The 10 Best Books I Read In 2018

The 10 Best Books I Read In 2018

I've read 42 books in 2018 thus far. Here were 10 of my favorites.

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I'm an avid reader. There's nothing I love more than diving into a new novel, whether it be nonfiction about a recent scientific discovery or a centuries-old classic. In 2018 alone, I have read 42 books thus far, and will likely finish at least 3 more before the year ends. Since making a commitment for my New Year's resolution to read 40 books in 2018, I have read some astonishingly good novels. Here are ten of my favorites, in no particular order.

1. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

This book was actually the first book I read this year, and it still has a special place in my heart. The Book Thief is a story about a young German girl growing up during the Holocaust, and her love of reading that pits her against Hitler's regime. It was refreshingly somber to see the Holocaust era from a new view -- not that of a Jewish person, nor a soldier, but a civilian child growing up surrounded by hate speech and propaganda. Liesel's actions and her love for her little family tugged at my heartstrings many times, and this book is one of the few that makes it onto my "reread someday" list. (P.S., the movie is incredible as well, and is one of the few that seems to follow the book as accurately as possible.)

2. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

I actually finished this book in record time -- I just could not put it down. The Hate U Give is a gritty, realistic view into what it's like to grow up black in America, and the unique set of challenges that black people face in regards to police brutality and everyday racism -- from friends as well as foes. After 17-year-old Starr witnesses her friend's death at the hands of a cop, she must decide whether to keep her mouth shut or risk bringing attention -- mostly negative -- to herself. Who will believe her, anyway? This book was so profoundly impactful while being written in the voice of a teenage girl, conflicted and alone. Definitely one of my top books of all time.

3. "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

Honestly, I didn't have high expectations coming into this book. I had seen posters for the movie, and assumed it was just another 3-star read with a profitable idea to make into a movie. I am glad to say that I was wrong. This book, set in the year 2045, follows the adventures of teenager Wade Watts as he navigates the world of the OASIS, an online utopia in which citizens live out their lives, in search of a formidable prize hidden someone in the OASIS's thousands of worlds. Wade is a lower-income resident, and the OASIS is all he has -- so he's willing to risk it all for the chance to win the prize and discover the secret of the online universe's creator. This novel is fast-paced and well-written, and is a must-read for anyone who loves anything 80s, as the challenge is focused around 80s culture. (Call Ferris Bueller -- we're going on one heck of an adventure.)

4. "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

Despite the books listed previously, I typically tend to read nonfiction or classic literature, and don't often branch out into contemporary fiction. But I had heard rave reviews of Little Fires Everywhere, so I decided to check it out, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. The narrative reminds me of that of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, my favorite novel of all time, in the way that it follows the struggles and interconnectedness of a family, somehow without having an explicitly describable plot ("I don't know, they just...exist") but still managing to pull you in just as deep. Like East of Eden, Little Fires Everywhere follows the story of two very different families: the Richardsons, a large, wealthy family with multiple strong, conflicting personalities; and the Warrens, a small, close-knit mother and daughter duo who never lay roots in any one place. The story has a sort of coming-of-age feel to it, as the lives of the Richardson and Warren teens and their age-appropriate struggles are discussed, but also a hint of mystery as Mrs. Richardson attempts to track down the origins of the mysterious Mia Warren. This book made me laugh, cry, and everything in between, and I was so obsessed that I finished the 11-and-a-half-hour-long audiobook in the span of five days (despite the fact that I worked double shifts most of those days). Again, this book is definitely one of my favorites of all time, and one of the rare stories whose characters you still wonder about long after the book is over.

5. "Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics" by Richard H. Thaler

I have never taken an economics course (though I have dabbled in Crash Course videos here and there) and economics is not an important component of either of my majors (Biological Sciences and Political Science). However, this book was so intriguing that I promptly forgot both of those points. Misbehaving is an excellent introduction to behavioral economics, written simply enough that someone with little to no background knowledge in economics (such as myself) can comprehend, but still intricate enough that the material couldn't fit in a ten-minute Youtube video. Thaler, one of the earliest behavioral economists, describes how the subject came into importance among other economic and business-related topics, as well as how its marriage of economic and financial principles and behavioral psychology lend important insights to businesses as well as individuals. The difficulty of the content is offset with plenty of easy-to-understand examples, and the book reads like a history driven by discovery, with reviews of behavioral economics principles along the way. Though the subject of economics is not one that interests me as much as, say, politics or medicine, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it as an interesting read that serves as a light workout for your brain.

6. "The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women" by Kate Moore

I'd be lying if I said this book didn't make me cry multiple times. The Radium Girls is a true story of America's dial painters, the hundreds of young women who painted radium onto watches during the First World War, and the consequences of their position on their health and livelihood. In the days of World War I, jobs for women were few and far between, and becoming a dial painter was the most coveted position among women in their late teens and early twenties, unmarried and looking for some pocket money to buy the latest trends. This narrative follows the story of these dial-painters and how their distinct, omnipresent glow of radium dust went from being wondrous to becoming deadly. As the poisonous radium attacked these young women's bodies, causing them to rapidly and irreparably decay, the radium girls fought for the right to be heard, and to stop the radium industry from pulling any more girls into its vehement trap. This book was deeply heart-wrenching, following the lives of a few bright-eyed young dial painters to their young graves, and a valuable insight into the suppression of women's voices in the early 20th century.

7. "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This novel was another popular book that I didn't expect to enjoy nearly as much as I did. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a biography of the life of fictitious movie star Evelyn Hugo, as told to the young and relatively unknown reporter Monique Grant. Evelyn unfurls her story, from escaping poverty to begin her acting career in her late teens, and the myriad of men that came into and left her life across the span of her career and its aftermath. I won't spoil the big twist (or two) that the novel provides, but it most certainly wasn't the "straight bullsh*t" I was expecting based on its title. It is an intense, poignant life of a woman who dared to obtain what she wanted by any means possible, only to discover that her heart lied elsewhere.

8. "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman

This book was a humorous yet momentous glance into the life of a woman named Eleanor Oliphant, who is perfectly fine, thank you very much. Eleanor doesn't really fit in at the office; her harsh realism and her inability to understand social cues make that quite difficult. But that's fine, because Eleanor has it all planned out. Every week, she follows the same plan, never deviating from her schedule of Wednesday night calls with Mummy, Friday night frozen pizzas, and sleeping off a vodka hangover every Saturday morning. However, when Eleanor and her coworker Raymond save the life of an elderly gentleman who fell near them on their way to work one day, Eleanor's life begins to change in profound ways, and she realizes that maybe "fine" isn't the best way to be, after all. Eleanor's story was touching yet hilarious, and was yet another novel that I could not put down. For anyone looking for a novel starring an out-of-the-ordinary heroine and lacking a predictable romance component, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the novel for you.

9. "The President is Missing" by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

This fast-paced, gritty novel breaks the wall between the life of a president and the nation, and introduces us to the world of Washington politics and the counterterrorism approach. The President is Missing follows President Duncan, a tenacious war veteran, as he attempts to circumvent impeachment trials brought forth by members of the opposite party while maintaining the secret of a massive, nation-decimating cyber threat from the citizens of the U.S. This narrative is fast-paced, with twists and turns at every stop, and kept me guessing until the end what the outcome would be. The novel reads like a classic James Patterson thriller with the added expertise of a former president to reveal the intricacies of American politics and the battles of the elites.

10. "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain

My final novel is one that I finished a mere four days prior to writing this post, but one that already has a special place in my heart. Quiet explores the world of introverts, from their underrepresentation in U.S. culture and their hidden talents unique from extroverts. Though I identify as an ambivert (both extroverted and introverted), I felt this was an incredible analysis into the powers of introverts, and why American society should stop trying to force the extrovert ideal on those that are not born to be extroverted. I particularly enjoyed how Cain drew in principles of biology, psychology, and business, and described not only how introverts are wired differently from birth, but their benefits to jobs that are even as high-stakes and fast-paced as the stock market. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with introversion (if you dread speaking in front of a class, this is probably you) or anyone interested in the biological basis of personality and behavior.

Out of the 40+ books I read in 2018, those are the ones that have stood out to me the most, and I would recommend each and every one of them. If you would like more book recommendations, feel free to ask -- I'm always reading something new! Happy new year!

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Life With A 'Huskweiler'

9 things to expect when you bring one of these furry little monsters in to your life

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My dog's name is Phynn, and he is a Huskweiler. My husband and I stumbled across this particular breed in our search to compromise. He wanted a big dog, and I wanted a small dog. Well, we got a medium dog with one big personality. Here is what you can expect from these funnily named pups!

Expect to be overwhelmed by their cuteness

One of his first naps

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Adorable, right?! Trust me, they know it. They will give you the sweetest and saddest puppy eyes you have ever seen to get them out of trouble or having to go in their kennel. I can admit, it makes me weak!

Expect no toy to last longer than five minutes 

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We have gone through countless toys with Phynn. The rottie in them will make them want to chew apart anything they can find. Boxes, socks, toys, paper towels, almost a $50 dollar, the list goes on and on. They will certainly keep you quick on your feet and short on your patience.

Expect them to be a great help in the garden (They love dirt)

Relaxing after a hard days work...

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They LOVE dirt. It is like a natural high for them. They will dig and eat dirt, not to mention anything found in the dirt! One whiff of dirt and he is running around the yard like its the Kentucky Derby.

Bathing them is like trying to catch an oily fish with your hands

Attempt number five to jump out of the tub

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I have tried just about every trick in the book! I put peanut butter on the side of the tub, I have fed him treats, and it lasted a whole two minutes. He was jumping, fur was flying (and sticking to my walls), Needless to say, I too was soaked!

Speaking of fur...they SHED.

The result of a quick brush

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Phynn is my first "long" haired dog. I'm sure most of you know the following information, but I was shocked! The husky in these dogs means the get winter and summer coats. This causes them to itch and bite at their own fur and shed everywhere. My particular huskweiler hates to be brushed, he again, tries to chew on the brush (see number 2). So this photo is the result of just a few quick swipes. Our vacuum cannot keep up with the constant tumbleweeds of fur rolling across my kitchen floor.

They are curious and smart

Just looking for a snack...nothing to see here

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They learn quick. From learning how to climb on everything to learning cute commands like "high-five" and "roll-over" ( my personal favorite), they pick it up quick. They are smart and good listeners when they want to be.

They have no sense of personal space

Those eyes

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He is constantly wanting to be around us. Whether we are cooking in the kitchen or watching a movie, he is either under our feet or laying on us. As I type this, he is putting his head on my keyboard (where my lap is). They love to smother you in kisses. For such a loving dog, he hates to see affection. Whenever my husband and I get close to hug or snuggle on the coach, he has to break it up. He will assert himself right in the middle of us. He must be the center of attention, which clearly means being right up in your face at all times...otherwise, you may miss something cute! O, and he will make sure he has your attention. For example, when I take a few minutes each morning to read my Bible, he will purposefully get into something so I have to fuss with him, thus giving him the attention he craves.

They are little snow angels

Snow covered and happy

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This winter has been Phynn's first experience with snow, and he loves it! He sniffs it, eats it, tries to catch it as it falls from the sky. He will whine at the door, not because has to go to the bathroom (as he is trained), but because he wants the snow. It is a battle trying to get him to come in as I am freezing my nose off. It really has been such a fun experience seeing him discover snow.

They will steal your heart

Half husky, half rottie.

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Despite, them being cantankerous, these pups will quickly steal your heart. They will test your patience with their incessant need to chew, their constant need for attention, and their stubborn ways. However, they will make you melt even quicker. From Phynn's morning Husky Howl, to his inability to make both his ears stand up, I adore him. These huskweiler pups make a lovable and quirky addition to any household and family.

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