This past year I read 55 books. At the end of 2017, I set a goal to read 52, which is one book a week, but I surprised myself by reading more. Currently, I’m reading five books at one time (Are you a multiple-books-at one time-reader, too?), so there’s a chance this number will change before 2019 comes (Eeek!).
I’m not sure if this is the most I’ve ever read in one single year. I’ve never recorded it before. But I used Goodreads, and it made all the difference. I felt like an accomplished reader as it helped me remember the books I hadn’t finished yet (a typical problem for us multiple-books- at one time-readers and even more of a problem for us mostly-kindle readers whose physical books don’t stare us in the face) so I could actually finish them, and it also helped ensure I read from a variety of genres—a bonus.
In 2018, I read fiction books from fantasy to literary to historical. I read non-fiction books from business to writing to psychology to Christianity. I read biographies and theology. And I read memoir.
It’s important to know I’m a researcher and a zealous student. Thus, I do not agree with everything in every book I read, but I enjoy learning nonetheless. A few of these books I read with the intent to see what’s being distributed into the minds of those in today’s world. Some I read for the sake of admiring the author’s writing style. And all of these books I read with the perspective of a Biblical Worldview, but I won’t give you the full list of the 55 books here. Just check out my Goodreads account if you’re interested.
**If you want to see quotes from a few of the books I read, then click here to download my 15 Book Quotes.**
Since I read four of the Harry Potter books this year and am reading the fifth still now, I excluded them from the list. This seems only fair as J.K. Rowling is my all-time favorite fiction author. Clearly, her books would have made up the majority of the list.
With that said, here are 9 of my favorites in descending order, saving the best for last:
I love stories about how writers became writers and how everyday writers became successful writers. This is one of those stories. Bret Lott writes literary fiction, not Christian fiction or even Christian nonfiction (with the exception of this memoir)—although he is a Christian. I like his story more because he is a Christian writer outside of all genres having to do with Christianity. It’s similar to reading stories of a neurosurgeon who is a Christian or a public school teacher who is a Christian and giving praise for the godly influence they have.
If you’ve ever heard Jackie speak, you know she’s got rhythm. In her book, you can hear it in your head as you read. The girl is a fantastic writer. She has a true gift with words. But her story is most compelling—a gay girl redeemed by a good God. This book comes full of gospel-bombs and will encourage any Christian in the faith, not only those who desire God to save their LGBT friends or family members—although immensely helpful in this way. It gave me a revived desire to love lost souls enough to share the gospel with them even when it’s uncomfortable.
You might think this book is for the future missionary. And, it is. But I also think every church member should read this book whether they desire to be a missionary or not. Evangelism is meant for every believer in the context of the church, and Stiles breaks down what this looks like (and doesn’t look like) through his many years of experience in churches in America as well as those in cross-cultural contexts.
This book is so much fun for anyone who likes to dream! It challenged me to come up with new ideas, to improve the concept of the ideas I already had, and to leave behind any poorly construed ones. The main point of the book shows us what type of ideas people remember and why. I felt like I was in school again—which I loved, by the way—and I felt ready and excited to tackle the tasks ahead with confidence to help others remember the points I want to convey (which in my case, is how the gospel speaks into and gives hope to the perfectionist).
Any book set in the Holocaust reels me in. This one definitely does even though it’s fiction! It has strong female characters which sometimes annoys me if the woman is arrogant and unrealistically invincible, but in this context it made sense. The men were off at war, so the main story takes place with the women left at home. They had to be strong to survive! I couldn’t stop imagining what I would have done in this era. I cried reading it, too. But it was a the good kind of crying.
The concept of progressing towards spiritual perfection (sanctification—>holiness) fascinates me as I find discouragement in all my imperfections in this body. This book describes a life, called the crucified life, wholeheartedly committed to following after Jesus. This type of life commits to wanting to be more like Jesus—to think like Jesus, to act like Jesus, and to love like Jesus.
Many of you have probably already read this one. It’s been on my list for years. I think I put it off knowing it would be a difficult read, meaning it would produce a lot of emotions inside of me since the story is true, but I’m glad I finally read it. Corrie Ten Boom’s faith is remarkable. One can only help but admire her and her family’s faith and courage during this time. And it did produce a lot of emotions, but the main thing it did was encourage me in my faith.
Nancy Guthrie’s newest book is high on the list for a reason. I find it extremely important to know the entire story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and Guthrie does a remarkable job of tying it all together. The way she talks about Revelation and consummation (instead of restoration) opened my eyes in a fresh way to our future hope. We often think of Eden as the ideal, perfect place, but the truth is, we will dwell in a place even better than Eden (Whoa!).
The word “radically ordinary” in this book’s subtitle explains why I chose this book as my number one favorite book out of all 55 books I read in 2018. It challenged me—big time. It challenged me to think more about souls than the external person and what I perceive. It challenged me to not assume what people have or haven’t been through. It challenged me to trust God and his provision in how to be hospitable when the budget is low. It challenged me to overcome dirt and smells and safety and hurtful comments from others to love certain people well. Being genuinely hospitable is uncomfortable. It’s radical in terms of the world. I needed Butterfield’s push. Do you? This book will be a read over and over throughout my life. I’m sure of it.
So there you go! Now go add these to your 2019 Reading List! What books should I read in 2019? Go find me on Instagram @Brogdonjenn and join the conversation on my stories/highlights or DM me your must-read suggestions.