One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 was to read 35 books, and I DID IT! This year I actually read more non-fiction books than fiction, which I never thought would happen. Being out of school for a significant amount of time has shifted my leisure-reading interests a bit because I really miss learning. It’s amazing to me that you can pick up a book and learn pretty much anything you want to, and I definitely took advantage of that this year. (See my post on my passion for nutrition when I read How Not to Die HERE.) However, with all the work and freelance work I do, there is nothing like the escape of fiction.
Here are my my top five picks from 2018:
These are technically two books, but I’m grouping them together because Everybody, Always is basically a continuation of Love Does. Bob Goff is a lawyer at his own firm, a professor at two universities, the Hon. Consul to Uganda, and founder of a non-profit that fights crimes against children in Uganda and India called Restore International. More than his impressive resume, however, Goff is just an insanely good and faithful person. Each chapter of these books chronicles a different adventure in his life where he leans into whimsy and away from being “typical.” Goff illustrates that the best way to love people (especially those who are hard to love or we don’t want to love) is to simply be present for them. My copies of these books have annotations all over the place because it all just made sense to me. Bob Goff is definitely a kindred spirit, because he put into words what I have been feeling about faith for a long time now.
“I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it is about being present and making a sacrifice. Perhaps that’s why Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel – “God with us.” I think that’s what God had in mind, for Jesus to be present, to just be with us. It’s also what He has in mind for us when it comes to other people.”
- Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ– Giulia Enders
Did you know that your mouth has so many nerve endings that simply eating a strawberry would be excruciatingly painful if saliva didn’t contain natural pain killers? I sure didn’t until I read Gut! Our bodies are truly amazing, and I had such a fun time learning all about the digestive system, which is an underrated key to health and wellness. Healthy gut, healthy everything else. Seriously, read this book and go get yourself some probiotics.
This was a re-read for me because it is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s set in the mid-20’s and centers around an ex-patriot living in Paris named Jake, who suffers from war injuries that make his previous life impossible. The novel follows the stories of him and his friends as they navigate through Paris and to the running of the bulls in Spain. In particular, Hemingway focuses on the relationship between the narrator and ellusive Lady Brett Ashley. They are in love with each other, but know they can never be together. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. One of the reasons this book is my favorite is because I believe it contains the best last line in literature:
“Oh Jake,” Brett said, “We could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly, pressing Brett against me.
“Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
- The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
While there were a few times this book made me roll my eyes, I really had a hard time putting it down. It was such a fascinating concept to focus on the women left at home during WWII and how difficult their lives were, especially in a German-occupied France. It touches on the bond of sisters, a father’s love, and the tough choices and sacrifices we make for the people we love simply because we love them. I loved this quote of the women of WWII:
“For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
- The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
The end was so overly dramatic and had way too much going on for me, but you can read what really made me love it HERE
What have you read this year? Any book suggestions for 2019? I’m trying for 40 books next year!
P.S. If you haven’t made an account on Goodreads, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great place to see what other people are reading, get reviews for books, and if nothing else, categorize for yourself what you are reading and what you want to read. It has a yearly challenge feature where you set a book goal and mark off books as you read. It will tell you if you are on schedule to meet your goal or not. Goodreads has really kept me accountable for my reading!