We’re coming up on the end of 2018 and I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened this year…

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in May and went away to university in August.

My youngest daughter moved in with her father in August.

My husband and I had our first foster placement come into our home on December 1, 2017, and we said goodbye to them almost a year later, in November 2018. So I went from daily caring for 5 children in our home to 0, in what felt like overnight.

Throughout the year, my blood pressure continued to do what it does… go crazy high for no reason and make my husband (and sometimes the doctors) start preparing for my inevitable stroke.

And during all that, I thought the stress occurring both inside and outside our home was causing physical symptoms (my right arm would get weak, I couldn’t turn my head, a lot of pain). Last week, I found out that it’s not some sort of weird stress thing, it’s arthritis along with protrusions hitting my spinal nerves and cord. (We’ve already got a ton of medical bills so this was disturbing on multiple levels).

Basically, 2018 has been a crazy heavy year.

Friends, family and acquaintances are always asking how my husband and I are holding up. And while I really don’t mind them asking how we’re doing, my mom actually shared this with me on Facebook today, which I found hilarious…

Capture

I’m actually not sure which is funnier though… the above FB post, or what happened the day the foster kids left…

I have red, puffy eyes and am wiping my nose (so it’s obvious I’ve been crying), when my husband asks “Are you okay?”

I looked at him like he had 4 heads. “Did you just ask me that?”

“Uh, yeah. Are you okay?”

To which I responded with something like “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a really long time and if you ask me if I’m okay again, you’re not going to be okay either.”

Now, any normal man with self-preservation skills would have seen the “You can’t win here, walk away or I’m gonna murder kill you” look in my eyes and given up. But not my husband. He’s a fixer. After 6 years together, he still hasn’t figured out that there are some things that can’t be fixed and he has to just let me be upset for a while… so he says… “Yeah, I know, but I can I get you anything?”

giphy

A lot of violent responses went through my head at that moment… Thankfully, I went with the only one that wouldn’t require bail money.

“A box of wine.”

“I was gonna go to the store anyway. I’ll get you a bottle while I’m out.”

“No, a box. I’ve decided to give alcoholism a try and it’s going to require an entire box of wine to get a good start at it.”

Something you should know at this point… I’m not really a drinker and haven’t been since I was in my 20’s. The box of wine comment has been a joke between my husband and I for years now. I never actually want a box of wine, nor could I drink a box of wine on my own, but ya’ll…

He got me a BOX of wine to drink with dinner that evening!!

Anyway…

While I didn’t turn to a box of wine, I did turn to the one thing I’ve always counted on to deal with the real world – the fictional world!

So here are the books I read in 2018 that helped me escape, laugh, cry, and deal with all the feelings of this past year:

(You can click the titles of books I’ve reviewed to read my complete thoughts)
  1. The Bible.
    Yeah, I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and others are scrolling on down to the next book on the list, but it’s true. I’ve poured over more scripture in the last year than I have during any other year of my life, and it’s definitely been the most beneficial book to help me get through the year. It’s easy to blame God and get angry when we hurt, but I learned a lot about suffering, love, acceptance, and how to grieve without falling down my normal rabbit hole of despair. I also did a lot of reading plans through the YouVersion bible app, which was great. I recommend checking them out!
  2. Beneath the Same Heaven37795839-_sy180_You would think that as emotionally wrecked as this book left me I’d be upset that I chose 2018 to read it in, but no… I’m saying the opposite. Sometimes, escaping into a familiar world filled with pain, heartache, confusion, etc. of other people is just what the doctor ordered when you’re going through all that in your own life. Beneath the Same Heaven is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish everyone would read it!
  3. Auschwitz Lullaby 36576005
    This book was also incredibly emotional and had me crying so hard my husband tried to take it away from me! Seriously, I was an emotional mess the entire time I was reading it!
  4. Edge of the Known Bus Line
    Okay, you definitely have to have a certain kind of twisted humor to enjoy a book like this… Cannibalism, murder, cults – what’s not to find humorous, right?? Yeah, I probably laughed a little too much during this one, but it was needed. It’s a short and disturbing read that had me looking at the bus with fresh, slightly fearful eyes!
  5. the_irrationalist_coverThe Irrationalist.
    Just when you thought I only listed depressing, emotional, dark on this list, I give you… The Irrationalist! It’s comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. The main character, Adrien Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation into the murder of RenΓ© Descartes and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end, but it had me laughing through the whole book. (Plus, it taught me the word defenestrate… which I threaten to do all the time now!)
  6. Mammoth
    Another lighter, happier book got me through 2018 was Mammoth. It’s a young adult book about a girl with dreams of becoming a paleontologist who’s hero turns out to be someone completely different from who she thought he was. It’s a super fun read!

So those are the books that helped me get through some tough times in 2018. What was 2018 like for you? Do you have a “go-to” book (or 10) for when you’re having a hard time? Let me know in the comments section below!

31 Comments

  1. Wow what a tough year! My kids are super little still (3 and 5) so I am far from having an empty nest but I can imagine how emotionally hard that was to have it happen so suddenly.

    You read some emotionally heavy books. If I read historical fiction that is sad, I obsess over it and its like a black cloud over me for weeks to come. I am incredibly sensitive to sad material. I don’t think I could read Auschwitz Lullaby 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You definitely check them out. I can’t actually express how much I loved them both! I had received a free digital copy of the Irrationalist and I’ve got the paperback on the Christmas wishlist. I’ll be re-reading both of them, which is something I can only do with certain books!

      Like

  2. Thank you for these recommendations! Books mean a great deal to me and they have helped me through many hard times. (Also, I agree that the Bible is the most beneficial book. I didn’t roll my eyes at you πŸ’š)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That does seem strange. Sadly, j think Christianity has been getting a bad reputation lately. That is why I always try to emphasize that the key to my faith is love πŸ’š Sending you warm wishes for a bright new year!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s definitely a tough year! Hope next year gets a little easier for you. I’m the same though, I always turn to books when life gets hard or overwhelming.
    Especially the last three sound really intriguing! The mammoth mainly because I study Anthropology and have some palaeontology courses as well. And the other ones: I love dry humour and dark dark books!
    Books that really helped me this year were All the Crooked Saints, Veronica decides to die and And Every Day the Way Home Gets Longer And Longer. The last one is so heartwarming!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You indeed have had an emotionally upheaval year. I can so understand finding comfort and inspiration in scriptures. I’m an agnostic but doing the same these days in bits and pieces.

    Funny ’cause I would’ve been mortified to do so during my 20s. “Edge of the Known Bus Line” is sounding just right up my alley. Thanks for recommending it. Hope next year brings you loads of joy. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! If you like that type of humor you should check Edge of the Known Bus Line out. Its a short read, but a great escape!
      I was agnostic for a long time. When I first started reading the bible in my early 20s I read it as a storybook (twice πŸ˜‚). I’d be happy to share with you some of my most comforting verses and thoughts if you’d like! πŸ’œ

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Holy Moses! You sure had a tough go in 2018. Great list of books, I’ve added them to my list (well not the Bible, already own and read that one lol). Although I know I’ll be a blubbering fool when I read Auschwitz LullabyπŸ˜‚. I truly hope 2019 will be a lot better in all the ways that you need it to be. Blessings to you always😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post. We adopted out daughter in August. Her carers had cared for her over 2 years and will miss her dearly but were too old to fully adopt (their opinion). I want you to know that somewhere now is a family who are so grateful to everything you for their child 😍foster carers are amazing xx

    Liked by 1 person

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