Posted in Inspiration, Reading, Reviews

Top 40 Hits from a Bibliophile: My Favorite Reads in 2018

I am a bilbliophile and proud of it. I have an eclectic taste in books due to my background as a high school English teacher, MFA graduate student, multi-genre writer, and passionate lover of reading. I don’t have a favorite type of story and enjoy both fiction and non-fiction; poetry and drama; lyrical prose and factual essays. I love words and when an author can string them together into a page turner. 

blur book stack books bookshelves
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Reading is a vital part of my daily life, like eating, sleeping, exercising, and breathing. My personal library is extensive, and I’ve been collecting books since a kid. I have run out of room at home for all my titles, so I brought many to my classroom and donated hundreds. Because of my need to own books, I have evolved into an eBook and Audible junkie and buy books at least once a week.  

I purchased all of these off of Amazon (mostly as eBooks) or Audible. I shared each book link to Amazon where you can learn more about the books and author, get current pricing, listen to audio samples, and read reviews.   

When opening up the book descriptions, please be sure to click on “Open in New Tab” to avoid getting knocked off of the blog.

Bookbub is my favorite website for finding bestselling books at a bargain.  You can sign up for daily emails of specials, many priced at 2.99 and under (some even free).  Recently, one of my favorite bestsellers, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, was only 1.99.

FYI – I’m not an affiliate for Bookbub, Audible, or Amazon (although I probably should hook up with them since I’m a daily customer). I just want to share what I enjoyed and help spread my love of reading.  

My list is ordered starting with my most recent reads or listens for the past year.  In parenthesis, I included a mini blurb of my thoughts.  Lastly I provided a list of books that I have read numerous times and gave as gifts.

(I’m starting Dot Journaling tomorrow; I’m pretty sure I will become super organized with this one-stop note taking process.  I can only hope, since I almost forgot to wear a bra to work yesterday.)

Lysa TerKeurst – Kindle Edition
(Another amazing read by Lysa Terkeurst. She is my go-to author when I need to be reminded of how much, heart, strength and resiliency we have as human beings.)
Mark W. Muesse, The Great Courses – Audiobook
Sold by: Audible

(Planning to meditate more and daydream less?  This book has an entire chapter on how to practice mindfulness while eating a clementine.  Good thing I bought 1/5 bushel off of one of my FFA students.) 

Billy Crystal, Quinton Peeples, Justin Bartha, Annette Bening, Dick Cavett, Auli’l Cravalho, Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond, Christopher Jackson, Kevin Kline, Robin Thede, full cast, Audible Studios – Audiobook

(This audiobook was amazing!  It’s an all-star cast performing a funny, heartwarming play written by Billy Crystal. It’s almost two hours of balanced laughter and poignancy.) 

Avery Monsen, Jory John – Kindle Edition
(A silly children’s book for adults.  It’s funny in a morbid way. This would make a great gift for anyone who can laugh about our mortality.)  
Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel
Kindle Edition 
(A charming book about the journey of a cat and his person, a sweet Japanese man who shows the true meaning of loyalty, love and friendship.  As a newbie cat owner, I find the narration of Nana the cat hilarious and realistic.)
Elizabeth Berg, Recorded Books – Audiobook and Kindle Edition: Oftentimes there is a discount on the Audible book if you already own the Kindle edition.  
(A touching story that bridges the generation gap between a teenage girl and her new friend, a golden-year oldie she calls Arthur Truluv. There is so much heart in this one.)
Rainn Wilson, Penguin Audio – Audiobook 
(Rainn Wilson’s narration of his memoir is awesome!  Very funny.)
Rebecca Skloot – Kindle Edition
(I had no idea!  In 1951, a poor black tobacco farmer, Henrietta Lacks, had her cells unknowingly taken, used, and sold by the billions in the name of medicine and science.  She is known as HeLa.)
Stephen King, Simon & Schuster Audio – Audiobook and Kindle Edition
(This is one of the best memoirs on writing that I’ve read. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, this is an entertaining and informative book narrated by one of my favorites, Stephen King.)
Ray Bradbury, Jim Frangione, Recorded Books – Audiobook

(I love the writing of Ray Bradbury and his techniques.  He was the master of making lists of nouns and using word association to prolifically write so many amazing short stories, often anthologized for language arts classrooms.  I also use a noun listing technique when brainstorming a piece of writing.) 

(Anne Lamott is one of my all-time favorite authors.  She mixes talent, faith, irreverence, and realism in her stories. You don’t have to love writing to love this book on life; I have a classroom set of Bird by Bird for my high school students.)

Anne Lamott – Kindle Edition
(Another great by Anne Lamott – This one is about finding hope in hardships, both big and small.)
John Green, Kate Rudd, Listening Library Audiobook

(LOVE John Green – Amazing young adult author who is accessible and entertaining to both teens and adults.  This is his newest.  My favorite by him is The Fault in Our Stars.)

Lionel Shriver, Coleen Marlo, HarperAudio
Audiobook

(Oh my my!  – Story told by a teenage school shooter’s mother – fiction, but hauntingly real.)

(This stranger-than-fiction murder happened in Erie, Pennsylvania, just thirty miles north of where I live. It became the Netflix documentary, Evil Genius: The True Story of the most Diabolical Bank Heist)

(I read this amazing collection of essays for an MFA course. This book and my work with it inspired me to declare a concentration in non-fiction writing.  I’m much better at telling a true story than making one up.  I wish fiction came easier to me. I keep trying.) 

Jenny Lawson, Penguin Audio
Audiobook

(Love this funny listen; Jenny Lawson is a hilarious, irreverent writer who is better known as The Bloggess.  After listening to this, I feel like I know her. I would love to be her friend!)

Mel Robbins, Audible Studios – Audiobook
(I loved the advice Mel Robbins gives to her clients, some of who I can relate to, others who remind me of people I know.  The multiple stories helped me better understand a variety of issues people battle: obesity, narcissism, rejection, self-loathing…)
Mark Manson, Roger Wayne, HarperAudio – Audiobook
(I’ve listened to this one a few times.  It’s a good one for fostering forgiveness and acceptance.)
Joyce Carol Oates, Amanda Plummer, Phoenix Books – Audiobook
(Oh my my!  This novella is a fictional rendition of the Chappaquiddick incident: In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car into a pond, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne.  The story is narrated by the woman while she is underwater.  The true story is scandalous and the fictional tale is haunting.)
Kate Chopin, Victoria Mcgee, Jane Leclercq, Trout Lake Media – Audiobook
(I read “The Awakening” for a grad class on novellas, and Chopin’s story made me an instant fan.  Her writing style is lyrical, poetic, symbolic, and allegorical.)
Abigail Drake – Kindle Edition and my own signed copy 🙂 
(This is another great read by my award winning author friend, Wende Dikec –who also writes young adult books under her real name.  Abigail Drake is her pseudonym for her romantic female fiction.  This title is a magical, happy read with an array of captivating characters.)
Toni Morrison – Kindle Edition
(This is an exemplary book by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.  I read it for a novella course and loved it.  This is a heartbreaking and touching story about finding, losing, loving, and hating HOME.)
Leo Tolstoy, Soren Filipski, Hythloday Press – Audiobook and Kindle Edition
(Anyone who is going to die someday can appreciate this moving story. It’s about a man on his deathbed and how he comes to account for what he did and didn’t do during his lifetime. I read the ending on Easter Sunday and sobbed with thanks for the dead, living,
and resurrected Christ and Tolstoy’s character Ivan Ilych.)
Leslie Larson – Kindle Edition
(Hilarious novel about an eighty-two-year-old widow forced to live in an assisted living facility where she breaks so many rules.)
Randy Ingermanson – Kindle Edition
(Fabulous way to write fiction by combining the Pantser and Plotter methods. I first learned about this at my writer’s critique group.) 
(I love Amy Tan’s fiction and non-fiction.  Her stories of mothers and daughters stick with
me. I love her own narration and soothing voice.) 
Rebekah Crane, Caitlin Kelly, Brilliance Audio – Audiobook and Kindle Edition
(This is a great YA novel filled with charming, at-risk teenagers who attend a camp to
help them confront their issues.)  
Angie Thomas, Bahni Turpin, HarperAudio – Audiobook
(One of the best books I ever listened to! It’s YA but accessible to all ages.  It’s no wonder it won so many awards and great reviews and became a movie.  I personally learned so much about racism, tolerance, and why it’s so hard to break free from the cycles of poverty, crime, and drugs. This belongs in high school curricula.)
Ryan Holiday – Kindle Edition and Audiobook
(This is my go-to book and I read it or listen to it whenever I’m in need of knocking out my ego. These words are powerfully humbling.) 

I own and bought hard copies of the following to give away as gifts:

Bruce Springsteen
(I own the Audible version too!  This is my favorite rocker and memoir of all time. It was amazing to see Springsteen on Broadway, a one-man show where The Boss tells stories that he wrote in Born to Run and then plays his songs that amplify those words.  I plan to write an entire blog on this amazing entertainer, this imperfect man, and his book and Broadway show.)  
Lawson, Jenny
(Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess, created a coloring book overflowing with
her art, wisdom, irreverent humor, and love for life in spite of her depression.) 
2
Young, Sarah
(One of the most powerful and popular daily devotionals.  I was given my first copy by my doctor in the fall of 2017.  I am now rereading it and have given many copies away to friends and family who I thought could benefit from the daily messages connected to scripture.)
Young, Sarah
(This is the same as above, but it is explained in a way that younger readers can better understand.  I have given this to my own teenage daughter and some of her friends.)
Benjamin Hoff, Simon Vance, Tantor Audio – Audiobook
(Who knew how much I could learn from the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh!  This is a delightful listen that I’ve gone back to many times.  This makes a great gift book for anyone who wants to grow through invaluable lessons from this sweet honey loving bear.) 
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Tara Sands, Random House Audio – Audiobook, Kindle Edition, Paperback. 
(This is one of the best books ever! The eighteen-year-old protagonist is damaged, resilient, and grows like a flower.  I learned so much about the symbolism of flowers and the beauty of humanity.  I read this years ago, bought it as gifts, and then listened to it this year.  It got even better!)
TerKeurst, Lysa – I own the Kindle Edition and bought hard copies to give as gifts. 
(I can’t say enough about how healing the words and messages of this book have been for me. I have reread it several times and go back to the my Kindle highlights when I need a boost.) 
  To Kill a Mockingbird audiobook cover art
Harper Lee
(I am honored to teach this book to my freshmen English students.  It is one of the best stories in literary existence.  The Audible version narrated by Sissy Spacek is impeccable with over 25,000 five star ratings.  I like bouncing back and forth between the book and audio.  I’m very lucky to get to work with this book each year.)

I authored this one: 

The Pencil Sharpener audiobook cover art
D.S. Lucas – Kindle Edition and Audible Version

(A novelette by yours truly.  It’s an inexpensive, short read/listen if you’re interested in a fictional tale about Mitzi Miller, a spunky elderly widow seeking closure after moving out of her home. I’m currently working on a Mitzi Miller series.  You can read more about the book and me as D.S. Lucas at dslucas.com 

I hope you found something word worthy here.  Let me know what you think if or after you have read any of my 40 favorites that I enjoyed in 2018. What’s on your book list of top hits?

Contact Me or leave a comment.  Read on.  Shine on!

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Author:

Partly Sunny, Clearly Spunky, Always Sincere

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