miss out on my annual top books post, especially when I’ve enjoyed
reading several other bloggers’ great lists. For my 2018 countdown
of books that impacted me the most out of all those I read, I’m
doing the top 13 plus some honorable mentions. I read 66 books, short
stories, plays, and editing manuscripts this year.
First, the honorable mentions: Shakespeare’s The Tempest and
MacBeth, Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic, and Leif
Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome.
And now the countdown:
pulse-pounding mystery made it to the list of America’s 100
best-loved novels, according to the Great American Read put on by
PBS. It was eerie in a psychological, character-driven sort of way,
and like everyone else who reads it, I asked myself in every chapter,
“Who will be next? Will there
be anyone left at the end?” Definitely a memorable whodunit that
satisfied my thirst for a thought-provoking mystery.
was introduced to a new-to-me author this year, D. E. Stevenson, a
niece of Robert Louis Stevenson. Her books are light, cozy, and
heart-warming, the types of novels you picture reading with a cup of
tea in a British cottage garden. Celia’s House
focuses on a growing family who inherits an estate in the Scottish
Border Country from their aunt Celia in the early 1900s. It follows
them as the children are born, grow up, and have adventures, all the
while emphasizing the importance of family ties.
Few of us who live in the States often think about the U.S.
territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana
Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This book was enlightening and
entertaining as it delved into the history and current conditions of
the five territories. I found value in being informed about these
far-flung islands and discovering what we share. (Warning: language
in a few chapters.)
A semi-fictionalized biography, this tells the story of Anna
Leonowens, an amazing Englishwoman who taught for five years in the
Siamese court in the 1860s. Beloved movies were based off this book.
I was inspired by Mrs. Leonowens’s faith in God and courageous
perseverance to make a difference, and I was fascinated by the
glimpse into this exotic country I knew little about.
The Jewish roots of Christianity are very important to me, and I
found this book to be an accessible study of the Jewish understanding
of the Bible and how it seamlessly fits Jesus’ worldview. Tverberg
excels at explaining Hebraisms and making them relevant to
Christians, enriching our reading of the Bible and reigniting our
excitement for God’s truth. Read my review here.
Admittedly, this book was hard to get through at times, between being
graphic and pessimistic. I gave it only 3.5 stars because of that.
But I was impressed with the author’s objectivity and thoroughness.
In my opinion (and the opinion of many others throughout the
centuries and millennia), Jerusalem is the most important city in the
world, and I love learning about it, even if it’s impossible to
cover every detail of its history. This book did a fine job and
filled in the many holes in my historical knowledge. Read my review here.
is a very different novel from Jane
but they both demonstrate Charlotte Brontë’s genius and make her
one of the classic novelists I admire the most. Shirley
is full of richly developed characters and complicated relationships
set against a backdrop of early nineteenth-century England, when the
Napoleonic wars raged abroad and conflicts between mill owners and
mill workers raged at home. My favorite part of the book, however,
was the friendship between vivacious landowner Shirley Keeldar and
gentle minister’s niece Caroline Helstone. It’s one of the best
literary female friendships I’ve ever read. Read my review here.
Although it may not be as respected now as it has been over the past
century and a half, I saw a lot of great things in this book. Before
slavery was abolished, when half of America supported it and hardly
any white person considered black people as equals, Uncle Tom’s
Cabin entered the scene and became the best-selling novel of the
19th century. It profoundly moved the United States. It
was one of the first novels to put African Americans in heroic
positions, and though there was still a long road ahead and we’re
still working on race relations now, this book was groundbreaking.
Uncle Tom’s faith in God and his life witness were inspiring.
I read this book for the first time about ten years ago and found it
influential as I struggled with my faith and what it means to follow
God. This year, the second time through was almost as rich and
affected me in slightly different ways. Above all, I found conviction
and encouragement to live and love selflessly. Catherine Marshall’s
writing is mature and beautiful as she word-paints images you can
experience with the senses of your mind and creates characters you
can know and understand.
always amazes me. In every novel, he creates a whole world—full of
intriguing fictional characters as individual and quirky as real
people; situations that seem disparate but intertwine as the story
progresses, revealing mysteries and tying characters together in
satisfying endings; and details that make everything come alive.
is no exception, but the best part in my opinion is Esther Summerson.
I learned valuable lessons from her sweet, unconscious humility and
charity. In fact, every single character and puzzle piece of this book was interesting to me. It’s sad, funny, intriguing, and inspirational by turns. It could have been longer and I wouldn’t have minded. Read my review here.
The title says it all. God uses our suffering to make us into
diamonds. None of us choose to go through hard circumstances, but
we can choose how we cope and nurture our relationship with God in
the midst of them. This book is geared toward teens who are
chronically ill, but any Christian can read it and benefit. Sara
Willoughby is the perfect person to write it, as she is a teenager
who suffers from Lyme disease and other health issues. She shares how
to navigate chronic illness with a healthy perspective fixed firmly
on God, demonstrating how trials like that can bring us closer to
This spiritual classic has been on my to-read list for years, and I
was not disappointed when I finally read it this year. From the
existence of God to the rationale for morality to the root of sin, it
wades deep (but not too deep) into the beautiful mysteries of
Christianity. Not only a logical defense for belief, it’s
compelling and convicting, inspiring love and awe for God and the
desire to be a better follower of His. This is worth reading over and
Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroes. This well-written book (which I read for the second time) tells the
story of how she and her family, in obedience to God, risked their
lives in the Dutch resistance, saving the lives of His people the
Jews when the Nazis sought to destroy them. Her story is incredibly
faith-building as she tells how the Lord worked during those
excruciatingly difficult years. She and her family learned many
lessons—love for enemies, joy in the little mercies, faith that God
knows what He’s doing and will bring His children triumphantly
through trials they could never survive on their own.
you read any of these books? What are your top reads of 2018?