As the year comes to a close, it’s time already to share with you the best books I read in the last three months and try to narrow down the best books I read all year. I’m offering this as a 2-for-1 blog post to close out 2014.
My previous quarterly lists were limited to five or six books. After reviewing my reading over the last part of this year, I can’t narrow it down. (Good for you, reading friends!)
First, here are my picks for the fourth quarter of the year. (Gosh, this is so hard!)
Three books caused a shift in my spiritual journey, and the words of their writers are still rumbling around in my soul. The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski offers challenging thoughts and practices for a deeper spirituality. Prototype by Jonathan Martin changed forever the way I think of discipleship. And Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker was an inspiring story of redefined mission when comfortable Christianity no longer was enough. (Please don’t read these three books simultaneously or back-to-back. You might despair of ever becoming the kind of person you want to be. Take them slow and let them simmer in your mind.)
Another notable nonfiction book was Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson. If you know someone who is dealing with grief, especially the loss of a child, this is an gut-level honest account of what that’s like. And even if that kind of grief hasn’t reached your circle of family and friends yet, it’s still worth reading. Bring the tissues.
I’m surprised to have so many nonfiction books make my “top books” this quarter. Usually I read fewer of those because it takes me longer to read them than it does fiction.
But here are three notable fiction books from the last three months:
A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker. Dekker made my “best of” list twice this year, and I previously hadn’t read anything by him. Read this book for a better understanding of the life of Jesus in the context of his culture. (Would be good for Lenten reading!)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I have no official review for this one, but read the nice things people are saying about it on Goodreads and Amazon. I noticed this one on the “new books” shelf at the library and was intrigued by the summary. I didn’t check it out that day, but the next time I saw it on the shelf, I snagged it. It’s mesmerizing. I couldn’t easily walk away from it, its plot and characters lingering as I went about my business. A “heavy” read but not without hope.
Tears of the Sea by MaryLu Tyndall. I make it no secret that Tyndall is a favorite author. This year, she released a book unlike any other she’s written, and it is such a beautiful reminder of the depth of God’s love illustrated through a mermaid story.
With books likes those rounding out the year’s best reads, how on earth am I going to pick my top books of the entire year?
Here they are, as well as I can determine. (I narrowed it down to six books! Aren’t you proud of me?)
The best books of 2014
Quiet by Susan Cain. I read this book early in the year and I’m still thinking about what I learned from it about myself. An invaluable reference for introverts and the people who love them.
Outlaw by Ted Dekker. I mentally reference this book weekly. I’ve read a lot of transformational fiction over the years, but this book changed something inside of me, opening up a spiritual way of life I had not understood or considered previously. (And it’s also a captivating story.)
A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert. I love Ganshert’s stories, but this one makes the list because of the lead male character. I try not to play favorites with fictional characters, but he’s one of my all-time favorites.
The Waiting by Cathy LaGrow. Family secrets. Generational history. An almost impossible reunion. And it’s all true. This true story reads like fiction and is the kind of story writers drool over because of the inherent elements of story. I am jealous to write like this.
Restless by Jennie Allen. Another one of those life-changing books that is still changing my life. If you feel the nudge for something more in your life, Allen’s book can help you discover your unique role in God’s kingdom. And she does it with encouragement and grace and her own admissions of fear and failure.
Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker. This might be only the second parenting/motherhood book I’ve ever finished. So much grace and encouragement for moms of all kinds and seasons. I wish I could buy a box of these books and hand them out to moms at the grocery store.
There you have it. My imperfect wrap-up of my 2014 reading. I’m looking forward to another great year of reading and have some highly anticipated books lined up for review in the coming months. I hope you’ll stick around and share in the love of reading.
What makes your list for the year? What books are you looking forward to in 2015?