12/31/2014

My Favorite (and Not-So-Favorite) Books of 2014

 Recently I've been trying to be more picky about the books I read. With the precious little free time I *do* have, I wanna make it count! Ok, well not always -- I did just finish a couple of light-hearted novels. But, in general, I'd like to read more books that are worth my time.

What that tends to translate to is reading more slowly. It's tough to read things like A Severe Mercy (link to review) quickly. You *can* of course, but you might not get as much out of it. That book actually took me a long time to read considering it's length, but it was nice because I was able to chew on it and really take it in.

So I think I'm going to lower my reading goals for 2015 and try for 60 books next year. That's still only a little over 1 a week. In case you needed help figuring that out.

I'm borrowing this idea from Snowfall Academy who borrowed the idea from Amongst Lovely Things and posting my favorite books from 2014.

First, a few fun facts about my year in books: 
- I took a lot of books back to the library that I never even started: A Long Way Down, This is Not the Story You Think It Is, The Way They Learn, How to Give Away Your Faith, The Language and Thought of the Child, Fangirl, My Name is Asher Lev (I really wanted to read that one!) and Lizzy & Jane (and that one!) to name a "few." Some of them I didn't mind taking back and others I was sad to see go. Sigh.

- I also started a lot of books that I never finished: Hands Free Mama, House of Mirth, Quirk, When Children Love to Learn and Traffic. Most of them I just lost interest in and others I wasn't able to finish in time. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of quitting in the middle of a book, but nowadays, if I don't like it, I don't finish it. Ain't nobody got time for that.  

As for the books I actually finished, my favorites are as follows: (The links are to my reviews on Goodreads.)
 
Best FictionAgainst the Tide by Elizabeth Camdem  This was easily the best Christian Fiction in the Romance-ish category I've read in a long time. It's difficult to find a good Christian romance these days, you know? I'm actually in the middle of the second in that series as I write this--The Lady of Bolton Hill.


Best Non-Fiction - I had such a hard time picking one for this category! If I had to pick a book that wasn't already on this list, I'd have to go with Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. I read in April and I *still* think about things I learned from that book. 

One of them is when he's describing his childhood and he talks about how he ate sugar, watched Saturday morning cartoons and got into other kinds of "mischief" and despite all of that, he pretty much turned out ok. (He's a pastor.) That wasn't so much the point of the book, but when I get all in a tizzy about how much (fill in the blank) my children have had, I'll remember that line from that book, take a deep breath and relax a little. :)
 

Best Biography or Memoir - A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken - This was an easy choice. I loved this book. There was one thing I didn't love about it though. You'll have to click over to read my review.
 

Best New To Me Author - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - I have never read any Sherlock Holmes and I just ate this book up! I couldn't put it down. There's a reason it's popular, I guess.
 

Book that Made Me Cry - The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias -- This book was heart-wrenching. I'm not sure I actually cried, but I certainly cringed and got choked up a few times. To quote myself on Goodreads, "It made me grateful for the life I have but also left me with a resolve to do more. There are so many needs (in and outside of my little world) and I feel like there's so much more I can do."
 
Book that Made Me Laugh Out Loud - Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty -- This was the third book I've read by Moriarty (What Alice Forgot and The Husband's Secret were the other 2) and as a fellow reader on Goodreads put it, "the author has snappy inner dialogue down!" It's so true. In all of her books I found myself laughing out loud at some point. That's not to say that I loved all of them, but they were funny in spots.
 

Book that Changed my Perspective on Something  - Letters From a Skeptic by Gregory A. Boyd - This was a great read. I can't say that I agree with (or understand!) all of the theology in this book, but it definitely gave me a different perspective on a few things; Hell being one of them.

Best Homeschooling Book - A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason - I'm not sure if this counts because we're reading it in our homeschool group and we're not quite finished yet. But I've read enough of it to know how wonderful it is!
 
Worst Book - Unfortunately, I read too many books this year that I didn't like. But the worst was Sacred Road by Todd Maxwell Preston. I hated this book. This man left the Mormons and then left HIS WIFE AND FOUR KIDS to go and "find himself." Pukatronic.

 

Best Surprise Plot Twist - Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay - I'm probably the only person on the planet who's read this and didn't see the end coming. :/ I'm usually pretty good at that sort of thing. I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would, but I did enjoy it and recommend it.


 

Most Disappointing - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - There was a lot of talk by people I respect on the interweb about this book who said it was so great! I, however, was disappointed with it. It made me relive my days from middle school and I didn't like it at all.
 

Most Over-Hyped - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - This was on the best books of 2013 list. I have no idea why. The only reason I kept reading (700 pages!) is because I kept thinking, this HAS to get better! It didn't.
 

Most Challenging - 7: An Experimental Mutinay Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker - To live with only 7 things (clothing, food, etc.) would be crazy! Hatmaker's experience really challenged me to go even farther in terms of being thankful for what I have and giving more than I do.
 

Best Cover - Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden (also in my Best Fiction category) - I gotta tell ya; I read this based solely on it's cover. And thank goodness, it was a great book! I'm in the middle of book 2 in the series.


 

Best Young-Person's Book - Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I never read these as a child and we've been listening to the series in the car on cd. We're now in the middle of The Banks of Plum Creek. They are WONDERFUL. We laughed! We cried! It moved us!
 

Book I've Been Meaning to Read for Years and Finally Got To - Don't have one for this category.
 

Best Book on Homemaking - I can't believe I didn't read ANY books on homemaking this year. The one that came close is Joyful Momma's Guide to Quiet Times in Loud Households, and honestly, there wasn't anything too new for me in that book. It was good, but nothing I haven't already read.
 

Book I have Recommended the Most this Year - Breaking Free by Beth Moore - I was a part of this study at my church and let me tell you--it was life-changing. If you haven't read the book, I would highly recommend it.
 

Best Philosophical or Spiritual Book - The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller - This was an excellent, short book (46 pages) about forgetting oneself. Not an easy task, but life-changing.

Click here to see all of the books I read in 2014.

What were your favorite books of 2014?

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