The Best Books I Read In 2018

In keeping with my annual average, in 2018 I read approximately 50 books. Here are my 10 favorites. This list is entirely subjective; they are not the 10 best books out there, just the 10 that spoke to me the most in my current season of life and ministry.

10. Canoeing the Mountains; Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger. Just as Lewis and Clark had to change paradigms and methods when they realized there was no direct water route through the rockies, Christian leaders must also adapt as they navigate uncharted territory where old methods are no longer effective.

9. The Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of Wanderlust by Laura Smith. Smith reflects on her own penchant for independence as she traces the story of Barbara Newhall Follett, an early-20th-century wunderkind who walked out on her life and disappeared without a trace in 1939 at the age of 25.

8. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better by Gretchen Rubin. The author of The Happiness Project proposes four personality types based on how a person responds to internal and external expectations. This book led to self-awareness and good conversations with my husband.

7. Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller. I don’t always agree with Keller as I am not Reformed, but this book is meaty, brilliant, and inspiring. Months later, I’m still digesting.

6. Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin. I appreciated Marin’s grace, compassion, and humility on this polarizing issue. It inspired me to be more Christlike; is there any higher praise?

5. An Immovable Feast: How I Gave Up Spirituality for a Life of Religious Abundance by Tyler Blanski. In engaging prose, Blanski chronicles his journey from childhood to the Catholic priesthood. I’m not Catholic, but this book helped me understand Catholicism, its appeal, and its value to Christendom.

4. On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old by Parker Palmer. With trademark self-deprecating candor, Palmer reflects on eight decades of life and the prospect of death.

3. Church History in Plain Language, 4th Edition by Bruce Shelley. A classic that should be required reading for any church leader. It renewed my love for the universal body of Christ even as it described the many ways the church has taken wrong turns over the course of history.

2. Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness—A Philosopher’s Lament by Douglas Groothuis. From the description on Amazon: “How do you continue to find God as dementia pulls your loved one into the darkness?” Brutally honest, theologically profound, and deeply moving.

1. The Eternal Current: How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us From Drowning by Aaron Niequist. Niequist, former worship pastor at Willow Creek, calls Christians to deeper intimacy with God and community by integrating the depth and breadth of the sacred practices that have guided the Church for two millennia. This book put words to thoughts and longings that have been bouncing around my head and heart in the last several years.

What were your favorite books in 2018?

Angie Ward