your ultimate 2018 reading list

Wow, another listicle??? December = end of the year = all the listicles in the world. Probably because they're therapeutic (obsessive list-maker here) and help me reflect on 2017. So whether you need something to fill your time when you're home for the holidays, looking for new books to add to your 2018 reading list, or just curious about what I've been reading, check it out!



Non-fiction Picks of 2017
Note: These books are great for reading before the new year, if you're trying to instill better habits (I recommend this instead of New Year's resolutions).
  1. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin: How understanding habits can affect how you act and allow you to make changes in your life. This book single-handedly changed my life in 2015, and that has carried all the way to now.
  2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson: This was a short read (I read it on the train from Boston to NYC in less than an hour), but a good one. Unlike some over-hyped self-help books, Manson details exactly when and when you shouldn't give a f*ck. Important, because I'm someone who tends to give too many f*cks about everything.
  3. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg: Everyone wants to be productive, right? Duhigg also has a great book on habits that I also 100% recommend.
  4. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: This book is a long read, but I read 1-2 laws per day. It uses history to show you how to best deal with people.
  5. Small Move, Big Change by Caroline L. Arnold: How small habits can trigger an avalanche of change.
  6. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei: Ever felt like you had a million things to do and that you're just a hamster running on the wheel of life? That there's no time for creativity or to do work that matters? Read this book — it teaches you how to prioritize what matters.
  7. Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf: One of the fathers of Paleo, Robb Wolf is at it again with his newest book. He gives the biology of what happens when we eat (and what we eat), easy recipes, and helpful tips in an entertaining, understanding, and not-preachy voice.
  8. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: This book is easy to understand, unlike most financial reads. Kiyosaki teaches you about money, how to save it, and how to make it. A book my own dad recommended to me.
  9. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: For everyone who's wondered about eating local or just gives a sh*t where their food comes from, this book is for you. Kingsolver speaks about living on a farm and growing your own food.
  10. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami: The book that inspired me to not only run during the snowy months when I was training for a marathon, but also to write. Murakami's lyrical prose gives an accurate description of the clear-mindedness you get when running, but also speaks about the ebb and flow of seasons and life.
  11. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: If you've ever wondered why that guy never texted you back, been frustrated (or had too much fun) swiping on Tinder, or been exhilarated/confused/done with romance, Aziz Ansari understands (and provides hilarious yet interesting insights).


Fiction Picks of 2017
  1. Startup by Doree Shafir: Startups are all the rage; millennials are a new breed of people. This book made me feel both embarrassingly cognizant of my own behavior and of startup culture.
  2. The Circle by Dave Eggers: The Circle is chillingly feasible. A new hire at an Apple-esque company discovers that not everything is rainbows and sunshine.
  3. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: Everyone knows Jane Eyre, but what about the madwoman (Rochester's wife) locked up in the attic? This is her story.
  4. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien: I read an excerpt of this during 12th grade AP Lit, but never thought to read the whole thing. I'm glad I did — O'Brien uses war to teach you lessons about life, reality, and brotherhood.
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Not a light-hearted read for sure (hello, apocalyptic America that reminds me of The Walking Dead), but one that's sure to make you think.
  6. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: A YA fantasy that's perfect for winter — mythology, family, and music combine in this slightly dark and extremely engaging book.
  7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman: A strange mix of modern life and old mythology. Full of mystery, beautiful prose, and darkness.
  8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: If you like The Fault in Our Stars, this has a similar feel. Life, death, and romance make for a tear-jerking read.
  9. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: The Hulu hit TV series is based on this. The scary thing is, this world where women are stripped of their names and oppressed seems less of a fantasy and more of a possibility...
  10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed: This made me want to buy hiking boots and set out on the PCT myself. What one woman learns about life, loss, and meaning from hiking the dangerous Pacific Crest Trail alone.


  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: Undoubtedly one of the most famous modern poetry books. Topics: sex, feminism, and love.
  2. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver: This poetry book makes you want to get lost in nature.
  3. Simply Complicated by Demi Lovato: This is a YouTube documentary, not a book. But even people who aren't Demi fans can appreciate the strength it takes to overcome addiction and fight an eating disorder. It's also refreshing to hear a celebrity be unabashedly honest and authentic.

My 2018 Reading List


  1. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin: I make everyone I know take the Four Tendencies quiz. This book teaches you how to optimize your life based on your tendency (take the Four Tendencies quiz here). — FINISHED FEB 2018. Rating: 4/5 stars.
  2. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss: I read Tools of Titans earlier this year and found it immensely helpful. I envision Tribe of Mentors to be similar — a large, encyclopedia-like source of wisdom.
  3. Leap First by Seth Godin: As a marketer, I try to read up on marketing classics.
  4. The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone: I've heard this mentioned in many blog posts. Basically, how to set goals and take action to maximize success.
  5. Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant: One of my life goals is to publish a book. Enough said.
  6. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl: (PSA: I'm a psychology nerd) This psychology classic was written based on Frankl's experiences in the Nazi death camps.
  7. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay: I gave an abridged version of Roxanne's "Bad Feminist" TED talk during a college public speaking competition. In this memoir, Roxanne shares how she used food as a means of safety, the fine line between desire and denial, and perceptions on weight.
  8. Beneath the Surface by Michael Phelps: As a young competitive swimmer, I had a collage (which is still hanging in my old bedroom with my swimming medals) of Phelps's 2008 Olympic journey. It still gives me the shivers. This autobiography gives us a glimpse of how a young boy with ADD became one of the world's greatest swimmers. — FINISHED FEB 2018. Rating: 3/5 stars.
  9. On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates: As a boxing instructor, I've fallen in love with the sport. This collection of essays from Oates observes what she calls "America's tragic theater." — Currently reading
  10. 52 Cups of Coffee by Meghan Gebhart: I read some interesting articles about this — getting a cup of coffee with a different person every week to learn, re-connect, and more.
  11. What Happened by Hilary Clinton: Hilary doesn't owe any apologies for what happened, but I'd love to hear her thoughts during the whole election process.
  12. My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey: The former darling of the UFC, Ronda has much to share about sacrifice, hard work, and determination. — FINISHED FEB 2018. Rating: 5/5 stars.


  1. Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones: The sequel to Wintersong, this book promises to pick up right where the last book's cliffhanger left us. — Currently reading.
  2. Origin by Dan Brown: The newest book in the Robert Langdon series — these are always full of plot twists, art history, and mystery. You may know the series from the first book, The Da Vinci Code.
  3. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth: A new YA fantasy from the author of Divergent. — Currently reading
  4. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty: A Middle-Eastern YA fantasy full of dijins (genies), romance, and everything else you want in a fantasy book. 
  5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman: I was happily surprised by American Gods, so I thought I'd give Gaiman's other books another shot.
  6. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: Coined as "Frozen meets Snow White," this sounds like a thrilling dark fairytale.
  7. Death's Mistress by Terry Goodkind: Goodkind's Sword of Truth series was one of my favorite epic fantasy series growing up (this was before Game of Thrones became popular). Goodkind has a spin-off series that sounds amazing — this is the first book in it. — FINISHED FEB 2018. Rating: 4/5 stars.
  8. Still Me by Jojo Moyes: The 3rd book in the Me Before You series. Thank you, Lily Collins, for getting me hooked on these books.


  1. Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur: The newest book from Rupi that everyone is all hype about.
  2. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace: Because we don't need to be damsels in distress anymore.
  3. Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav: I first discovered Lang Leav on Pinterest and have been in love with her poems ever since.

As you can see, I love dividing my time between fiction (this is my "relax before bed" and "commuting home with no brainpower" reading) and non-fiction (this is my "read on my commute in the morning" reading). Poetry is an added bonus. I love reading a poem a day, a habit my AP Literature teacher instilled in me (he used to start every class with a poem; usually Billy Collins or Pablo Neruda).

I'd love to know — what have you been reading? What's on your 2018 reading list?

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lifestyleNancy ChenComment