2018, A.J. Finn, angst, Anne of Green Gables, authentic, best of, books, career, Christian fiction, Circe, classic, connection, dreams, faith, family, Fiercehearted, Greek mythology, growth, healing, high school, Holly Gerth, How to Walk Away, imagination, innocence, isolation, Jenny Han, Katherine Center, kindness, L.M. Montgomery, literature, Madeline Miller, Maggie O'Farrell, mental health, mystery, obstacles, opportunities, perspective, progress, R.J. Palacio, Rachel Hauck, relationships, resiliency, strength, The Woman in the Window, The Writing Desk, This Must Be the Place, thriller, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, wonder, YA
Happy New Year! As we begin a fresh calendar year, I want to share my top reads from 2018. That way we can start our reading lists with good titles and a reminder of the plethora of wonderful reads awaiting us.
- How to Walk Away by Katherine Center: This book follows a woman my age as she finishes her MBA program. As she anticipates starting her new job and accepting her fiancé’s proposal, her dreams literally go up in flames in a plane crash. Margaret must learn to heal physically, emotionally and mentally as she learns a new way of life and builds new dreams. Talk about a reminder of human resiliency. This book demonstrates hope and holds a wonderful sweetness.
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio: This read also reminds readers of human strength. It proves the power of kindness, especially in small actions. Little boy August constantly deals with obstacles in life, some seen by others and some not. He faces ridicule and misunderstanding by his peers, but he maintains strength in character. I highly recommend to readers of all ages as we all need to show more kindness.
- This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell: A complicated family tale, this story delves into the depths of familial relationships. Daniel Sullivan encounters tragedy and triumph as he navigates his life and looks back on his mistakes and accomplishments. Through it all, we see the core of a family and how it holds together, sometimes in unexpected ways.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: This YA gem hits the mark! It makes such a sweet, fun story, and it even introduces a character with a Korean background. Not to mention, it involves a teenage girl with admirable qualities (I find it especially refreshing to see a realistic and innocent perspective on sex). The book takes you to the thrills of high school while also exploring the angst and growth experienced during that sometimes tumultuous time. *The movie did a great job capturing all this on screen too. I’d consider Peter for a Valentine nominee this year.
- The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck: This has introduced me to Hauck, and I wholeheartedly look forward to reading more of her books (I have a couple in my birthday book stack). The story goes back and forth in time between two young women embarking on writing careers and struggling to find mutual understanding with their mothers. Each one faces obstacles and yearns to stay true to her values and to develop her faith. The issues are relatable, and the women likeable.
- Circe by Madeline Miller: Circe serves as my pleasant surprise for the year. Getting my first deeper look into Greek mythology, I find myself more interested after reading this book. The themes of isolation, abandonment, love, connection and more play out in unique ways. I have enjoyed getting pulled into such a different story and learning some of the characters’ background.
- The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn: Finn’s debut also goes outside my typical realm as it fits into the mystery/thriller category. However, to my appreciation, this book doesn’t involve gory violence or other sick scenarios. In an homage to Hitchcock style movies, it explores the real pitfalls of isolation and mental health. It sends a positive message of the importance of connection. Now I want to watch some of the movies that inspired Finn.
- Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center: A release coming later this year, Center’s next book continues her sweet stories with positive outlooks. It explores building new relationships and forgiving people who have caused significant harm. Again, it reminds us of the power of human connection and a strength and hope to move forward.
- Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth: Gerth feels like a kindred spirit in her devotional style book with short chapters. Each anecdote carries such an authentic tone, and she has a unique perspective always open to learning. Seemingly ordinary details in life become opportunities to grow. She reminds me that God speaks to us at all times, willing to guide us at every step.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: I can now say I’ve read this classic, and I love it. Anne has such a contagious positive outlook on life. Orphaned and learning from her adoptive mom Marilla how to lead a more civilized life, Anne’s imagination both gets her into trouble and keeps her head up. She takes her lessons in stride and makes so much progress.
Cheers to another great year of reading!