One of my goals for 2018 was to read fifty books. Unfortunately, I only made it to forty nine! If I try really hard, I might be able to finish number fifty (Ellie Wiesel’s All Rivers Run to the Sea) before the ball drops at midnight. We’ll see. Either way, I’m close enough to the end to count it!
For those who are interested, I thought I might list the books I read, by “category,” and mention my favorites in each…
Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince
Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman
Marilyn Robinson’s Gilead, Home, and Lila
Ildefenso Falcones’ Cathedral of The Sea
Terry Brook’s The Sword of Shannara Trilogy and The High Druid of Shannara Trilogy
Alan Moore’s, The Watchmen
Though I thoroughly enjoyed discovering the writings of Terry Brooks, and the fantasy world of Shannara, my favorite fiction selections of 2018 were the three books written by Marilyn Robinson: Gilead, Home, and Lila. Each of Robinsons’ novels tell the story of a small, Iowa town, called Gilead, set in the 1950s. Though not exactly a trilogy, each of the three novels share many of the same characters and story-line, yet are written from different perspectives, each adding more background to the overall narrative. I was particularly drawn to the main character in Gilead, Rev. John Ames; an aging Congregational pastor, writing his personal memoirs for a young son, before his approaching death.
Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking
Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy’s The Generosity Factor
I usually read more business and leadership books than I did in 2018. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Of the two, I particularly enjoyed Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind. Martin teaches that the best, most innovative ideas and solutions require integrating broader sources of information, wisdom, and knowledge, while refusing to be limited to already existing ideas, theories, or practices.
Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond
Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn’s Sleeping With Bread
Diana Butler Bass’ Grounded
Thomas Keating’s Invitation to Love
Thomas H. Green’s When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings
William Barry and William Connolly’s The Practice of Spiritual Direction
Renita J. Weem’s Listening for God
Beldon Lane’s The Solace of Fierce Landscapes
Though this was a particularly rich set of readings for me, I was especially pleased to discover the writings of Renita Weems, who is a United Methodist pastor, a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and an African American woman. I especially appreciate the honest way she weaves her real-life struggles and stumbles with her sincere desire to know, honor, and serve God and her family faithfully.
Deidra’ Rigg’s One: Unity in a Divided World
Richard Rohr’s Job and the Mystery of Suffering
Thomas Long’s What Shall We Say?: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith
Bianca Juarez Olthoff’s Play With Fire
Andrew Murray’s Humility and Absolute Surrender
Lisa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes
Jo Saxton’s The Dream of You
Tish Harrison Warren’s Liturgy of the Ordinary
Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s Made for Goodness
E. Stanley Jones’ The Divine Yes
Brian Zhand’s Water to Wine: Some of My Story
David Anderson’s Gracism
J.B. Phillip’s Your God is Too Small
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m not sure my faith would still be intact today, if not for Richard Rohr’s Job and the Mystery of Suffering and Thomas Long’s What Shall We Say?: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith. The horrific shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on February 14th, 2018, just two miles from my doorstep, rattled my faith to its foundation. I have described my spiritual state in the weeks and months following like watching dominos falling, each collapsing another previously held theological certainty. Daily, I wondered if the last domino was about to fall, and if I would have any remaining faith when it did. Thankfully, Rohr and Long were excellent guides and teachers as I wrestled with the deep theological questions of theodicy, evil, and suffering. Though in another category, Ellie Wiesel’s All Rivers Run to the Sea and the retelling of his experience in the Auschwitz death camp, was also an invaluable resource.
Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B
Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief
Ta-nehisi Coastes’ Between the World and Me
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists
Hopefully, this list of books reveals my intent to read a breadth of authors in 2018, which I intend to keep as an ongoing habit. To that end, one of the most personally-challenging books I read this year was Ta-nehisi Coastes’ Between the World and Me. Though only eight years difference in age, growing up in the same era of American history, Coates and I come from very different worlds and life experiences. Reading Coates, I was reminded again of the white privilege I was unfairly afforded, at the expense of many others, which I have been far too blind to for far too long.
Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf’s Romancing the Shadow: Illuminating the Dark Side of the Soul
Robert A. Johnson’s Living Your Unlived Life and Owning Your Own Shadow
Ian Cron and Suzane Stabile’s The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery
Suzanne Stabile’s The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
The Arbinger Institute’s The Anatomy of Peace
Though my family is obsessed with the Enneagram, thanks to the writings and podcasts of Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile, I’m finding Robert Johnson’s teachings on the “shadow” to be particularly helpful at this stage of my life, as I am seeking to become more aware of my “shadow side,” and how to discover my authentic “true self.”
Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood
Robert Ellsberg’s Dorothy Day: Selected Writings
Ellie Wiesel’s All River’s Run to the Sea
Though really just a broad collection of Dorothy Days writings, Ellsberg does a fine job capturing the character and convictions of Dorothy Day; a devout Roman Catholic and social activist of the twentieth century. I am challenged by her commitment to follow Christ, serving the poorest of the poor, with such courage and unwavering self-sacrifice.
In addition to the books listed above, there are a few more I started, but haven’t finished (yet)…
Wilkie and Naureen Au’s Grateful Heart
Thich Nhat Hahn’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching
Diana Butler Bass’ Grateful
William a Barry’s Finding God in All Things
Tod Bolsinger’s Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Unchartered Territory
So, what did you read in 2018? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Would you recommend it? I’d love to know!
And, what’s on your list for 2019? Maybe I’ll read it too!