Today I share my favorite books I read in 2018. Every year around this time, I comb through my notes and lists of books read in the past 12 months and recommend some great reads, either for your own personal edification or as a Christmas gift for a loved one. I love seeing book lists from others and usually find a few books to add to my reading list. I hope this post encourages you to do the same.
To help me track books read in any given year, I keep a list of books in an Evernote file (i.e., Books Read 2018, Books Read 2017, etc). I type out the name of the book, the author, and the format of reading (hard copy, audiobook, or Kindle). I jot a few notes for each finished book to help remind me what I liked or didn’t like about a book. And, I keep a running list of books I want to read in the future. I just started dabbling in Goodreads this year and I like what I see so far!
Like years past, these books are not necessarily written or published in 2018. Rather, these books make my list if I read it in 2018. Simple enough. And, for the second year in a row, I got the infamous Kristen Kedersha to share a few of her favorites (check out Kristen’s Korner below).
A couple of thoughts before I dive in to sharing my list.
- I love reading. It’s my #1 favorite hobby and there’s no close second place. Reading relaxes, challenges, and encourages me. It gets me through workouts and gives me reasons to get up early and stay up late. All that to say, I get a little geeked out with this post every year.
- I know your time is limited. When I put together a list like this, I hope it helps you cut through all the noise out there. There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the USA alone (Whaaaaaaaaaat??!?!!?). This short list is an accumulation of one man’s favorites—just one person’s humble opinion. Part of the reason I put this list together is to be helpful and to give some recommendations.
- I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for writers this year. I’ve learned to appreciate good writing (thank you writers like Jackie Hill Perry and Leif Enger). After writing Ready or Knot I have a much greater understanding of the beauty of good writing of something engaging and helpful.
Like last year, instead of ranking these in order, I’ve awarded each of these favorite books a superlative to help describe why it lands on my list.
My Favorite Books I Read in 2018
The Most Convicting Book I Read This Year. I read Eric Geiger’s book How to Ruin Your Life: And Starting Over When You Do at exactly the right time. I picked-up this book the same week I saw a friend make decisions that began to ruin his life. The warnings Geiger provides through looking at the life of King David challenged me to walk more closely with the Lord, my wife and family, and friends. At the same time, also through looking at the life of David, Geiger provides hope in the darkness. You can read my review here.
My Co-Favorite Marriage Book I Read This Year. If you’ve tracked along with me on this blog for any period of time, you know how much I appreciate the ministry of Ryan and Selena Frederick of Fierce Marriage. Check out their book, podcast (I listen weekly), and website. We read this book with our Foundation Group, and I really appreciated the way they “marry” the combination of being both hopeful and helpful in their writing. You can read my review here.
My Co-Favorite Marriage Book I Read This Year. Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work, by Kevin A Thompson. I wrote a review of this book in October, and the book helped spark a question I’ve asked many couples recently. How can you best grow in loving your spouse—by being a better friend, partner, or lover? Great examples and very practical in his approach to marriage and helping couples.
My Favorite “Based on a True Story” Book I Read This Year. This was such a page turner! Like The Nightingale (my favorite read from 2016), Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan tells the story of a forgotten hero from the war against the Nazis. The book tells the heroic story of a young man named Pino Lella and how he repeatedly risks his life for the benefit (and life) of others. I read books like this on the Kindle, so you may want to check it out, especially since it’s only $5.99 on Kindle!
My Favorite Memoir I Read in 2018 (and my #1 Favorite Book I Read This Year). I’ve seen many rave about it online and a close friend highly recommended it to me, but I had no idea how much I would love the book Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been, by Jackie Hill Perry. Through telling her story of finding wholeness in Christ, with outstanding writing and deep authenticity, Jackie tells about a Good God who loves us more than we can imagine. She communicates the gospel and a theology of who God is through the raw telling of her own story. Read the book and for an extra bonus, listen to her read it. She is a writer and artist with a powerful voice and even more powerful story.
My Favorite Book to Recommend to Others. Repping for my friend and co-laborer Jonathan Pokulda here! Kristen and I bought and gave away more copies of this book then any other book I’ve ever read. Welcome to Adulting: Navigating Faith, Friendship, Finances, and the Future, is an incredible guide for any millennial (and now Gen Z) who becomes an adult. Through scripture, authentic stories, and his own journey, JP provides necessary counsel for any man or woman entering into adulthood. See my review here.
My Favorite Book on Productivity and How to Focus on What Matters. Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day was a really helpful and fun read! I liked the way the authors, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, each gave their recommendations on how to do work that matters. The book was very visually pleasing with drawings and charts to help illustrate their points. While I don’t agree with everything in the book, I walked away with a great collection of ideas to implement in my job and life to help me get the right stuff done at home and work.
My Favorite Leadership Book I Read in 2018. I’m so glad I read High Impact Teams: Where Healthy Meets High Performance by Lance Witt. I read his first book Replenish a few years ago, and thought there was no way his next book would live up. Well I was wrong! A cool feature of this book is that the chapters are short (5-6 pages). I read through a chapter every day along with my bible reading and journaling. He provided great wisdom on how to be a better leader and how to set the right culture for your team.
The Book I’m Glad I Finally Read. I stopped counting the number of times I’d heard I needed to read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger a long time ago. Great characters and dialogue and incredible writing. I’m glad I finally listened to all the recommendations. This was the book I thought about when I wasn’t reading and couldn’t wait to finish to see how it all ended.
And now, back for round 2 in 2018, Kristen Kedersha!
My Favorite (and Only) Daily Devotional Book I Read in 2018. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional, by Paul David Tripp. I appreciated Tripp’s thought-provoking, authentic, daily insight into his own challenges and the centrality of the gospel in our lives. The devotionals are brief but pack a punch!
My Favorite Parenting Read in 2018. Are My Kids on Track?: The 12 Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach, by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, & Melissa Trevathan. This is the only book I’ve ever seen that addresses different types of milestones (emotional, social, and spiritual) and the stumbling blocks many children and parents face in their efforts to reach those milestones. Great practical suggestions and each chapter is divided into boys and girls.
The Book that Most Challenged my Perspective on Daily Living. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, by Brant Hansen. We read this book with our community group this year. Hanson encourages the reader to give up their ‘right’ to be angry/offended and to instead choose joy and gratitude. Brant is a radio guy, so he has a great narrator voice if you’re into Audiobooks.
- One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Woods (Fiction) – Heartfelt story of a young boy, his dad, and a 100-year old lady. No description will do this sweet book any justice.
- The Captain Class, by Sam Walker – Combined sports, leadership, and many references to the greatest power forward to play in the NBA, Tim Duncan. Win Win Win.
- The Loyalist Team, by Linda Adams et al – This book was written for the workplace but it had so many implications for marriage and friendships. Read my review here.
- Your Best Year Ever, by MIchael Hyatt – I like Hyatt’s approach to setting goals and having your best year. He puts his online class in book form – a much more cost effective way to have your best year ever.
- If You Only Knew, by Jamie Ivey – Very authentic memoire—her transparency is so refreshing! Read my review here.
- 30 Days to Understanding the Bible, by Max Anders – A class re-released in 2018 – loved his approach to providing an overview of the Bible and the story of God. Check out my review here.
- I’d Rather Be Reading, by Anne Bogel – Great read for my fellow book nerds out there! See my review here.
And last… A few I’m planning on reading in 2019!
- Endurance, by Alfred Lansing – The story of Ernest Shackleton and the crew he led to Antarctica. I just started this one – loving it so far.
- Atomic Habits, by James Clear – Another one I just started. Love his approach to habits so far – don’t set goals, but rather change your systems and habits.
- In His Image, by Jen Wilkin – Jen is a great writer and teacher of God’s Word. In this book she shares 10 ways God calls us to reflect His character.
- On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books, by Karen Swallow Prior – She is a great writer and I’ve seen many like-minded folks recommend this new one.
- And of course… this one. I can’t wait to get this bad boy in my hands and I’m excited to get it in your hands as well! Ready Or Knot? coming at you on February 5, 2019!
- And so many others! #ReadingNerd
I have several of these books to give away. If you leave your name and your favorite book you read in 2018 below or on the corresponding posts on Facebook or Instagram, I’ll enter your name into a drawing for the following books (5 different winners!). Plus, I’ll giveaway a copy of my book, Ready or Knot? when it comes out on February 5th.
- Fierce Marriage
- Best Year Ever
- Welcome to Adulting
- Friends, Partners, and Lovers
- The Tech-Wise Family (from last year’s list)
- Ready or Knot?
Note to readers: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a very small kickback on any purchases you make through these links (at no extra cost to you). I need some way to recoup a small percentage of the money I spend on this blog every year and any purchases you make help keep this writing ministry going.
- What did you read this year you recommend to others? What should I read?
- As you think about books and reading, what makes a book stand out to you?