The year winds down, and annual reading lists abound. As always, I took time to look back over my own reading year. Compiling such a list was more challenging than it has been in the past since I no longer read exclusively on my Kindle. I also returned to the library, and they keep no record kept of books I check out. (Note to self: keep your own list next year.)
Nevertheless, as I looked back over my reading year, I was surprised to find that it was comprised mostly of non-fiction reads and, for the most part, I stayed away from current bestseller lists. I don’t know what any of that means, or if it means anything at all. It was just interesting.
Instead of a complete list, I thought I’d share ten books that had the most impact, or that I enjoyed the most, this year. It’s an eclectic mix. Perhaps, you might enjoy some of them too. I’d love to hear about your own “best reads” of the year and, if you’ve read any of the ones on my list, what you thought of them.
Here, in no particular order, are my top reads of 2018.
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis
This little book gets the prize for the one I logged the most hours reading this year. It’s the one I turn to in the quiet hours in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. It inspires me, and reminds me of timeless truth. I’ve read, reread, and will continue to read it again and again.
Mennonites Don’t Dance, by Darcie Friesen Hossack
I loved this short story collection so much that, after I finished reading a borrowed library copy, I bought a print copy for myself. Hossack’s writing is breathtakingly beautiful. The way the words flow, and the unexpected twists in the stories themselves, are simply stunning.
Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life, by Robert Benson
I love the easy way that Robert Benson has with words (this isn’t the only one of his I read this year). This book is about the craft of writing, and it gently touches on how faith influences the art of wrangling words. It is another one that’s worth more than just one pass through.
Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas, by John Blase
This is a perfect little book to sit with in December. It introduces wonder into the Christmas story through Eugene Peterson’s The Message, and John Blase’s beautiful prose. This will be an end-of-year go to book from now on.
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
This is the incredible story of a dysfunctional family and a young woman who rose above and out. Westover was deprived of traditional schooling as a child, but ultimately obtained a PhD in intellectual history and political thought. Her journey was not without cost. Her story serves as an inspiration to anyone.
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler
Diagnosed at age thirty-five with stage IV colon cancer, Kate Bowler begins the real and raw battle for her life. At the same time, as if that isn’t enough, she works through prosperity-gospel beliefs to get to the core of real, deep, and abiding faith.
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle
This is another one, I read and reread this year, virtually highlighting practically the entire thing. L’Engle’s classic book is about God, faith, living well, and creatively. So many nuggets of truth, and so much inspiration here.
The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
This book made me want to steal away to a little writing cottage somewhere, for an extended period of silence and solitude in which to wrangle and wrestle with words. It’s the second time I read this book, the time was right and it spoke far louder this time. Another one to read more than once.
The Jubilee: Poems, by John D. Blase
Oh, the sweetness of John Blase’s poetry. This little book is on the corner of my writing desk. I pick it up for inspiration, and to experience the sheer magic of what words can do when they are strung together just so. You can find more of John Blase’s words–both poetry and prose–on his blog, The Beautiful Due (https://johnblase.com/).
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
I know. I’m late to the party on discovering this book. It is, hands down, my best fiction selection of the year and worth the wait.
So there you go. I’d love it if you’d share the title of a book (or books) that spoke to you this year too.