The 2018 BOOK LIST: 144+ Potentially Life-Changing Books

A list of the 144+ books I read this past year

This list is a companion to this article:

The following are the books I read* in 2018, organized by month (Including Nov/Dec 2017 because that is when my yearlong reading journey really started).

The list includes book title and author, and a one-sentence summary.

*“Read” means: read at least 60% or more by skimming, speed-reading, or normal reading straight through. (Since I usually read ebooks, I can actually see my progress percentage — tip for those of you who are interested in reading stats)

Caveat:

Just because I read most of these books does not mean I liked or agreed with everything I read.

However, I believe we can learn a lot from everyone, and that it is valuable to learn from people whose ideas are different than ours.

So if you choose to select your reading material from this list, do it with discernment!

*Bolded titles are books that have directly inspired me to write book notes or articles. You can read those articles by clicking on the book description hyperlink.
*Italicized titles are fiction. Links to books are Amazon affiliate links.

November 2017

  1. The Compound Effect (Darren Hardy)
    Good habits, repeated consistently, produce massive returns in time.
  2. Story Genius
    How to plan your brilliant novel so that you WILL finish writing it!
  3. United Breaks Guitars (Dave Carroll)
    A memoir about a musician who took on an entire airline company.
  4. SEAL of God (Chad Williams)
    A memoir about a young SEAL who overcame feelings of revenge.
  5. The Miracle Morning (Hal Elrod)
    How to design a helpful morning routine.
  6. Stolen Child (Laurie Gough)
    A memoir by a mom whose son developed a mental illness after a loss.
  7. Brain Lock (Jeffrey Schwartz)
    A memoir and how-to book by a man who suffered through mental illness.
  8. Four Seasons series (Catherine Palmer)
    4 novels illustrating Gary Chapman’s Love Language theory.
  9. The 4-Hour Workweek (Timothy Ferriss)
    How to get out of the daily grind and achieve freedom in work.
Compound Effect (Amazon link)

December 2017

  1. The Daniel Dilemma (Chris Hodges)
    Life lessons from the story of Daniel, slave boy turned national leader.
  2. The Great Divorce (CS Lewis)
    The reason why people don’t really want to go to heaven.
  3. I Said Yes (Emily Maynard Johnson)
    Memoir: Former reality TV star learns what real love and family means.
  4. And the Bride Wore White (Dannah Gresh)
    Half memoir, half how-to on preparing for future couple-relationships.
  5. All Groan Up (Paul Angone)
    Life lessons, semi-memoir on becoming an adult in today’s world.
  6. Impossible Love (Craig Keener)
    Memoir of a cross-cultural couple and the civil war in Congo.
  7. The Dating Manifesto (Lisa Anderson)
    Life lessons about how to date in a faithful, healthy manner.
  8. Hello, My Name is Awesome (Alexandra Watkins)
    How to come up with a great name for your company/product/etc.
  9. Hope Prevails (Michelle Bengtson)
    Memoir and life advice from a doctor who went through depression.
  10. Called to Stay (Caleb Breakey)
    Why young people are leaving churches, and what it means to stay.
  11. Under a Painted Sky (Stacey Lee)
    Fiction: two ethnic minority girls trek across Wild West America.
Under a Painted Sky (Amazon link)

January 2018

  1. The Story of Reality (Greg Koukl)
    A clear, easy-to-read book on apologetics and the story of us.
  2. No More Faking Fine (Esther Fleece)
    Memoir of a girl who dealt with abusive, stalking parents, and overcame.
  3. Finding Grace (Donna VanLiere)
    Memoir of a woman’s experience with abuse and infertility.
  4. Letters from a Skeptic (Gregory Boyd)
    Letters between a Christian pastor son and his atheist skeptic father.
  5. Tactics (Greg Koukl)
    Logic, apologetics, and how to craft strong arguments.
  6. The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers (Amy Hollingsworth)
    A biography about our favorite television Neighbor.
  7. Life in Rewind (Terry Murphy)
    Memoir of a man with a severe mental illness and the dr. who helped him.
  8. The Road Less Travelled (Scott M Peck)
    Reflections by a psychologist on love’s effect on mental health.
  9. Amish Grace (Donald Kraybill)
    The true story of the Amish school shooting and its aftermath.
  10. Safely Home (Randy Alcorn)
    Fiction: A lapsed US Christian discovers the underground church in China.
  11. So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Cal Newport)
    Make yourself indispensible by focusing on honing your skills.
Story of Reality (Amazon)

February 2018

  1. Breakaway Amish (Johnny Mast)
    Memoir: True story of the Bergholz barbers, and the creation of a cult.
  2. One Light Still Shines (Marie Monville)
    Memoir by the wife of the Amish suicide-murderer on overcoming tragedy.
  3. Out of Deception (Nathan Miller)
    Memoir by a young man who left a cult.
  4. Meeting Sophie (Nancy McCabe)
    An American mother’s story about the adoption of her Chinese daughter.
  5. Get Married (Candice Watters)
    Advice for young women who hope to be married.
One Light Still Shines (Amazon)

March 2018

  1. The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh)
    Fiction: an abused woman finds hope through floristry.
  2. Transforming Negative Self Talk (Steve Andreas)
    A psychologist writes about the how to change negative self-talk.
  3. Unveiling Grace (Lynn K Wilder)
    A former BYU professor discusses her conversion out of Mormonism.
  4. God in the ICU (Dave Walker)
    A former doctor reflects on miraculous events during his career in the ICU.
  5. Out of a Far Country (Christopher Yuan)
    Memoir of a rebellious, addicted, HIV+ prodigal son’s redemption.
  6. A Dog’s Journey (W Bruce Cameron)
    Fiction: A beloved dog serves several masters throughout his lives.
  7. The Innocence of Father Brown (GK Chesterton)
    A kindly priest solves mysteries with his knowledge of human character.
  8. An Unforeseen Match (Regina Jennings)
    Fiction: A comedy-romance featuring a gun-slinging heroine.
Out of a Far Country (Amazon)

April 2018

  1. Psycho-Cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz)
    Personal development book about the power of the subconscious.
  2. The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin)
    Memoir and how-to on learning disciplines deeply.
  3. Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
    How to focus on what is really important in your life.
  4. Willpower Doesn’t Work
    Tested techniques to achieve your goals without relying on willpower.
  5. When Changing Nothing Changes Everything (Laurie Polich Short)
    Memoir/how-to on changing your perspective of “negative events.”
Art of Learning (Amazon link)

May 2018

  1. Daring Greatly (Brene Brown)
    Learning to be vulnerable is the greatest type of courage.
  2. How to Be Like Walt (Pat Williams)
    Biography of the famous Walt Disney, from childhood to death.
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl)
    Classic Holocaust memoir by a psychologist on the meaning of life.
  4. The Blue Zones (Dan Buettner)
    The longest-lived, healthiest people in the world, and how they do it.
  5. Unhooked (Frederick Woolverton)
    How to break addictions, from an experienced addiction counselor.
  6. The Sell (Fredrik Eklund)
    NYC’s biggest real estate agent shares how he became a top seller.
  7. Captive (Ashley Smith)
    Memoir: A woman talks down a murderer who held her hostage.
  8. Spiritual Sobriety (Elizabeth Esther)
    Memoir of spiritual abuse, and how the author found her way out.
  9. Love Casts Out Fear (Brother Nathan)
    Memoir of a Middle Eastern Christian who learned to forgive his enemies.
  10. Almost Gone (John Baldwin)
    Memoir: How a family saved a daughter from a kidnapper/brainwasher.
  11. Leaving the OCD Circus (Kirsten Pagacz)
    Memoir of a woman’s experience with a crippling mental illness.
  12. The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan)
    Fiction: Stories of four immigrants and their American-born daughters.
Man’s Search for Meaning (Amazon link)

June 2018

  1. Influence (Robert B Cialdini)
    The factors that make products and ideas go viral.
  2. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Allen Carr)
    How to quit smoking easily and painlessly by changing your mindset.
  3. Telling Yourself the Truth (William Backus)
    How to overcome self-deception to improve your life.
  4. The One Minute Millionaire (Mark Victor Hansen)
    Part how-to, part fiction: How to create wealth quickly and ethically.
  5. Start With Why (Simon Sinek)
    Knowing your true motivations, and why that is important.
  6. The Whole30
    Develop a healthier relationship with food+ recipes and techniques.
  7. Invisible Influence (Jonah Berger)
    Psychological principles that influence people unconsciously.
  8. The Goal (Eliyahu Goldratt)
    Fiction: Business/productivity principles (that also work for relationships!)
  9. Cold Case Christianity (J Warner Wallace)
    Apologetics book by a former lawyer.
  10. Allen Carr’s Lose Weight Now (Allen Carr)
    How to eat healthy and lose weight quickly and easily.
  11. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol (Allen Carr)
    How to stop or minimize drinking in an easy way.
  12. The Christmas Box (Richard Paul Evans)
    Fiction: A young couple move in with an old woman with a sad secret.
  13. The Walk (Richard Paul Evans)
    Fiction: When a man loses everything, he goes on a cross-country walk.
  14. I Want My Hat Back (Jon Klassen)
    Fiction: Hilarious picture book about a bear who lost a hat…
  15. Seth (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
    Fiction: About a mysterious young worker and his loyalty to his master.
Start With Why (Amazon)

July 2018

  1. Contagious (Jonah Berger)
    Why things catch on in marketing and in the world.
  2. The Motivation Myth (Jeff Haden)
    Why motivation isn’t what you think it is, and how to get things done.
  3. I Will Teach You to be Rich (Ramit Sethi)
    Financial strategies re: debt, investments, etc., for young adults.
  4. The Magic of Thinking Big (David J Schwartz)
    Personal Development and how to plan for the future.
  5. Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Eric Barker)
    Why what you think you know often just ain’t so.
  6. Rich20Something (Daniel DiPiazza)
    Entrepreneurial tips for young adults.
  7. The Dip (Seth Godin)
    Why you run out of steam, and what to do about it.
  8. The Butterfly Effect (Andy Andrews)
    How your smallest actions can change the course of history.
  9. The Up Side of Down (Megan McArdle)
    How to make the most out of bad situations.
  10. Platform (Michael Hyatt)
    Tips on building your selling platform.
  11. Stealing From God (Frank Turek)
    Apologetics books on morality and foundations of faith.
  12. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Norman L Geisler)
    Apologetics book on the evidence for Christianity.
  13. Girl at the End of the World (Elizabeth Esther)
    Memoir by a girl who survived childhood abuse.
  14. If You Only Knew (Jamie Ivey)
    Memoir by an imperfect Christian who struggled with sexual immorality.
  15. Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage (Lee and Leslie Strobel)
    A couple describes what a spiritually mismatched marriage is like.
  16. Nowhere but Up (Pattie Mallette)
    Memoir by Justin Bieber’s mother.
  17. Dog Medicine (Julie Barton)
    Memoir of a broken woman who found healing through her dog.
  18. Restoration Chronicles trilogy (Lynn Austin)
    Brilliant Biblical fiction account of the Israelite Return from Exile.
  19. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (Eve Harris)
    Novel about the marrying customs of Hasidic Jews, follows two families.
Conotagious (Amazon)

August 2018

  1. Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
    Well known writing memoir on fiction writing.
  2. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Al Ries)
    How to create a business that succeeds, based on authors’ experience.
  3. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Nabeel Qureshi)
    A devout Muslim whose worldview was challenged by his best friend.
  4. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself (Joe Dispenza)
    Our bodies are our subconscious minds.
  5. The $100 Startup (Chris Guillebeau)
    Interviews and lessons from successful solopreneurs, how they did it.
  6. That’s Just Your Interpretation (Paul Copan)
    Apologetics book on relativism, skepticism, and faith.
  7. Confident Faith (Mark Mittelberg)
    How to build a solid foundation for your beliefs.
  8. Messy Grace (Caleb Kaltenbach)
    Memoir by the Christian pastor son of two gay parents.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Amazon)

September 2018

  1. On Writing (Stephen King)
    Prolific horror writer’s memoir/how-to on the craft of writing.
  2. Motivational Interviewing (William R. Miller)
    Easy-to-read textbook on how to use MI to motivate people to change.
  3. Finding Your Way to Change (Allan Zuckoff)
    Using motivational interviewing techniques to change yourself.
  4. The End of Normal (Stephanie Madoff Mack)
    Memoir by the daughter-in-law of Bernie Madoff.
  5. Letting Go (David Hawkins)
    How to receive healing and freedom by letting go of negativity.
  6. Fluent in 3 Months (Benny Lewis)
    How to learn any foreign language quickly and easily.
  7. The Firm (John Grisham)
    Fiction: A young lawyer gets mixed up with the mafia.
  8. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (Daniel Pink)
    Pink’s career advice, told in comic-book style.
Finding Your Way to Change (Amazon)

October 2018

  1. I Told Me So (Gregg Elshof)
    Self-deception, why it happens, and how we can avoid it.
  2. I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree (Laura Hillman)
    Memoir by a Holocaust survivor: one of “Oskar Schindler’s Jews.”
  3. Denial (Deborah Lipstadt)
    Memoir of a professor who had to defend herself from a Holocaust Denier.
  4. Hypnotic Writing (Joe Vitale)
    Principles of copywriting that attract and hold readers’ attention.
  5. Homage to a Broken Man (Peter Mommsen)
    Memoir by the grandson of the leader of the Bruderhof Communities.
  6. If You Can Keep It (Eric Metaxas)
    The philosophical foundations of America and why we must know them.
  7. The Nazi Officer’s Wife (Edith Beer)
    Memoir of a Jewish woman who survived WWII by marrying a Nazi.
  8. A Year With CS Lewis (CS Lewis)
    A collection of CS Lewis’ best writings, organized by topic and date.
  9. Operating Instructions (Anne Lamott)
    Memoir of Lamott’s first year as a single mother, and friends who helped.
  10. Through the Eyes of a Lion (Levi Lusko)
    Lessons one pastor learned after the tragic death of his daughter.
  11. Swipe Right (Levi Lusko)
    A pastor’s reflections on healthy relationships in a hyper-sexed culture.
  12. Ask It (Andy Stanley)
    The most important question to rate every life decision by.
  13. The Wounded Heart (Dan Allender)
    A psychologist’s book for sexual abuse survivors.
  14. Christianity on Trial (W. Mark Lanier)
    A lawyer argues the case for the validity of the Christian worldview.
  15. How People Grow (Henry Cloud)
    An experienced Christian psychologist’s take on maturity and growth.
  16. Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan)
    Fiction: the book behind the movie.
  17. Strong Medicine (Arthur Hailey)
    Fiction: behind-the-scenes of the pharmaceutical industry.
If You Can Keep It (Amazon)

November 2018

  1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (Susan Jeffers)
    How to push through paralyzing fear to success and freedom.
  2. Unoffendable (Brant Hansen)
    How and why we ought not to be offended by, well, anything.
  3. Know Who You Are, Live Like It Matters (Tim Tebow)
    A famous football player’s message on living a good life, for young adults.
  4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stuart Turton)
    Mystery: A man finds himself reliving one day trying to save a girl’s life.
  5. Healing the Wounded Heart (Dan B. Allender)
    A counselor discusses how to recover from early sexual abuse.
  6. 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy (Cloud & Townsend)
    False beliefs →failed lives + not everything that sounds “Christian” is.
  7. When Harry Became Sally (Ryan T. Anderson)
    Modern gender issues, science, and politics.
  8. Grand Central Question (Abdu H. Murray)
    The most important questions spiritual seekers ask.
  9. Attachments (Rainbow Rowell)
    In the 90s, an email security worker falls for a girl whose emails he reads.
12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy (Amazon)

December 2018 (so far)

  1. Atomic Habits (James Clear)
    Clear breaks down how habits are formed and how they help us.
  2. How to Be Everything (Emilie Wapnick)
    Multipotentialites (ie Leonardo da Vinci) need to live life differently.
  3. Erasing Hell (Francis Chan)
    What DOES the Bible say about hell, exactly? There’re so many thoughts…
  4. Mind Map Mastery (Tony Buzan)
    A revolutionary learning tool based on the way the mind thinks.
  5. Supersurvivors (David B. Feldman)
    How people have turned personal trauma into post-traumatic growth.
  6. The Drop Box (Brian Ivie)
    True story: how a college filmmaker’s life was changed by Korean orphans.
  7. The Elements of Investing (Burton G Malkiel)
    Basics of investing your money for financial beginners.
Mind Map Mastery (Amazon)

One Last Thing…

And the one book I read every month this year is summarized in this article:

Ready to be a Brilliant Writer?

I’ve created The Brilliant Writer Checklist to help you clarify your message, reach more readers, and change the world with your words.

Get the checklist here!