA authors. I will read anything she writes!

Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher 

This book I really liked. Such an exploration of family. If you love YA realistic fiction that is real and true and gritty, I highly recommend this one! I was waking up before 6 a.m. to sneak in pages.

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Completely engaging. What a wonderful choice for the Global Read Aloud. Amal is an incredibly courageous and compassionate character. I couldn’t put this one down.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor 

Middle grade perfection. Connor just keeps getting better and better. I dare you not to want to root for Mason Buttle as every kind of grief soaked kind of bad luck gets thrown at him. This story has so many layers. Would be a fantastic read aloud in a middle grade classroom. (Grade 5 and up). A character I will not forget.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi 

This young adult novel does not shy away from any of the harrowing details that are part of a refugee’s journey. Follow Tareq and his family as he leaves Syria in search of safety and hope.

Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai 

I learned so much about the Syrian crisis in this book about Nadia and her desperate search to become reunited with her family as her city is being bombed. This is a middle grade read.

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead 

Sweet and endearing. Loved this title full of magic and affection. Sometimes weird books are just weird – this one is weirdly wonderful.

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2018 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2018 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2018 bloggers/readers to get inspired and leave a comment.

Want to know more about #MustReadin2018? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Our year end update will be on December 27th 2018!


Spring Update #MustReadin2018

It’s time for our first #MustReadin2018 update!

Are you making progress with your list? Distracted by other titles? Have grand reading plans? Please share!

This year, my list is again 30 titles strong. I always have the goal of trying to read at least 20 of the books on the list. Often, new books lure me away from these reading plans but I love having a list like this to ground me.

I am doing okay with my reading – so far I have read 9/30 titles which is close to one third of my list – 4 months into a reading year and that seems pretty good to me.

Here are the titles I have read so far. Listed in the order that I read them.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (MG)

A family to fall in love with. You will be rooting for the Vanderbeekers from the first pages.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

I learned a lot with this book. Absolutely compelling.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (MG)

Aven Green is some kind of amazing. Born without arms and adopted by encouraging, loving parents as a toddler, Aven seems fearless. But life is a constant challenge as you face your own fears and help your friends confront their own.

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh  (MG)

This title is all about navigation and coming out the other side. Friendships. Identity. Individuality. Facing fears. Following your heart and your instincts. Taking risks. LOVED all of the characters!

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess  (YA)

This truly is a story of rock and roll, fathers and sons, addictions and recoveries, loves and loss. A beautifully executed novel in verse.

Knock Out by K.A. Holt  (MG)

This is the story of little Levi – just a baby in House Arrest – now growing up and ready to have his own story. But when you have always been the one to protect, how do you find your way and engage with the world in big and brave ways?

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (MG)

Yes! This title was every bit as compelling as The War That Saved my Life. Ada is an unforgettable character.

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart  (MG)

Not at all what I was expecting and quite like nothing I have ever read. High energy, fast paced and wonderfully endearing.

 Wishtree by Katherine Applegate  (MG)

I just think about this book and smile. It’s amazing.

I also read and loved Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King (YA) which was on my #MustReadin2017 list and I never got to it. So glad I finally picked it up. It was the first novel I read in 2018 and I really found it engaging.

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2018 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2018 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2018 bloggers/readers and get inspired! And of course, everyone loves comments to know that you have visited!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2018? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Next update will be on September 6th 2018!




For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books that you want to commit to reading in 2018.

10? 20? 30? more? It’s up to you

Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and from any category: adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc. titles.  All that matters is that they are books you want to be sure not to forget as that TBR list continues to grow! These aren’t the only titles you will read over the year, but a list to help guide your reading. A list to lure you back to a reading path you have set for yourself. Many, many new books will tempt you! Go ahead and read them but having a list like this ensures you will not forget some titles you were determined to read. At least that’s the plan 🙂

If you would like to create and share a list, contact me on twitter (@CarrieGelson) or leave a link in the comments and I will add your list to the #MustReadin2018 lists below. Everyone is welcome! I will update regularly so if you are just seeing this now – go make a list! We’ll be waiting for you.

If you want to use the image above in your sidebar, here is the image URL code:

Three updates seemed to work best so we will continue this again. If you also leave me your twitter handle (if you are on twitter) I will send you a reminder. For those not on twitter, please mark these dates in your calendar. Update posts can be shared on or around these dates – just leave your link in the comment section of my post and share it on twitter using #MustReadin2018

Spring update: Thursday April 5th, 2018

Fall update: Thursday September 6th, 2018

Year end update: Thursday December 27th, 2018

Update posts are purely optional!

They can take whatever format you wish: highlighting your favourites, reasons for not reading, simply a list of what you have read, etc. Here are last year’s update posts on my blog as an example: springfallyear-end. Other bloggers do much more creative things than me.

Ready for some inspiration?

Check out the lists.

Mine (Carrie Gelson) is here: My Must Read novels of 2018

Aaron Cleaveley shares a long Must-read-in-2018 list

Lisa Maucione shares her list here: Books I Plan to Read in 2018

Michele Knott shares her efficient system in this list: #mustreadin2018 list

Linda Baie shares her list here: #MustReadIn2018

Laura Mossa joins us for the first time with her list: My Must Reads in 2018

Jill Merkle shares a list of 2018 releases here: #mustreadin2018

Kendra Limback shares 40 titles on her list: Must Read in 2018! The Fabulous 40!

Two lists in one place from Kellee and Ricki of Unleashing Readers: Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadin2018

Crystal Brunelle has a fantastic list inspired by this list 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018   Crystal’s list is here: #MustReadin2018

Hannahlily Angus shares a detailed list here: Must Read in 2018

Leigh Anne Eck joins us again with this list: #MustReadin2018

Holly Mueller shares her list here: #MustReadin2018

Akilah from The Englishist includes her #MustReadin2018 as part of her wonderful Goals for 2018 post

Tricia Pfeil shares her smile worthy list here: #MustReadin2018

Cheriee Weichel shares her comprehensive lists here: #MustReadIn2018: Fiction, Nonfiction and Indigenous Authors

Dani Burtsfield joins us for the first time with her list: #MustReadin2018

Michelle Simpson shares her longest list to date: Must Read in 2018

Jennifer Green joins us this year with her list: #MustReadin2018

Bev Baird adds her #Must Read in 2018 list

Christina Carter (CeCe Librarian) joins us this year with this list: Must Read in 2018

Elisabeth Ellington contributes this list: #MustReadin2018: A Crowd-Sourced List

Shelly Moody joins is with her list: #MustReadin2018#MustReadin2018

Ramona from Pleasures from the Page joins us with a baker’s dozen: #MustReadin2018

My Must Read Novels of 2018

For those readers and list makers, nothing is more exciting than January! The time to make an amazing list of books to read for the year!

Where will our reading lives take us? What adventures and emotions will we experience through the books we read? Always, there are endless possibilities.

So many books. Limited time.

New books to distract us from other books.

A must read list ensures not all are forgotten!

My Must Read Novels of 2018

Join the #mustreadin2018 community!

To read more about the challenge and add your list, read here.

Here are the 30 titles I am going to try and read over this year. As always these titles will represent only a portion of my reading. My goal? To read most of these. I use this list like a a road map of where to turn next when I come to a pause in my reading choices. It is always waiting to guide me. But it also waits patiently when I am distracted by new books.

Making a list like this – a To Read list – also allows us to reflect on the reading that we want to do. I know I want to emphasize middle grade novels. I also want to ensure that I am reading from various genres but honour that I will typically gravitate to realistic fiction.

This year I split my list in two. Half of these books are titles published in 2017 or earlier and the rest published in 2018. Hopefully, this will be a nice balance of newly published titles and titles that I have discovered from my fantastic PLN as not to be missed.

2017 or before

These first two titles are from my #mustreadin2017 list that I still want to read

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley  Read March 22nd 2018 5/5 stars

WishTree by Katherine Applegate   Read March 29th 2018 5/5 stars

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser  Read January 13th 2018 5/5 stars

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling  Read February 4th 2018 4/5 stars

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman Read December 27th 2018 5/5 stars

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh  Read February 11th 2018 5/5 stars

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore  Read June 10th 2018 3/5 stars

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess Read February 18th 2018 5/5 stars

Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater Read January 21st 2018 5/5 stars

Titles published in 2018

Grump by Liesl Shurtliff  Read October 13th 2018 5/5 stars

The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes Read July 14th 2018 5/5 stars

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart  Read March 27th 2018 4/5 stars

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner  Read July 6th 2018 5/5 stars

Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher  Read June 23rd 2018 5/5 stars

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed Read July 11th 2018 5/5 stars

Breakout by Kate Messner Read December 16th 2018 5/5 stars

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor  Read April 22nd 2018 5/5 stars

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi  Read May 6th 2018 4/5 stars

Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai Read May 13th 2018 5/5 stars

Sunny by Jason Reynolds  Read December 7th 2018 5/5 stars

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake Read August 19th 2018 5/5 stars

Knock Out by K.A. Holt Read February 18th 2018 5/5 stars

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead Read July 15th 2018 5/5 stars

What novels are at the top of your TBR list? Please share!