Book List

A Year’s Worth of Books

Do You Have a Reading Goal for 2019?

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?  How about a fun, easy one you can KEEP?

My reading goal for 2018 year was to read 52 books.  While I didn’t quite hit that number, I enjoyed 44 engaging books, interacted with some new ideas, and learned some things about myself along the way.  Let me be clear that I’m including books that I listened to as well as actually read.  While I love to sit down with a good book, I also enjoy listening while I’m in the car, working out, or cooking.

My Reading Log from 2018:

  1. A Place of My Own, Michael Pollan
  2. Presence, Amy Cuddy
  3. The Virgin Diet, JJ Virgin
  4. Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson
  5. Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
  6. Headstrong, Dave Asprey
  7. What if it Does Work Out?, Susie Moore
  8. Unglued, Lysa Tyrkerst
  9. The Now Habit, Neil Fiore
  10. * Deep Nutrition, Cate Shanahan
  11. Hands Off My Food, Sina McCullough
  12. Adorned, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
  13. * Deep Work, Cal Neport
  14. * Body Wise, Dr. Rachel Abrams
  15. The Hungry Brain, Stephan Guyenet
  16. How to Fail at Just About Everything, Scott Adams
  17. * Stepping Heavenward, Elizabeth Prentiss (reread)
  18. Crispin and the Cross of Lead, Avi
  19. Undone, Michelle Cushatt
  20. Overwhelmed, Kathy Lipp
  21. Gaining Ground, Forrest Pritchard
  22. Curly Girl, Loraine Massey (reread)
  23. * Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam
  24. How to Make a Living with Your Writing, Joanna Penn
  25. Clutter Free, Kathy Lipp
  26. The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson
  27. * Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  28. Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
  29. Rising Strong, Brene Brown
  30. Just Write, Walter Dean Myers
  31. Food:  What the Heck Should I Eat, Mark Hymen
  32. Margin (reread), Richard A. Swenson
  33. Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins
  34. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Lynne Truss
  35. Lead Yourself First, Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin
  36. Loving Life Again, Tracie Miles
  37. * A Higher Loyalty, James Comey
  38. Simplify Your Time, Marcia Ramsland
  39. Seal of God, Chad Williams
  40. Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker
  41. Healing Mushrooms, Tero Isokauppila
  42. Oxygen Advantage, Patrick McKeown
  43. Time to Parent, Julie Morgenstern
  44. Run for Your Life, Mark Cucuzzella

Which Books Affected Me the Most?

While I would recommend almost all of these books, there are 6 that stand out in my mind.  The ones that are asterisked have changed how I think on a deeper level than the rest.  So, I thought I’d share just a little about them and some of what I learned.

1.  Deep Nutrition

I’ve believed for a long time that what we eat affects our health in a vital way.  But this book confirmed this on a practical level.  Dr. Shenehan makes a convincing argument that every bite of  food we eat – and those we don’t – affect every organ, system, and process in our bodies as well as our genes and the genes of our unborn children. It reinforced my conviction that what I eat and how I feed my family are very high priorities.  While it’s not a quick read and it took me quite a while to finish it, Deep Nutrition now has a place on my bookshelf for reference.  Dr. Shenehan has inspired several of my previous posts.  One of my favorites is Why I’m Going to Eat More Vegetables in 2018.  I think I need to reread that one myself.

2.  Deep Work

Is it coincidence that these first two titles start with the same adjective?  This work by Cal Newport made me think differently about how I plan my day, how often I let distractions rule my thoughts, and how technology can sabotage my goals if I don’t keep it in check.  I’m looking forward to his next book, Digital Minimalism, which will be released in February 2019.  If you’re interested in how technology fractures our focus, and wonder what you can do about it, check out Deep Work.

3.  Body Wise

Another book on health, this one is focused more on the psychology of what, how, and when we eat and move.  It challenged me to stop and think about why I make health decisions that I do and to ask myself some introspective questions to reveal what I really want when I’m reaching for food.  Am I truly hungry or am I just seeking comfort or a distraction from an emotion?  Am I satisfying a craving?  What does my body really need right now?  If you wonder why you make the health decisions you do, give this book a try.

4.  Stepping Heavenward

Completely different from those above, this is one that I’ve read at least once before.  It’s a fictional memoir of the spiritual life of a woman in New England in the 1800’s.  One of only two fictional books on my list, this beautifully written story of her Christian walk was touching,  and reading it felt like lingering over a cup of tea with a friend.  It’s the perfect book if you need encouragement or want to enjoy a sweet story of faith.  I love this book so much that I’ve purchased several copies and given them as gifts.

5.  Off the Clock

As someone who reads time management books for fun, this one was exciting because it put a different spin on a favorite topic.  Vanderkam doesn’t just give us advice for checking off more tasks in less time.  She helps us to understand how to stretch the time we have and how we can spend more of our life doing what matters without feeling rushed.  In this book, I learned of the term, “memento mori”, literally “remember death” in Latin, which is a Christian theory and practice reminding us of the brevity of life and encouraging us to spend our time carefully.  If you wonder where your time goes and wish you could slow down to enjoy more of yours, this book is for you.

6.  Unbroken

I wouldn’t normally pick up a biography of a prisoner of war.  Perhaps that is why this one touched me so much.  It was refreshing to get out of my normal genres and read the amazing story of  Louis Zamperini, who survived horrifying long-term conditions as a Japanese POW.  After returning home, he turned to Jesus and forgave his captors.  Stories of people who survive horrendous experiences and are able to move on with their lives after such trauma are inspiring and give us perspective in our modern, first-world lives.  Spending time with this true story was a daily reminder of the fragility of life, the preciousness of peace, and the pettiness of my daily struggles.  I’m grateful to the author, Laura Hillenbrand, for documenting Zamperini’s story in such an artful way.

6.  A Higher Loyalty

This is another title that my Audible app wouldn’t have recommended for me.  But when a friend raved about how captivating it was, I thought I’d give it a try.  I’m glad I did.  James Comey, former director of the FBI, was fired by President Trump after he refused to kowtow to him and allow conflicts of interest to affect the FBI director’s decisions.  The story itself is riveting and I enjoyed learning a little about how the FBI works within our government.

But it was the theme of this book that struck me and continues to challenge me now.  We all make a decision, conscious or not, whether to practice truth and integrity regardless of the consequences, or to allow compromises when our convictions become uncomfortable.  At some point, we all choose to whom or what we will give our loyalty.  In his book, Comey encourages us to consider the real costs of such compromises to ourselves, our culture, and the world.  If you have any interest whatsoever in politics or the level of honesty – or lack thereof – in our culture, or just want to be challenged in your thinking, give this book a try.

What Did I Learn from Setting This Goal?

While I learned about many different things from these books, I also gained some knowledge about myself from working toward this goal.

  1.  I don’t believe that my goal actually caused me to read MORE than the previous year, which was the original purpose.  However, I’m not absolutely sure because I haven’t been in the habit of writing down all of the books I read.
  2. While I did start a few books that I didn’t finish – but didn’t “count” them in my list – I do think this exercise pushed me to finish more books than I would have had I not been keeping the log.  Is it worthwhile to finish a book even if you lose interest?  What if you feel that you’ve already grasped the main point?  I’m not so sure.  After all, there are so many books and so little time.
  3. The best outcome of this goal is the list of books that I have as a record of some of my time in 2018.  I can look back over the list as evidence that, yes, I am an avid reader.  I can see how these books have affected my thinking this year.  And I have a list of the topics that caught my interest during this year of my life.

Will I continue this goal into 2019?  Yes, I will keep logging the books I’m reading.  However, the purpose of the list will change a bit.  I won’t be defining a specific number of books as a goal.  Instead, I’ll just be keeping a list of books I read that will even include those I don’t finish.  If I understand the main point of a book, then get bored with it, I won’t feel the need to finish it.  Life is too short.

I may also try to write a sentence or two about my thoughts from each book.  But that may be a stretch…

Want to Set a Reading Goal for 2019?

I’d like to encourage you to also keep a log of what you read.  Unless you want to, there is no need to set a number goal for your year.  But I think you’ll get a sense of satisfaction from looking back at your list and seeing the interests that caught your attention and what you’ve learned from interacting with other people’s ideas.

Here is some food for thought as you decide how you’ll track your books this year:
  1. Give some thought to when a book will “count” toward your list.  Will you only count finished books?  What if you get the main point of the book, but don’t feel compelled to finish it?  Will you log a book if you only get through half of it?  What about 3/4 of it?  Will books you reread count?
  2. Decide how you will log your books.  Will you write them in a notebook?  Keep them in an app like Notes or Evernote?  Or perhaps use a List app?  One idea, if you have an iPhone, is to create a list in your Reminders app titled something like, “Books I Read”.  Each time you finish a book, you could add it to your list by saying, “Hey Siri, add book title to my Books I Read list.”
What were some of your favorite books from 2018?  I need some ideas, so be sure to leave a comment and let me know!