Best Books of 2014

One of the things I like about the holidays is seeing all of the ‘best books of the year’ posts. I love seeing what stood out for other people in terms of books. I also like looking back on my year and pondering the books that touched me, that struck deep for me.

In looking back at 2014, I can see that this past year was rich on a reading level. I read 78 books, a number that I have never reached before. Most of the books were what I call ‘literary fluff’ but there were many on this list that struck me deep to the core. Many of the books that I read this year have stayed with me long after I closed the book. With that in mind I have made two lists; one for fiction and one for non-fiction.

Top Ten Fiction of 2014
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro–I had watched the movie with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson but had never read the book. This is just a simple tale well told.

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt–in keeping with the apparent fashion of writing humongous books that could very easily be told in 400 pages, Goldfinch is beautifully written. The story is dark and dreary but I seem to be drawn to these kinds of stories.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley. This is the sixth installment of the Flavia de Luce series. Usually, by this time, I would have moved on; six books is just way too long for a readable series. Mr. Bradley proves me wrong. I was waiting with unbridled excitement for this book due to the cliff hanger presented to us in the fifth book. But I interpreted the cliffhanger wrong. Mr. Bradley played me for a fool and I was furious with him and with myself. I was tempted to end my relationship with Flavia solely based on my foolishness but I couldn’t; I had to know how this was all going to play out. I am glad that I stuck with her.

Longbourne by Jo Baker. A retelling of sorts of Pride and Prejudice, Baker does it through the eyes of the servants. I quite enjoyed it.

Till We Have Faces by C.S.Lewis. Another retelling but this time it is of the myth Cupid and Psyche. I read this twice and it became all the richer the second time through.

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. A simple story of a woman who wants to see the world so she buys a traveling book wagon and her life is changed forever.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. I am a huge fan of Ms. Donoghue’s. I first became aware of her gift of telling story through her book, Room, and I have been reading her ever since. Frog Music is a depressing tale of a woman trying to take care of her son in the 1800’s. This book is not for the faint of heart but I came away from it with a hurting heart for the main character. I have discovered that I enjoy character driven stories more so than plot driven ones.

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell. A retelling of Sleeping Beauty but it is set in the 1600’s in the midst of the reality of the Plague. Loved this book.

The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. A book about books. A cute story.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I think this was my favourite of 2014. This was a character focused book that tore my heart out and then put it back in but with the pieces all mixed up. I think of this book often even after having read it two months ago.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Okay, I went over my ten but this year was a good reading year, I couldn’t help myself. This is the first of Robinson’s books, she has just released her fourth book, Lila, but I didn’t want to read it without reading all of her previous books. I am so glad that I am doing this. Houskeeping is an emotionally wrung out gem. I had my commonplace book glued to my side while reading because there were so many great quotes that were begging to be copied out. Again, this is a character driven story and I fell into it head over heels.

Non-Fiction
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. As I carried on the habit of choosing character-driven fiction, I can see now that I was mostly drawn to memoirs this year. This is a memoir of sorts that is told through a series of short stories/articles that were published in magazines. This is how Patchett supports herself in between books.

The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater. A book on notebooking A la Charlotte Mason. Excellent book.

Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber. I don’t really know how to describe this book, maybe just to say that this book beckons us to enjoy the simplest moments of each day.

Bloom by Kelle Hampton. A memoir of a mom who finds out as she is giving birth to her second daughter that her baby has Down’s Syndrome.

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. It’s all in the title.

Gifts From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This was written, what? 60? 7o years ago? And it is still relevant today. Beautifully written.

The Attributes of God by Arthur Pinker

The Rock That is Higher by Madeleine L’Engle My first adult L’Engle book. I don’t agree with her theology but I do love her writing. There will be more read of hers.

Booked by Karen Swallow Prior. A books about books. Enough said.

Found by Micha Boyett. I think I could safely say that this was my favourite non-fiction of 2014. Boyett is on a search for a deeper prayer life and her search leads her to the practices of the Benedictine Monks.

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