Anyone who knows me has been privy to the epic reading challenge that I embarked on last year. While reading 45 books was moderately challenging, what made it truly exciting was the fact that I read half of them in November or December.
In hindsight, I would definitely have done things differently–mostly because reading 22 books in seven weeks is a little stressful. But, I am thankful for all the knowledge and insight I gained from *almost* every book (skip to the bottom for three that I hated).
Without further ado, here are my favorite books from 2018:
1. With | Skye Jethani | Nonfiction
- In five words: Created to live with God.
- My thoughts: As someone who’s tried performing for God, demanding from God, “getting over” God, and oppressively living under religion; I found this book incredibly helpful. While it’s eye-opening for those of us who were raised in the church, I can also see it as a great benefit for those who are new Christians or are exploring their faith. I highly recommend this book.
- Key Quote: “The LIFE WITH GOD posture departs from the other forms of religion because it accepts this simple fact: Control is an illusion. No amount of control will ever remove our fears.”
2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette | Maria Semple | Fiction
- In five words: Globetrotting adventure to find mom
- My thoughts: Rarely do I stumble across an author who defies traditional archetypes and spins something fascinating and new. Semple is that author and Where’d You Go Bernadette is that book. Fed up with her quirky yet picturesque California life, Bernadette disappears without a trace, leaving her husband and daughter to go on a worldwide search.
- Key Quote: “Pretty soon, I stopped thinking about home, and my friends, because when you’re on a boat in Antarctica and there’s no night, who are you?”
3. The Lost City of the Monkey God | Douglas Preston | Nonfiction
- In five words: Frontier adventures come with risk.
- My thoughts: This book is the account of Preston’s fascination with the untouched Honduran wilderness, and the ancient tale of a lost city within it. As he tells how he came to explore the remote mosquitia region, Preston divulges the history of the lost city and the legend that surrounds not only its discovery, but also its demise. While the writing was not my favorite, the plot picked up towards the end and I really enjoyed the story that shone through.
- Key Quote: “The treetops were filling with golden light as the helicopter came in. It upset me that I had to leave when the weather had finally cleared, but I took a certain schadenfreude in the fact that torrential rains might soon be returning to torment those lucky enough to stay.”
4. Not Yet Married | Marshall Segal | Nonfiction
- In five words: A field-guide to purposeful singleness
- My thoughts: This book was an incredibly edifying and encouraging read. I really appreciated how it first addressed our identity as Christians and our spiritual growth as singles– which is imperative before we focus on the ins-and-outs of actually dating and marrying.
- Key Quote: “Date for clarity, not intimacy.”
5. I’ll Push You | Patrick Gray | Nonfiction
- In five words: Wheelchair battles the El Camino
- My thoughts: This book is an anomaly to my list. Some of the aforementioned books had subpar writing, but were still at a high level. This one really didn’t. So why was it one of my favorites? The story was good enough that I could look past the writing. After all, I’ll Push You isn’t the masterpiece of a trained author. It’s about two dudes named Patrick and Justin who decide to hike the historic Camino de Santiago in Spain. As if the 500 mile journey isn’t arduous enough, Patrick has a neuromuscular disease that confines him to a wheelchair. I’ve followed Patrick and Justin’s story since I first stumbled across them on Kickstarter years ago. Their passion for adventure and love for Christ is palpable in the way they treat each other and everyone they meet. This book further ignited my love for Spain, my desire to hike the El Camino, and my desire to break down my walls and let others in.
- Key Quote: “Every moment we rest in the presence of others and appreciate the time, beauty, and joy they have to offer, we practice Sabbath. It’s a mentality . . . an existence . . . a way of life.”
And, because I’d hate for anyone to suffer through a bad book in 2019, here’s a bonus. Three books I absolutely hated reading (but finished because I couldn’t bear to waste time reading 45 books) are: The Christmas Wedding, The Swedish Art of Death Cleaning, and Silver Bells. Please, spare yourself. Don’t read them.
Ps. Check out my full list of 2018 books over on Goodreads.