Top 10 Books from 2018
I read a few less books this past year than the previous two, but so many of them were excellent reads that I had a hard time narrowing my favorites down to ten. This was for two reasons—I got excellent recommendations from some friends, especially my writers’ group, and also we splurged a bit and subscribed to Scribd. Scribd has a much broader selection of books that appeals to me than the e-library does and it has been well worth it. (If you’d like to try it free for two months, click here.)
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. A fascinating look at how we form habits. Rubin divides people’s habit-making tendencies into four groups. I discovered that I’m an Upholder, which explained why I enjoy New Year’s resolutions so much.
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider. The Oxenrider’s sold their home and left on a 9-month trip around the world. Tsh is refreshingly honest about the highs and the lows. I could very much identify with her love of travel, but her need of a place to come home to. “Travel has taught me the blessing of ordinariness, of rootedness and stability. It can be found anywhere on the globe. It’s courageous to walk out the front door and embrace earth’s great adventures, but the real act of courage is to return to that door, turn the knob, walk through, unpack the bags, and start the kettle for a cup of tea.”
Desperate - hope for the Mom who needs to breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. An excellent book on loving our children, giving them and ourselves grace, creating beauty in our homes, and giving our souls space to breathe. “I always wanted to be a hero—to sacrifice my life in a big way at one time—and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.” “My kids don’t need to see a supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a Super God.”
Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. How churches and charities can hurt those they are intending to help—and how to reverse it. This book focuses on empowering poor people instead of enabling them to continue in their present condition, listening to people of the community instead of merely imposing our ideas, and transforming neighborhoods through community development.
The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie. Packed with inspiration for building meaningful and lasting connections with your children by reading aloud. There are also over 400 book recommendations!
Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Americans have shifted from home cooking to eating from packages, and many people don't know what to do with basic ingredients such as raw chicken. Mrs. Flinn offered to give several volunteers basic cooking lessons. I was re-inspired to use simple ingredients and cook from scratch, thereby avoiding many of the icky chemicals prevalent in processed food.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. This is a young adult fiction book, but it helped me forget that I was sitting at the sewing machine late one night. A troubled boy and his family move into a new neighborhood. Doug is fully prepared to hate “stupid Marysville” but some caring adults in his life make all the difference.
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen LeBillion. When Mrs. LeBillion moved to France with her two young children, she was amazed how French children didn't snack outside of mealtimes, cheerfully ate vegetables, used glass tableware and cloth napkins, and could last through two hour multiple-course meals. She shares her own rebellion against and eventually conversion to French eating habits.
The Life-Giving Table by Sally Clarkson. If you need some inspiration to use meal times to connect with your family and guests, it’s all here, along with mouth-watering recipes like oatmeal muffins and spaghetti pie.
The Gospel Comes with a House Key - practicing radically ordinary hospitality in our post Christian world by Rosaria Butterfield. Mrs. Butterfield was a Lesbian English professor who converted and became a minister’s wife through the hospitality of Christian couple (she tells the story in the book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert). She now opens her home daily to friends, neighbors, and outcasts, and ministers to them through home-cooked meals and family devotions. Be prepared to have your ideas of what hospitality looks like challenged!
Honorable Mention: Miss Buncle’s Book by D. E. Stevenson, The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith, Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner, Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Warren, The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and Baby Catcher - chronicles of a modern midwife by Peggy Vincent
All but one of the top ten are nonfiction. Clearly I need some good fiction recommendations. Do you have any for me?
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