One Year of Books – 2018

One of my favorite quotes from Love Live Here by Maria Goff.

I’m working on a series of posts on reflecting on my first year here in Cambodia.  One of the things I wanted to share was all the amazing books I’ve read this year.  I try to keep an update list of the books I’m currently reading here on my blog.  It’s hard to get copies of books here, unless what you are looking for happens to be at a free book swap.  I do have an Audible account that I use to get my hands on books to listen to when I wake up in the morning or before I head to bed.  This helps me feel more connected to my American life.  I’m even part of a Travelers Book Club, where a bunch of girls living in various parts of the world share what they are reading and their thoughts on various books.  Also, having books to read during my first few months here when I was without internet at my home helped me fight my initial feelings of loneliness.

Here are the books I completed reading (or listening to) this year:

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World, by Scott Harrison.

This book is Scott Harrison’s memoir about his life before he started charity:water and the first 10 years of running a nonprofit focused on using technology to engage with donors, improve sustainability of wells all while trying to give clean water to every single individual on the planet.  I’ve been bleed to hear Scott speak years ago at a Portland Conference called World Domination, he continues to inspire me and I loved learning more about his faith journey.

State of Giving: Stories of Oregon Nonprofits, Donors, and Volunteers by Greg Chaille and Kristin Anderson.

My brother got me a copy of this book for Christmas before I moved to Cambodia.  I finally had time to sit down and dig into the rich history of nonprofits that Oregon has.  It was really eye opening.  For example, the first Executive Director of IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) was a Khmer Rouge refugee.  I love learning more about Cambodian stories in Oregon.

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, by Bob Goff.

Bob Goff is a huge inspiration of mine.  He inspired me to raise over $133,00 for the homeless community in Portland, for my 27th birthday and when I found out he had another book coming out.  I had to get a copy.  His ziest for Jesus and living a life completely driven by love is something I constantly remind myself of.  Also, if you haven’t read his first book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.  Stop what you are doing and get your hands on a copy.

Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want, by Maria Goff.

On top of reading Bob’s latest book this year, I was also able to get my hands on his wife, Sweet Maria Goff’s book.  I read this over Christmas break while I was in Thailand with my family and was able to hand it off to my mom for her to read as well.  We both enjoyed it immensely.  I think it’s geared towards homemakers and partners of extremely extroverted people – like her husband, but I was able to get a lot of value out of the book even though I’m pretty extroverted myself.

Jurassic Park: A Novel, by Michael Crichton.

This was more of a “fun” read.  My friend’s mom recommended I check it out and I have to admit.  I love the movie, but the book is even better.  It also was great since I read it during rainy season so at points it sometimes felt like I was in the middle of my own Jurassic Park during the intense Cambodian thunderstorms.

The Lost World, by Michael Crichton.

Well, I obviously loved the first book so much, I had to get the second book.  I’m a little bummed that you can’t watch The Lost World on Netflix’s so I’ve never seen the movie to compare it to the book.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, by Shauna Niequist.

I love Shauna Niequest’s book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.  So I was really excited to hear she had a new book coming out.  I was able to read this book during my holiday in Kompot for Khmer New Year.  It was a great week of reflecting on what the first six months of my life in Cambodia looked like and what I was going to do to survive the next six months.

This book was recommended to me by a friend, also during Khmer New Year as I was coming out of my funk with landing in Cambodia.  While adjusting to new expectations isn’t equivalent to losing a life partner.  She did bring up some solid points.
Since I enjoyed Option B and the conversation that came along with discussing the book with said friend that made the recommendation.  I decided to give Lean In, a chance.  To be honest, I was a little hesitant given how overly popular the book was at launch.  While I think the tips mentioned in this book would have served me well in my previous life in corporate America, it was a good read and something I would recommend to young women entering the workforce.
This book was written by an old pastor of mine.  A friend let me borrow her copy and somehow it managed to get into my luggage and all the way to Cambodia (sorry about that Cristiana).  I busted it open in the middle of my “month of sorrow” and felt really encouraged by the fact that at that moment I was very aware that I wasn’t the only person struggling in that moment.  It offered some practical tips on how to fight depression as well as remind me that no matter what God is still with me.  Even when I felt so far from His presence.
This was a business book, written by the Founder of Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts.  I heard him do an interview on a podcast I love, How I Built This, and figured I would take a look at his book.  It was super insightful – his personal history, American beer culture from before I was born, plus practical business and marketing tips.

Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, by Kevin Kwan and 

Rich People Problems: A Novel, by Kevin Kwan.



I believe this was another hot series in America.  I downloaded the first book for the 30+ hours of travel time I had fly to America and ended up downloading the whole series.  Which helped a ton with the travel, jet lag, travel back to Cambodia and another round of jet lag.  I have to admit, while the first book caught my attention, the second book held my attention, the final book was the best in my opinion.  Definitely got me more interested in learning about the history of Singapore.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.

This book seemed to be pretty popular back home in the States and I found it absolutely fascinating.  Between the personal history of Henrietta Lacks to the history of the “rights” of the body and genetic make up.  It was definitely an interesting book and made me think more about the ethics of technology.  It also kick started my fascination with genetic testing.  After reading the book and talking with my aunt about it.  She got me one of those 23&me kits while I was home this summer.  Has anyone else done one of those?  It’s super interesting.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.

A friend of mine from the Travelers Book Club, mentioned this book.  Then I saw it was coming out in the movie theater and I figured I should attempt to read the book before seeing the movie.  (Side note, I’ve never been a huge movie theater person in the States, but for $3 you can go to the movies, sit in FREEZING COLD A/C – seriously, I own one sweater for this sole purpose and watch a brand new movie BEFORE it comes out in the USA.)  I’ll be totally honest this book is 1000% better than the movie and Will Wheaton narrates the book on Audible.  Seriously, it’s so cool.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

This was another “better read it before you see the movie” books.  It was definitely a quick read.  Cute, but for a younger crowd.  So if anyone is looking for some young adult books – this is definitely something to check out.

A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.

I couldn’t remember if I had read this book as a child or not.  So again, it falls under the category of “read before movie.”  I have to admit, I liked reading the book and just recently learned L’Engle has more in this series.  However, I wasn’t impressed at all with the movie that came out this summer.

What have you been reading this year?  Leave me a note and let me know.

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