I love reading, but I’ve never had a reading goal until 2017. I thought I’d start out slowly, giving myself an attainable goal. I hoped to read 15 books last year. It was surprisingly easy. I didn’t make reading a priority. I just read when I wanted to. If you love reading and are looking for recommendations to add to your reading list, here are my five favorites from last year.
5. The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art – Erwin Raphael McManus
The Artisan Soul was written by a Christian author, designer, filmmaker, and pastor. This book is all about how our spirituality and creativity are more closely connected than we think. He suggests we were all intended to live creative lives, no matter what field of work we are in. This book was really interesting to me and explained some of the things I felt, but was not eloquent enough to speak.
4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
Let me start by saying I adored reading this book. It’s a treasure. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a fictional book about a ragtag group of people who live on the Channel Islands and the stories they have about their experience during World War II. These individuals are as quirky as the title of this book (kind of like the citizens of Stars Hallow in Gilmore Girls). An American journalist is won over by their delightfully strange personalities and resolves to write their story. This book has some romance, intrigue, sadness, and silliness. The best part is the entire story is told in letters written back and forth to each other.
3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
This book was everywhere last year so I had to give it a read. I’m so glad I did. I’ll admit my enjoyment of this book had so much to do with my own history. I, like the author, have Scottish and Irish roots. Also, my gramps grew up in Kermit, West Virginia, to a family of coal miners. So many of the anecdotes described in Hillbilly Elegy were remarkably similar to stories gramps told me about his childhood. I felt connected to him in a new way while reading this book. Hillbilly Elegy is a story of the hillbilly culture, how the author’s family coped with poverty and their history of bad habits as they learned to interact with others in the world with different values.
2. Beartown – Fredrik Backman
This is the first book I read by Fredrik Backman. My favorite fictional books are those filled with many complex individuals interacting to create an even deeper, more complex story. Backman knows how to do just that. He is a master at painting humanity in the deep, complex, sometimes dark state it truly is. He challenges stereotypes and chooses unlikely heroes. If that appeals to you, definitely give this book a try.
1. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
All the Light We Cannot See is not just the best book I read last year; it may very well be the best book I’ve read in 10 years. It’s definitely in the top three. Set in World War II, this novel bounces you back and forth between two main characters’ lives. The first character is a young blind girl from Paris as she navigates the world in a time of crisis. The second character is a young German boy recruited as a Nazi soldier and the moral choices he must make to survive. Reading this story, while lengthy, was never boring. Doerr is so knowledgeable and has incredible artistic vision. Reading through this story was like finding little treasures as you go. They may not mean too much in the moment, but you know the pay-off will be big in the end.
Do you have any recommendations for my 2018 reading list?? I’d love to hear them! Thank you, Hanna Osterwyk, Kim Fahnestock, and Sarah Welch for some incredible recommendations last year!!