10 Favorite Books of 2014


Looking over the books I read in 2014 (not necessarily published in 2014 because I usually wait for the library copy so I read for free), these ten or so books were either the most informative, entertaining, or motivating.

Top 10

1. Being Wrong
Adventures in the Margin of Error
by Kathryn Schulz

This one was the most fascinating by far! Most of us want to always be right, but this book showed how often we are wrong, about what things, and why. It also addressed what to do about it and how to make peace with it. My review here.

2. Daring Greatly
How the Courage to Be Vulernable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher who discovered in her own life and through 12 years of research how to live wholeheartedly. This message encourages us to more meaningful connect with others and with ourselves despite the risks involved. My review here.

3. Everything Belongs
The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
by Richard Rohr

Have you read any books yet by Richard Rohr? If you like being challenged to take your spirituality to deeper levels, this is a great book to take you there. Rohr wants you to see yourself and your connection to God in new and more truthful ways. (I wish I’d done a book review on this one, but I could never wrap my head around it all. Maybe later.)

4. Nickel and Dimed
On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

Is it possible to live the American dream on minimum wage? Author Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover to find out. She took low-paying jobs, lived in cheap lodging, and discovered how difficult it is to be one of the working poor. This book shifted again my already-changing views on how we middle-class Americans are too hard and judgmental on those struggling to get by.

5. Vanishing Grace
What Ever Happened to the Good News?
by Philip Yancey

This book hurts. But also gives hope. In our culture, the church is more likely to be judged negatively than positively. Yancey attributes part of that to the church’s underwhelming show of grace, and he gives many examples of how we can change that. My review here.

6. A Captain’s Duty
Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea
by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty

This was the most riveting book I read. Even after seeing the movie (twice!), the real-life story in the book still captivated me. Phillips doesn’t wax philosophical too often in the retelling, but he does give insights periodically into what he was thinking when he was being held hostage by Somali pirates at sea. “The thing I saw the clearest was the lesson I learned on the lifeboat: we are stronger than we think we are.”

7. Decisive
How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
by Chip and Dan Heath

I believe God used this book to help me make a “yes” decision to go to Guatemala last September. So of course I love it because it was a fantastic trip. But I continue to return to principles taught here using the WRAP process. (Not to mention that I love all books so far written by Chip and Dan Heath.) My review here.

8. The Four Agreements
by Miguel Ruiz

Because of this short book, I have these four statements on my bedroom mirror: 1–Be true to yourself. 2–Don’t take it personally. 3–Don’t assume. 4–Always do your best. Luiz’s lessons on #2 and #3 in particular are helping me me not make as many mountains out of molehills.

9. Delete
The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age
by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Much like the book Being Wrong, this book helps you make peace with another part of being human: forgetting things. We’re not designed to remember everything. Many things are best forgotten. This book does a great job in exploring how valuable is our ability to forget. My review here.

10. The Power of Now
A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle

This book fascinated me so much when I read my borrowed copy, that I’ve since bought the book and will spent 2015 rereading it much slower. Overall it contains a simple message: live more in the present than in the past or future. But it’s easier said than done for me. I can’t wait to start this book (and process) again. My review here.

~ * ~

But stop at 10 favorites? That’s too hard! Here are some bonus picks that I also truly enjoyed.

Favorite Fiction

Favorite Biographies

Favorite Spiritual

* * *

What is a favorite book you read in 2014? I’d love to hear!



30 thoughts on “10 Favorite Books of 2014

  1. Caleb Suko

    Oh wow, you read Eckhart Tolle? Oprah has made him super popular but I find that his teachings are a strange mix of Buddhism, Hinduism with a few Christian ideas thrown in for good measure. While he does bring up some good points about experiencing “now” I think that Biblical we are also called to have a hope for the future and life after death, Tolle seems to disregard that altogether.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree where you’re coming from with Tolle. Some of his ideas seem totally wacky to me. So I just take the good and throw out the bad. That’s how I read all books.

      The “now” concept speaks to me from Matthew 6 about not worrying about tomorrow, about being content with how God provides for me today. Although God was, is, and will be, it is in “this” moment (every “this” moment, the now) when his presence is most alive and active in my life. When I realize that, it decreases my worry factor, a lifelong weakness I ask God repeatedly to help me with. And he does, as much as I will let him….

  2. Karen Brown

    Oh, I’m SO glad I stopped by! I was just looking for something new to read and I love your list! There are many here that I haven’t discovered yet. Thank you! Have you read Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers? I just finished it and really enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No, I haven’t read Bridge to Haven, so thanks for the suggestion. I especially appreciate suggestions for novels because I tend to overlook fiction too easily. Merry Christmas to you too, Karen!

  3. Anita Ojeda

    I’m glad you have The Blue Castle on your favorite fiction list ;). And really, you don’t want to get me started on my favorite books…I’d take up several pages! But ok, you convinced me ;). Freakanomics (I forget the author, but it’s a must-read), 1491 (really makes you rethink history), March by Geraldine Brooks, I love all of Melanie Dickerson’s YA novels (as do my students), Chasing Silhouettes by Emily Wieringa, Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Story, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, anything by Karen Witemeyer, The Katy series by Susan Coolidge (free on Kindle) and anything by Grace Livingston Hill (especially the Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yay! Thanks for adding some of your favorites here, Anita. I understand the need for several pages. ha. It was so hard narrowing down my favorites just from this year alone.

      I’ll definitely be relooking at this list from you in 2015 for suggestions of what to read next. I even have one of Melanie’s books on our shelves now that I haven’t read yet that I want to get to. And I’ll go look up the Katy series now to add it to my Kindle. Thanks!

  4. Barbara H.

    You’re way ahead of me! I’ve compiled for non-fiction list to wrap up a book challenge but haven’t looked over all the books I read this year. I should keep a running list instead of having to compile them from Nightstand posts. I’m sure one book in my top ten (or however many list) will be Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi.

    I have not yet seen the Phillips movie, but I want to. I hadn’t realized he had written a book as well. It is going on my TBR list!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve used Goodreads pretty consistently this year, so it’s an easy way to see all the books I’ve read. I don’t add everything to it that I read, but close enough. I remember you liking Seeking Allah–it’s been on my to-read list since then.

  5. saleslady371

    This post is awesome. Wonderful of you to share not only your reads this year but reviews. I’m considering the one about grace. Read your review. Grace is my word for the coming year. I see it everywhere and I’m like a crazy woman recognizing that I have so much to learn and look forward to in 2015.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Grace is such a terrific One Word! It’ll be interesting to see how God will use it in your life throughout the year. Hope you enjoy Yancey’s book on grace. I thought it was terrific.

  6. Ginger Harrington

    What a great list. I have such a hard time finding time for doing the reading I’d like to do. I love having lists ready for when I’ve got time for something new. I’ll enjoy pinning this post to my books board.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Ginger. It’s good for me to do these posts to remind myself of all the great books I got to read this year. I’m like you though–I wish I had a lot more time to read. So many good books out there!

  7. Jean Wise

    what a wide range of books to chose from. Some I have read and some now are on my reading list,thanks to you. My favorite book this year is In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson. Read it on my kindle and loved it so much I just got it in paperback. Can’t wait to start rereading it. Merry Christmas, Lisa!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      If you liked “In the Sanctuary of Women” so much, I definitely need to read it too. I value your judgements, Jean. Getting the sample added to my Kindle right now….

  8. Beth (@SimplyBeth3)

    So many new books to consider and add to my ever growing list of books to read. 🙂 Reading for me was much slower this year but I did find each book I read to have a tremendous impact on me. I do hope to get through more in 2015. Thank you for sharing your favorites. Blessings.

  9. Natalie

    So in reading here today I’ve discovered yet more books to add to the long, long, long want to read list. Whoever coined the phrase “So many books, so little time,” was not kidding. Thanks for sharing these. I’m still trying to decide on my top reads from this past year. Pursuit of God by Tozer is one. The Reflective Life by Ken Gire, another. And then there is Under the Tuscan Sun, which, along with Pride and Prejudice, is an annual read. Thanks for sharing your list and giving me fuel for mine.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “So many books, so little time” is definitely a true saying! 🙂 I agree, Natalie. I need to do a re-read of Pursuit of God; I remember loving it the first time through. I’m heading to Amazon now to add The Reflective Life and Under the Tuscan Sun to my samples. How wonderful that you read Pride and Prejudice annually. I love that one too!

  10. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life

    Fun list, Lisa! I don’t get to read as much now that i have a husband to feed, but i am off for the next 2 weeks, so I am hoping to get some good reading time in while my man is working. My favorites from this year were Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs and Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming.

    Just wanted you to know that I prayed for you and your “impossible” this morning. May you feel His mighty strength going before you as you take the plunge into the deep. Hugs

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hope you enjoy your reading time these next 2 weeks. I hope to squeeze in more myself. I find it’s a tradeoff between reading and writing. 🙁 I totally enjoy both, but not enough time to do both as much as I’d like. I enjoyed Let’s All Be Brave this year too. Lessons I definitely need to keep working on!

      Thank you for praying for my impossible. I really appreciate that, Lyli. I know God will provide, but I need more courage to act on his provisions.

  11. Loren Pinilis

    You read the Brothers Karamazov? That’s one I’ve been meaning to dive into for some time. I keep starting it, but I read fiction so infrequently I kept forgetting the characters. I’ve also heard good things about the Power of Now!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Here’s my advice if you read The Brothers Karamazov (which I do recommend you do!)—as you’re reading, keep checking in with Spark Notes or Cliffs Notes. 🙂 It’s the only thing that saved me. Getting the Russian names straight was hard enough by itself, but Dostoyevsky gave everybody 3 or 4 nicknames as well, so it was impossible for me to sort out without outside help. ha.

  12. Nicki Schroeder

    Holy cow I am now officially overwhelmed with an entire list of what looks like fantastic reads! I read Brene Brown’s book and other than that, I’m clearly missing the book boat this year. Thanks for all the recommendations!

  13. Beverley

    I always seem to get to the end of the year thinking ‘i wanted to read that, but i didn’t???’ I often have the feeling that some books have come into my life at a certain time for a reason and i learn so much when they do. Two such books probably should be – A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art you were made to live by Emily P Freeman, which i began reading with an online book group (sorry forgot what it is called) but then i couldn’t put it down. Also The Fitting Room: putting on the character of Christ by Kelly Minter, which was a re-read but again the more i read the faster i had to read. I have read a total of 75 books this year, which is partly to fulfil the habit of reading more, but at the moment i am trying to read mindfully – one book at a time instead of three.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I feel the same way, Beverley—God sends certain books to me at just the right time. I knocked off a few long-term titles from my list this year, and now I’m excited to read through a couple more in 2015 that I’ve been meaning to read for years, but never have.

      Thanks for sharing those books that you enjoyed! I think I’ve already added them to my list from hearing you mention them before so it’s good to get the reminder again. So many great books I want to read….

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