Top 10 books I’ve read in 2018

But first –

Reading Tips for Busy Humans:

Don’t feel judged by your bedside table. Keep the pile manageable. When I was studying literature, I read up to ten books a week. When I had babies, I probably read three books a year. Don’t let your current season condemn you or make you arrogant. Capacity is a fluid thing. Do what you can do, and enjoy it.

Read. One. Book. At. A. Time. It’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll read and remember far more.

If a book is lousy, leave it. You will not hurt its feelings. I know I know – VERY hard if it’s in your DNA to finish what you start! But life’s too short to read bad books, or at least, books that don’t speak into your reality (or your real need for wholesome escapism from that reality).

Challenge yourself not to get caught in a filter bubble – only reading stuff you agree with. At the same time, reading should enrich you and strengthen your resolve to be the best version of you. Don’t keep on consuming words that detract, or distract, or undermine God’s work in your life.


Anyway –

I read three books each month this year, and these were my faves.

I’ve ranked them in order of how indelibly they impacted my worldview, how much they inspired my creativity, or how closely they drew me to Jesus. (These aren’t affiliate links.)

…*drum roll*…

10th place goes to…


It’s a tie! Between:

Made Like Martha by Katie M. Reid

This is such good news for women who get things done. The world needs Marthas as much as it needs Marys.


You have a soul by John Ortberg

Just beautiful.





Paperboy by Vince Vawter

I bought this for Cameron (10) and thought I better read it first. It engulfed me. So poignant. Exquisitely written, à la To Kill a Mockingbird.



Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

It’s crude here and there, and he drops the odd F-bomb. But if you can stomach that, it’s a profoundly sensitive, very telling, and obviously fairly hilarious memoir. Every South African should read it.

born a crime.jpg


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie’s word mastery left me breathless on some pages. She inspires me to write better and better and better. Again, not for the fainthearted. She tells it like it is. I don’t totally subscribe to her worldview, but I completely admire her tenacity and her brave exposé of the stories of African immigrants in developed nations.



The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Something of a sweeping family epic, set in Southeast Asia. It’s a story of physical and spiritual blindness, and incorruptible love. It will stay with you.

the art of hearing heartbeats.jpg


Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

This is an old one, with an updated edition. I wish I’d read it 25 years ago. I resisted it for ages because I thought the concept of boundaries smacked of self-preservation as opposed to laying-down-of-self. Truth bomb: Jesus had boundaries, and so should you. Without them, we can’t be all God’s called us to be.



Switch on Your Brain and Think and Eat Yourself Smart both by Caroline Leaf

I read these back to back. I love Leaf’s passion; I don’t so much love how it borders on propaganda. BUT, so much of what she says is so good. So I’m journaling my toxic thoughts and replacing them with life-giving truth. Plus, I bought a bread machine and my boys have had a whole school term of stone ground sandwiches. That is how much she convinced me that processed wheat is from the devil.





All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

If you’re fascinated by war history and humanity in general, oh my goodness, just buy it already. Excruciatingly beautiful in every way.

all the light


The Gospel-Centered Parent by Deborah Harrell, Jack Klumpenhower, and Rose Marie Miller

If you’re looking for practical parenting handles, this is not the book. If you’re looking for something that will challenge and change you, and the trajectory of your parenting, look no further. Brilliant for group study. This is the sort of manual-slash-book we should all read at least once a year, forever.

gospel parent


The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I read the young reader’s edition, with my boys. It had them begging, ‘Another chapter! Another chapter! Please please please one more chapter!’ It’s the dramatic true story of the American eight-oar rowing team that took gold against all odds at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. Grit, resilience, the triumph of the underdog, the payoff of sweat and perseverance, refusing to be mastered by circumstances – everything you’re trying to infuse in the hearts and minds of your kids? It’s all here. It made me cry.

boys in boat.jpg

. . .

Have you read something life-changing this year?

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