Top 10 Books I Recommend of 2018

Did you have a favorite book this year?

Here are my favorites from 2018 (some were published in 2018; others came earlier). Did you read any of these, too? Or do you see one you’d like to read in 2019?

Top 10 Books of 2018_lisanotes

These books span a variety of genres: biography, memoir, politics, psychology, and religion & spirituality.

10.  Hallelujah Anyway
Rediscovering Mercy
by Anne Lamott

Hallelujah Anyway

Anne Lamott is so good at making things plain, yet profound. This book on God’s mercy helps you stay in love with God. I took copious notes.

“What’s the catch? The catch is that there is no catch. This is so subversive. All I have to do in order to begin again is to love mercy.”

9. Wait
The Art and Science of Delay
by Frank Partnoy


I’d rather get something finished earlier rather than later. But sometimes it’s better to pause instead of rushing in. This book was counterintuitive to many of the ways I think.

“There is an optimal amount of delay. Not everyone needs to be faster.”

8. Tears We Cannot Stop
A Sermon to White America
by Michael Eric Dyson


Michael Eric Dyson is blunt. He says things we need to hear. About the white elephant in the room, white privilege. About schooling our white brothers and sisters, our cousins and uncles, our loved ones and friends. About participating to make a difference.

“The more black folk you know, the less likely you are to stereotype us. The less you stereotype us, the less likely you are to fear us. The less you fear us, the less likely you are to want to hurt us, or to accept our hurt as the price of your safekeeping. The safer you feel, the safer we’ll be.”

7. The Knowledge Illusion
Why We Never Think Alone
by Steven Sloman


We think we know more than we do. As individuals, we know a lot less than we know collectively. There’s too much to know. That’s why we need to learn how to make the best use of each others’ knowledge.

“The curse of knowledge is that we tend to think what is in our heads is in the heads of others. In the knowledge illusion, we tend to think what is in others’ heads is in our heads. In both cases, we fail to discern who knows what.”

6. Beyond the Messy Truth
How We Came Apart, How We Come Together
by Van Jones


It’s been a rough two years in politics. Van Jones not only acknowledges the problems (and he steps on everybody’s toes), but he also shows us a path forward. We can do better. He includes tons of helpful resources at the back of the book, regardless of which side you lean politically.

“One side is committed to liberty. The other side is committed to justice. Our schoolchildren get it right every morning; they pledge allegiance to a nation offering liberty and justice for all.”

5. The Gift of Years
Growing Older Gracefully
by Joan D. Chittister


Joan Chittister doesn’t ignore the hard things about growing older; she redeems them. She finds the beauty in aging, and helps us discover them for ourselves. These things are more on my mind with each passing birthday.

“Life is not about age, about the length of years we manage to eke out of it. It is about aging, about living into the values offered in every stage of life.”

4. The Sin of Certainty
Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs
by Pete Enns


Pete Enns doesn’t condemn us for wanting to be “right” about what we believe; that’s a good thing. But he point out that we are not totally right. No one is. We all get some things right and many things wrong. We don’t have to put our trust in our knowledge; our faith is in God as he is, not in who we think he is.

‘I’m just following the Bible.’ No one just ‘follows’ the Bible. We interpret it as people with a past and present, and in community with others, within certain traditions, none of which is absolute.”

3. Everybody, Always
Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People
by Bob Goff

Everybody Always

If you want to be inspired to love bigger, read this book. Bob Goff is enthusiastic, illuminating, and motivating. He has a way of making you want to seek out an enemy just so you can love him.

“Find a way to love difficult people more, and you’ll be living the big life Jesus talked about. Go find someone you’ve been avoiding and give away extravagant love to them. You’ll learn more about God, your neighbor, your enemies, and your faith.”

2. When
The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
by Daniel H. Pink


You’ll change the way you think about time after reading this book. And if you let it, it can also affect your behaviors for the better. I took page after page of notes from this one. Daniel Pink always challenges my status-quo thinking.

“I used to believe in ignoring the waves of the day. Now I believe in surfing them. I used to believe that lunch breaks, naps, and taking walks were niceties. Now I believe they’re necessities. I used to believe that the best way to overcome a bad start at work, at school, or at home was to shake it off and move on. Now I believe the better approach is to start again or start together.”

1. The Sun Does Shine
How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
by Anthony Ray Hinton


Anthony Ray Hinton was wrongly accused of multiple murders. He spent almost 30 years of his life in an Alabama prison for crimes he did not do. Finally, finally, justice prevailed, truth was revealed, and Anthony was set free. He tells his story from beginning to end here. You won’t forget it once you read it.

“When you are trying to survive, the superficial things don’t matter anymore. When you are hanging at the end of your rope, does it really matter what color the hand is that reaches up to help you?”

But Wait, There’s More!

And because I can never stop at just ten, here is my runner-up set of ten more books.

The next 10:

11. American Grace
How Religion Divides and Unites Us
by Robert D. Putnam

12. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
by Yuval Noah Harari

13. 42 Seconds
The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions
by Carl Medearis

14. Obama: An Intimate Portrait
The Historic Presidency in Photographs
by Pete Souza

15. The Desert and the Sea
977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast
by Michael Scott Moore

16. Blessed Are the Misfits
Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something
by Brant Hansen

17. Fear
Trump in the White House
by Bob Woodward

18. The Line Becomes A River
Dispatches from the Border
by Francisco Cantú

19. The Path Between Us
An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
by Suzanne Stabile

20. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
A 10% Happier How-To Book
by Dan Harris

* * *

What was your favorite book this year? Please share in the comments.

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25 thoughts on “Top 10 Books I Recommend of 2018

  1. Kathryn Trask

    Lisa I haven’t read any of these yet! I do believe I’ll read Joan Chittister’s book in 2019, I like her and have heard her speak. Also Daniel Pink book is one that appeals and I am in line at the library for Fear. About no. 32! I would love to view the Obama book, I must see if that is at the library.

  2. Heather

    I haven’t read any of these yet. It hasn’t been a great year of books for me, I can’t think of a favorite and I’m in a book club! Thanks for giving me this to look through!

  3. Lesley

    Thanks for sharing your top picks of the year, Lisa! I haven’t read any of these but Everybody Always and The Sin Of Certainty are on my list and I hope to read them in 2019!

  4. Laurie

    I am going to have to look back over my 2018 reads. Not sure what my favorite was. I did enjoy the Anne Lamott book and The Sun Does Shine. So many good books to read!

  5. Dianna

    You always give me such wonderful options when it comes to reading material, Lisa. Out of your list, I want to read numbers one through five! They are going on my wish list.

    Out of all the books that I’ve read this year, I think the one that was the most beneficial for me was John MacArthur’s book Worship, The Ultimate Priority.

  6. Aunee

    Great picks, Lisa! I’m working on my top 10 list for the year as well 🙂

    A few favorites were The End of Your Life Book Club, The Map of Salt and Stars, and The Ministry of Ordinary Places.

  7. floyd samons

    I just realized that I haven’t read a book this year. Bought some, several… but haven’t read more than twenty pages of any of them. Maybe I should start with “When”?

    I gotta get off this merry go round…

  8. Mary Geisen

    Every time I think I have read a number of good books, I come across a list like yours and I am challenged all over again. I read Everybody Always and loved it. I listen to Suzanne Stabile’s podcast but have not read her book. I am hoping to read a book by Anne Lamott in the near future. Do you have a favorite? I will need to write these books down to remember these great titles.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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