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 

Black Like Me (John Howard Griffin)

Black Like Me (50th Anniversary Edition)



Every once in a while a book dances across my path that renders me utterly speechless. Griffin's Black Like Me is one such work. Hard as I try, I'll fail to do this one justice...but try, still I will.

I'll be researching more about this John Howard Griffin in order to affirm or re-evaluate my initial opinion that he's pretty much an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. At this point in my knowledge of him, he seems to have been a major protagonist in the development of social justice for black Americans. For all Americans, really.

I'm sort of furious that we didn't read this book in high school.

Griffin's book was written in the late 50s and is about an experiment he performed to discover if and how there were differences in the ways black and white men in the South were treated. In 1957, he decided to medically darken his skin so that he looked like a black man. This book chronicles his experiences in a string of Deep South cities from New Orleans over to Atlanta, including stops in Mobile, Montgomery, and Biloxi. For six weeks, Griffin ventured into each city alternating between white Griffin and "Negro Griffin."

*It was 1957. The words "Negro" and "n*****" were used commonly and crudely. They're all over this book. I won't censor direct quotes, as that would detract from historical accuracy. Personally, however, I am rather uncomfortable using the terms even in this setting.

Obviously, he encountered rather poor treatment when he was black. The book details the stress of being harassed by white teenagers, his inability to get a job, and a bile-rising string of depraved questions from white men regarding very intimate details of black men's personal relationships. Once the experiment ended, Griffin's personal knowledge led to him becoming a common guest to meetings with leaders of both races (some separate, others mixed) who were seeking ways to bring peace and justice to the country. He writes of criticism on both sides of mistakes made during this critical time period.

Normally a good book means a few marked pages or highlights/notes in my Kindle. This may tell you something about the number of penetrating statements within this book.



I won't list them all, and for the sake of reasonableness, I've limited myself to the five most profound.

"The Negro. The South. These are details. The real story is the universal one of men who destroy the souls of other men (and in the process destroy themselves) for reasons neither really understands. It is the story of the persecuted, the defrauded, the feared, and detested. I could have been a Jew in Germany, a Mexican in a number of states, or a member of any 'inferior' group. Only the details would have differed. The story would be the same." (Preface)

"I learned a strange thing- that in a jumble of unintelligible talk, the word 'n*****' leaps out with electric clarity. You always hear it and it always stings. And always it casts the person using it into a category of brute ignorance. I thought with some amusement that if these two women only knew what they were revealing to every Negro on that bus, they would have been outraged." (Pg. 21)

"My revulsion turned to grief that my own people could give the hate stare, could shrivel men's souls, could deprive humans of rights they unhesitatingly accord their livestock." (Pg. 67)

"The white man's fears have been widely broadcast. To the Negro, these fears of 'intermingling' make no sense. All he can see is that the white man wants to hold him down- to make him live up to his responsibilities of taxpayer and soldier, while denying him the privileges of a citizen." (Pg. 121)

"Too many of the more militant leaders are preaching Negro superiority. I pray that the Negro will not miss his chance to rise to greatness, to build from the strength gained through his past suffering and, above all, to rise beyond vengeance." (Pg. 164)

Look, I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I won't even begin to pretend I understand the scope of what happened in this country during the civil rights movement. I could never fully grasp the complexity of all sides involved. I do pay close attention to this part of our history, perhaps because mine is a transracial family and maybe because I believe social justice is essential to the liberty of our great land.

Black Like Me is the can opener many people need to crack our minds wide enough to consider the intricacy of racial tensions and issues, both past and present.

*Please view disclosure statement at bottom of page.

Favorites of 2011

My Goodreads tells me that I did reach my goal of 50 books for 2011 (ahem, 53!). Whoop whoop! No, I didn't review them all on this here bloggety blog, but I read them and that's what matters. :)

By the way, are we friends on Goodreads? We should be. Let's make that happen.

So, of my 53, these are my favorites from 2011.

Sex on the Moon (Ben Mezrich)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen)

Bossypants (Tina Fey)

Percy Jackson Series (Rick Riordan): Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot)

Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid (Lemony Snicket)

I Have a Dream (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The Help (Kathryn Stockett)

Mockinjay (Suzanne Collins)

Happy New Year! I'm thinking of going for 75 in 2012. What about you?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)


Born "with water on the brain," 14 year old Junior is seizure-prone and poor as dirt. Here he tells the story of life on his Spokane Indian reservation, in all its shocking and gut-wrenching glory. Junior's physical issues and desire for a different life cause him to be something of a target on the "rez," and before long he finds himself enrolled at Reardan, the closest mostly white high school. Violence, cruelty, alcoholism, racism, and tragedy are normal daily occurrences for Junior; though his voice is laden with wit and charm, still the book is peppered with negative stereotypes about the Native American culture.

The oppressive poverty is the worst, and the root of all the other issues. Junior's take:

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it. Poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor."  (pg. 13)

Though it is overrun with stereotypes, the difference for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is that as the narrator, Junior is a funny yet deeply self-reflective Native American. He describes experiences with his culture that cannot be disputed by those of another race. Another consideration is that through use of Junior’s very strong, specific voice, these stereotypes are brought to light to reveal their complex combination of truth and utter ridiculousness.

Because it is so heavy laden with negative stereotypes, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian may at first seem a risk to young readers in promoting the very untrue notion that Native Americans are inferior to other ethnicities. Because of the way Alexie tells Junior’s story, the novel does more good than harm in the realm of typecasts. Awareness of the stereotypes and disputing the untruths promotes the integrity of the Native American culture. Young readers without experience in or with the Native American culture will be surprised at what Junior has to say about his life, but one of the most essential qualities of great literature is that it brings awareness to and appreciation of cultures different from our own.