The Year in Books: 2018 Edition

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2018 was quite the year. I still managed to get through my book per week personal threshold plus a few daily readers as well. My written reviews were not as many as I spent much of my time focusing on growing my podcast and Breadbox Media. Much of my input can be heard in my weekly podcasts with authors. With New Year goal setting in my mind, in 2019 I will be back to a steady routine of  a written review weekly plus my podcast episode of Off the Shelf with authors.

With that being said here are my top ten picks for 2018….in no particular order. These were simply the titles that jumped out at me this year and made some level of impact on my own spiritual journey and hope they can do the same for yours as well.

From Star Wars to Superman by James Papandrea

I’m a superhero/sci-fi nut and I LOVED this book! On this episode of Off the Shelf, Jim and I discussed one of my favorite topics…superhero and sci-fi movies! From Star Wars to Superman: Christ Figures in Science Fiction and Superhero Films, Jim takes a look at the parallels woven into some of today’s most popular movies and TV series including Star Trek, Star Wars, The Terminator as well as the offerings of the DC and Marvel cinematic universes. We discuss where they get it right and where they get it wrong. A fun episode you’re sure to enjoy if you geek out over superhero films.

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with James Papandrea.

Humility Rules by Father Augustine Wetta

In our ever media driven world one thing we terribly lack as a society is humility. Every one of us wants to be right. With a few keystrokes and a press of the “enter” button we can create an atmosphere of superiority above those we are responding too. Frankly we need a dose of humility more than we ever have before. Father Augustine Wetta provides the tools to lead readers to a life of greater humility.  To do this he utilizes the Rule of Saint Benedict as the foundation for his book Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem

Read the Review.

Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars by Father Charles Connor

This book held special significance to me as it focuses on my neck of the woods and I often attend Mass at the Conewago Chapel mentioned in the book. On this episode of Off the Shelf, Father Charles and I discussed the ear;y days of the Catholic Church in the United States and his book Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars: A History of Catholicism in the Thirteen Colonies. Beginning with the struggles of Catholics in England we explore what brought Catholics to the shores of the Thirteen Colonies. How did Catholics end up choosing Maryland as the first place they called home? What caused them to pick up stakes and move north across what would be later known as the Mason Dixon line? We also explore the role of the Conewago Chapel in spreading the faith  throughout the fledgling nation.

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Father Charles Connor.

Hauntings, Possessions, and Exorcisms by Adam Blai

This one was a real eye-opener for me when it came to spiritual warfare. I have often written and in my podcasts spoken of, the very real battle surrounding all of us. Spiritual warfare is real. When it is said that the devil prowls around the earth looking to ruin the souls of man……it’s true. Adam Blai explains the demonic in his must-read book Hauntings, Possessions, and Exorcisms.

Read the Review.

And don’t miss my interview on Off the Shelf with Adam Blai, my most popular podcast of 2018.

Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men by Father Dwight Longenecker

Looking for a good history book on an obscure topic in Church History? I can’t think of a better book to suit that bill than Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men by Father Dwight Longenecker. You may be asking yourself why I am writing about this book now? The Epiphany is not here yet. the Messiah has not been born. To be honest, this was intentional. As you will discover upon reading this book, it is not limited to a Christmas time read. Part history and part Indiana Jones adventure, if you have any interest in a book that digs into history, you are going to love this one.

Read the Review.

Force for Good by Brian Engellend

On this episode of Off the Shelf, Brian Engellend and I discussed the business world and how to be Christian players within it. In the world of business life can be a cut throat climb to the top. Once that great plateau is reached it is often filled with remorse for the actions taken to get there and an emptiness because the achievement in the end was not really as satisfying as it was assumed it would be. In his book Force for Good: The Catholic Guide to Business Integrity Brian lays out a vision for how business owners and executives can approach their business decisions, employees, and customers with integrity. What is the driving principal behind business? How does Catholic social doctrine impact business decisions? What should one consider to make ethical business decisions?

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Brian Engellend.

The Fourth Cup and The First Society by Scott Hahn
Scott released two fantastic books this year and gets two positions on my list because of it. On this episode Scott Hahn shares insights on both titles. The Fourth Cup: Unveiling the Mystery of the Last Supper and the Cross takes a look at the often obscure and unknown rituals of the Passover and how the Last Supper foreshadowed the passion of Jesus Christ. Scott also weaves in how research into this impacted his journey to the Catholic faith.
In The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order Scott explores how the sacrament of marriage can rescue our culture that has seemingly gone astray. Join us as we cover both of these books, Scott’s conversion, and how life as a grandparent has affected his world view.
Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Scott Hahn.
Fulfilled by Sonja Corbitt

When it comes to approaching Scripture, breaking it open, and presenting it in a manner that is easily digestible, I know of no one better than my friend Sonja Corbitt. Sonja returned to Off the Shelf this time to discuss her fascinating book Fulfilled: Uncovering the Biblical Foundations of Catholicism. This book is PACKED with information and particularly focuses on the role of the Tabernacle. Sonja shows how the Old Testament layout of the Temple and it’s components translate into what we see and do at Mass today.

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Sonja Corbitt.

Villians of the Church by Mike Aquilina

A timely read given the current state of the church and the celebration of the 100th episode of Off the Shelf. Mike Aquilina who was my first written author interview in 2013 returned to discuss his most recent book Villains of the Church: And How They Made Us Better Christians. Sound ominous doesn’t it? Trust me, its  a great read and we will cover some of these characters from Judas to the no-so-obvious Origen. Listen in and learn how even the bad guys were of benefit to our Church. 

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Mike Aquilina.

Honorable Mention – The Great Adventure Bible

I can’t say it enough I simply love this Bible from Ascension Press built upon Jeff Cavins’ Great Adventure Timeline. Over the years I have had the opportunity to check out and review many Bibles. Recently I got the chance to get my hands on the new The Great Adventure Bible from Ascension Press. What I am about to say I don’t say lightly. This has become my Bible of choice.

Listen to my Off the Shelf interview with Jeff Cavins.

What’s in store?

So there you have it. My list of some of the best I’ve read in 2018. Things don’t appear to get boring anytime soon as my shelf of books to read is already maxed out. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these and more in 2019, my 8th year of reviewing books!

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1 thought on “The Year in Books: 2018 Edition”

  1. I keep finding over and over that those who convert to Catholicism beome its greatest defenders and its most insightful theologians. This is a great list – all topics that I’ve thought about a great deal, especially lately. I’m just waiting for all your books to come out. With all this knowledge in your head, you must have a few books in there just aching to get out. I need to hit up your podcasts as well.

    How do you develop your questions for your interviews? I was on radio for a while and used to interview coffeehouse musicians for a show I did. I used to sit with the music in a quiet space, wearing headphones and shutting out the rest of the world so I could enter into the mind and heart of the artists. I found it helped me to better connect with their purposes in writing and their artists’ hearts. I’m guessing you make the same kind of connections with your authors.

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