The Books I Read in 2018 (And I Ranked Them)

So I read more books in 2018 than I’ve read in a year in a long time. Maybe it’s due to my wife, who devours book, or maybe I’ve just decided to educate myself more than I wanted to in the past.

For whatever reason, here I am, with the 12 books I read in 2018, briefly reviewing them and then ranking them. I’ll give a little description for books 1-3 on the list.

Hope you enjoy it!

12. Churchless
George Barna & David Kinnaman (of the Barna Group)
Genre: Religious Studies/Sociology
Released: October 2014
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,218

11. Sinatra in Hollywood
Tom Santopietro (Film Historian)
Genre: Biography/Film History
Released: November 2008
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,147,818

10. The Fall of the House of FIFA: The Multimillion-Dollar Corruption at the Heart of Global Soccer
David Conn (Reporter, The Guardian)
Genre: Sports
Released: June 2017
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,242

9. Faith
Jimmy Carter (Former President of the United States)
Genre: Political Science/Religious Studies
Released: July 2017
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,402

8. The End of White Christian America
Robert P. Jones (CEO of Public Religion Research Institute)
Genre: Political Science/Religious Studies
Released: July 2017
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,402

7. Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a 
Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

Linda Kay Klein
Genre: Christianity/Women’s Issues
Released: September 2018
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,103

6. A Reporter’s Life
Walter Cronkite
Genre: Autobiography/History/Media
Released: 1997
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,829

5. Saints and Sinners
Lawrence Wright
Genre: Religious Studies/Biography
Released: May 1995
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,285

4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Trevor Noah
Genre: Comedy/Memoir
Released: January 2017
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360

3. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on 
Water, and Loving the Bible Again
Rachel Held Evans
Genre: Christianity
Released: June 2018
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,842

I don’t agree with everything Rachel Held Evans says — but I don’t agree with everything anybody says. However, I feel that Evans’ exploration and journey with the Bible in this book is worth reading because it caused me to ask some serious questions about my faith and grew it.

Evans wrestles with seeming contradictions both in the Bible itself and how Christian culture seems to say one thing and believe another. I found myself in her shoes very often — wondering how in the world we call the Bible inerrant but ignoring passages on how women dress, yet still saying it’s all literally true.

I think the Bible is still the Word of God, most of it at least. Some of it is just man trying to figure out how to live in a way that honors God — look at the psalms and some of the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, even Paul. That doesn’t mean, as she concludes, that it’s useless or worthless. We just need a fresh lens to look at it the way it was meant to be read.

2. The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the 
Correspondents, Staff and Guests
Chris Smith
Genre: Comedy/Television History/Media
Released: October 2017
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,466

While he was on television on a regular basis, Jon Stewart was, for my money, one of the best observers of the political and media landscape. You can disagree with his political viewpoint, which he wasn’t afraid to be honest about, but his war on hypocrisy and media laziness was fun to watch for a journalist like myself who abhores both of those things.

This book includes input from Stewart and many of the stars that came from The Daily Show — Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee and more — about the making of the show and the years Stewart was its figurehead. It doesn’t shy away from the tough times, including Stewart’s tiff with correspondent Wyatt Cenac and the early years of middling success. Mainly, it’s a book about people trying to be funny talking about politics and government, and it’s a good one if you’re into that kind of thing.

1. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Jeffrey Toobin
Genre: History/True Crime
Released: September 2015 – reissue edition (1997 – original)
Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,466

I really enjoyed watching the FX series of the same name — “The People v. O.J. Simpson” — because of the performances, the drama, the intrigue. I was less than three years old when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered, so I was not aware of the media circus and the craze that accompanied Simpson’s charges and later acquittal.

Toobin’s on-the-ground reporting and research plays out throughout this narrative that does read like a true crime thriller. You get to know the characters – Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden and Robert Shapiro among them. Toobin’s take definitely has a legal edge to it, as he’s very critical of Clark & Darden’s approach to the prosecution. To be fair, they did lose the case handily.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the true crime genre, although you start the book knowing the ending. It was the best book I read this year, and I fully recommend it to whoever out there is a reader.

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