2018 Reading Challenge: The Best of 2018

I never imagined I would read 84 books in a single year. I am a full time physician with a 4 yr old and a 1 yr old that love life, a busy pastor husband, and a dog who deserves to be the next contestant on the dog whisperer. When do I have time to read?! The game changer for me has been audiobooks. I did some math. 68.8% of the books I read were audiobooks. My 12 minute commute, the rare 30-45 min ride on the bike trainer, and the occasional time I got to cook dinner without a chunky toddler in my arms got me through 55 books. Nick and I love listening to books together on trips. You can do it if I can do it!

Asking me to pick the absolute best single book I read this year would be impossible. Asking me to pick the best book in each genre MIGHT be doable, but that would still be difficult. I will pick 5 books from the 3 broad categories that I make my “To-Read” list from. I generally make myself read a) classics, b) personal development, and c) for fun. If I didn’t make myself read classics and for personal growth, I would submerse myself in fairy tales and historical WWII fiction until I lost complete touch with reality.

Top “For Fun” Reads:

I usually divide these into fiction and non-fiction, but after sitting down to make this list, I noticed that I did not read many non-fiction that I would put on a “Best of” list. Instead, I decided to divide the fiction into Historical Fiction and regular old fiction.

Top 3 Historical Fiction:

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

Nick, lover of non-fiction, and I, lover of all things fiction, were both captured by this book, which is actually based on a true story. I cannot wait until the movie comes out. You will definitely want to read the book first.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

There are terrible people in this world. The worst of them mistreat children. This book is about a real life person who profited from destitute families. This happened in MEMPHIS and not too terribly long ago. After reading this story, I completely understand the hoops one is required to jump through to be approved to adopt.

The Kitchen House

This is the first time I have read a historical fiction based on the years of slavery in America. It is hard to read this at times, but it was a great story.

Top 3 Fiction:

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I almost put this on the “classics” list because that is what this one will become. Parents must read it, then you must make your kids read it (who cares what age they are). Then go watch the movie. You can thank me later.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Sometimes books come at the right time in your life and this one came at the perfect time. I was coming out of a long list of heavy WWII fiction and stressed out a little in my personal life. This book was the perfect medicine for me at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I will admit that time/place may have been a large factor here.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

This one was a page turner. I didn’t just put this on here because Kimmery is awesome and did an interview with me and is also a physician mom like me, but the book is really incredible. You should take it on your next beach trip. Or mountain trip. Or the next time you get to take a bath or go to the bathroom without an audience… (I’m talking to you moms. You know that will never happen, so just wait for the beach trip.)

Best Non-Fiction:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

It is an unbelievable story. This disease is horrible and I am glad her book and movie brought so much attention to it. There is hope for some!

In Shock by Rana Awdish

This physician nearly died 4 times from different types of shock. Then she went a wrote a book about it. Every physician or anyone providing care to patients needs to read this. It will change the way you practice medicine.

Honorable Mention:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Last Train to Istanbul by by Ayse Kulin

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

Twain’s Feast by Audible Originals (I know, totally surprised me too)

The Book of Essie by Megan MacLean Weir

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Top 3 Classics:

I have to say… I slacked in the classics this year. Maybe because most of the ones I did read were a complete drag.

The Hobbit by J. R. Toilken

So this was was pretty great. I mean… if you call yourself a book nerd, this definitely has to be on your shelf.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

This is a great children’s book. As C. S. Lewis said, “A children’s book that is not worth reading at age 50 is not worth reading at age 10.”

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson

Such a good book. Quite a different book than I read when I was a kid. Perhaps it is that I am so much different than the 4th grader that read it initially.

Honorable Mention:

The Nutcracker- by Alexandre Dumas – a nice quick Christmas read

Night by Elie Wiesel

Top 3 Personal Development:

Love Does/Love Lives Here/Everybody Always by Bob and Maria Goff

Its my blog, so if I want this to count these three books as one, then I will. These three books changed the way I approach life. We tend to make being a “good christian” harder than it has to be. It really is as simple as loving your neighbor. When was the last time you loved your literal neighbor? The widow down the street? The person in the cubicle next to you? The lonely single adult that sits at the end of your church pew? The cashier that checks you out at the grocery store each week?

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

I had to read his for a physician leadership class. It should be required reading for anyone entering a management position, a job where they work with other people, a marriage, a friendship, parenthood… pretty much everyone needs to know the art of the crucial conversation. Just imagine how smooth life could be if nasty conflicts could be artfully avoided?

Of Mess and Moxie by Jenn Hatmaker

I enjoyed this one so incredibly much. I laughed until I cried. I said a handful of “amens!” to my empty car. I related so well with her that I was brought to empathetic tears. I felt understood. And then I didn’t feel so bad about myself as a mom, wife, Christ follower, and female in general.

Honorable mention:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp- must read for parents

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

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