7 Books Worth Your Time in 2018

I've mentioned that my word for this year is TIME. My kids are getting older, and The Captain and I are riper by the day. I feel hyper aware of the changing nature of seasons in our lifetime, and it seems as though we are shifting into a new one very quickly. 

I've read some of your suggestions for strategic options in managing time creatively and wisely (thanks for those!). A common theme has been trimming out some of the time-wasters in life. Facebook, am I right? 

The one thing you'll never hear any person say when they're old and gray is..."I wish I had read fewer books." Reading is so good for the soul, even for all you non-introverts. Books can help you escape if you're stressed, they can make you think if you like to think, they can entertain if you're bored, and they always make you at least a little bit smarter. One of the worst things about Facebook is that everywhere you click, people are just hurting each other. It's not all evil, of course, but we can all agree that there's so much arguing and insulting and all the yucky things on Facebook that this life is just not supposed to be about.

Even when people don't mean to be cruel, sometimes all the sharing and commenting and "liking" can be really hurtful to other people who are silently witnessing their friends' or family's behavior online. There's just so much offense happening out there on the social media.

Unlike reading, I've heard hundreds of people say they wish they spent less time on Facebook. 

Photo by  Andre Hunter  on  Unsplash

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

If you're like me and aiming to make better use of your time in 2018, try replacing some of that mindless Facebook scrolling with a book. Less Facebook, more actual book book. Seems easy enough, right? 

Here are seven books worth your time in 2018: 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson 

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield 

Paper Butterflies
By Lisa Heathfield

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter

Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas 

1984 (George Orwell)

That last book?

Yeah, I had to read it pretty much solely to recover from this one. For the love, 1984 (affiliate link) was a wretched work that just made me SAD. From the first chapter on, the dastard depravity of humankind is amplified over and again until we see Winston, the main character, chewed up and spewed out by the reality that is unfortunately his. 

Winston works in the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth. His actual responsibilities include changing past records to accommodate the lies that the Party perpetuates regarding anything from the number of boots created one month to the country with whom they are currently at war. Winston's problem is that he is an anomaly to society: he notices and remembers the Party's alterations to the truth. Over time, he evolves from just a curious observer blindly carrying out his sad little life to a willing volunteer of the Brotherhood intent on bringing the Party down. 

This leads to a rebellious affair with a fellow Party member named Julia. Julia and Winston fall as much in love as two individuals with no moral compass or liberty know how, and together they change the course of their destiny by committing to the Brotherhood...and subsequently being ripped apart by it. 

Just sad. Sad, sad, sad. I was distraught for the broken relationships between parents and children, heart-broken for the callousness of one human being toward another, and overall disgusted with how easy it is to compare the state of Winston's society to the reality of our own. I was positively horrified to take in Winston's torture scenes, especially the one (oh, I can't even type it) with the rats. Lawdyhammercy. 

It is said that George Orwell was a genius. I'd agree...this work is a prime example that the man's brain was on a level the rest of us can't even imagine. 

A sad genius, though. 

Island Beneath the Sea (Isabel Allende)

 Zerite was born a slave on the French island colony Saint-Domingue, a place we now know to be Haiti. She dreamed of a life beyond being someone's property, yet nothing life sent her way enabled her to escape. The paths of Toulouse Valmorain (her master) and Violette Boisier (prostitute and Zerite's friend) intertwine tragically and beautifully with Zerite's life in appalling ways, revealing a great deal about slavery and plantations on colonial Saint-Domingue and beyond. In fact, this story of Zerite's life is set in the late 1770s and spans historical events that occurred everywhere from Saint Domingue all the way to New Orleans.

Zerite is born into an inferior position in a tumultuous time, and she is a beautiful soul who lives an immensely difficult life. Throughout her story, I continued to hope against all hope that somehow things would work out for Zerite...that somehow she could ease through one loophole or another and find her happiness. Be forearned: rarely did this happen for Zerite; unfortunately, hers was a very realistic tale.

A work of historical fictionIsland Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende provides a holistic understanding of slavery in the Caribbean and gulf societies. Among the many stories colliding in this book is the fascinating history of the very factual uprising among slaves in Saint-Domingue

Slavery in America is a commonly explored topic in literature, although far from a fully exhausted one. Books such as this present the uncomfortable opportunity to digest slavery, one of the most unpalatable periods in history. 

Brave New World (Alduous Huxley)

This book totally gives me the heebie jeebies. Set in this futuristic society, humans are scientifically mass produced rather than reproduced naturally in families. There are no families at all, actually. The term  and concept of "family" is shunned as scandalous. Because the people are produced this way, the population is easily maintained (limited, rather), which promotes the overall societal peace. Another contributor to this "peace" is the fact that soma, which is a hallucinogenic drug, is given freely and encouraged to be taken. High people generally tend to be pretty compliant. That much is true no matter what the century is. Sex is also encouraged, but only recreationally. There is a repetitive mantra of "everyone belongs to everyone else" within the society that makes it permissive for any man to have any woman he so desires, and vice versa. The soma prevents emotional attachment in such encounters.

Comprehending the construct of the society itself is exhausting and mentally taxing. Intertwined with the cultural parameters is the story of a man named Bernard. Bernard is a guy who has taken a preference to one of the girls. This is forbidden, of course, so everyone Bernard shares this with just shoves more soma down his throat. Eventually Bernard and the girl take a trip to a village operating outside the rules of their society, and they witness shocking situations between the people, such as a play which suddenly turns to the mob beating of a young boy. Bernard begins to question the structure of their world, and the result is a ripple effect ending with more soma and recreational sex.

In short, the book seems rather pointless on the whole. Even as I attempt to present a brief summary on the work, I find that it is difficult to synthesize the story because so much of it is...well, ridiculous.

And I hated every word of it.

Good in Bed (Jennifer Weiner)

Cannie Shapiro is a beautiful, intelligent, hilarious young writer who experiences her life's mortification when one day she cracks open a popular magazine and realizes that her very recently ex-boyfriend has written an article. About her. Including embarrassing information. She confronts him, which ends badly. She tries to win him back, which also ends badly. Eventually, Cannie realizes that of all the things she wants in life, this guy is not on the list. It would have ended nicely right there. Until....Cannie realizes she's pregnant with jerk ex-boyfriend's baby, which also very nearly ends badly. But finally, through a series of miracles and the rallying of her unusual posse of friends, Cannie figures out that she has everything and everyone she could ever want or need. Even the love of her life, who was right under her nose all along.