If we’ve been connected for a while then you know the story behind this recommended reading post. In the past I’ve called it, “The Resolution I Kept.” The resolution was to “keep track of books I read.” But it’s really turned into an annual conversation about books we read and loved (or didn’t love).
A speaker once asked his audience, “Do you think you’re rich?” Most people answer ‘no’ based on their bank balance. The speaker countered, “If you can read that book you bought, you are rich.”
We live in a time when unsold books are turned into pulp and recycled into other books. We live in a country where styles, topics, and creative works of every variety abound. And we are educated to such a degree that reading is as involuntary as breathing (Don’t read this. See what I mean?)
Indeed, we are rich.
Of the 21 titles listed below, I’ve highlighted my top two favorite fiction and nonfiction books of 2018. The remaining 17 books are listed below in the order I read them, not the order of preference. (The links below are affiliate links, which means Amazon pays me a small percentage simply for directing you to their store, but you are not charged one penny extra.)
Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul
by Hannah Anderson
Hannah Anderson is a gardener and biblical thinker. In Humble Roots she combines her interests with her gift of writing. Each chapter features a horticultural wonder that parallels truths about the Christian life. I enjoyed the analogies that point to the fact that humility, rest, and peace are linked by God’s design. She writes, “The goal of Humble Roots is to understand how pride manifests itself in anxiety and restlessness; and how humility frees us from the cycle of stress, performance, and competition.” (P. 12)
Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope
by Katherine Elizabeth Clark
I heard a radio interview with Katherine Clark and made a mental note of her title in my unreliable memory until I could order the book. Where I End is the story of God’s faithfulness and care for Katherine and her family as they survive the tragedy of Katherine’s serious injury. It is also a vibrant and refreshing testimony that faithfulness to God in the midst of suffering is not only possible, but beautiful and inspiring. I’m so thankful she wrote this book.
Before We Were Yours: A Novel
by Lisa Wingate
This was easily my favorite book of 2018 and was recommended by the most voracious reader I know, Yolanda Smith (follow her on Instagram for her monthly-ish recommendations). My past favorites are linked my a common and surprising theme. I adore books that are emotionally gripping, but there’s generally an element of heartbreaking tragedy that always makes me feel a little guilty saying “I LOVED IT!”
From the back cover: “Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.”
A descendant of one of the orphaned survivors follows the buried clues of separated siblings and seeks to uncover the truth to reunite those who remain. This is a fantastic read. You don’t have to take my word for it. 8,000+ reviewers on Amazon agree with me!
The Prisoner in the Third Cell
by Gene Edwards
This is a novella, “told as an unforgettable drama, for those caught up in circumstances they do not understand.” (From the back cover.) Obviously you know my love for biblical fiction and this is the fictionalization of John the Baptist, believer, servant, forerunner of Christ as he sat in prison wondering about Jesus, who did not live up to John’s expectations. Does that sound harsh? Heretical? Consider this:
“John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (Matthew 11:3, MSG)
It’s confounding at first glance. It set me on a search and John’s story became a chapter in my upcoming book, Remarkable Hope.
Speaking of Remarkable Hope, it’s now available for preorder, and I have links to three online retailers here. If you purchase today it will be shipped to you on March 5–release day! In the next few weeks I’ll have some surprises and free bonuses to celebrate the “birth” of the book, so to speak.
While you wait for your copy to arrive, here are the rest of the titles I read in 2018. Happy reading in 2019!
What books do you recommend? (comment below or email me!)
Four Seasons in Rome, Anthony Doerr
Everybody Always, Bob Goff
Understanding Teaching: Creatively Prompting Biblical Life-Change, Gregory C. Carlson Ph.D. (As a former student of Dr. Carlson’s, I had the privilege of endorsing this one!!)
The Surprising Grace of Disappointment, John Koessler
Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again, Andrew M Davis
All the Pretty Things, Edie Wadsworth
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
A Place to Land, Kate Motaung
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy, Timothy Keller
Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms, Challies, Tim
It’s All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible, Jennifer Dukes Lee
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson
About Grace, Anthony Doerr
Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin
The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers
Flirting with the Forbidden, Steven James
Meeting the Mystery, Steven James
Need more recommendations? More lists and favorites linked below!