My two favorite posts of the year are upon us, dear readers. At the end of each December, I share my favorite reads of the past year. Then, in the first days of January, I share my personal book list of reading aspirations for the coming year. It makes my heart so happy to hear that friends and blog readers have begun looking forward to these lists, as well!
I’ve been looking forward to writing this year’s post the past few months. For several years, I’ve read Christian non-fiction, almost exclusively, with the exception of an occasional fiction book for myself or previewing juvenile fiction for my classroom. This year, I cast a much wider net in my reading life. I enjoyed reading very widely, and my books were in several different genres. Therefore, I am loosely dividing my book list into a few categories for your benefit.
Perhaps I should add that I completed 67 books this year, in part because I discovered audiobooks. I firmly believe audiobooks “count” toward our reading goals. If you do not, I’d love to share my logic. You see, the only difference in reading a book with my eyes or my ears is whether I gain further acquisition of spelling skills or listening skills. Vocabulary acquisition happens either way and I find both equally enjoyable. With this logic in mind, you can rest assured that my spelling skills are well developed in comparison to my listening skills. I’m doing the world a far greater service by practicing my listening skills. I spell rather well, I tell you. If you’ve read this far, I thank you for enduring my soapbox. You’re the best readers in all the land.
For your convenience, I’ll note which books I read as audiobooks with an asterisk. I’ve learned that audiobooks are highly dependent on the narrator, and therefore are a treasure hunt of sorts! Allow me to share the ones I’ve enjoyed in the following lists.
My final book count for this year has been something like 33 traditional books and 34 audiobooks. Like you, I have many irons in the fire on any given day and the audiobooks have been a delightful addition to my reading life when my hands are quite literally full.
My Favorite Books of 2018
Without further ado, here are my favorite reads from 2018.
*Audiobooks are noted with an asterisk.*
The Book that Taught Me the Most in 2018:
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
Friends, this is the book you must read in 2019. It isn’t a book you will fly through. This was a “read a chapter and think on it for the day” kind of book. This book is invaluable for us as followers of Christ who want to understand the Word of God more deeply and accurately. I think I texted some friend or another with every paragraph I read to tell them what I had just learned. This book is full of wisdom and insight no matter where you are in your walk with Jesus. It is not a page-turner, nor is it going to entertain you. The purpose of this book is to teach you to read your Bible with clarity and accuracy. Good, good content here, sweet friends.
The Book I Enjoyed the Most in 2018:
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate*
I think I cooked a homemade meal and folded extra laundry every night, just to create reasons to listen to this Audiobook again and again, the entire week I was reading this. This story will grab you. I loved the Audiobook, but I’m certain the traditional book would be every bit as captivating. I think I’ve told everyone I know that they absolutely must read this book. It is based very closely to a very real event in our history. I have a heart for adoption and this book calls us to look at our history and to take a necessary pause as we necessarily proceed with wisdom. You will ask yourself, “How could something like this have actually happened?” Upon completion of this book, I assure you that you’ll spend an hour reading about the real event on Google. No spoilers here. This is a read for you to explore in your own time.
The Best Audiobook Performance & Story Combo in 2018:
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Julia Whelan*
The storytelling of Kristin Hannah paired with the narration of Julia Whelan creates an enthralling performance. This is another audiobook that made me want to run one more errand or wash one more dish at the sink just to listen a bit longer. This story was both enjoyable and thought provoking. I enjoyed the Alaskan setting because I’ve read very little about the Last Frontier. The characters in this book will draw you in and you will think about them long after you’ve turned the last page, or in my case, listened to the final minutes of this book. It is not surprising that The Great Alone has been given so many awards in 2018.
The Fiction Book that I Could Not Put Down in 2018:
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
This book is a fictional spin on a nearly historical event. Without spoiling too many details, I will tell you that the proposal made in the book actually happened in the history of the United States. The rest is completely fictional. The entire story sprouts from the, “What if this had actually taken place?” idea, creating an alternative reality in history with the American Indians and the United States government during the era of Westward Expansion. If you love historical fiction, you’ll be mesmerized with this read!
The Audiobook that I Did Not Want to Pause in 2018:
The Hate You Give by Angie Smith, narrated by Bahni Turpin*
My husband and I listened to this during our ten year anniversary trip to St. Louis this summer. He missed the beginning because I had already begun listening before our trip. Nonetheless, he was pulled into the story. It literally hits close to home for us in many ways. We had numerous important and heavy discussions over dinner. I’m not much of a small-talker on light matters, but I can talk long and late into the night about topics that are deep and meaningful to me. Bless my husband for allowing me to verbally process every hard and heavy topic and for engaging with such wisdom and loving kindness for all people. Again, I will not spoil this book for you, dear reader friends, but I encourage you to listen to the Audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin. She is an absolutely brilliant narrator. You’ll forget that the book is performed by one person, because she truly sounds like an entire cast of narrators. It is so important for us to challenge our own thoughts by reading books that put us into another’s culture and life. We need to step into the figurative shoes of many others in our reading lives or we will miss many opportunities. Note: I purposefully listened to this book when my children were with their grandparents because the language is often unsuitable for little ears. Why did I choose to listen to a book with language myself? While I tend to lean toward books that won’t make me slip and say a curse word if I stub a toe, I value the importance of reading stories outside of my own bubble to grow in empathy and the love of God for the entire body of Christ and all people He has created. It is important to guard our ears and hearts at times, but sometimes it is even more important to listen well to hard things and to grow in wisdom and understanding.
The Non-Fiction Books that I Rated with 5 Stars in 2018:
Raising World Changers in a Changing World by Kristen Welch
You can read the May 2018 guest post from author, Kristen Welch, written for this blog by clicking the link below:
Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis*
The Lifegiving Parent by Clay and Sally Clarkson*
Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure*
The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie
Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush*
Everybody Always by Bob Goff*
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham*
The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor by Mark Labberton
Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure*
If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey*
Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle
The Juvenile Fiction (Chapter Books for Upper Elementary) Reads that I Rated with 5 Stars in 2018:
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper*
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Christmas Books that I Rated with 5 Stars in 2018:
Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller*
The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans
Joy Upon Joy: An Advent Devotional by Charles Spurgeon
May your new year be full of good literature as you learn and grow. Happy reading, sweet friends!
From my hearts to yours,
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