I know it’s past January and most articles, blogs, news stories and other media forms generally do their review of “The Best” or “The Most” from 2018 earlier than the middle of February. Oh well. I’m a bit slow. The reason I thought of this topic now is that my local library did a 100 Book Reading Challenge in 2018, and I participated. So, for the first time in––hm––maybe forever, I have a list of the books I read last year. The turn-in date was this past week, so I got to thinking about those books and the impact they had on me. This post is the result.
I read (I use this word to mean consumed whether I actually read ebooks or listened to audio versions) 58 books in 2018. That surpasses my Goodreads goal, though I don’t think they actually tallied all of the on that site. Of those 58 books, five were non-fiction.
The most impactful non-fiction book of 2018 was Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland. I learned so much about not only how to create various types of character arcs, but also about story structure in general that I listened to it twice. It was the last book I read and definitely one of the most important in terms of my future as an author.
The other 53 books were fiction ranging from contemporary to fantasy and everything in between. I made a point of reading more contemporary fiction since that is the genre in which I am currently writing, but didn’t stop there as you will see with this list of my most impactful books.
#1. The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron – This was my first split time story. I was so impressed with the amount of Christian worldview imbedded deep within the story. There is almost no overt mention of God, but the characters act in unmistakably Christian ways and bring light to the darkness in which they exist. The expert weaving of the stories of three women brought home the beautiful themes of friendship, loyalty, and love that guide the characters through traumatic times.
#2. The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers – Another story that blew me away with its themes of redemption and the importance of example to win others to Christ. The masterful way the story is brought full circle and how it deals with the point of conflict between worldly thinking and Christian ideals drew me into the plot. I cared for the characters and admired Grace for sticking to her sense of morality despite the pressures to give in.
#3. A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert – This story deals with exploitation and self-worth and how a desire to be seen as worthy can undermine your own sense of control. Success becomes an idol and a drug. It may require great sacrifice (health, morality, family) and is an intoxicant that requires greater and greater amounts to satisfy. There is redemption here, as Ivy Clark discovers when she finds the courage to let go.
#4. The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck – I had the privilege to meet Rachel at ACFW in September. What an amazing woman! I so enjoyed talking with her. This is another split-time romance. The journey is amazing between Birdie Shehorn and Tenley Roth. Both writers. Both locked in publishing struggles, though not of the same sort. Both wrote at the same desk. Well integrated story-lines and great romance threads for each main character.
#5. Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble – I also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Colleen in September. We discussed this book. I was first attracted because the main character is Irish. This romantic suspense has an amazing mystery imbedded. The accident that takes Alanna’s husband has perhaps the best twist I read in 2018. I loved it. Also, the Irish gypsy traditions and music were fantastic.
#6. Along the Broken Road by Heather Burch – This deals with alcohol addiction and helped me with my own novel and its drug addiction thread. Great romance story between an independent daughter of an Army Captain and how he mends their broken relationship from beyond the grave.
#7. Secondborn Series by Amy A. Bartol – Fantasy stories that deal with a society in which the Firstborns rule, the Secondborns are forced into servitude, and the Thirdborns are killed. Roselle is a Secondborn, but many believe she should become Firstborn. Excellent look at artificial privilege and elitism and what damage they can do to society.
#8. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers – This deals with abortion and rape and the generational effects abortion can have. Also beautifully weaves in the idea that good can come from ugliness. Well-written and impactful discussion of one of the biggest arguments for legalized abortion.
#9. The Gifting Series by K. E. Ganshert – Fantasy story dealing with dreams written for the YA market. Nice interplay between male and female leads and realistic view of how easy it is to become a target when you are different.
#10. The Selection by Kiera Cass. This is another YA series that taught me how to write end of chapter hooks. I literally could not put this book down. I kept saying I would stop at the end of the next chapter, but it would come and go and I was still reading––in the bathroom––at 3 am on a work night!
I hope you enjoyed my list and perhaps are motivated to read one or more of these books for yourself.
Now it’s your turn! What was the most impactful book you’ve read in the past year? Let me know in the comments below.