Byte of Prevention Blog

by Camille Stell |

My 2018 Reading Challenge-- Part II

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” Mortimer J. Adler

I’m in my third year of creating a reading challenge.

Here’s a quick recap.

  • In 2016, my goal was 52 books. I read 53 books and 13,064 pages.
  • In 2017, my goal was 30 books. I read 38 books and 11,715 pages.

In 2018, my goal was 30 books. I had hoped to write more in 2018. While the extra writing didn’t happen, I did exceed my reading goal quite a bit, reading 47 books and 13,018 pages.

Yesterday, I shared some statistics from my 2018 year in reading – Part 1. Here are a few insights from my favorite books.


My favorite types of books to read include memoirs, political, self-help, and business books. Of course, I enjoy fiction, so let’s start there.

My favorite book of fiction this year was “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman. The book is the 2017 debut novel of author, Gail Honeyman and the winner of the 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award. Eleanor Oliphant is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. At age 29, she is socially awkward and an outcast at the company she works for in Glasgow. The novel deals with themes of isolation and loneliness. There is mystery surrounding Eleanor and as the story develops, we learn who she is and why. Many people told me they thought the book was laugh-out-loud funny. While I enjoyed the humor that did appear, I found the humor subtle and tinged with compassion for Eleanor. I couldn’t wait to talk with people who had read the book. I recommend the book and I’d love to hear whether you enjoy it.

My vacation to California informed some of my summer reading. I read memoirs by John Steinbeck and Robert Mondavi. On our trip, we had one night with no hotel reservation, so we decided to travel to Salinas to visit the Steinbeck Museum and family home. I bought Steinbeck’s travel book, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”. Steinbeck wrote this book in 1960 as he traveled across the country in his home-made camper named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse, along with his dog, Charley. Steinbeck travels from his home in New York to Maine, the Pacific Northwest, into his native Salinas, across Texas and the Deep South, traveling nearly 10,000 miles. In the book, Steinbook states his purpose as trying to understand what Americans are like in the current time. After Steinbeck’s death, his son Thomas says that his father knew he was seriously ill with a heart condition and that he was at the sunset of his career. Thomas suggested that his father wanted to see the country and have an adventure one last time. His son also agrees with other literary critics who claim that Steinbeck’s adventures should be read as a novel rather than taking the book too literally.

I had never read Steinbeck. I loved visiting Salinas and the museum and understanding more about that part of the country and the people that Steinbeck spent a lifetime writing about.

I’m a big Gilmore Girls fan so I enjoyed Lauren Graham’s memoir and behind-the-scenes of one of my favorite television shows. Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” did not disappoint and was one of my favorite books of the year.

While I have already written about the impact that “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans had, I’m going to mention this book again. This was one of the first books I read in the new year and the reading and exercises in the book are the reason I proposed starting Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services. If you are still asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because you are hoping to find answers for yourself, read this book or attend one of their workshops or their open enrollment class at Stanford. In October, I had the pleasure to hear Bill and Dave speak at the Clio Conference and to have a quick conversation with them about the impact the book made on me.

The Confidence Code” by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman has been a favorite for years and I’ve done several speaking engagements about the importance of building confidence. Katty and Claire created a new book for young adults, “The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self”. I bought this for both of my teenage nieces and suggest this book for any of the young women in your life.

Check back tomorrow as I share my book list and reflections from my year in books.


About the Author

Camille Stell

Camille Stell is President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services, offering succession planning, business development coaching, keynote presentations and more. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at or 800.662.8843.

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