Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Favorite Books of 2018

I wasn't sure what my "Favorites" list would look like for 2018 since there were a couple of months I couldn't read from my right eye due to a serious eye infection that occurred the week prior to July 4th. 

I'm very thankful that my retinal specialist worked to save the sight in my eye, opening his office on the 4th of July just to give me my last set of antibiotic injections.  I couldn't see at all from that eye for awhile and even now over seven months later, I still cannot see clearly out of it.  Especially when reading.

Since reading was a struggle for so long, I didn't read many books of fiction last year but I did start reviewing again.  Just not as many books as before.  When I looked through my book journal, I was relieved to find a good amount of favorites read last year.  Not as many as usual... but enough.

These are given in about the order they were read, most were paperback or hardback editions but a couple were Kindle (I came to appreciate my Kindle very much since the font could be enlarged easily).

Favorite Books of 2018

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
I had been curious about this book and when it went on a Kindle sale for $1.99, I snapped it up.  This is a fun little book, especially when you can only read a chapter or two at a time.  This is considered the "definitive" book on hygge.
Info... here

When the English Fall by David Williams
If the last book was light, this is just the opposite.  I heard about this book after reading an article about it (or in another book?) and the premise peaked my curiosity.  What happens if there is an EMP event from the perspective of the Amish, who do not depend on power but are deeply affected by the consequences.

I found this fascinating, it is just a little gritty as one would expect from a novel about society falling apart... but not in a CSI way.  However, if you are at all interested in prepping for huge emergencies, then you will read through this as quickly as possible.  This is a first novel for the author so it can be just a little choppy at times but he is forgiven.
Info... here.

The Rock, The Road, and The Rabbi by Kathy Lee Gifford
I accepted this book to review because it sounded fascinating.  This is the true story of Kathy and Frank (a couple of years before his death) going to Israel to be part of a tour led by a Bible teacher/pastor who was known for helping Christians understand the Word from a Jewish Perspective.  It was a life changing trip.

The co-author is a Messianic Rabbi who offers additional insights into the teaching.  This was a faith building read and a fascinating glimpse into the Hebraic roots of the Bible, even the New Testament.  The stories will keep you reading!
Info... here. (This link is to the paperback version, due out in March.  Hardback copies are available third party and pretty cheap at the moment.)

A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur
I heard about this book before it was offered for review and I knew instantly I wanted to read it.  I love so much of Madeleine L'Engle's writing but like many fellow Christians, I was confused as to her theology.  Sometimes it seemed very conservative and at other times, quite liberal.

In this biography, the author not only writes about Madeleine's life but why her theology seems to differ at times.  It's a very interesting read and it helped me understand her more than I did.  It is also an honest look at L'Engle for like everyone, she had her faults that caused friends and family to both cringe and laugh about them... and fans like me to overlook her flaws.
Info... here.

Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson
I was on the blogger launch team for Book Girl and even then, my daughter had a copy before me.  Sarah gave her a preview copy when they had coffee together in Oxford last Spring.  So even before reading it, I had heard from Stephanie how good it was.  She had saved it to read on the long flight home.

When I finally read it, I absolutely loved it.  The title comes from Sarah being raised as a girl who loved books and is partly that story (which is why she called it Book Girl).  However, it is also a "book about books" that true readers will come back to over and over.  Sarah's writing is always lovely.
Info... here.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
If I had to pick a number one favorite book for last year, this would be it.  Although a novel about the friendship and marriage of C. S. Lewis and his wife Joy, it is based on the writings of both individuals.

The book opens with Joy's abusive first marriage and her conversion to Christianity.  We also learn of her success as a poet long before meeting Lewis.  In this story, we come to understand why she was living alone in London for awhile, how she came to meet Lewis and the other Inklings in person, and the events that led up to their marriage.

Honestly, once I got a few chapters into this novel, it was hard to put down.  Even though I knew some of the story.  Fans of Lewis and the Inklings will find this a necessary read (and it is already my most recommended book in years).
Info... here.

Fletchers End by D. E. Stevenson
I had been searching for an inexpensive copy of this hard-to-find sequel to Bel Lamington for years and was thrilled to find one last year.  Bel and her former boss are now married and house hunting when they find a charming "fixer upper" house within an easy commute to London. This is the story of their settling into married life and a story of house love.  The kind of stories I enjoy very much.

I do have some good news for those with a Kindle.  I was pleasantly shocked to find out both Bel Lamington and Fletchers End have recently become available at very reasonable prices for the Kindle.  Individual links are given below but on the Amazon widget on the sidebar (at the moment), is a link to a Kindle version that contains both books.
Info on Bel Lamington for the Kindle... here.
Info on Fletchers End for the Kindle... here.
NOTE:  If you scroll through the "also bought" section, you will find a lot more Stevenson books which have been recently added for the Kindle.  Some titles have been available for awhile but it looks like they have added a lot more.

Overcomer by David Jeremiah
Pastor Jeremiah is one of my very favorite people to listen to on television.  This book is about putting on the whole armor of God, especially for the turbulent times we live in today.

As usual, he makes deep theological meaning very easy to read and understand.  I passed the book on to my husband to read as soon as I finished it.  There are options for a full study guide and DVD for people who want to use this in a group setting but I have just read the book.
Info... here.

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
If there was a section titled "Most Unlikely Book on My Favorites List", it would be this one.  I rarely (as in I can't remember the last time I did) read books by celebrities.

However, I had heard about this book and when I was in Barnes & Noble one day, I looked through it and I admit... loved what I saw.  For this book is a combination cookbook/lifestyle book/ personal story and a love letter to southern women.

My mother was from Kentucky, between Louisville and Lexington, and while so close to the northern states... it is definitely southern.  I saw my mom in many of the stories Reese tells about her upbringing and what it was like growing up in Nashville.

So when Amazon had both a Christmas discount and a $5.00 off "code", it made the price of the book inexpensive.  I used credit to purchase it as a Christmas gift to myself.  It has been such an enjoyable read and the recipes are very good.  If you live in the southern part of the States or if you just like books about recipes and hospitality... you will enjoy it.

Unlike other books by celebrities I have read (yes, even cookbooks that had smut in them!), I didn't find anything offensive in Whiskey in a Teacup but I haven't read every page. However, Reese is very  much the "Southern lady"... even if she now lives in LA.  So this book had to go on my Favorites list.
Info... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.
Image:  Time For Reading by Judy Gibson


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Thank you for mentioning the Reese Witherspoon book, Brenda...I bought a used hardback copy because one of the comments mentioned the photographs. I prefer to look at those in "real" books....

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’ve seen Reese’s book and wondered about it. Mrs. Lewis is on my ‘want to read’ list, and I’m finishing up ‘Book Girl.’

Great list!

Vee said...

Now Deanna and I were just chatting about how suggestible we are after reading your book reviews. Still I am shocked to realize that I don't have any of these mentioned. Oh dear. You have done very well with your reading for a woman dealing for so long with an eye affliction. I am praying that the eyesight becomes clearer and clearer until fully back to excellent sight.

Cay Gibson said...

My children bought me Whiskey in a Teacup for Christmas and, like you, I found it was a pleasantly lovely surprise. I have a fetish for cookbooks with stories.

Smily-Света said...

Thank you for your list, very interesting! It was a surprise to see the book of Reese Witherspoon. I have never heard about it, but I like Reese and would surely but the book now :)

Keri said...

I don't always have the time to read your book reviews when they're posted, so I appreciate your sharing the best of your reads from last year. I definitely see some that will go onto my to-be-read list! And as a lifelong Louisvillian, I always like being reminded that you have a Kentucky connection through your mother. "Between Louisville and Lexington" is a very familiar stretch of road for me, and yes, it's definitely southern in nature, even if so close to northern states.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for sharing your booklist! Both my hubby and I have enjoyed some of your book suggestions in the past! Eager to take a look at some of these! Praying your eyesight continues to improve!
Hugs and Blessings,
Laura C.(WA)

copperswife said...

I so appreciate your best of the year list! I'm adding a couple to me TBR list!

Karen Andreola said...

I also noticed, happily, that a number of D.E. Stevenson's books are now on Kindle inexpensively - some free. This is probably because the stories have been around for decades (selling perennially). It was your fondness for this author, Brenda, that caught my interest as well as two stories that came my way as gifts from two thoughtful blog friends. I've become a fan of her writing. Blessings for the new year.

Terra said...

I see we have some similar reading interests, I would like the Becoming Mrs. Lewis book, I am sure and the biography of L'Engle. I wrote to her twice and she answered each time and of course I kept her letters. I am a fan of D.E. Stevenson too. I am praying that your eye will heal completely.

hopeinbrazil said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post and have added 80 percent of these titles to my TBR list. God bless you, Brenda, for your thoughtfully written posts. I appreciate your gentle perseverance in trials and the hope that you convey.