The Best Books I Read in 2018

In 2019, I hope to read a LOT more books than I did in 2018. I think I averaged about one book per month in 2018, and I’d like to make it more like one book per week in 2019. Going through the ones I read, here are the ones that stood out to me as ones that felt important to me, because they deeply resonated with me or opened my eyes to new perspectives.

Best Memoir

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Educated, by Tara Westover

This memoir deeply resonated with me, as I too spent part of my childhood in a fundamentalist environment and found it challenging to escape, both physically and mentally. Tara grew up in a family of Mormon survivalists in the mountains of Idaho. Her dad owned a junkyard and was paranoid and volatile. Her mom was a midwife and herbalist who went along with whatever her husband thought was best. Tara didn’t go to school growing up, but after seeing her older brother study to take the ACT and go to college, she decided to do so herself. Even though she was incredibly gifted, she struggled to succeed in college because of financial, medical, and family problems. This was such a compelling read, both because of the subject matter and story, but also because the author describes scenery and people with beautiful detail. It could easily be made into a movie. Highly recommend.

Best Fiction

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An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

This book was a fiction novel written from the perspectives of three different people: Celestial, a black Atlanta woman artist who is a newlywed in the beginning of the book; her husband, Roy, also black, a successful young business executive from a small town in Louisiana, who was falsely accused of a crime one year into the marriage and sentenced to several years in prison; and Andre, also black, Celestial’s childhood friend who she falls in love with while Roy is in prison. The book was sad and hopeful and showed the reader the different things our culture expects of black men and of black women, and how nearly impossible it can be to break out of a bleak destiny. I hope it gets made into a movie. I thought it was a beautiful story. Highly recommend.

Best Self-Help/Inspo

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Like She Owns the Place, by Cara Alwill Leyba

I am a big fan of inspo girl power books, and I won’t apologize for it. I like learning about myself and trying to consciously become a better person. This book had so many wisdom gems in it that I wrote quotes on post-it notes and put them all over my house. The best thing I learned from this book was how a person can learn to love herself. I have always struggled with this concept, because I have always thought that I needed to feel like I love myself. This book taught me that “love is an action” applies to loving yourself, too. You can not feel like you love yourself, but you can choose actions that are loving toward yourself. You can care for your body, you can set boundaries that protect you, you can turn your self-talk around so that you are only saying kind things to yourself. Such a simple concept that I was very hung up on for a long time. If you’re into books that inspire you to be a better person and take action to improve your life, I recommend this book.

Best Business Book

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Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

I also like to read books about business. This was the best business book I read in 2018. It teaches you how to create new markets so that you don’t have to get stuck in the trap of competition by cutting prices and costs constantly. This book inspired me to look at my law firm in new ways, and I can largely credit the book with being the catalyst for membership programs and products that I have created. The concept of the book deals with Red Oceans, which are already existing markets, and Blue Oceans, which are markets that don’t exist yet. One of the businesses the authors give as an example of a Blue Ocean is Cirque du Soleil, which the describe as a business built by pushing the boundaries of both the circus and theater industries. Very important read for business owners!

I have a lot of books on my list to read this year and hope to do better reviews of them, and more often, perhaps monthly.