This year’s reading was a little different for me. I normally read a far greater number of fiction books with only a few non-fiction titles. But knowing my weakness in this area, I decided to forgo all fiction (outside of my own writing) during Lent. I needed that time to reset my mind and habits. I also used the “Reading Challenge” feature on Goodreads to help track my books for the year and discourage random seasons of booklessness. Out of 46 books read, here are my top ten of 2018!
Wayfarer by K.M. Weiland (5 stars)
I’d been anticipating this book ever since reading a tiny blurb about it years ago. 1700-1800s is my favorite time period and superheroes are my jam. I also knew K.M. would do it right. And she did not disappoint! She definitely did her homework for the period and the characters were well developed. Out of all of her novels, this is probably my favorite (although tied with Behold the Dawn). I highly recommend this to anyone who loves historical fantasy/superheroes.
The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder (5 stars)
Wonderful genre bender! Reeder infused The Electrical Menagerie with elements from steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, and murder mystery. I loved that the world and tech was all simple (mostly--I was a little confused about the stars and what they had to do with religion and politics) but still quite unique. The characters were lovable and had real depth. I originally read this book as research for my own writing about automatons, but I will keep reading this series for sure.
The More Known World (#2 in Oddfit Series) by Tiffany Tsao (5 stars)
Despite the author’s occasional (intentional?) shirking of modern storytelling *rules* I love her. I love this series. I love love love LOVE it! If you are a fan of a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy sense of humor and a love of awkward people, you just might adore this book (series) as much as I did.
Keeper of Shadows by Bridgett Powers (4 stars)
Christian epic fantasy anyone? This is a classic fantasy setting (including setting, verbiage, and classic mythical creatures such as faeries and unicorns), but the use of "magic" in this world is forbidden by the King--as in scripture. A delicate balance is struck between fulfilling reader expectations for the fantasy genre while simultaneously staying true to commands in the Bible regarding sorcery. The prose was gorgeous and free from common commercial ailments. The characters, especially Brennus, were well developed and grew slowly, and believably over the course of 500 pages. I’m looking forward to the next book!
The Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle (4 stars)
I reread this series this year because the author rereleased it with some edits including a couple new scenes. She’s even beginning to release it on audiobook! Exciting stuff! It’s been one of my favorite Christian YA series for time and I loved delving back into the world of Alitheia with Darcy and Tellius!
Honorable mention: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior (5 stars)
Okay so technically I haven’t finished this book yet. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the most wonderful things I have ever read. And some of my reasons for saying that are very personal. Not only is this book about reading fiction (my heart!) but it’s about reading fiction with purpose and for the sake of Christian virtue (more on why virtue ethics is personal for me in a sec). I have long been discouraged by the amount of modern secular and Christian fiction on the market that seeks to entertain (and even torture) readers for the sake of writing thrilling page-turners. Although this book is about reading well and not specifically writing well, I think the Christian fiction writer can pull a lot from it too. And now regarding virtue ethics! My husband has been studying that branch of ethics for over ten years with the desire to see more people in the protestant church adopt it. We both feel God has called us to serve the church. One of the ways we hope to do that is through the teaching of virtue ethics—he in a classroom and me with my stories (which may one day see the fluorescent lights of a bookshop). I’ll need to stop there before I write an entirely new blog post. Basically I think this book is super important for more reasons that I can say! Read it. And then give it to someone else to read.
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson (5 stars)
This might be my new favorite book on humility—or perhaps tied with The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. What this has over Keller’s is thoroughness, and (IMHO) a slightly more accurate definition of the virtue. But I could be wrong. (Shrug.) I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of humility.
Lit! by Tony Reinke (5 stars)
This book was EXCELLENT. Even writing this at the end of the year, I feel like I need to reread it already. Reinke gave a theology of reading along with some very practical thoughts and suggestions. . . . I could go on and on. I loved this so much that I wrote one of my Lorehaven articles based on one quote from this book. If you’re a Christian and you like to read, don’t like to read, don’t like to read but wish you liked to read, then this is for you!
Women and God by Kathleen Neilson (5 stars)
This book was wonderful and timely. I have perused other books on women lately only to be disappointed in their treatment of scripture. Nielson's theology, application, and understand of women's inner workings was on point. She was fair, but critical. She did not throw the baby out with the bathwater (my pet peeve....) I bought this book in kindle format but now I'm going to get it in paperback so I can loan it out. If you're swinging on the pendulum of women's issues in the home and church, READ THIS BOOK!
All That's Good by Hannah Anderson (5 stars)
Two books from Hannah Anderson made it onto my top ten this year! That’s only because I haven’t read her third book yet. Expect that to show up next year! I had a hard time getting into this one, but the pay off was well worth it. I especially enjoyed the last chapter on the spiritual gift of discernment. I will highly recommend this book for a long, long time!
Honorable mention: The Gospel comes with a house key by Rosaria Butterfield