***A quick note about some of my book selections throughout the year: 2018 included a lot of spiritual searching for me that I haven’t really talked about. I grew up very Christian and at the beginning of 2018 started selecting books that were slightly more progressive, and kept departing from there. Basically, what I want to say is - don’t let my book selection (especially from earlier in the year) tell you what I NOW think about God + spirituality + belief.
💗💗 A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)
by George RR Martin
Fiction. Just continuing to read through the series after watching the show! So far, the storyline matches up with the show!
Memoir. One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking books I read all year. Paul describes his journey of becoming a surgeon and being diagnosed with cancer. So many tears.
Sub-title: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Non-fiction self-help stuff. It was okay and I get what he’s trying to say, but the part I didn’t really like is his unacknowledged privilege of being able to “not give a fuck” as a white man.
Sub-title: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colour-blindness
Non-fiction. 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 People of Colour. So educational.
Sub-title: Exploring the Endless Connection Between Sexuality and Spirituality
I read a lot of Rob Bell in 2018 and this one just didn’t rank as high for me as Love Wins or What Is the Bible? Not completely what I was looking for.
Sub-title: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Business. I really liked the background approach he takes to branding and positioning your business. It helped inspire me to re-think my own branding and my purpose - my Why.
Poetry. Can’t go wrong with Rupi Kaur. Her poetry is beautiful.
Non-fiction. Again, this one just didn’t rank as high for me as some of the other Rob Bell books that I absolutely loved! It was a good and short tread about creativity and living in the now.
Sub-title: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
Enneagram. (So far) MY FAVE ENNEAGRAM BOOK. What makes this one different from all the other’s I’ve read so far is the deep dive into the purpose of the enneagram. Loved it.
💗💗 A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
by George RR Martin
Fiction. I started reading the series after watching the show! I really like them!
Fiction. It was an interesting story about family, secrets between parents and their children, and a house fire.
Sub-title: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
Christian + LGBTQIA+. First, let me clarify that I did not read this book because I needed someone to prove to me that non-heterosexuality is “okay.” There are many people in the world and around me who look to the Bible as the ultimate authority of what is and isn’t “allowed”, so I read it to gain insight on how to communicate with them using their own language and value system. And it delivered!
💗💗💗 Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Mystery. 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.
Sub-title: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science
Memoir/Science/Christianity/Atheism. 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.
💗💗💗 The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1)
by Rene Denfeld
Mystery. 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.
Fiction. 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.
by Mahzarin R + Banaji
Sub-title: The Hidden Biases of Good People
Science/Psychology. 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.
Science Fiction. Also up there as one of my favourite fiction novels ever. The mulitiverse, a love story, a mystery, and the question of the nature of identity. I couldn’t put this one down. Obsessed.
Historical Fiction. The story of Celie, a young black girl brown into poverty and segregation in the deep American South between the wars.
Fiction. 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.
Sub-title: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
Self-help. The first book I read of hers, Daring Greatly, is probably her best. It has left the biggest impact on me, and the other’s I’ve read of hers have fallen short or feel like they’re saying the exact same thing. I think this is an unpopular opinion but I’m okay with that.
Fiction. A heart wrenching and beautifully told story about family, depression, life, and suicide. Will absolutely be reading more Miriam Toews - plus she’s Manitoban!
Sub-title: How A Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’
Non-Fiction/Bible. Rachel put herself through an experiment and recorded it in this book: what it looked like to live a year as a “Biblical” woman. She didn’t cut her hair, she called her husband “master” and obeyed him, she dressed very modestly, she stayed silent in church, and she camped out in her front yard when she had her period. It’s a great exploration of what the God of the Bible really expects from women, but also misogyny and violence against women.
Sub-title: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Non-Fiction/Spirituality. 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.
Historical Fiction. This was a great fictional story about a young slave’s escape from a plantation and search for freedom. A top recommendation for sure!
Sub-title: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.
Memoir. 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.
Sub-title: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Self-Help/Buddhism. Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist writer, and she discusses Buddhist thought about meditation, suffering, and the happiness available to us within our grasp.
Sub-title: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Non-fiction/Christianity. Like "Inspired" she tells her story about re-discovering an element of Christianity, and this time it's the Church. She discusses why she left, and why she doesn't want to stay away, centring the book around seven sacraments: baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage.
Sub-title: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder
Memoir. A beautifully written memoir about Lisa's life in the church (and leaving it), 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. One of my faves from the year.
Fiction. A story about Saeed and Nadia - lovers from an unnamed country facing series economic and political breakdown. As unrest increases, "doors" open up to other areas of the world. A fictional take on love, refugees, and political breakdown.
by Rachel Held Evans
Sub-title: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
Comments. Rachel tells her story about asking questions, doubting, learning to understand the Bible better, and discovering how it's meant to be read. She examines some Bible stories and re-tells them through memoir, poetry, story, soliloquy and screenplay.
Sub-title: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
Spirituality/Christianity. 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.)
Sub-title: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth
History/Christianity. Bart Ehrman takes a non-Christian and historical look at whether or not Jesus existed or if he's a myth. (Spoiler alert: historical evidence says he was a real human. The claims about his divinity are a whole different story.)
by RJ Palacio
Fiction. 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.
Fiction. A story about an African-American family in North Carolina which talks about life in a dying town, infertility, young loves colliding with old loves, and infidelity.
💗💗💗 Boy Erased
by Garrard Conley
Memoir/LGBTQIA+/Christianity. 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!
Sub-title: Fighting For Grace In A World of Impossible Standards
Christian Non-Fiction. A collection of essays by Jen Hatmaker about life, faith, love, friendship, and family. She's wise, funny, and straight forward - and I appreciated her point of view.
Sub-title: Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Self-help. Yep, more Brene Brown. In this one, she discusses the 12 traits and attitudes she's seen as being pivotal in cultivating a "wholehearted life" and how to develop them. On the Brene Brown scale, somewhere between the greatness of Daring Greatly and the goodness of Rising Strong.
Self-Help. Yep, even more Brene Brown. This book talks about how to get up when you've been knocked down, and to use the experience to learn about yourself and grow through it. In my opinion, not as good as Daring Greatly, but good nonetheless.
Sub-title: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform The Way You Think and Feel About Everything
Bible. 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.
Sub-title: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion
Non-fiction/Scientology. A fascinating read about the history and beliefs of Scientology.
Christian Non-fiction. Rob tackles the misconceptions about God and talks about how God is with us, for us, and ahead of us.
💗💗 Saint (Paradise #2)
By Ted Dekker
Fiction. The second book in the Paradise series (after Showdown), about a man's training to be the most effective assassin in the world. This one also gets weird, but not quite as weird as the first book in the series.
Sub-title: Using the Enneagram For Self-Discovery
Enneagram. I highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to dive deep into the enneagram because it's definitely not a quick beginner's manual. I probably spent around 40 hours reading it and took A LOT of notes.
💗💗 Showdown (Paradise #1)
by Ted Dekker
Fiction. The first book in a trilogy, a stranger comes to the small town of Paradise claiming to be some kind of mysterious and powerful Messiah, while a group of gifted orphans are secluded in a school - and start disobeying their leadership and writing in books that bring words to real life. It gets weird, y'all, (like really really weird) and I'm here for it.
💗💗💗 Green (The Circle #0)
by Ted Dekker
Fiction. The fourth and final book of the Circle Series (also one of my fave fiction series), but also Book Zero of the series. Ted Dekker's ideas really opened up some new doors in my brain about the nature of time, eternity, and God. This books creates a circular story loop in the whole series. I love it.
Sub-title: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
Enneagram. 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.
Fiction. A novel about the speculate future where a totalitarian state has taken over the United States government. Many women are infertile, and fertile women are child-bearing slaves for the rich and are named according to who they belong to. It's an interested and unique read, for sure.
Historical Fiction. 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.
Sub-title: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives
Self-Help. I read this book because I listened to Lewis Howes' podcast for a while and he boasted that it would be so helpful for men to understand the masks they wear and excellent for women to understand the men around them. I just didn’t like it or find it helpful.
💗💗💗 Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle #4)
by Christopher Paolini
Fantasy Fiction. The fourth and last book in one of my favourite fiction series (I've only read the series 4 times...). Based in a land of dragons and dragon riders and magic - it's a great story of a young dragon rider learning to harness his new abilities to hopefully take down a nearly all-powerful and evil dictator. It's right up there with the Harry Potter series for me, friends.
Sub-title: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Enneagram. This is a good introductory book to the Enneagram. It's definitely not my favourite enneagram resource, but it gives a decent summary to every number type, and might be helpful for you in determining your enneagram number.