Hi! I don’t know about you, but I love “favorite books” posts. Also, I hate them, because my “books to read” pile is huge. Beyond that, my list of books to read that I don’t own is ridiculous. At any rate, I love getting other peoples’ favorites, so I try to share mine.
It’s conveniently (accidentally) split evenly between fiction and nonfiction and they’re listed in no particular order, but if you’re in a hurry, scroll to the bottom because that’s where my favorite ended up.
Til We Have Faces: a Myth Retold (CS Lewis)
I made a goal a couple years ago to read more books by dead people. Every time I say that, I feel the need to clarify: the authors in question were alive when the books are written but have died since. The proportion of old books I read is coincidentally reflected precisely in this list: 20%.
Anyway, this was a gorgeously written adaptation of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, which I wasn’t familiar with until I googled it halfway through the book.
Artemis (Andy Weir)
This was a read-aloud for Andrew and me. SO FUN. Set on the moon with conspiracies, gangsters, and intrigue, this sci-fi was engaging, funny, and smart. Added bonus: the chapters are longer than they were in The Martian, which made it harder to “one more chapter” our way into the wee hours of the morning.
The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)
I love me some WWII fiction.
This was set in the presesnt day, but with vivid interviews with an old Nazi. The characters are, in typical Picoult style, quirky and well-developed. I hate to throw in a spoiler (mild as it may be) but I stopped reading her books for a long while because the endings were always devastating. This one didn’t leave me feeling completely crushed.
A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman)
Important: I pronounced his name wrong in my head the whole time. I said “love” minus the L. Evidently it’s “O-veh.”
Anyway. It took me a while to get into. Ove is a crotchety old guy bent on suicide, which isn’t usually the kind of premise I gravitate toward. But my friend Lindsey said it was one of her favorites and I trust her, so I plugged along. I’m so glad. His grouchiness becomes endearing and the community that materializes around and despite him is heartwarming.
America’s First Daughter (Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie)
I’m bad at history. I prefer math, where you can derive answers from principles or compute them from formulas. History always felt like a lot of memory work to me, which takes more effort for my brain, and I’m lazy.
But my brain (much like your brain, I imagine) is wired for story, and when history becomes an engaging story, it all starts to make sense. Historical fiction does that for me. It contextualizes the names and dates so they actually mean something. This is the story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Patsy through America’s fight for independence, the White House, and into Thomas Jefferson’s retirement. Fascinating.
Call the Midwife (Jennifer Worth)
I watched most of the TV series while this was still on my “to read” list, and that served me nicely: I didn’t have to make up the characters from scratch in my head. (The show is well-cast.) The stories are poignant and uplifting… except when they are utterly shattering.
The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp)
Oh, that Ann Voskamp… exploding my brain again. In One Thousand Gifts, she talked about how, in the ministry of Jesus, thanks preceded the miracle. This led me (and much of American Christian culture) to start a gratitude list. I’m almost to nine thousand. In this one, she points out how breaking frequently comes before miracle as well. Encouragement for this broken soul.
Fat and Faithful (J Nichole Morgan)
This confronted a lie I hadn’t examined: “since gluttony is a sin, fat is evidence of sin. Therefore, fat people are living in sin.” There are medical reasons this is BS (if you’re curious, check out Health at Every Size by Carol Bacon) but Morgan addresses the reasons this lie is so especially damaging within the Church.
In Defense of Sanity (GK Chesterton)
This is my second Chesterton (after The Man Who Was Thursday in 2017) and it’s delightful. It’s a collection of sixty-odd essays that vary widely in subject but every one of them is funny and quotable. You know the random party question, “If you could have dinner with any person, alive or dead, who would it be”? Chesterton has become my answer (assuming Jesus is off limits). I read one essay at a time (usually one per night) and always felt far smarter when I was done.
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change Your Family (Paul David Tripp)
This was easily my favorite book of the year, and hands-down my favorite parenting book ever. I liked it so much that upon finishing, I immediately purchased copies for each of my siblings and a few assorted others. It is simultaneously the least practical and most transformative parenting book I’ve ever read. I recommend it for three groups of people: parents, believers, and people who need Jesus. Pretty sure that catches everybody.
The thing about this book is the way it filters everything through the lens of the Gospel. I need that in my life. I’ve believed for most of my life that the Gospel was the starting point for Jesus-followers. I’m learning it’s the whole point.
So there it is. My favorite books of 2018. I’d love to hear yours!