The best books I read in 2018

December 30, 2018

I’ve read a lot of books this year. I didn’t hit my target of 100 books, but I think 73 is still pretty good. I wanted to share my favorites in case you’re looking for something to read in 2019.

Most of the books I read this year were audiobooks through Audible. I’m able to listen while I paint, lift, or drive–which is a lot of listening time. I’ve had a lot of success with listening at 1.5x or even 1.75x speed. I find my mind tends to wander less at the faster pace.

I’m a really slow reader, so audiobooks help me to read more than I would normally be able to. And while quantity (obviously) isn’t everything, I tend to have a greater output when I have a constant stream of quality input. It’s an easy source of motivation for me.

The links below are all for the kindle editions, but if you go to Audible you can grab the audiobooks of all of them. You might also have luck at your local library.

The Lessons of History

Short but enlightening. Will and Ariel Durant have a lyrical way with words that makes their subject sing. This is one that is sweet and concise enough that I intend to regularly revisit it.

Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl has a powerful story of holocaust survival to share and an essential lesson to teach us. If he can find power, meaning, and some measure of fulfillment even while undergoing tragedy, surely we can too. Not only one of the best books I read this year, but one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

We listened to this twice this year, both because it’s so short and so helpful. While written for writers, the lessons apply equally well to most creative pursuits. It’s also really entertaining and she’s a lot friendlier than Stephen King (though we did also listen to and enjoy On Writing this year, which deserves an honorable mention).

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character

Funny, but with soul. Good lessons on the importance of practical understanding of even abstract subjects. And a lot of good stories from an interesting life.

A World Undone

I was shamefully ignorant of WWI before this book. Extremely well written and interesting, this book helped to spark a greater interest in history for me. I also suggest reading his “The World Remade: America in World War I” which, obviously, covers America’s involvement as well as the motivations of all sides.

Theodore Roosevelt series (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, and Colonel Roosevelt)

Incredibly good biographies of a larger-than-life man. Gave me a greater appreciation for his merits and flaws and that fascinating life he lead.

East of Eden

I make a note of reading fiction before bed every night. I find that non-fiction tends to spark too many ideas and too much motivation to be conducive to restful sleep. This was the best one I read this year. Steinbeck’s masterpiece is a sweeping look at humanity, morality, and myth. Fascinating characters and strong prose. It’s quite long, but worth the journey.