Books & Reading

The best books I read in 2014

Another year is in the books, or it will be in about 9 hours, and I just finished the last title I’m going to check off my list for this calendar year. According to Goodreads, I read 122 books this year, which sounds like a lot, even to me.

If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I recognize that there are times that I was reading when I probably should have been doing something else. In 2015 I really want to get better at stepping away from a book when I’m using it to escape when I should be engaging or to cope when I should be going to Jesus. But I imagine that even if I get good at that stuff, I will probably still read a lot in 2015. If I read every day during the boys’ nap, even if that was the only reading I did, I could easily log 700 hours in a single year, which is more than enough to finish a whole lot of books. And I have some really good ones on my list that I’m looking forward to reading.

But since it is still 2014 (at least for a few more hours), I thought I would share some of the books I most enjoyed from this year’s long list. Not all of these were published this year, but I read them all for the first time at some point over the last twelve months.

My favorite books from 2014, in no particular order, are:

Cinder, Marissa Meyer ($2.99 for Kindle right now!)
This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, a series of re-imagined fairy tales with a sci-fi element. I love fairy tales, and while I wasn’t so sure about the sci-fi part, the series gets better with each book. There are three out already: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and the 4th book, Winter, is set to release next year.

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
This was a suspenseful, impossible-to-put down novel. I’m worried that if I say any more I’ll give away the ending, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Imagine losing your whole family in a car accident, and having an out-of-body experience while in a coma yourself, realizing that you have the power to decide whether or not to fight for what’s left of your life or join your family in death. Such is the position Mia finds herself in. This book intersperses flashbacks filling in her story with an inner monologue as she wrestles with her decision, and I found it wonderful and compelling. Heads up: there is some pretty strong language in parts. (This came out as a movie this year, too, but I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say anything about it one way or another.)

Where’d You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple
Once upon a time, I really wanted to be an architect. The eccentric mom in this story is eventually revealed to be a brilliant architect, who at one time had received the MacArthur genius grant. It’s a light-hearted and quick read, perfect for a long summer weekend, which is when I read it.

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
I explained this to someone recently this way: If Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory wrote a book about falling in love, it would be a lot like this. The sequel, The Rosie Effect, came out yesterday, and I can’t wait to read it.

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarity
The newest title from the author of What Alice Forgot. Brilliant book about the complicated relationships between moms of young children. It opens with someone dying at a school charity event, and you’ll race through the whole book trying to find out who died and who did it.

The Blue Castle, L. M. Montgomery
I loved Anne of Green Gables when I was younger (Jason bought me this copy for Christmas, and it’s beautiful), but I just recently discovered that Montgomery wrote other books. I read Emily of New Moon last year, but I liked this a lot better.

Anything, Jennie Allen
I devoured this book, and keep turning its concepts over in my mind. The basic tenent for this book is my prayer for 2015: God, we will do ANYTHING you ask of us.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, Sarah Mae ($2.99 for Kindle right now!)
This is by far the best parenting book I’ve read in a while. At once practical and incredibly encouraging, from a mom who’s had those pull-your-hair-out moments. I got it from the library, but my own copy is on its way to my house now thanks to Christmas money and Amazon. A group of moms I get together with regularly will be going through this next year, and I can’t wait to read it again, and really take my time with it.

Cooked, Michael Pollan
Jason probably got tired of hearing me go on about this one, both while I was reading it (every few pages I would turn to him and say, “did you know…?”) and every time I recommended it to someone at all of our various gatherings of friends and family over Christmas. It’s pretty academic, but I thought Pollan did a good job of making complicated science and detailed food history really interesting.

Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull
Absolutely a must-read for anyone who is in management and wants to create a collaborative culture in the workplace. Or for anyone who loves Pixar movies and is interested in the behind-the-scenes of how they were made. I might buy this one. That’s my list. Happy New Year, and happy reading!

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