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The Books of 2018

In the Beginning

Snuggled deep under blankets, my favorite stuffed animal tucked close beside me, his voice read on. The story pulled me in. A mouse and a boy and a toy motorcycle. It felt like adventure. Adventure neatly bound between two brightly colored covers. From Ralph S. Mouse and The Mouse and the Motorcycle we moved to other books. And so it began.

Growing up, my dad faithfully read books to my brother and me every evening. Multiple bedtime stories each night became my right. I distinctly remember negotiating how many stories he’d read on any given night until my love of books was as natural as my appreciation of clean air.

The Challenge

It’s a tradition I now continue with my own children, and already I have two little readers who relentlessly beg for “One more story!!” or “One more chapter!” But, in reading all of these stories with my girls (which I love!!) I somehow lost my own personal reading time. It seemed that other things were always more important than sitting down with a good book. I missed reading but never did anything about it.

Until last year, that is. In 2018 I launched my business and with it entered completely unknown territory. Not reading became not an option, so I set a goal to read 30 books in 2018. It seemed like a big enough number to require effort but not so big that I’d never manage it. I read some books that I really loved. Other books have a number of dog-eared pages with a bit of text I want to artistically write down and hang in my home because the words just resonated that deeply with me. Other books weren’t quite so impressive. I read parenting books and business books and the occasional fiction book, and today I thought I’d do a quick write-up of these 30 books complete with a 1-5 star rating.

So, if you’ve also set a reading goal for this year and are looking for some material to add to it, maybe something here will catch your fancy. I’m dividing them by category, so you can pick exactly what most interests you.

Business Books

  1. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea    * * * * *

    I loved this book! It was a super quick, easy read, and I read it on the recommendation of a very successful wedding photography duo. Whether you’re in business or not, I highly recommend this book.

  2. Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose.    * * * *

    I enjoyed this one, too! It wasn’t as life-changing as I’d heard, but it was definitely a good book. I loved how she shared her story and used it to empower others.

  3. Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff    * * * * *

    Disclaimer: I, like most of America, love Chip and Joanna. I was so excited to read this one! While it didn’t have the explicit business advice I was anticipating, it did have great material for life. And it was written in Chip’s funny way, so it felt like (what I’d imagine) a conversation with him would be like. Loved it!

  4. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers     * * * * *

    So this is a GIANT book. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t read it cover-to-cover mostly because that’s not how it’s designed to be read. This book is basically his brain-dump of notes from interviewing some of the most successful people in the world. He recommends reading what interests you at any given time. So, while I didn’t read the whole thing, I did read 200+ pages of it, so I’m counting it as read since each of the other books had an average of 200 or so pages. Regardless, this book is awesome. It’s a must just to have as a reference on the shelf.

  5. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen     * * * * *

    Another great book! I loved his unique perspective on building a successful business that communicates exactly what you offer.

  6. The Greatest Salesman in the World     * * * * *

    Ok, so in all honesty I just really love this author. Og Mandino has a wonderful way of sharing insights wrapped up in what feels like a sweet story. This book and it’s sequel didn’t disappoint. This is the main one where I dog-eared pages to write out passages and display in my house.

  7. The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part II: The End of the Story     * * * * *

    See above

  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People * * * * *

    I’m taking a business course right now, and this one was recommended by the people leading the course. I agree with them that it should really just be called “How To Love People Well.”

Parenting Books:

  1. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient Kids     * * * * *

    I LOVED this book. It was probably my favorite parenting book of 2018, and it has inspired us to embrace even the coldest and wettest days to get outside. It also has me dreaming of an amazing nature-based playground in our yard when we buy our next house.

  2. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids     * * *

    This book was ok. I loved the points they made, but I feel like we were already doing a lot of it, so it didn’t really affect our parenting much.

  3. Parenting with Love and Logic     * * *

    I love the concept of giving kids choices, and it’s something we really try to incorporate. But, some of their other principles felt like holding a grudge against your kids. I’m sure that’s not how they meant it; it just didn’t really super applicable to little ones as young as my girls. I’ll probably re-read it when my kiddos are 8+ and maybe I’ll have a different opinion of it then!

  4. The Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming     * * * * *

    I loved this book. I read it right after we moved into our apartment, and it really made me want to create a life-giving home no matter our space.

  5. The Danish Way of Parenting     * *

    I thought I was going to love this book, but I felt like all it said was what Danes believe about parenting and lacked any practical advice.

  6. The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of our Children     * * *

    This is another one that gave me mixed feelings. I loved the basic principles she outlined, but sometimes Sally feels like she’s on a level of amazing motherhood that mere mortals will never achieve. 🙂 She’s a hero! I want to more like her! But it feels like she doesn’t really struggle with…anything. Ha! I’m sure that’s not true since she’s a human, but I had a hard time relating to her as a mom. Still, the book had a lot of things that I incorporate into raising my girls to know and love Jesus.

  7. Positive Parenting; And Essential Guide     * *

    I honestly don’t even remember reading this one. I know that I did, but nothing about it stood out to me.

Personal Books/Autobiographies:

  1. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living     * * * *

    I really enjoyed this book. I think we could all “leave behind frantic” and find a lot of benefit from it!

  2. The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country     * * * *

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’m fascinated by Scandinavian culture. I thought this was an interesting, surface-level study of something I already find interesting.

  3. How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease     * * * * *

    This book was fascinating!! The author recommends a fully plant-based, whole-foods diet. We followed that for about 8 months, but it left Husband with low energy and just not feeling his best. I, however, felt amazing! So we’ve found a happy medium of whole-foods that combine Paleo and 80% plant-based eating. It works for us. 🙂 The girls, however, still eat chesse, yogurt, sprouted grains, etc. because I don’t think super restrictive diets are the best for growing little ones. And the occasional treat, too, because few things delight my heart like taking my girls on a little mommy-daughter date.

  4. Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World     * * * * * * * * * *

    Yes, I did just give this book 10 out of 5 stars. It was that good. It was my favorite book of all of 2018. READ THIS BOOK! Seriously. Buy it now. (That’s not an affiliate link. I just loved this book that much. It revived our nearly-continuous conversation of when, how, and for how long we’ll go back on the mission field. Tanzania is calling, y’all, and we’re ready to answer.


  1. Varina     * * * * *

    This was a fictitious account of Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis who was the President of the Confederacy during the Civil War. I really enjoyed this book. It’s by Charles Frazier, who also wrote Cold Mountain which will always be one of my favorite books. This one was almost as good as Cold Mountain. It was fascinating to read about a southern woman during the Civil War who actually disagreed with everything the Confederacy stood for. It made me thing about what values I hold but don’t stand up for.

  2. The Handmaid’s Tale    * *

    This book confirmed for me that I really don’t like dystopian novels. If that’s your jam, you’ll love this one. It’s not my jam.

  3. The Last Sin-Eater     * * * *

    This was a good one. It held my attention the whole time, and, even though I fully understood the metaphor and knew exactly where she was taking the story, I still loved it.

  4. The Horse and His Boy     * * * * *

    You just can’t beat C. S. Lewis, and this is my very favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia.

  5. The Light of Eidon     * * * * *

    This book is a series with the following three books, and I think it’s my favorite of the series. It’s another allegory that I’d compare to the Chronicles of Narnia, and I loved it. Fiction doesn’t usually affect my faith, but this one challenged me and led me to seek a deeper relationship with Christ. But, it’s not an in-your-face Christian book. If your preference is to read just for the sake of reading then you could definitely still enjoy this series.

  6. The Shadow Within     * * * * *

    See above

  7. Shadow Over Kiriath     * * * *

    I love the first 2/3 of this book, but that final third (SPOILER ALERT!!) is where all goes wrong, and it tears me up. I almost wish the books just ended on a happy note 2/3 into this story.

  8. Return of the Guardian-King     * * *

    Ok, so I still LOVE this series and would totally read it again! But this book felt like everything that could cause a set-back did, and it drove me a little crazy. SPOILER ALERT It does all end well, but it took wayyyyy too long to get there.

  9. Ross Poldark     * * * *

    I started watching Poldark on Amazon Prime while editing, and I really enjoyed it. But, the TV show ended on a but of a cliff-hanger, so I started reading the books to catch up and find out how it all ends. I didn’t get very far because our library doesn’t have them all. But, if you like the show, it’s based very closely on the books, so you’ll probably like the books, too.

  10. Demelza     * * * *

    See above.

  11. Jeremy Poldark     * * * *

    See above

So, what did you read and LOVE in 2018! I’m making my 2019 reading goal list and am taking recommendations!!


January 15, 2019

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