The 15 Best Books I Read in 2018

I know we don’t always have the time to read as much as we’d like, so it’s really important to use your reading time on books of great value. Here are a few recommendations if you’re building your reading list for 2019.

I really enjoyed most of the books I read this year which is why it was difficult to narrow it down to the list below. I picked out my 2018 favorites similar to how Ryan Holiday picks his annual list, by answering the question: Which books, if they were the only ones I read this year, would have still made 2018 an awesome year for reading and learning?

(Of course, it is another thing to say that I’ve applied everything I have learned from these books. Far from it! If anything, I know I’ll be referring back to most of these titles every now and then.)

But… before I get into my list, allow me to share a quote that really influenced my reading this year:

“Beware of reading for quantity to impress anyone. Read for your soul.

If we could live a thousand years and experience a thousand relationships in the thousand times and places and cultures that offer themselves, perhaps we wouldn’t need books in order to become wise. But our lives are short, and God has been merciful to give many places, many times, many cultures, and many insights distilled into books.

Find the ones that strengthen your faith and make you want to live all out for God.”

-John Piper

And now, on to the list.

The 15 Best Books I Read in 2018:



How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

  • I don’t like to read a lot of material on politics, but I like understanding how things work and how they break down. This book was really easy to understand. Takes a look at the current state of democracy in the US (and why the Philippines closely resembles it). Valuable for policy makers and citizens. Bonus: there is an audiobook version of this lying around in YouTube.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford 

  • my favorite excerpt from the book:
    The only permanent structures Genghis Khan erected were bridges.  Although he spurned the building of castles, forts, cities, or walls, as he moved across the landscape, he probably built more bridges than any ruler in history… The Mongols deliberately opened the world to a new commerce not only in goods, but also in ideas and knowledge.”

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari 

  • I don’t agree with all of Harari’s claims or recounting of history, but I like the exploration of his main thesis: that throughout history, humans have been successful largely due to our ability to create grand collaborative “myths” or “fictions”. These are concepts such as money, government, societies, legends, religion, and more; all of which allow us to work flexibly in large groups and achieve great things no other species could.


The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis 

  • I turn to Lewis for his uncanny ability to mix logic and poetry. Romance and rationality. Every single essay in this collection is worth reading and reflecting upon. This book will go into my personal library and will be included in my list of must-read for my children.

Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian by Justin Brierley, and The Reason for God by Tim Keller

  • I lumped these two books in one. They’re great resources for those who are seeking, are on a spiritual journey, have already been in the faith for years, and anyone—believer or not—who struggles with the Christian faith. Very accessible books that don’t needlessly water down the main claims of Christianity.
  • (Thanks David Bonifacio for recommending Brierley’s book.)

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

  • Many people, including Christians, don’t seem to have a clear view of what the Christian hope is. This includes plenty of misconceptions, not in the least what Heaven is. Wright helps dispel these misconceptions and helps explain why Christians should be hopeful for the future that Jesus has ushered in and will complete in the fullness of time. I don’t agree with Wright on everything, but I found this book really energizing.
  • (Thanks Julian Krause for the recommendation.)


Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Found Nietzsche too poetic and preachy here though (considering how much he loathed preachers). Otherwise, this was an interesting look into the mind of the German philosopher who seemed to feel it in his bones that there must be “something more” about us, what we could do, and what we could be. It’s a feeling I believe we’re all acquainted with, whether you hold to postmodern thinking or not.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  • Not exactly a philosophy book, but nonetheless a good read on what a life filled with meaning and purpose can do (and endure!)—from a Holocaust survivor himself.


So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

  • Must read. Goes against the very popular (but destructive) advice to “just follow your passion”.
  • Bonus: there’s also an audio version of this available on YouTube

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

  • Classic. Cannot be read and applied enough. Must be read at least once every other year!


Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

  • Less a methodology, and more a framework. It dives into important principles without missing to offer practical tips and application. As a father of two, the eldest being a toddler, I have much parenting left in life to do. Will surely be turning to this book often.


Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

  • Very easy read. Must read for entrepreneurs, team leaders, and just about anyone who wants to rethink work and how it can be.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

  • If you’ve read and liked the books “The Goal”, and “The Phoenix Project”, you’ll like this one. The fable approach helped make the book’s main thesis more realistic, practical, and memorable. I think I’ve met all of the characters before. Highly recommended for all of us who want to achieve great things with our teams.
  • Bonus: an audio version can be found on YouTube


Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository (AKA Museum of Literary Souls) by John Connolly

  • Discovered this book by accident as I was looking for books on “lending”. What a great find. Super short read. Great mystery. Easily lovable book.

Christmas Eve 1914 by Charles Olivier

  • If you’re not familiar with the Christmas Truce, DON’T Google it! Listen to this work first (it’s only in audiobook format in Audible). It’s only an hour long but a worthwhile listen.
Honorable Mentions:

I’m still building my 2019 reading list. So if you have any recommendations from your own 2018 pile, please share them and let me know.

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