2018 Reading

Updated: 6 January 2019

The books I read in 2018

This list is in the order that I read these books.

  1. The Freedom Diaries by Mark Holloway. 3/10 Finished 4 January 2018, 306 pages (ISBN 978-0-473-25184-0).
  2. Big Blue Sky, a memoir by Peter Garrett. 8/10 Really enjoyed this book, well written and about someone I’ve long admired. He manages to make even politics interesting, though confirms that I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in that realm. The Midnight Oil Great Circle tour in 2017 is a fitting way for Peter Garrett to round out his career. Finished 18 January 2018, 448 pages. (ISBN 978-1-76063-274-8)
  3. Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. 7/10 A well written and understandable book about global warming. The conclusions of this book are actually quite frightening, especially as we are seeing more extreme weather events every year. Finished 22 January 2018, 320 pages (Kindle edition).
  4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. 7/10 Written as a play/stage production, a format I personally dislike to read. However, the story is reasonably interesting and brings out some more elements of certain characters. Finished 22 January 2018, 330 pages (ISBN 978-0-7515-6535-5).
  5. Breathless by Dean Koontz. 6/10 An easy and enjoyable read but I found the story a bit disjointed jumping between seemingly unrelated plot lines which had an implied resolution but were not actually tied together by the conclusion of the book. Finished 23 January 2018, 326 pages (ISBN 978-0-00-790986-5).
  6. Hearing God’s Voice by Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby 6/10 I enjoyed this book, practical and biblically based. Finished 25 January 2018, 288 pages (Kindle edition).
  7. Praying Hyde by Captain E.G. Carre. 6/10 I became interested to learn more about John Hyde while reading Hearing God’s Voice by Henry and Richard Blackaby. Hyde was certainly an extraordinary man of prayer. Finished 27 January 2018, 152 pages (Kindle edition).
  8. The White Notebook by André Gide. 4/10 I began reading this over a year ago and soon tired of the flowery, self obsessed writing. Finally finished it but not an enjoyable read. Finished 28 January 2018, 100 pages (Kindle edition).
  9. A Victorian Naturalist, Beatrix Potter’s Drawings from the Armitt Collection by Eileen Jay, Mary Noble & Anne Stevenson Hobbs. 7/10 A magnificent book featuring impressive scientific illustrations of fungi by Beatrix Potter. Her cute animal stories are only the tip of her amazing talents as an artist. Finished 29 January 2018, 192 pages.
  10. Demonsouled by Jonathan Miller. 5/10 I felt like a light read over the weekend and picked this up free in the Kindle store. It fitted the purpose, not especially well written but not bad and the storyline was interesting enough to keep me reading. Finished 4 February 2018, 303 pages (Kindle edition).
  11. My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul. 8/10 I loved this book. It is effectively a story about the love of reading and contained numerous reader idiosyncrasies that I could identify with. Finished 18 February 2018, 256 pages (Kindle edition).
  12. Writing for the Web by Crawford Kilian. 6/10  Picked up some useful tips and ideas of how to improve my writing. I will probably read this book again. Finished 23 February 2018, 176 pages.
  13. Loved back to life by Sheila Walsh. 7/10 My wife was reading this and had good things to say about it so I swiped it and read it myself. Reading this has caused me to think more about God and how depression has affected and been affected by my faith. Finished 12 March 2018, 240 pages (ISBN 978-0718021870).
  14. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression by Johann Hari. 7/10 The way this book is promoted lead me to think the author dismissed any biochemical basis for depression, but he does concede that neurotransmitters play some role. What he does do is to investigate reasonably thoroughly a bunch of other social and personal influences which cause people to become depressed, noting that when these factors are improved the depression lifts. For this reason it is an encouraging book, though is not promoting any sort of easy fix like taking a little tablet. Finished 13 March 2018, 336 pages (Kindle edition).
  15. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. 4/10 I have resisted this book for a long time, first I resisted even buying it because it seemed over hyped and I don’t particularly like how the author comes across on his podcast. Even after buying it for $4.99 on strong recommendation from people I respect, I’ve avoided reading it for over a year now. The book is easy to read and follow but nothing particularly enlightening. I find Tim’s attitudes to be brash and in my view unethical. I could not conduct business in the way he advocates. Finished 20 March 2018, 416 pages (Kindle edition).
  16. The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson 9/10 A treasure trove of advice and insights into writing. I will need to read this again. Finished 24 March 2018, 232 pages (ISBN 978-1-5011-4722-7).
  17. 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. 8/10 This is a good book. Every time I read from it I am inspired to spend time with God and read my Bible. Finished 25 March 2018, 224 pages (Kindle edition).
  18. Science Blogging: The Essential Guide by Christie Wilcox, Bethany Brookshire, Jason G. Goldman. 7/10 Finished 2 April 2018, 289 pages (Kindle edition).
  19. Hearing God in Conversation by Samuel C Williamson. 8/10 An excellent book on the topic of hearing God’s voice, balanced and biblical. Finished 7 April 2018, 216 pages (Kindle edition).
  20. Reinventing You by Dorie Clark. 7/10 I found this a useful and interesting book because of the place I’m currently at in my life. It does seem to be targeted at a mostly business audience but still has some good advice. Finished 20 April 2018, 240 pages (Kindle edition).
  21. Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything by Anonymous 7/10 Finished 23 April 2018, 195 pages (Kindle edition).
  22. Tigana by Guy Gabriel Kay 7/10 Finished 30 April 2018, 692 pages (Kindle edition).
  23. How Fiction Works by James Wood. 6/10 An interesting book. It is a little bit pompous in tone, I can’t say I enjoy the writer’s style but I am learning. What it is making clear to me is how few of the great literary novels I have read, something I’d like to fix. This book does not actually discuss how fiction works but how literary novels work. Finished 17 May 2018, 191 pages (ISBN 978-1-845-95093-4).
  24. Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke. 7/10. Overall the intent of this book is to encourage Christians to read more, though I suspect most people who read books about reading books are already book readers. Something I have gained from reading this is that I need to be more intentional and strategic about planning the books I want to read, I’ve read too much junk which has not been of any lasting value to me. Finished 23 May 2018, 206 pages (Kindle edition).
  25. Adolf Hitler by Hourly History. 6/10. I picked this little Kindle book up as a freebie. It doesn’t go into a lot of detail but is a good overview. Finished 23 May 2018, 53 pages (Kindle edition).
  26. Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett. 10/10. Finished 26 May 2018, 405 pages (ISBN 978-0-85151-821-3).
  27. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug 7/10An enjoyable, light read about web usability, I learned some stuff and was reminded of a bunch of good practices. Finished 29 May 2018, 200 pages (Second Edition, 2006 ISBN 978-0-321-34475-8).
  28. Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 7/10. Finished 2 June 2018, 304 pages (Kindle edition).
  29. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordan D. Fee and Douglas Stuart 10/10. I got a lot out of reading this book, it is an excellent overview of Bible exegesis and interpretation while still being easy to read and aimed at the average Christian. Initially I thought I knew the Bible well enough to not need to read a book like this, but I’ve been humbled by how patchy my understanding actually is and have realised that my grasp of the literary structure of much of the Bible is quite thin. I highly recommend this book. There is actually a fourth edition published so try to find that if you can. Finished 12 June 2018, 275 pages (Third edition, 2003 ISBN978-0-310-24604-0).
  30. How to Choose a Translation for All its Worth by Gordan D. Fee and Mark L. Strauss 7/10. After reading How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, I became convinced that I should at least reconsider whether using the ESV translation of the Bible for my main Bible is the best choice so this book was good for informing me of what makes a good Bible translation. The authors are clearly biased towards the NIV and against the ESV but do put forward some good reasons why this is the case. After finishing this book I’m still undecided but reassured that any of the currently popular translations are actually good translations and the choice mostly comes down to personal taste. Finished 21 June 2018, 170 pages (Kindle edition).
  31. Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life by Sam Storms 6/10. A moderately useful little book about embracing the work of the Holy Spirit. Finished 22 June 2018, 272 pages (Kindle edition).
  32. The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today by Wayne Grudem 8/10. I found this a very useful discussion of what the New Testament gift of prophecy is, how it works and how it differs from prophecy in the Old Testament. This book is a solid read, with plenty of Bible references and footnotes. I now wish I had a hardcopy version of it because it is easier to check footnotes and references on paper and I’d like to have a copy on my shelf for reference. Finished 11 July 2018, 404 pages (Kindle edition).
  33. In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh 7/10. I had not realised when I started reading it that this book was largely about the author’s battles with depression and suicidal thinking so it struck me like a knife in the heart when I encountered this on page 5. Because of this theme running through the book, it is one that spoke deeply to me and a book I need to read again. Finished 25 July 2018, 169 pages (ISBN 978-1-4002-0185-3).
  34. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe 6/10. A good story, but quite wordy for a modern reader. Finished 3 August 2018, 200 pages (Kindle edition).
  35. The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright 8/10. Nice to read a book dealing with this angle, particularly targeted at Christian writers. Also contains some good writing tips. Finished 9 August 2018, 166 pages (Kindle edition).
  36. The Magicians by Lev Grossman 7/10. Like a gritty, New York update on Harry Potter with alcohol and sex. The storyline gets a bit meta, playing around with concepts of a story within a story and the angst gets a bit much at times but not a bad read. Finished 15 August 2018, 402 pages (Kindle edition).
  37. The Loser by Peter Ustinov 8/10. Finished 2 September 2018, 240 pages (1964 Pan Books Ltd.).
  38. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward 8/10. An interesting book which has changed some of my views about Donald Trump and confirmed others. It also gives insight in to how the White House functions. I’m relieved to learn that there are some responsible adults there to moderate the impact of a narcissistic, lying president! Finished 15 September 2018, 448 pages (Kindle edition).
  39. How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen? by Mark A Tabb 7/10. A good book about suffering and how we can live through it in faith as Christians. This book is not so much about the theology of suffering but rather how faith looks in the sufferings of real life. Not an easy book to real but worthwhile. Finished 21 September 2018, 224 pages (Kindle edition).
  40. How to be a Poet by Jo Bell & Jane Commane 7/10. Quite a useful guide to writing and publishing poetry. Reading this has given me some good information to mull over as I begin to write poems and consider how to improve and how to publish them. A detracting factor is that for a book about poetry (where every word counts) and written by a publisher, it is quite poorly edited. Finished 29 September 2018, 200 pages (Kindle).
  41. Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary E. DeMuth 7/10. A journey back through the Author’s childhood revisiting some tragic and awful memories but also seeing God’s hand in her life as she was growing up. Finished 6 October 2018, 224 pages (Kindle).
  42. A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver 10/10. This book has both shown me how much I have to learn about poetry and also gives me hope that I can learn how to write poems worth reading. Finished 15 October 2018, 130 pages (ISBN 978-0-15-672400-5).
  43. Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell 7/10. Some useful tips and ideas, I took a long time to get through this book so probably should read it again to cement what it has to say. Finished 16 October 2018, 240 pages (Kindle edition).
  44. God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? by David T Lamb 7/10. Overall, an interesting book, though the author tries too hard to be funny. Emphasises the need to read the whole Bible rather than taking ‘proof texts’ out of context. Finished 16 October 2018, 205 pages (Kindle edition).
  45. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed 8/10. Great to read a fantasy novel that is based on a culture and setting other than medieval Europe. Finished 20 October 2018, 285 pages (Kindle edition).
  46. Daily Rituals by Mason Currey 5/10. Despite being well researched this is actually not a very interesting book (it took me about 2 years to plod my way through it!). I thought that reading about the habits of creative people would be inspiring but I ended up somewhat bored and disgusted by a lot of them. Finished 21 October 2018, 304 pages (Kindle edition).
  47. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 6/10. Kind of interesting to read this for myself. Interestingly, Donald Trump seems to be enforcing a communist economic policy in the USA. Finished 24 October 2018, 36 pages (Kindle edition).
  48. Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson 8/10. A fascinating look at the English language. Finished 27 October 2018, 245 pages (ISBN 978-0-141-03746-2).
  49. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken 8/10. An interesting book, giving me hope that we might avert catastrophe. On the other hand, human nature seems hell-bent on destroying this planet. Finished 6 November 2018, 243 pages (Kindle edition).
  50. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien 9/10. Finished 15 November 2018, 1008 pages (ISBN 0-261-10325-3).
  51. Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know by Joseph Romm 7/10. A good overview and probably as up to date as is likely in a book. Finished 27 November 2018, 328 pages (Kindle edition).
  52. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert 8/10. This is the kind of popular science book that I really enjoy. Fascinating, well researched, and well written. Finished 4 December 2018, 336 pages (Kindle edition).
  53. The Dark Side of Childhood in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages edited by Katariina Mustakallio and Christian Laes 7/10. An academic book comprising six essays discussing aspects of childhood in the early middle ages. Covers topics such as infant abandonment, disabled children, beliefs about witches as the cause of infant mortality, changelings and demonic possession. I was surprised to gain an overall impression of children being highly valued members of family and community, in contrast to the popular view of this time in history being violent and dark. Finished 9 December 2018, 130 pages (ISBN 978-1-84217-417-3).
  54. Colin Frake on Fire Mountain by Nick Phoenix (Author), Otto Bjornik (Illustrator) and Thomas Bergersen (Music) 6/10. An interesting concept of an ebook with embedded music. The music is great, I’ve been a fan of Thomas Bergersen (Two Steps From Hell) for several years. Unfortunately the writing does not come up to the calibre of the music. The story is good, the writing is just a bit flat. Finished 12 December 2018 (iBooks edition).
  55. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart 7/10. Promoting the idea of designing products that can be disassembled and recycled at the end of their useful life rather than thrown into a landfill. Finished 18 December 2018, 208 pages (Kindle edition).
  56. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric J. Bargerhuff 7/10. Mildly insightful, does illustrate the foolishness of using verses out of context. Finished 26 December 2018, 176 pages (Kindle edition).
  57. No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty 5/10. Written by the guy who started NaNoWriMo, not particularly useful, mostly a motivational prompt. Finished 29 December 2018, 202 pages (Kindle edition).

Poetry books

  • Spark by Emma Neale Finished 21 February 2018, 78 pages (ISBN 978-1-877448-19-5). (see Poems I have read in 2018)
  • These Intricacies by Dave Harrity. 7/10 (see Poems I have read in 2018). Finished 5 April 2018, 60 pages (ISBN 978-1-4982-3693-5).
  • The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins 7/10. Finished 27 August 2018, 108 pages (ISBN 978-1-5098-3425-9).
  • Night Fishing by Brian Turner 7/10. Finished 25 September 2018, 94 pages (ISBN 978-1-17656-094-3).
  • How to Make a Million by Emma Neale 8/10. Finished 10 October 2018, 96 pages (ISBN 1-86962-100-X).
  • Nine Horses by Billy Collins 8/10. Finished 31 October 2018, 120 pages (ISBN 978-0-375-75520-0).


  • New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson 6/10. Very long, a bit preachy and the multiple sub plots seem quite disjointed. Finished 3 November 2018 (Audible, ASIN: B06XHNKGGB).