My Reading Challenge: 30 Books in 2018

I posted in my annual Year in Review last year that these would be my goals for 2018:

Our goal for 2018 is to continue our goal of living a simple life. In a nutshell, it means fiercely guarding our schedule to ensure we have margin. It means minimizing the physical and mental clutter and making the most of the space we have. Personally, I’m planning to write more and read more books (I read about 15 this year… would love to double that in 2018), finish up some more painting projects, and figure out how to make our grass in the front yard grow.

You guys. I actually kept MOST of my goals for this year. I’m a little proud and a lot surprised. I didn’t write like I had wanted to (I have excuses, but really, I just prioritized other things, and I wish I had prioritized writing a little more). But the rest? We did it!

  1. I finished up painting the inside of the house. Our little home is 2,000 square feet, and in the span of about 6 months between 2017-2018, I personally painted about 1,600 of it. (All but the two girls’ bedrooms, their bathroom, and the laundry room. The rest of the house – every square inch, including the ceilings, I painted. ME.) And, I love it. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of white paint can do to modernize a house.
  2. I grew grass in the front yard! Well, WE grew grass in the front yard. Along with the help of a fertilizing service.
  3. I read 31 books. Double what I read last year. This is the real reason for this post/recap… to tell you about the books I loved, and the books I didn’t.

Non-Fiction – True Crime, Autobiography, or Mystery

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets    In Cold Blood  American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst  Above Suspicion  The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen  Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker  Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

Non-Fiction – Politics / History

Fear: Trump in the White House  A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President  Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House  The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration  A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership  The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court   Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency

Non-Fiction – Leadership / Self-Development

  The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company  Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.      Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win   Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life  Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World Beyond Boundaries: How To Know When It's Time To Risk Again  The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery    Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People      


The Word Is Murder (Hawthorne, #1) Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)  My Husband's Wife  The Woman in Cabin 10  The Couple Next Door  Pretty Girls Dancing  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)  A Criminal Defense (Philadelphia Legal #1)

My favorite book of 2018: In Cold Blood

It was so good. And creepy. And I couldn’t put it down. No wonder they call this the greatest true crime book of all time.

The book I think everybody should read: Everybody, Always

This book is fun. And delightful. You need to read this yesterday. This author has inspired our neighborhood parade and our entire focus on how Mr. Right and I prioritize our time. (Before you read Everybody, Always, you should start with his first book, Love Does.)

Most read author: Jeffrey Toobin

He’s the guy who wrote the OJ miniseries that ran two years ago on TV. I’ve since read quite a few of his books – they offer a deep-dive into so many big historical moments of the last 50 years. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written so far.

Biggest Disappointment: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I had heard such great things about this series, but I found it to be so poorly written. The male author had no idea how to write for a strong female lead. I found myself thinking, so many times, “No woman would ever think that.”

The Book That Changed My Whole Perspective: Warmth of Other Suns

I won’t lie – this was a long, hard read. And, it taught me things I didn’t know about the Great Migration of African Americans who fled the South in search of a better life. Much like Hillbilly Elegy taught me something new about generational poverty, Warmth taught me about the way society, while claiming to offer equal status to a whole race, actually created huge barriers to their success. There are so many ramifications that we still feel today. These are stories of people my grandparents’ age. These are stories of people I know. I like to think that there isn’t an ounce of racism in my bones… I’m the mother of a minority. Our failed adoption involved a precious African American child. How could I possibly be racist? And then I read a book like this, and I realize that in my ignorance, it’s tough to see my own racist inclinations, however deep they’re buried. First I have to listen, and validate what others – my fellow humans – have endured. This helps me to “love my neighbor” better. Isn’t that the ultimate goal, anyway? To be able to love my neighbor, I have to know my neighbor.

The Book That I Want Everybody To Read So We Can Talk About It: The Road Back To You

I am a 1 on the Enneagram. I’m a perfectionist, and it’s a whole thing. I’m married to a 2, and mother to an 8. I’m still not sure what Mila is yet, but I can’t wait to discover it as she develops into herself. I found this book to be fascinating, and also recommend it to couples because it gave Mr. Right and me common language to discuss things in our relationship. It’s a fast read, and a decent one on Audible – and I need you to read it, and then tell me what your number is, so I can psychoanalyze you better. Please. Do it for me.

My Big Confession: I read fiction mostly because I didn’t want to be the weird girl who only read nonfiction.

Don’t judge me. I have a minor in English Literature from Baylor. I just find peoples’ real stories to be much more interesting than anything folks could ever make up.

This year, I forced myself to read eight fiction books, and while they were fine, they weren’t GREAT. But, it helped me to branch out of a genre that I can easily get sucked into (hello nonfiction, hello true crime stories and biographies of really random people like the Secretary of Defense from George W Bush’s presidency… just because I love that sort of thing). I will continue to read fiction so that I can stay balanced – and not “weird” – but for now, I sure do love nonfiction more. Okay, a lot more.

My goal is to read another 30 books in 2019. I’m out of ideas… what books should I add to my list?


  1. I’m not sure if we are friends on Goodreads or not, but I have a tag/shelf called “Favorites to Recommend”. They’re all fiction, and several I think you would like. Check it out.


  2. Biographies are my favorite. FIVE PRESIDENTS: extraordinary journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.
    Clint Hill is the author and a Secret Service agent to each president. I found it very interesting


    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Cindy! I’ll have to check it out! Another one along that line that I loved was “The Ex Presidents Club.” It’s a fascinating read about how presidents help each other behind the scenes after their presidency ends.


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