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What I Read in the Second Half of 2018

What I Read in the Second Half of 2018

In 2018 I read a total of 87 books (47 in the first half and 40 in the second half). To see the books I read in the first half of the year, see this list I posted in July. The second half of the year is below. The books are listed by category (Spiritual Growth, Personal Interest, Book Club, and Homeschool), with my favorite titles near the top of each section. 

If you don’t have time to make your way through the entire list, my favorites are #1-11 on the Spiritual Growth list (you really must read #1-5) and #18-20 on the Personal Interest List. Also, don’t miss one of my very favorites, which is #35 on the Homeschool list.

Spiritual Growth Books

1. Bible: 5 stars. As I did in 2017, I read through the Bible in 2018. Except that I actually read it in six months, starting on July 1 (at first I wasn’t going to read through it this year, but then it felt weird to not have the plan and process, so I started late). Here’s the reading plan for 2019, which I will do again, starting on January 1st this time!

2. Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World by Timothy Keller: 5 stars. One of my favorite reads ever. You can’t beat Tim Keller, in my opinion. I reviewed it here.

3. Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey: 5 stars. One of my favorites this year. What a man Thomas Johnson was! A new hero of mine, for sure. I was so encouraged by his story. He should be as well known as Spurgeon himself—if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have Spurgeon.

4. A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin: 5 stars. Incredibly convicting and solid and encouraging. A must read for every believer. I reviewed it here.

5. Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry: 5 stars. One of my favorite reads this year, maybe ever. Still thinking about it, almost daily. I reviewed it here.

6. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James. K. A. Smith: 5 stars. I loved this book, especially the beginning and his discussion of cultural liturgies. I reviewed it here.

7. The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts by Joe Rigney: 5 stars. My husband and I both found this book to be helpful and encouraging. Rigney helps us embrace God’s good gifts and allow them to point us to seeing and savoring him. Clarifying and convicting and a solid addendum to John Piper’s Christian hedonism, which I fully embrace.

8. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin: 5 stars. Loved it. Wilkin writes with both theological depth and conversational clarity. I reviewed it here.

9. In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy by Melissa Kruger: 5 stars. I loved this Bible study and did it with about 20 other women this past fall. You should pick it for your next group study. I reviewed it here.

10. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson: 5 stars. My favorite book by Anderson, whom I met in October. She’s the real deal.

11. The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch: 5 stars. More than just a book about technology—a book about living and parenting with intentionality. Really helpful. My husband, myself, and three of our daughters (ages 15, 13, and 11) are reading this together right now.

12. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller: 5 stars. Excellent for preparing for Christmas.

13. All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson: 4.5 stars, Anderson is another female author who writes with both theological depth and conversational clarity. I reviewed this book here.

14. Here in Spirit: Knowing the Spirit Who Creates, Sustains, and Transforms Everything by Jonathan Dodson: 4.5 stars. A helpful look at the Holy Spirit. If you click on the Amazon link you can read my review there.

15. Letters to the Church by Francis Chan: 4 stars. A bit hyperbolic as Chan is wont to do. But helpful questions and things to consider.

16. Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way out of the Mormon Church by Lynn Wilder: 4 stars. This was compelling. It’s memoir and Mormon theology by an Atheist turned Mormon turned Christian. You should read it if you’d like to grow in your knowledge of Mormonism. I reviewed it here.

17. Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed by Sara Hagerty: 3.5 stars. A good read, especially for adoptive moms and women who have derived their identity from their works and efforts. I reviewed it here.

Personal Interest Books

18. The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine: 5 stars: This is a must read for middle and upper class parents. Please, all my friends who fit that description, read this right away. I think my friend Melissa Kruger (TGC Editor) originally mentioned this book in a breakout session on parenting teens.

19. Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior: 4.5 stars. I loved learning about Hannah More. What a hero. And Swallow Prior is a strong woman too. I reviewed this book here.

20. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: 4.5 stars. Powerful and painful. A helpful read for us who are in the majority culture.

21. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: 4.5 stars. I love Jane Austen. This is a good one.

22. How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie and Associates: 4 stars. I read this with my 15 year old in an attempt for us to both better understand American culture and friendships. I enjoyed it. The principles are actually quite biblical. Basically, genuinely care about other people and they will likely care about you. Put them first. Be there to serve, not to be served.

23. Small Great Things: A Novel by Jody Picoult: 4 stars. This was my first time reading Piccoult, who I gather is very popular. It was a good read. Helpful especially for anyone trying to understand what white privilege is all about.

24. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport: 4 stars. Helpful. Essentially, put your phone down, turn off notifications, and get your work done. You can do so for an efficient four hours a day or so.

25. On Writing by Stephen King: 4 stars. Really interesting and quite helpful. Full of bad language, just so you know!

26. White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill: 4 stars. Helpful insight from a white pastor who wanted to make a difference in the inner city. Good motives, but bad methods led to some helpful lessons learned.

27. Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock: 4 stars. A very light read for the Christmas season. It was cute and sweet and kind of a Christian (but not really overtly) Hallmark story for Christmastime.

28. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: 3 stars. I wanted to love this book because my mom and a good friend love this book. It felt slow to me, though. Interesting insight into historical immigrant Brooklyn. It picked up pace about halfway through. Just not captivating to me.

29. Jayber Crow by Wendell Barry: 3 stars. I don’t know how to confess this. No doubt some of you will never forgive me. I don’t love the way Wendall Barry writes and I don’t love his settings and characters and I’m not likely to read him again. I’m sorry. I’m certain it’s a flaw with me, not him.

30. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile: 3 stars. I read it. It was interesting. I’m probably a 7. I can tolerate it. But personality tests rub me the wrong way.

31. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci: 3 stars. Entertaining. A good mystery. A bit worldly.

Book Club

32. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: 5 stars. So fascinating and painful, as it’s true. Part memoir, part history. An important read. I reviewed it here.

33. Confessions of a Domestic Failure: A Novel by Bunmi Laditan: 3.5 stars. Laditan nails the stereotypical overwhelmed stay at home mom character in all her glory. I did laugh out loud several times. It was a fluffy and funny read. Not great writing. Maybe a fun beach vacation read.

34. Plainsong by Kent Haruf: 3 stars. Haruf is hailed as a local hero here in Colorado. It was interesting to read this, as the setting is the eastern plains in my home state. It was easy to visualize. But his writing felt slow and I didn’t love his characters and I don’t want to read the sequel.


35. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love by Milton Vincent: 5 stars. I would give this book more than 5 stars if I could. Such rich gospel truth. I will be reading it again and again with and without my kids. I’d encourage every believer to get a copy and read it a page at a time all the way through, over and over.

36. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park: 4.5 stars. Good read for Korean history.

37. Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide: 4.5 stars. We always enjoy reading the books in this series during Advent. A longtime family tradition. Good for elementary through middle school.

38. Story of God for Kids by Jeff Vanderstelt: 4 stars. A good book to read through with elementary and middle-school aged kids. From Genesis through Revelation, it’s the story fo God. I don’t think it’s available anywhere anymore, though. It was originally published by Saturate.

39. God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanne Williamson: 4 stars. Good read for Egyptian history.

40. Beyond the Desert Gate by Mary Ray: 4 stars. Good read for Roman history.

5 stars = I loved the book and heartily recommend it.

4 stars = I liked it, but I'm not necessarily raving over it.

3 stars = Ho-hum.

2 stars = I have some hesitations.

1 star = Don't bother. 

No book received below 3 stars. My husband says I’m not a very objective scorer. He’s probably right.

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