Books

2018 Must Read List

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Another goal of mine this year is to read more, a lot more.  I find it hard to believe (okay, maybe not) I used to hate reading, but the only reading I ever did was for school, stories I had no choice over weather I wanted to read them or not. It wasn’t until my junior of high school I began reading novels I was actually interested in. Ever since then, I’ve found reading to be rather enjoyable and much more relaxing than ever before.

I’ve been slacking off on my book reviews the past couple of months. I need to pick up the pace. Take a look at the novels on my list this year:

Readinglist

My favorite author, Jodi Picoult is a fiction writer. The newest title of her latest book hasn’t been released yet, but don’t worry! I still haven’t completed my goal for reading all of her books. I’ve included an older title on my list this year. Also, check out my book review of Small Great Things, Jodi’s best novel yet! I had the pleasure of meeting her last year during her book tour.

Fiction

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Everything Here is Beautiful (2018) – Mira T. Lee

A dazzling novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreak

Two sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. But Lucia impetuously plows ahead, marrying a bighearted, older man only to leave him, suddenly, to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She moves her new family from the States to Ecuador and back again, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.

Told in alternating points of view, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, the story of a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.

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As Bright as Heaven (2018) – Susan Meissner

Set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love. In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

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Keeping Faith (2000) – Jodi Picoult

This novel’s haunting strength will hold the reader until the very end and make Faith and her story impossible to forget.

When the marriage of Mariah White and her cheating husband, Colin turns ugly and disintegrates, their seven-year-old daughter, Faith, is there to witness it all. In the aftermath of a rapid divorce, Mariah falls into a deep depression – and suddenly Faith, a child with no religious background whatsoever, hears divine voices, starts reciting biblical passages, and develops stigmata. And when the miraculous healing’s begin, mother and daughter are thrust into the volatile center of controversy and into the heat of a custody battle – trapped in a mad media circus that threatens what little stability they have left.

History

If you can’t already tell, I’m fascinated by anything related to the Holocaust, one of our worst periods of time in world history. I guess I’m immensely drawn to it, because I will never be able to fathom how human beings could do such destruction to other innocent human beings. The significant amount of courage and strength of survivors just blows me away.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz (2018) – Antonio Iturbe

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

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We Were the Lucky Ones (2017) – Georgia Hunter

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

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Night (2006 Edition) Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Memoirs

I love reading biographies about fearless women who’ve overcome the worst moments in their lives. It gives me hope that I too can make it through anything.

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Where There’s Hope (2018) – Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart follows up her #1 New York Times bestseller, My Story―about being held in captivity as a teenager, and how she managed to survive―with a powerful and inspiring book about what it takes to overcome trauma, find the strength to move on, and reclaim one’s life.

Author. Activist. Victim―no more.

In her fearless memoir, My Story―the basis of the Lifetime Original movie I Am Elizabeth Smart―Elizabeth detailed, for the first time, the horror behind the headlines of her abduction by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. Since then, she’s married, become a mother, and travelled the world as the president of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, sharing her story with the intent of helping others along the way.

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I am Malala (2014) – Malala Yousafzai

I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire and change in the world.

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Life After Darkness (2018) – Michelle Knight AKA Lily Rose Lee

From Michelle Knight-Cleveland kidnapping survivor and #1 NYT bestselling author of Finding Me-comes an inspirational book about healing and resilience, to be published on the five-year anniversary of her escape from Ariel Castro, who held her, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry captive for over a decade.

Documentary

Anyone who has a close relationship with me definitely knows how much I’m obsessed with Peter Pan. I wanted to be the girl who never grew up. J.M. Barrie is one of the greatest story tellers of his time. The true story behind Peter Pan is anything but happy. Tragically heartbreaking, James was determined to stay a boy forever, because he could not find happiness as an adult. For someone with such sadness in his heart, its hard to believe he was able to come up with such a riveting fairy tale. He taught me believing isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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J.M. Barrie and The Lost Boys (2003 Edition) – Andrew Birkin

This is the real story behind Peter Pan. J. M. Barrie, Victorian novelist, playwright, and author of Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, led a life almost as magical and interesting as as his famous creation. Childless in his marriage, Barrie grew close to the five young boys of the Llewelyn Davies family, ultimately becoming their guardian and devoted surrogate father when they were orphaned. Andrew Birkin draws extensively on a vast range of material by and about Barrie, including notebooks, memoirs, and hours of recorded interviews with the family and their circle, to describe Barrie’s life and the wonderful world he created for the boys.

While I used to be really into thrillers, I’m not so much anymore, but I still enjoy good suspense every now and then.

Mystery/Thriller

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The Woman in the Window (2018) – A.J. Finn

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russell’s move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and it’s shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

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The Wife Between Us (2018) – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

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The Good Daughter (2017) – Karin Slaughter

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

Religion

I recently began reading Christian fiction, as well as, non-fiction, and I have yet to be disappointed. Scripture based reading material always leaves me feeling refreshed, full of hope, and ready to face any challenges that may come my way. There is no better feeling than the assurance from God.

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The Case for Christ (1988) – Lee Strobel

Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. Strobel challenges them with questions like, How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event? Winner of the Gold Medallion Book Award and twice nominated for the Christian Book of the Year Award, Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction. It’s a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure. This book has been made into a major film. Available now on Netflix!

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Love Story (2017) – Karen Kingsbury

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a new book featuring everyone’s favorite family—the Baxters, which tells the story of how John and Elizabeth first fell in love.

From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years—until Elizabeth died of cancer. So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole’s heritage project, he’s not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven’t gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.

Whether you’re meeting the Baxter family for the first time or finding them all over again, Love Story will stir your heart and remind you of the generational impact of love and the eternal bond of family.

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The Resolution for Women (2011) – Priscilla Shirer

Based on the film Courageous. In The Resolution for Women, popular speaker and author Priscilla Shirer challenges all women to be intentional about embracing and thriving in God’s beautiful and eternal calling on their lives. She explains how today’s women can and should live out their own resolution. It is “a defining banner that hangs over your life, written in the ink of your own choices.” A woman’s banner should be an accurate reflection of who she desires to be-someone completely Christ-centered who blesses and changes things in her world for the better.

Inspirational

Inspirational novels continue to be one of my favorite genres. Reading stories of perseverance and survival, weather it is a true story, or not, encourages me to be my best self and live life to the fullest. As cliche as it sounds, life is too short to be anything but happy. We could all use a motivational push in the right direction.

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Wild (2012) – Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. Now a major motion picture. 

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Eat, Pray, Love (2006) – Elizabeth Gilbert

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love touched the world and changed countless lives, inspiring and empowering millions of readers to search for their own best selves. Now a major motion picture. 

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (2013) – Fredrik Backman

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

I’m also looking forward to reading books based upon my words I chose for this year:

Gratitude

Choosing Gratitude – Nancy Leigh Demoss

The Gratitude Diaries – Janice Kaplan

The Grateful Life – Nina Lesowitz

Perspective

The Power of Perspective – Ian Davis

Option B – Sheryl Sandberg

Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Commitment (Marriage)

The Power of a Praying Wife – Stormie Omartian

Love & Respect – Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Becoming the Woman of His Dreams – Saron Jaynes

Capture His Heart – Lysa Terkeurst

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What are you looking forward to reading this year?

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4 thoughts on “2018 Must Read List

  1. A lot of these books are on my TBR this year as well (like We Were the Lucky Ones and As Bright as Heaven). In fact, I’m currently reading I Am Malala. So far, it’s really good! Great list!

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve walked past I Am Malala at the bookstore so many times over the last year, I think she was trying to tell me something. -haha I’m excited to get started 🙂

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