Top 10 Books of 2018 – Book Reviews

Hello there!

Thank you for visiting my book blog. My name is Betsy and I’m an avid reader, as well as writer, wife, mother, empty nester, media assistant and lover of all “book-ish” things. Here’s what I hope to accomplish on this blog:

  1. honest book reviews on a variety of genres
  2. sharing indie bookstores, libraries & podcasts/websites
  3. connecting with readers & writers

That is all.

For this inaugural post, I am sharing my favorite books of 2018. I read about 50 books and just a few were duds, which you already know if you’ve been following me on Instagram @betsythebookwhisperer. Fortunately, there were also some real TREASURES and below I listed my favorites in no particular order:

“The Four Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin is one of two books I pre-ordered because I was so excited to read it after tearing through “Better Than Before” and annoying all my friends and family about taking the four tendencies quiz. If you follow Rubin’s “Happier” podcast or read “The Happiness Project”, you know what I’m talking about. While researching the topic of habits for “Better Than Before”, she developed a framework by which people are broken into “tendencies” based upon their response to expectations. The four tendencies are: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels. After reading her book, I determined that I’m an Obliger and I’m married to a Rebel–no surprise; my adult son is a Questioner, while my adult daughter is a Rebel. Knowing I’m an Obliger, which means I resist inner expectations but will meet outer expectations, I have strategies in place to help me be successful in establishing a new habit. (For example, I offer to pick up breakfast at Chick-fil-A for my coworker after I work out because I would NEVER let her down, and since the Chick-fil-A is beside my gym, it’s easy.) The tendencies are NOT definitive personality types, but knowing your tendency allows you to understand how to make better decisions, establish healthier habits and most importantly, engage more effectively with those you live and work alongside. Not a day goes by, that I don’t benefit from the information I learned in this book.

“Tell Me More” by Kelly Corrigan is a powerful and important collection of essays about learning to say difficult things like “I don’t know” and “I was wrong”. I’ve read Corrigan’s other books and this one is by far my favorite because it’s immediately applicable to your life and the PERFECT gift for birthday, graduation, etc.

“Pax” by Sarah Pennypacker is an award-winning young adult book about the relationship between a young boy and his tamed pet fox named “Pax”. This book contained some of the most memorable lines of any book I read this year! I wrote this exchange between Pax and his friend in my book journal because it’s so simple, yet profound: “I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace.” This gem of a book is also the recipient of the National Book Award, Longlist, and Amazon Best Book of the Year.

“The Inquisitor’s Tale” by Adam Gidwitz is a fabulous Canterbury-like fantasy set in France in 1242. The unique illuminated text (decorative borders and miniature illustrations) separate this young adult novel from others. It’s an adventure story about a greyhound and three children from vastly different backgrounds and religious perspectives and their exciting quest to save holy texts from being burned. It’s one of the most celebrated children’s books and has won so many awards I’m not even going to list them. Trust me, it’s THAT good.

“The Color of Water” by James McBride was published in 1995 and it’s been on my TBR (To Be Read) list since the late 1990s when our minister Tom Glenn incorporated a story from the book as part of his sermon. Author James McBride, who is black, does an amazing job of paying tribute to his white mother Ruth and how she navigated the family through the difficult racially-charged atmosphere of the 1960-70s with impressive grit and determination.

“Rabbit – The Autobiography of Ms. Pat” is the story of a black woman who was raised in the tough streets of Atlanta during the time that crack cocaine came on the scene. Her inspiring and remarkable story is one that will touch your heart.

“Dog Medicine” by Julie Barton takes the reader on a journey through devastating clinical depression and demonstrates how she and her family dealt with the fallout. The introduction of golden retriever puppy Bunker Hill helped turn Julie’s life around. If you are a dog lover like me, this memoir is for you!

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Dr. Paul Kalanithi is a memoir unlike any personal story I’ve read. Kalanithi, a highly-respected neurosurgeon is diagnosed with lung cancer in his thirties and with a laser-sharp focus he sets about to determine the answer to the question: “What makes a life worth living?” It’s a challenge for me not to be overly dramatic in my description of this memoir, but it’s definitely one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read and I can’t think of any human being who would not benefit from having read and absorbed it’s message.

“Call Me American” by Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somalian immigrant story. I was in Maine this summer visiting an independent book store (Longfellow Books) and this book was featured because Iftin is a Maine resident. This story is compelling from the first page.

And lastly, I recommend “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah (author of blockbuster “The Nightingale”). Set in the wilderness of Alaska, this story of a 1970s dysfunctional family goes from bad to worse with each successive decision made by the parents. This was our book club pick for June and it was well-received. One of our book club members lived in Alaska and she wholeheartedly vouched for the accuracy of the book’s description of the wilderness of Alaska and the potential for danger if you were not careful and prepared at all times. If you enjoy a story in which the setting is equally as important as the main characters, you will enjoy “The Great Alone”. Visiting Alaska is on my bucket list and that’s why I enjoyed it so much, combined with the fact that the narrator was an avid reader and refers to her current reading material throughout the story.

I hope you use this list if you are searching for a compelling title for a future read. What were your favorite books of 2018? Do you have a TBR (To Be Read) list for 2019? Please let me hear from you in the comments! If you’d like to be included in future blog posts, please add your email in the comment box.

Currently reading: “The Diary of a Bookseller” (Shaun Bythell). “Our Prince of Scribes-Writers Remember Pat Conroy” (Editors Seitz & Haupt), and I’m re-reading “The Purpose Driven Life” (Rick Warren)


  1. LOVE your blog! Of course, I have benefitted from your book recommendations through the years! Bunker Hill was such a great dog to Julie! Loved this book! Look forward to checking out The Four Tendencies. Sounds very interesting. Look forward to reading more posts on your blog!


  2. Love your blog! I am always interested in what you are reading. We have read man of the same books. Keep reading and writing.


  3. YOU are doing exactly what you should be doing! I am so happy for you, and for book lovers everywhere! I can’t wait to tell all my bookloving friends about this bounty of suggestions. Proud of you Bets!! ❤️❤️😘


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