Friday, January 2, 2015

9 Favorite Books in 2014

 At this time of year, I love to peruse blogs for book lists. I can usually find some new-to-me books for the coming year.

 It has been several years that I wrote my own end-of-the-year book list.

This year I read 36 books - fewer than some years - and most of those were read in the first six months - when I was spending lots of quality time with a nursing baby. (Though I admit that sometimes I stayed on the couch long after the baby had finished just to read another chapter.)

I won't list all 36. Though they were all worth reading (or I wouldn't have finished them) the books that make this favorites list are the ones that I turned the last page and immediately began planning when I would read it again. (If only I didn't have six more books on my night stand waiting!)

And as always, just because I enjoyed these books doesn't mean they were perfect. You may need to spit out a few bones to find the meat.

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
My reading can sometimes go in binges. Last winter it was on this type of non-fiction as you'll see by first few books on this list. I had never considered how much of our actions are impacted by habit. The encouragement that I took from this book is that habits can be changed.

2. Quiet by Susan Cain
Are you an introvert trying to fit into an extrovert world? Or an extrovert who wonders what is wrong with the introverts in your life? Though not from a Christian perspective, Quiet gave me a new appreciation for the Body of Christ and our need for others' differing gifts.

3. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
How do ideas spread? Gladwell explores how little changes can make a huge impact helped along by people he calls Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.  I also enjoyed Outliers (the surprising answer to how people become successful) and Blink (about snap judgments, their benefits and their dangers) also by Gladwell.

4. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
What makes some ideas stick and some messages easily forgotten? If you have a message to share (which would include every Christian  and parent) this book details how to make your message memorable with six principles of stickiness. Made to Stick is practical and enjoyable and it is beside my bed to read again this coming year.

5. Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner
Every year I like to read at least one marriage book. I believe that even a good marriage can get even better. This year I read two marriage books. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an excellent book describing the needs of the husband (respect) and wife (love) and the crazy cycle that ensues when a woman doesn't feel loved, so doesn't give respect, which makes it hard for her husband to love, making it hard for her to respect, and so on. But the good news is that the opposite is also true. Love and Respect gives the facts, but Fierce Women shows the principles in action. Wagner shares the story of how she almost destroyed her marriage and how God healed it. If you are willing to fight and sacrifice for your marriage, read Fierce Women.

6. Follow Me by David Platt
What does it mean to follow Christ? Platt says that rarely does it mean the easy pampered life that we Americans expect. My favorite chapter in this book was the one on The Church. Follow Me would be perfect combined with Walking the Talk by Arvin Martin which gives practical steps to radical obedience.

7. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
Want to know more about Islam? Or Christianity? Or just read a well-written book about the spiritual journey of a devout Muslim? My sister gave me this book saying I had to read it and I finally did - after Ed picked it up and read it in two days. Short chapters and readable style makes this book hard to put down. If I could have only chosen one book for this list - this would probably be it.

8. A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
Or maybe it would have been this one. Loss and grief seemed to be a reoccurring theme in the lives of us humans and several of my friends were touched with death closely this fall. The author of A Grace Disguised lost his mother, wife, and daughter in a car accident. He writes about how a soul grows through loss - but doesn't pretend there are any pat answers. I read this and immediately mailed it to a friend, so now I need to purchase another copy to reread.

9. By the Light of a Thousand Stars 
Winter Birds
 Sometimes a Light Surprises 
All by Jamie Langsdon Turner
I was trying to pick one of Jamie Langsdon Turner's books for this list but these three are running neck-to-neck so I'm including them all. I already reviewed all of Turner's books this year on Home Joys so I won't add any more. Just go read the Turner review and find out why Turner's books are different than most Christian fiction.

That is my nine (or eleven) favorites but I'll give an honorable mention to these five true stories.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This story is well-written and a fun read, though the story itself of homelessness, poverty, and neglect is hard to stomach. Somehow Walls gives it a cheerful outlook though I mourn for all the children who don't survive as well as she did and the book shows the hopelessness without Christ. Edit to add: check the comments for further comments on this book.

Angels on Night Shift by Robert D. Lesslie
I don't usually enjoy medical books but the intrigue kept my attention to the very end.

Daddy, Are You Sad? by Lily A. Baer
This story of a young father's fight with cancer is a tear-jerker - especially since I know his widow and sons. But hopefully it can be a challenge for all of us to spend our days reaching out to others.

Tears of the Rain - Ruth Ann Stelfox
An account of a family's work in war-torn Liberia several years ago. With all the mention of Liberia in the news with Ebola, this book was even more poignant.

Footsteps on the Ceiling by Dorcas Smucker
A collection of true stories from an Oregon Mennonite minister's wife. My review of Footsteps on the Ceiling.

What was your favorite book in 2014?

I'm starting a new book list for the new year and would love to add your recommendations.

This post contains affiliate links.


  1. I really enjoy Gladwell's books. I'm currently reading "David and Goliath" - it's about advantages and disadvantages and it's a fascinating, thought-provoking read. The library has it (well, it doesn't right now, because I have it!)
    Thank you for introducing me to the Turner books --- I'm hoping that the library has these that I haven't yet read--- if the library doesn't, I'm coming to you!

    1. David and Goliath is on my list to read sometime!

      And you know that I love to share books - so just let me know which books you want!

  2. "The Midwife" is a memoir written by a woman who worked as a trained Nurse Midwife in the poor London slums of the 1950s. It is an honest and beautiful look into the bonds between women and families and the cycle of life through the eyes of the nurse caring for them.

    1. Sounds like an interesting book! I love true stories told by the one who was there.

  3. We purchased The Glass Castle today on Kindle, after reading your recommendation. It's a disappointment that an author can't tell her story without using swear words! Would you have a comment on this, Gina?Thank you for your consideration.

    1. I'm sorry. I should have made it more clear that The Glass Castle book is NOT written from a Christian perspective and contained things that I did not appreciate- such as the language. And at the end of the book I was left with a feeling of hopelessness of a life lived without Christ. I actually almost didn't mention this book but it is one that I read and learned from this year. It wasn't a favorite, just one of value.

  4. I have really enjoyed a book called "Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms" by Mary Jo Tate. Its more of a encouraging and how-to book (how to juggle lots of roles as a homeschool mom). It does have a section on single mom homeschooling and homeschooling while running a home business which don't apply to me, but the rest of the book was still very worth reading and applies to any homeschool mom. The book is written from a Christian perspective. I also enjoyed reading the book "The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius" by Christine Barnett. It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I can't recall anything standing out in a major way that made me uncomfortable reading it, although there are always things in books that I would disagree with here and there (even in some "Christian" books!). I thought that the book would be more depressing seeing all that the family has gone through with illness, financial issues, autism etc. but I found it very upbeat. It made me think about how my own children each have their own (in my opinion, God-given) gifts that I can work on figuring out and nuturing so they can reach their full potential. I did also read the book "Quiet" mentioned above in your list since a friend recommended it. It was an interesting message. I only recently understood that I am an introvert...I always thought introverts meant that the people were quiet and did not like to be around people. I do like to be around people and come across as a leader and outgoing with others. However I recharge by being by myself. The book brought up some interesting points.

    1. Thanks for the book recommendations. I think I'll check to see if my library has either of those.

  5. I think my favorite book this last year was "Beautiful Child" by Torey Hayden. I like her books on teaching very troubled children, and I found this one at a thrift store. That made me go back and read all her other nonfiction books I could find, this year.

  6. Thank you so much for your book lists. I downloaded "Quiet" to my Kindle and am finding it very interesting. I plan to stop at the library for a couple of your other suggestions. One of my favorite series is "An Untamed Land" by Lauraine Snelling. Happy Reading!


  7. I have you to thank for suggesting Jamie Langsdon Turner - when I want fiction, I turn to her now, and enjoy the depth of her character development! I too read "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus," at the recommendation of a missionary relative, and was really struck at how hard the author worked to engage with Christians, and Jesus. We who were blessed to be raised in a Christian home take so much for granted! Two more books I enjoyed this year- "Kisses from Katie" by Katie Davis (how she embodies "relentless love" to Ugandan orphans); and "The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism" by Naoki Higashida (written by an autistic boy at 13, when he finally found ways to communicate his feelings - incredible!). Thank you for your list, and to all the commenters too; I will be on the lookout for your books! - Suz


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