#1 (& a Recap) Heartlands Best Reads of 2018: The Which-Way Tree

annie-spratt-743270-unsplashIt’s difficult to choose the best ‘best read.’ One of my criteria, (to add once again to the list I outlined at the beginning of this countdown), is that if the book sticks with me in ways that feed my imagination and my own writing…if my world feels larger for having read the book…it has a chance.

The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook stood more than a chance. On one level it was a rip-roaring yarn of a 19th century panther hunt in the Hill Country of Texas. But it also worked as a meditation on race, the courage of youth, forgiveness, baptism, and the wisdom of creatures. The main characters, Benjamin and Sam(antha), are children whose family tragedy becomes a kiln for firing a new life. The collection of companions they pick up, including old Preacher Dob, are indelible. This one is a keeper.

There were other good books this year that didn’t make the list. I’ve organized the honorable mentions following the recap of the Top 10 by category. Click on the link to read the Heartlands Review.

It’s been great sharing this reading journey with you.  Happy reading!

Top 10 Best Reads:

The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold

He Held Radical Light by Christian Wiman

There, There by Tommy Orange

Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

The Thin Light of Freedom by Edward Ayers

Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift

The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Honorable Mentions:


Godsend by John Wray

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Autumn by Ali Smith

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy


The Dry by Jane Harper

Current Events:

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi


The New Testament: A Translation by David Bentley Hart

Advent:The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowling

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