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My 2018 top book picks!

My goal is to read at least 52 books per year, averaging one per week. I'm an avid reader and make reading a big part of my life. I also like to look back at the end of the year to see what I feel were the best five books I read during the year. Here is the post that lists my picks for 2016 and 2017. I'm primarily a non-fiction reader, which is why my top lists usually include all nonfiction books. I do read a few fiction books during the year, but they are sprinkled in between all the nonfiction and rarely become my favorite picks.

Here are my 2018 top book picks (in no particular order):


"Take Off Your Shoes, One Man's Journey from the Boardroom to Bali and Back," by Ben Feder is a great read! He is an executive who helps produce the popular game Grand Theft Auto. In this book he shares his family's experience of taking a one-year sabbatical overseas. I really enjoyed reading about their experience in taking a sabbatical, living abroad, and all the different things he tried as he moved out of his usual comfort zone of familiarity.  I loved reading about what his family was doing during the sabbatical, how it was changing who they were, and how it was bringing their family closer together. 


I absolutely loved "Shinrin Yoku, The Japanese Way of Forest Bathing." As an avid hiker and someone who loves nature and the forest I loved how this author spoke about the trees and spending time in and around them. This book is filled with excellent information about how important being in the forest is for our health and quality of life. It is a book that I wish everyone would read and take to heart. Our world would be much better off if everyone returned to their roots and make sure they spent quality time in nature at least monthly. Great information regarding the health benefits of being around trees, the essential oil from them, ways to bring nature into your home and office, and so much more. 



I couldn't wait to read "North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail" by Scott Jurek (who is also a vegan, by the way) when it came out. This is his account of setting a running record on the Appalachian Trail. As a runner and avid hiker, I found his experience to be interesting and it kept me turning page after page. It was incredible what he went through to get that record and how humble he is about sharing the experience and of so many people helped him along the way. It's truly inspirational and a great example of what team effort and determination look like.


I've read numerous books by Natalie Goldberg and always enjoy them. She has a beautiful writing style. Her work always keeps me interested and looking forward to the next page and chapter. When I ordered "Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home," I had no idea what it was about. I just saw she had a new book out and new I liked her writing, so I added it to my cart. I only learned she had cancer when reading this book about her battle with it. I really enjoyed the book, her take on battling cancer, learning about her girlfriend, and of her explorations near home and abroad. 


I've read more books by Thich Nhat Hanh by than any one particular author, and I always enjoy them and learn something. I meditate daily, so I thought "Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice" would be interesting to read. This is a very small book that is a quick read and well worth reading. It offers some great tips for creating a peaceful environment in your home.


I saw this book recently for a dollar in the thrift store. I was intrigued and bought it. I often write down or highlight quotes I like in a book. "Strength to Love" was filled with them, as Martin Luther King Jr. said so many great things. I especially loved the things he wrote about forgiveness. He said that "The hardhearted person never truly loves" and "He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love." That's just a portion of what he wrote about forgiveness, but if you only read that one chapter in the book it will be well worth your time. Lots of great messages throughout this book!

- Jacqueline

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10 Things to Love About Visiting Sanibel Island


Every year for the last decade now, my family has taken a trip to Sanibel Island. We love it there! Going to Sanibel has become a tradition and it is one that my family looks forward to each year. From the Daytona Beach area, it is about a five hour drive. Sanibel Island is located right off of Fort Myers.

Here are 10 things to love about visiting Sanibel Island:

  • Biking. Sanibel Island has to be one of the most pedestrian friendly places there is. There are paved bike paths everywhere and people are biking, running, and walking to their destinations and to get exercise. It makes me wish that every city was this pedestrian friendly! We routinely bike 20 miles in a day, going all over the place on bikes. You can rent them or take your own, but you will not want to miss biking the island.
  • Beaches. There are numerous beach accesses around Sanibel Island and its connecting Captiva Island. You can check out numerous different beaches to explore. There are opportunities to take excursions, swim, and more. Yes, we live by a beach, but the beaches are different there. Take some kind of flip flops or water shoes, because the millions of shells on the beach will hurt your feet if you go barefoot. We stay close to the beach (about a 6 minute bike ride away), so we even go down there at night with our headlamps on and take a walk to explore.
  • Shelling. Hands down, Sanibel Island has the best shelling in the state of Florida! We love finding so many great seashells there. Check out my post here on the shelling and see the many shells we bring back on our trips.
  • Dining. While we cook most of our meals in the travel trailer, it's nice to get to dine out and try some new spots. Each year we go to Cheeburger Cheeburger, and this year we also checked out the vegan cafe called Sanibel Sprout. There are a lot of little cafes and restaurants on the island, giving you a chance to explore new places.
  • Wildlife. If you enjoy seeing wildlife, you will like visiting Sanibel Island. Especially if you are a birder, like me! You can visit the wildlife refuge there and see lots of birds, in addition to alligators and other wildlife. When the kids were younger, we used to drive through the wildlife refuge. Now that they are older, we have biked and hiked through it. My favorite is to bike through it, making stops along the way to observe and take photos.
  • Relaxing. There is just something about being on an island that is relaxing. Once you make your way over the bridge you will just feel that you are on an island and you will want to be on island time, which is taking things slow and relaxing!
  • Sunsets. Captiva Island, which is connected to Sanibel Island, is just minutes down the road. The beaches there offer wonderful sunset views. Many people head to a Captiva beach in the evening to watch the beautiful sunsets.
  • Camping. If you enjoy camping, you do what we do and stay at the Periwinkle Campground, right on the island. For the last three years we camp on the island. It's wonderful! It's an affordable way to stay on the island and take advantage of biking everywhere. Plus, with the travel trailer we can cook many meals right there, rather than eat all meals out at restaurants, so that saves money. It's about $60 per night to camp at Periwinkle Campground. They offer both tent and RV camping. Before we had the trailer, we stayed in a hotel on the island once (too expensive!), and the other years we used to stay at a hotel right off the island (about half the price of staying on the island, then we'd drive over the bridge each day to spend the day on the island).
  • Trying some place new. You may be looking for a new place to check out, and this will give it to you. You will have a new island to explore and enjoy!

Each year, we take our trip to Sanibel in either the winter or spring. This year, while I was there I asked a waitress when the busy season is. She said it's summer time. I'm sure she would notice the fluctuations in crowds during the different times of year, but according to US News & World Report, the best time to visit Sanibel Island is December through April (when we always go). We always get nice temperatures, very little rain, and it's always pleasant enough to bike the island. I'm afraid in the summer it would be too warm and possibly too buggy enjoy the biking.

Travel-trailer-sanibel Sanibel

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