My Favorite Books Of 2018

Lists are my favorite. I love making them and reading them.

For the last several years, I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read. This year, so far, I’ve finished 34 books. Here is a list of my top 10 from this year.

{Book summaries are from Amazon and I’ve added my thoughts below.}

Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy

About the book: In lyrical, contemplative prose, Christie slowly unveils the small trials and triumphs of that first year at Maplehurst–from summer’s intense heat and autumn’s glorious canopy through winter’s still whispers and spring’s gentle mercies. Through stories of planting and preserving, of opening the gates wide to neighbors, and of learning to speak the language of a place, Christie invites readers into the joy of small beginnings and the knowledge that the kingdom of God is with us here and now.

My thoughts: This was one of the most beautifully written memoirs I’ve read. Using her house and the seasons as a backdrop, Christie talks about her joys and disappointments and everyday life in a way that is both relatable and inspirational.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

About the book:  In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

My thoughts: Lauren Graham is funny and interesting. I listened to this on audiobook and it was read by her, which is the perfect way to experience this book. I loved her behind the scenes insight into Gilmore Girls and I loved hearing more about her personally. It’s easy to forget that actors are real people. This book was a great reminder of her humanity.

A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

About the book: In his book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

My thoughts: I didn’t know anything about James Comey before I read this book. I found his account of his time as Deputy Attorney General and his time in the FBI fascinating. If you love politics and political history, I think you’ll enjoy this.

All That’s Good by Hannah Anderson

About the book: In All That’s Good, Hannah Anderson invites you to embrace discernment as part of God’s larger work of redemption. By learning to see the world as He sees it—in all its brokenness and beauty—you’ll learn how to navigate it with hope and confidence. And when you learn to pursue whatever is true and lovely and pure and just, you’ll find yourself changed.

My thoughts: This book is timely.  The need for discernment is more obvious than ever. All That’s Good reads like a conversation with a wise, engaging, thoughtful friend. This is the person you want to sit by at dinner. Hannah takes on a difficult subject matter and uses the framework of Philippians 4:8 to build her case.

Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in a Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales

About the book: More than half of Americans live in the suburbs. Ashley Hales writes that for many Christians, however: “The suburbs are ignored (‘Your place doesn’t matter, we’re all going to heaven anyway’), denigrated and demeaned (‘You’re selfish if you live in a suburb; you only care about your own safety and advancement’), or seen as a cop-out from a faithful Christian life (‘If you really loved God, you’d move to Africa or work in an impoverished area’). In everything from books to Hollywood jokes, the suburbs aren’t supposed to be good for our souls.”
What does it look like to live a full Christian life in the suburbs? Suburbs reflect our good, God-given desire for a place to call home. And suburbs also reflect our own brokenness. This book is an invitation to look deeply into your soul as a suburbanite and discover what it means to live holy there.

My thoughts:  I bought this book because I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what it means to live faithfully in our community. She talks about our search for comfort and how that fits with our mission to care about the people around us. This would be a perfect book club pick.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

About the book: For Christ-followers living in an increasingly complicated world, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to live a life of intention and meaning. Where do we even begin?

Shannan Martin offers a surprisingly simple answer: uncover the hidden corners of our cities and neighborhoods and invest deeply in the lives of people around us. She walks us through her own discoveries about the vital importance of paying attention, as well as the hard but rewarding truth about showing up and committing for the long haul, despite the inevitable encounters with brokenness and uncertainty. With transparency, humor, heart-tugging storytelling, and more than a little personal confession, Martin shows us that no matter where we live or how much we have, as we learn what it is to be with people as Jesus was, we’ll find our very lives.

My thoughts: This is possibly my very favorite book I read this year. It could be sisters with the previous book, I mentioned.  Shannan has fallen in love with her community and gives us a glimpse of how that happened and why it’s important. This book is a perfect example of how living a compelling life can birth a compelling book.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

About the book: Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure.

Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…

My thoughts: I had read this before but wanted to read it again. It’s probably not new to you either. It’s funny and heartbreaking and I didn’t want to stop reading until I got to the end.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp

About the book: In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God―grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.

My thoughts: I usually loathe parenting books. This one is different. It offers grace instead of a sure-fire way to have perfect children. I promise this book won’t leave you discouraged.

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin

About the book:  Why do so many rock-star pastors implode under the spotlight? Why do modern-day churches become so entangled in growing their brand that they lose sight of their true purpose? Because, according to Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel, Christians have succumbed to the temptations of power and forgotten Jesus’ seemingly contradictory path to power—first giving it up.

In The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, Goggin and Strobel paint a richly biblical vision of power through weakness.

My thoughts: If I could buy a copy of this book and hand it out to all of my friends, I would. It’s that good. This year we’ve seen high-profile church leaders fall and this book gives some insights into why and how this happens.  I hope you read this book so we can chat about it together!

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

About this book:  In the overlooked moments and routines of our day, we can become aware of God’s presence in surprising ways. How do we embrace the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred?

Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us.

My thoughts: My reading this year has had a theme of finding holiness and meaning in everyday things. Tish reminds me that the mundane things I do everyday: making beds, doing laundry, brushing teeth and hunting down lost keys can point us to bigger truths.


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