Reading Wrap Up of 2018 Books

This was my SIXTH year doing 52 Books in 52 Weeks(http://www.read52booksin52weeks.com/). I love it! She always has an evaluation at the end of the year 

Did you reach your reading goal or did you decide to just meander about and follow rabbit trails and end up getting lost in the enjoyment of reading?  

YES, I met my goal. I am an Enneagram Two with a THREE (achiever) wing. So I love achieving my goal every year! 


Where did your armchair travels take you?  Which countries and time periods did you journey through?

To Christ's birthplace, Ignatius of Loyola's Spain, Southern US after the Civil War, 1970s Alaska, Idaho, an Iranian community in Southern California, WWII France, Germany, and Holland; Russia, Barricades of Paris, Chile and California during the Gold Rush, London during the Cholera epidemic in the 1800s, Today's France, Bedford Falls. 


Which books stayed with you the longest?  Did you set any aside to read again at some point and savor the story all over again?



Educated: A Memoir was the best read of the year. What a fantastic book. I will probably not read again, but I so enjoyed it and thought a lot about the value of education!

Did you discover any new to you authors or genres?

Tara Westover - author of above book.  Ian Cron and Chris Heuertz both wrote much more understandable books about the Enneagram. I had tried to understand it before that, and both of these authors helped me appreciate and understand it. 

Which books intrigued or entertained, made you laugh, cry, dance or sing?

I reread Funny in Farsi, My book club didn't particularly like it, but I think it is hilarious. The people (me and another woman) who gave it the highest scores have lived overseas long term. No one else in the book club has done that. I think that made the difference as to why we liked it so much more because we understand the humor in going cross-cultural. (If you don't laugh at yourself overseas, you will cry.) 


Share your favorite titles, covers, quotes and of course, your reading lists.

Usually, there is a book cover that really stands out to me, but I have none this year! Quotes are in each post. Here is my list with a short review. I have a few longer reviews for each book HERE.

1. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence - One of my favorite books and a multiple read. Everyone should enjoy it at least once. 

2. The Game with Minutes by Frank Laubach - It is a fun game to help you experience God 24/7/365. 

3. Letters by a Modern Mystic by Laubach - He was a modern day Brother Lawrence who worked out in the real world. I love this book and a regular reread. 

4. Wonderful Memories of It's a Wonderful Life - One of my favorite movies and a great "insider" perspective on the flick. 

5. Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madame Guyon - When I think back on it, it isn't as great in my mind. I do think the general principles at the beginning are enough. The rest of the book sort of drags out. 

6. Retreat in the Real World: Finding Intimacy with God Wherever You Are - This is the printed version of the Online Retreat through Creighton University. It holds such a special place in my heart. The Spiritual Exercises are a MUST for any follower of Jesus. Really life-changing for me.  It is all on free audio, and now that I am doing the full Exercises, I listen to them while I walk or am in the car. Authors sound so dear. Here is the link to that and the online ministries. Audio does not include the Scriptures for meditation. http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/OLR-Audio/

7. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - Another reread. This time it was for The Renovare Book Club. Always in my TOP TEN of books to read. 

8. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard - DEAR DALLAS. If you doubt that God can speak to you, I heartily recommend this book. He explains it scripturally. A treasured book. 

9. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - Another Renovare Book Club selection. I love this book in every way. Lewis is a genius. 

10. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Nouwen - This is a simple book but powerful. Nouwen looks at the three temptations presented to Christ and likens them to the temptations we face as leaders and their remedies. 

11. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster - A classic and so good for anyone who wants to grow and does not have the disciplines established in their life.

12. Renovation of the Heart by Willard - Anything this man has written is a classic. I love the depth he goes into for doubters. 

13. The Transforming Friendship by Weatherhead - This was recommended by one of my Renovare teachers. It started out strong, but it got redundant. I love the premise of having a friendship with Jesus though! 

14. A Testament of Devotion by Kelly - I love this little gem about devotion to Jesus. 

15. The Spirit of the Disciplines by Willard - This is another classic. I find Foster's book much more practical, but I love how deeply Willard explains the "why" behind it. 

16. Rick Steves Snapshot: Normandy - I love these new "Snapshot" books that he has created from the bigger France book. They are so much easier to carry around! I love his writing style. He makes traveling so fun. (Writing this brings back SWEET memories of Normandy which was our favorite part of the trip this summer. Normandy Beaches and Mont. St. Michel!) 

17. Rick Steves Snapshot:Loire Valley - Same as above. He recommended the BEST restaurant I have ever eaten in! It was the top eating experience of my LIFE!

18. Rick Steves Paris - So detailed and perfect. We saw people (in the double digits) all over carrying this book! 

19. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Cron and Stabile - They have added so much to the dialogue! It is a primer. It makes it so easy to understand and to start your process of transformation. Highly recommend as an introduction. 

20. Living Wisely with the Church Fathers by Christopher A. Hall - I am not a big academic when it comes to this. I love Hall though. He is a very kind man (one of my Renovare Institute teachers). It was part of the Renovare Book Club. The other people in my club LOVED it. I thought it a bit too heady for my tastes, but I am not a big intellectual and more on the pragmatic side of things. 

21. What Do You Really Want? by Manney - I love Manney's style and simplicity. This is the book that first introduced me to Ignatian discernment which is the BOMB. It helped me to discern about leaving the Renovare Institute in July. It was a God-ordained decisions, and I have this book to thank for it. 

22. Pocket Paris by Rick Steves - I ended up taking the full Paris book, but this one is great for a coffee table because it has full color pictures of the places we went to in June!

23. The Ghost Map - Really thorough and engaging story about the London cholera epidemic in the 1800s. Great read, but the epilogue went on way too long!

24. The Nazi Officer's Wife - I liked this true story. I liked the documentary even more. 

25. The Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, M.D. - Wow! I learned so much that I am applying to my spiritual direction practice! I read it twice. It is the "science behind soul care." 

26. Just Call Me Lopez: Getting to the Heart of Ignatius of Loyola by Silf - It is an fictional story about Ignatius meeting a modern day woman. It is sort of weird, but it helped me to understand his life and what went into developing the Spiritual Exercises. 

27. Daughter of Fortune by Alland - It was OK. It is set in Chile and California during the time of the Gold Rush. I liked the writing, but I was not totally taken in by the story. 

28. Sanctuary of the Soul by Foster - It is a primer on meditative prayer and very short and readable. 

29. Jonathan Edwards: America's Genus - I loved learning about this great man in a fun and short audiobook.

30. Sacred Companions by Benner - This was the first of my required readings for my Spiritual Direction Training and helpful to give me a general overview. I realized I had been doing this all my life and did not know it. 

31. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Heuertz - Cron and Stabil's book above is a primer. (Even Cron admits this in his podcast.) This goes much deeper and ties it to contemplative practices. It made my head hurt a couple of times but a good read. 

32. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - My fourth time reading this EPIC NOVEL and MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIMES. So fun to see the streets of the Barricades in Paris this year too. It made the book come alive to have been to the places mentioned in the book. It still delivers and moves me. LOVE this book.

33. Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction  by Phillips - She takes you through direction with nine different people. I really liked it and learned much from her. 

34. The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot by Dostoyevsky - I was in the mood for a good dead Russian author. Karamazov is one of my TOP TEN. I listened to an abridged version. 

35.  Life without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 by Willard - This is based on one of his teaching series, and I found it disappointing. I did not find it profound or memorable, but it had some nice suggestions. 

36. The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything by James Martin, SJ - I finally bought this book because I kept checking it out of the library! It is an encyclopedia for understanding Ignatian Spirituality. I use it almost daily as I write my book about the Spiritual Exercises. I loved it. His Examen podcast is also really nice. Here it is: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-examen-with-fr-james-martin-sj/id1346804716

37. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr - I just have a hard time with his writing style. It was an OK book. People love him so he might be for you. I like the book's premise of looking toward continuing to grow in the second half of life. 

38. Letting God Come Close: An Approach to the Ignatian Exercises by Barry SJ - Since I hope to take people through the Exercises soon, I read this to help me do so. It is a lovely book. 

39. All the Light We Cannot See by Doerr - I didn't like it as much as I thought I would based on all the rave reviews. It was read after Les Mis. What can I say? It is a hard act to follow. 

40. Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Guenther - I didn't feel like it added anything to my understanding. Meh. 

41. Anatomy of the Soul - Reread. See above. 

42. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All the Difference by Hansen - It is a "pop" Christian book and really "hot" right now. My book club gave it a 9, and I gave it a 7.5. I agree we are not to be offended. It is just a "DON'T DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS WRONG" kind of book rather than looking at the deeper issues that lead to us being offended in the first place. Reading it in the midst of Spiritual Direction, Ignatian Spiritual Exercises books, and the Enneagram make me look at it in such a different light. Let's go deeper people and see REAL transformation rather than sticking a band-aid on a problem. 

43. The Road Back to you - Reread. See above. 

44. The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call of Self-Discovery by Benner - Another book for my certification in Spiritual Direction. I think this would be helpful for anyone wanting to gain more self-awareness. It is a dear book. 

45. Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction - This would help any group leader and my favorite of all the books about spiritual direction we have had to read. 

46. The Practice of Spiritual Direction by Barry and Connolly  These two authors are sages in spiritual direction. I found their wisdom engaging, and it added to my knowledge in the field. I am eating all of this reading up! So glad I made the switch to this curriculum for personal growth.  I also liked that they are Ignatian in their spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.” 

47. Funny in Farsi by Dumas - I think it is hilarious. My book club thought it was not very good. To each his own (commented on it already more above).

48. What's Your Decision: How to Make Choices with Confidence and Clarity - They changed the book about Ignatian decision making in my curriculum so this was much more of a repeat of What Do you Really Want? mentioned above. I like this one too, but it was repeat with perhaps a little more depth. 

49. The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith - I liked some parts of this, but it repeated much AGAIN at the end. Not sure why. It needs a good edit. Some of the "stages" are pretty obvious to me, but that is probably because I have worked with people for many years. I did like the chapter on "The Wall" the most. 

50. Becoming Dallas Willard by Gary Moon -  A loving look at the life of a modern day saint. I love Willard (is that obvious?). Gary treats his life story with such love and care. I found this such a joy to read, and Gary provided probing questions through the Renovare Book Club for our own Spiritual Formation. Loved this. 

51. Educated: A Memoir by Westover - Read it. You will love it. I already talked about it above, but it was my favorite book of 2018. Could not put it down. So riveting! 

52. The Enneagram and Prayer - An interesting take on prayer based on your type. I didn't like it at first but did by the end. 

53. The Great Alone - This is a popular book right but I didn't think it was all that great. Really melodramatic in parts. Fiction about a dysfunctional family who moves to Alaska. Meh. 

54. The Path Between Us by Stabil - Enneagram and relationships with different types. Helpful. 

55. God's Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discovery God's Will by Thibodeaux SJ - This is my favorite of the three books I have read on Ignatian discernment. 

56. God Finds Us: An Experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Manney - This author, Jim Manney, is the whole reason I went on the Ignatian journey in the first place. So I thought it would be worthwhile to read his own experience with the Exercises. It was a quick and enjoyable read. He is so relatable!  If you have not figured it out by now, I love the Exercises. If you have never done them, I urge you to try them. They are truly life-changing! 

57. The Ignatian Adventure by O'Brien - While I am receiving individualized spiritual direction while receiving the Exercises this time, this book would be wonderful for anyone who does not have the benefit of direction. I love how he has a seven day schedule and explains everything so thoroughly. I had a question from the book, and the author answered me within 24 hours! 

58. Moment by Moment: A Retreat in Everyday Life by Smith and Merz - This is a very watered-down version of the Exercises. It gets the essence, but I don't think it is that much more effort to do the full Exercises because one can do them at his or her own pace. I feel like you would miss so much if you did just these "moments." With all that said, I do like many of the questions and some of the suggested activities in this book so I will use some of them when I am directing people through the full Exercises. 

59. News of the World by Jiles - In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

60. The Promise: A Celebration of Christ's Birth by Michael Card - I LOVE this book. It is probably my favorite Christmas devotional. I read this in one morning while listening to each song from the CD. Simply beautiful. 



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