Top 25 Books I read in 2018

At the beginning of 2018, I set out to read 52 books in a year. That’s a book a week, and I’m happy to report that I accomplished this goal!

Today, I want to share with you the top 25 books I read in 2018 and a quick review to help you decide if it’s something you’d like to add to your “To Read” list!

I’ve also listed all 52 books at the end, but the 25 I list here are my faves from the year (yes I have 25 favourites, I’m ridiculous.)


The Top 25 Books I read in 2018

(Listed by genre and in order of how much I loved it… kind of.)

Enneagram (Non-Fiction)

Both of these are great for different reasons: one is the best beginner book I read and one is the best advanced book I read!

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
This is my favourite enneagram book that I’ve read. A large portion of this book was dedicated to describing the purpose of the enneagram and how it should be used, which is so valuable.

Sacred Enneagram: Finding your unique path to spiritual growth.
Chris Heuertz
My favourite beginner resource about the enneagram. He not only gives great descriptions of each of the 9 types, but also a few more complex ideas of the enneagram in a digestible way. He focuses a lot on how discovering our type can be helpful for self-development.


(Top 3 listed first!)

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O’Neill
This might be my favourite fiction novel of all time. It’s hard to describe the book and the magic and darkness between it’s pages. Just read it and weep like I did at the end of the book. Orphans, the circus, drugs, love - it’s got a lot happening and I’m obsessed.

Dark Matter
Blake Crouch
Also up there as one of my favourite fiction novels ever. The “Mulitiverse” meets a beautiful love story meets the question of the nature of identity. I couldn’t put this one down. Obsessed.

Book of Negroes
Lawrence Hill
The story of Aminata, a woman from Mali (Africa), who gets abducted from her village and sold into the American slave trade at the age of 11. It follows her life through abduction to slavery and beyond and all of the mess in-between. It was excellent.

(After those top 3, the rest are all on a level playing field!)

RJ Palacio
A really touching story about August, a fifth grade boy with a facial difference, which describes his year of going to public school for the first time. It chronicles his experience with bullies and friendships and navigating an awkward time of life. I cried through the whole thing and devoured it in a day.

Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead
This was a great fictional story about a young slave’s escape from a plantation and search for freedom. A top recommendation for sure!

All My Puny Sorrows
Miriam Toews
A heart wrenching and beautifully told story about family, depression, life, and suicide. Will absolutely be reading more Miriam Toews - plus she’s Manitoban!

Behold the Dreamers
Imbolo Mbue
Loved this story of a family’s struggle to immigrate to America from Cameroon, and what it looks like for them to struggle to find work, gain citizenship, and stay in the country they love.

The Child Finder
Rene Denfeld
A young girl, Madison, goes missing in the forests of Oregon, and Naomi (known as the Child Finder) goes looking for her. Throughout the book you see into Madison’s life after she goes missing, and Naomi working to find her. Couldn’t put this one down and can’t wait for book 2.

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
This mystery novel was way better than the book, for the record. A man’s wife goes missing and it’s all about finding her. Was she abducted? Did her husband kill her? Did she run away? Who knows. It was so good, and a little crazy.


These are all amazing in their own way - so they are just ordered in the order I read them! 

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Austin Channing Brown
A must-read for my fellow white people. Austin does an amazing job of bringing the reader into her world as a black woman, racism, white fragility, and more. Why do I think it’s required reading? Because we need to become more aware of our white privilege and our conscious and unconscious biases we have for POC.

Boy Erased
Garrard Conley
A true story about the son of a small-town Baptist pastor who gets outed as gay to his parents at the age of 19 by his abuser, and about his time attending a gay conversion therapy program. It shares how difficult it is to grow up gay in the church and being told that who you are is wrong. It was heartbreaking, too. Need to see the movie!

The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen
Lisa Gungor
A beautifully written memoir about Lisa's life in the church, meeting her husband Michael, struggling with fertility, and having kids (including one with Down Syndrome). She talks about doubt sparking deeper faith and beauty, about not clinging too closely to what you think you know, and learning to see the beauty around us. I can't recommend this one enough. It touched me deeply.

Finding God in the Waves
Mike McHargue
Part one of this memoir is about Mike’s journey through Christianity to Atheism and his mystical experience with God on a beach. And Part Two is about finding God in science. Loved it and the combination of heart and head.

When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi
I read this one right at the end of the year and it was one of the most wonderful and terrible things I read all year. Paul describes his journey to becoming a surgeon, and in walking through cancer. 

Spirituality + Faith + Stuff

(Top 2 listed first!)

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Richard Rohr
Oh gosh, what a book. Richard Rohr is an amazing spiritual genius and I can’t wait to read more of his books. He discusses our need for failing and falling in order to grow. He explains the “second half of life” which you could consider life after “becoming awake”. I’ll need to read this one again to really soak it in.

What is the Bible?
Rob Bell
Rob explains and redeems stories and concepts in the Bible that are very confusing or bring up questions about ethics, and outlines an alternative view of the Bible: a library that chronicles humanity's expanding understanding of God using many different genres and point's of view. He addresses concerns you might have about the ethical dilemmas, errors, and inconsistencies throughout Scripture. I can't recommend this enough for anyone who might be searching or working through their beliefs.

(After the top 2, these are in no particular order!)

Love Wins: A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.
Rob Bell
In this book, Rob suggest this idea about hell: What if God is loving enough and powerful enough and redeeming enough that “hell” would be empty? What a beautiful thought. (That whole “eternal conscious torment” thing is something I’m not down with.)

Did Jesus Exist?: The historical argument for Jesus of Nazareth.
Bart D. Ehrman
Bart takes a non-Christian, historical look at whether or not Jesus existed. (Spoiler alert: historical evidence says he was a real human.)

When Things Fall Apart
Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist writer, and she discusses Buddhist thought about meditation, suffering, and the happiness available to us within our grasp, even when everything else falls apart.

God and the Gay Christian
Matthew Vines
A great book for anyone who isn’t sure how someone can be both a Christian and gay because of what the Bible apparently has to say about it. (Spoiler alert: you can interpret the Bible a LOT differently about this topic than is traditional.) For the record: I did not read this book in order to convince me, but rather to present an alternative option to people in my life with unaffirming views.

Other Non-Fiction

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Michelle Alexander
This informative book was fascinating and infuriating to read. In short, it covers how the American justice system is biased towards incarcerating Black men and other POC. So educational.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
Banaji and Mahzarin
Simply a fascinating read about biases, where they come from, and how they affect the way we live and interact with people. They discuss attitudes about age, race, gender, religion, social class, etc, and how we can spot our own “blind spots” in the way we view people. 

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek
A business self-help book all about the importance of discovering the WHY behind your business instead of your WHAT.

The 52 Books I Read This Year

Listed in the order I read them!

  1. The Road Back to You - Ian Morgan Cron 4/5

  2. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini 5/5

  3. Mask of Masculinity - Lewis Howes 2/5

  4. Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill 5/5

  5. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 4/5

  6. Sacred Enneagram - Christopher Heuertz 5/5

  7. Green - Ted Dekker 5/5

  8. Showdown - Ted Dekker 4/5

  9. Personality Types - Don Richard Riso + Russ Hudson 5/5

  10. Saint - Ted Dekker 4/5

  11. What We Talk About When We Talk About God - Rob Bell 4/5

  12. Inside Scientology - Janet Reitman 4/5

  13. What is the Bible? - Rob Bell 5/5

  14. Rising Strong - Brene Brown 4/5

  15. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown 4/5

  16. For the Love - Jen Hatmaker 4/5

  17. Boy Erased - Garrard Conley 5/5

  18. No One Is Coming To Save Us - Stephanie Watts 4/5

  19. Wonder - RJ Palacio (Fiction) 5/5

  20. Did Jesus Exist? - Bart D Ehrman 4/5

  21. Love Wins - Rob Bell 5/5

  22. Inspired - Rachel Held Evans 4/5

  23. Exit West - Mohsin Hamid 4/5

  24. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen - Lisa Gungor 5/5

  25. When Things Fall Apart - Pema Chodron 4/5

  26. Searching For Sunday - Rachel Held Evans 4/5

  27. The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead 5/5

  28. Falling Upward - Richard Rohr 5/5

  29. I’m Still Here - Austin Channing Brown 5/5

  30. A Year of Biblical Womanhood - Rachel Held Evans 4/5

  31. All My Puny Sorrows - Miriam Toews 5/5

  32. Braving the Wilderness - Brene Brown 4/5

  33. The Lonely Hearts Hotel - Heather O’Neill 5/5

  34. The Color Purple - Alice Walker 4/5

  35. Dark Matter - Blake Crouch 5/5

  36. Blindspot - Banaji and Mahzarin 5/5

  37. Behold The Dreamers - Imbolo Mbue 5/5

  38. The Child Finder - Rene Denfeld 5/5

  39. Finding God in the Waves - Mike McHargue 5/5

  40. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn 5/5

  41. God and the Gay Christian - Matthew Vines 5/5

  42. Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng 4/5

  43. A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin 5/5

  44. Wisdom of the Enneagram - Don Richard Riso 5/5

  45. How to be Here - Rob Bell 4/5

  46. The Sun and Her Flowers - Rupi Kaur 5/5

  47. Start with Why - Simon Sinek 5/5

  48. Sex God - Rob Bell 4/5

  49. The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander 5/5

  50. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson 3/5

  51. When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi 5/5

  52. A Clash of Kings - George RR Martin 5/5

PersonalJennifer Siemens