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 

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. 

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.

The House of Dies Drear (Virginia Hamilton)


I don't know about you people, but I think ghost stories are lame. They're creepy, and weird, and give me the heebies jeebies. I really can't back that up with anything substantial or scientific or factual...just not a fan of the weirdness.

I thought Dies Drear was going to be different. I had such hopes that this book would be as much about the history of the Underground Railroad as some of its reviews tout. The first few chapters were promising. I learned that approximately 100,000 slaves fled to Canada for freedom between 1810 and 1850, and that 40,000 of them had passed through Ohio. However, that fact was pretty much it as far as the Underground Railroad goes. The rest of the book was suspenseful at times, but had more to do with the supposed ghosts inhabiting Dies Drear's house (the secret chambers of which he used to hide runaways) than anything else.

Here's my other beef with this book: [whispering] I don't really like Virgnia Hamilton's style. [cue "shocking" music]
I want to. I like her. I like her purpose. She must have been something special because she won numerous awards, including a Coretta Scott King, a Newbery, and an ALA Lifetime Achievement Award. She was one of the best known and most distinguished children's book authors in American history. But I just don't like her style. The dialogue is dry and choppy. The characters are emotional wastelands. The plot, even when multiple stories intertwine, are shallow and lack complexity.

The thing is, I'm supposed to like her style. She's a very important author in our history! What am I missing?