Embracing reading as a hobby was one of my joys of 2018. It has been a lovely piece of self-care in the midst of giving to tiny people. I’ve geeked out: listening to podcasts, keeping track of recommendations and I’ve kept a little notebook to write down all the books I’ve read with a favourite quote. I also did Modern Mrs Darcy’s Reading Challenge, which helped me to widen my reading horizons. There has been quite a range of books from ‘The Gentle Potty Training Book’ to Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ (which will be the first book I finish in 2019). But here are some of the stand out titles from the 50(?!) I read this year.
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante:: A compulsive, occasionally harrowing read about friendship and growing up in a deprived neighbourhood in Naples.
The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah:: Historical fiction about the part that some French women played (big and small) in the resistance during World War 2. I wept an embarrassing amount reading this one.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman:: How could I resist when it was set in Glasgow? I read this in a day as part of my reading challenge and loved the transformative power of kindness.
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee:: A historical family saga about Koreans living in Japan through the 20th Century. I hadn’t known anything about this period and there were some wonderful resilient women in this.
Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain – Sue Gerhardt:: This book traces links between a baby’s experiences of care and adult mental health. It was my most ‘sciencey’ read this year, a helpful reminder that attachment isn’t just about family life, but impacts relationships and communities too.
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again – Rachel Held Evans:: I loved Rachel’s vision of the bible as a ‘relational sacred text’ and an ongoing story.
The Ministry of Ordinary Places – Shannan Martin:: A book about paying attention to our lives, neighbouring well and finding God in the process. Pretty much how I want to live my life.
Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites – Deb Perelman:: Loaning recipe books from the library forces us to read them and cook from them. These recipes always seem to turn out like they should, we love the crispy tofu and broccoli with sesame-peanut pesto. We also love Cooking on a Bootstrap by Jack Monroe.
And because listening to and sharing podcasts is another of my favourite things…
Everything Happens with Kate Bowler:: I love these conversations about hard times, compassion, kindness and hope. I often laugh and cry within the space of a half hour episode. The conversation about empathy and communication with Alan Alda was particularly special.
The Sleeping at Last Podcast:: Sleeping at Last has recorded songs for each of the Enneagram types, and hearing his musical process is such a fun way to learn about the different personality types (If you’re new to the Enneagram, this is a pretty good place to start).
Sounds Good with Branden Harvey:: Down to earth and hopeful conversations with a variety of people seeking to do good in the world. Check out the episode with Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission.
And of course, I always love to hear your recommendations. I’m looking forward to getting into the books below in 2019 (most fiction I read as e-books from the library, so this is a slightly imbalanced picture!).