I read 76 books in 2018!

I read 76 books last year – which is 30 more than the 46 I read in 2017!

Here’s how I read so many more books:

+ My kids slept better.

+ I slept worse. (Pregnancy insomnia)

+ I felt like crap garbage for 20+ weeks of this pregnancy and couldn’t get off the couch. (And I chose to read instead of watching TV during this time.)

+ I limited my screen time, especially at night. (Wait, is a Kindle a screen? Let’s say no.)

+ Speaking of which, I switched to reading books on my Kindle (after years and years of letting it sit in the drawer while Tim asked why I wasn’t using it), which allowed me to check out books automatically from the library without ever having to put pants on. This also drastically reduced my overdue fees!

In case you’re looking for some recommendations….

13 Must Read Books (and 63 other recommendations)
Books I Read in 2018:

* Ranking system: 5 stars – I loved it and would recommend it to anyone who asked. 4 stars – It was worth reading but it wasn’t as life-changing as other books I read. 3 stars – I was entertained but I wouldn’t tell someone to go out of their way to read it. (In most cases, these are page-turner fiction books that didn’t leave a lasting impression on me.) 2 stars – I wouldn’t recommend it at all. 1 star – A complete waste of my time, so I didn’t finish reading these books, much less record them.

** Summaries of books taken from Amazon, because they do it better than I can.

*** Listed in no particular order within the ratings.

5 Stars

Just Mercy

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

The Last Cowboys

An NPR Book of the Year

A gripping portrait of one family’s gamble that rodeo and ranching are the future of the West―and not just its past.

For generations, the Wrights of southern Utah have raised cattle and world-champion saddle-bronc riders―some call them the most successful rodeo family in history. Now Bill and Evelyn Wright, parents to 13 children and grandparents to many more, find themselves struggling to hang on to the majestic landscape where they’ve been running cattle for 150 years as the West is transformed by urbanization, battered by drought, and rearranged by public-land disputes. Could rodeo, of all things, be the answer?

In a powerful follow-up to his prize-winning, best-selling first book, New York Times reporter John Branch delivers an epic and intimate family story deep in the American grain. Written with great lyricism and filled with vivid scenes of ranch life and the high drama of saddle-bronc competition, The Last Cowboys chronicles three years in the life of the Wrights, each culminating in rodeo’s National Finals in Las Vegas. Will Bill and Evelyn be able to hold the family together as rodeo injuries pile up and one of their sons goes off on a religious mission? Will their son Cody, a two-time world champion, make it to the finals one last time―and compete with his own son? And will the younger generation―Rusty, Ryder, Stetson, and the rest―be able to continue the family’s ways in the future?

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty–and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT–two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

Educated

#1 NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • Time • NPR • Financial Times • The Economist • The Guardian • Newsday • Refinery29 • Real Simple • Bustle • Pamela Paul, KQED • Publishers Weekly • LibraryReads • Library Journal • New York Public Library • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S SUMMER READING • ONE OF BILL GATES’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR • LONGLISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material.

The Alice Network

NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY BESTSELLER • #1 GLOBE AND MAIL HISTORICAL FICTION BESTSELLER • One of NPR’s Best Books of the Year! • One of Bookbub’s Biggest Historical Fiction Books of the Year! • Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick! • The 2017 Girly Book Club Book of the Year! • A Summer Book Pick from Good Housekeeping, Parade, Library Journal, Goodreads, Liz and Lisa, and BookBub

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of NutritionFacts.org, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America–heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more–and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to help prevent and reverse these diseases, freeing us to live healthier lives.

The Bear and the Nightingale

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Pillars of the Earth

Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. “Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale.”

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

What you don’t know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships―and maybe even how you make your way in the world. It can also keep you in the shallows with God. Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you’re stuck in the same ruts?

The Enneagram is an ancient personality type system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired, both positively and negatively. In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of God and of ourselves.

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

***A NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLER***

An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.

Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never be the answer—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all.

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth

As featured in the Fall 2018 edition of The Magnolia Journal and on the Rise Together podcast with Dave and Rachel Hollis, For the Love podcast with Jen Hatmaker, Typology podcast with Ian Morgan Cron, and Sleeping At Last podcast with Ryan O’Neal.

How to understand the ‘why’ behind your enneagram type.

Chris Heuertz’ life was forever changed after he learned about the enneagram 15 years ago, and since then he has trained under some of the great living Enneagram masters including Father Richard Rohr, Russ Hudson, Marion Gilbert, and Helen Palmer. Today he leads enneagram workshops all over the world. Join Chris as he shows you how this ancient tool can help you awaken to the gifts God has given you, find freedom from your personal patterns of sin and fear, and grow in acceptance of your identity as you grow with God.

4 Stars

White Awake

Lilli de Jong

Before We Were Yours

Expecting Better: Why The Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need To Know

Brooklyn

Letters to the Lost

Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy

How To Walk Away

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Winter Sea

Jefferson’s Sons

The Stolen Marriage

Salt to the Sea

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

An American Marriage

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living

World Without End

The Great Alone

Homegoing

The Girl in the Tower

The Wedding Date

The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing

Eleven Hours

Jane Steele

The Color of Our Sky

Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama 

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

3 Stars

Sharp Objects

My Ex-Life

When Life Gives You Lululemons

Paper Towns

The Favorite Sister

Into the Water

A Gentleman’s Game

The Name Therapist

Jar of Hearts

Final Girls

The Rules of Magic

Salvage the Bones

The Mothers

The Address

The Couple Next Door

My Not So Perfect Life

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

The Identicals

Small Great Things

Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic

A Column of Fire

The Duchess Deal

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon

The Mountain

My Absolute Darling

Anything is Possible

The Woman Next Door

Lucky You

Modern Lovers

2 Stars

Conversations with Friends

Scandalous Ever After

Phew. I hope you’re able to add some of these to your ‘must read’ book list in 2019!

Do you have any book recommendations for me?! What is the best book you read in 2018?

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4 Responses to I read 76 books in 2018!

  1. LOVED The Bear and the Nightingale. Such a beautifully written story.

  2. WOW! 76 books! That’s incredible! I got a lot more into reading in 2018 after I downloaded Libby, which allows me to check out ebooks from the library onto my phone. I love real books, but checking out ebooks is SO much more convenient than going to the actual library. I’m adding some of these to my hold list!

    • Lisa says:

      Tim keeps trying to get me to download Libby and I keep insisting on just going to the Overdrive site (because I guess I’m really difficult?! I just don’t like apps – haha!)

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