Books I read in December ’14

I just finished a stack of books I’ve been reading for awhile. So it’s time for a new stack.

I started The Book Thief Sunday night. Oh my! Have you read it? The writing so far is phenomenal. Truly!

For better or worse, I finally dipped into my public library’s eBook collection this week. The downside is I’m not sure there’s a renewal period beyond the original 14 days (and I never finish a book that fast). But we’ll see.

Below is the rest of what’s on my nightstand that I’m sharing with 5 Minutes for Books. My year-end list of 10 Favorite Books of 2014 is here.


1. Nudge
Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thaler


This book intrigued me from beginning to end about how we often make decisions based on how the questions are set up. We all have power to architect our own and others’ choices as well by designing the choice environments more thoughtfully. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long while.

2. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy
Daily Readings for Advent
by John Piper


I picked up this devotional for free during Advent. The daily readings were brief yet rich. I’ll look forward to reading through it again in another Advent season.

3. Writing about Your Life
A Journey into the Past
by William Zinsser


I admit that I checked out this library book because I love to read Zinsser, regardless of what he’s writing about. (After all, he made On Writing Well interesting; I reread it every few years.) Of course his material here is interesting too, not just about how to write, but about what he chooses to write about himself.

4. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
by Alan Jacobs


Reading is alive and well. Jacobs reminds us that, yes, continue to read for information, but also continue to read at whim. My periodic trips to the library keep my whim reading going strong.

5. A Captain’s Duty
Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea
by Richard Phillips


A fascinating and true story about Capt. Phillips’ capture by Somali pirates in 2009 (great movie also). The book kept me captivated even though I knew how it was going to end (it made my top 10 list of books read in 2014).

6. Jake Fades
A Novel of Impermanence
by David Guy


I enjoyed this novel about spirituality (mainly Buddhism) and how the main characters worked through the hard questions of life.

7. Mudhouse Sabbath
An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline
by Lauren Winner


A quick and short read, this is a practical book on incorporating the best of Jewish spiritual practices into our Christian faith. I enjoyed it and want to use more of Winner’s ideas in my own spiritual disciplines.

8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondo


My full review here

I really enjoyed this book. Kondo gives enough new tips to make it worth my while to read yet another book on organizing. Her philosophy is more about what you keep than what you discard.

9. Jesus Feminist
An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women
by Sarah Bessey

My review here


This isn’t just for or about women, but for all who want to contribute their gifts to the Kingdom. I enjoy Sarah’s honesty about pieces of her own journey and how they relate to ours. She is a strong encourager to go, do, and love, right where you are, whoever you are.

10. A Christian Survival Guide
A Lifeline to Faith and Growth
by Ed Cyzewski

My review here

A-Christian Survival-Guide_Ed-Cyzewski

This book covers very relevant territory. Ed addresses questions honestly and bluntly on prayer, violent Bible stories, hell, doubts, and more. As he puts it, he takes on some of the “most challenging threats to my faith and the faith of those I know.” Good stuff!


1. The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak


I’m only 50 pages in, and I can already say this writing is incredibly beautiful art! From the very first page onward, I’ll read a few sentences, then have to pause to soak in how phenomenally these sentences are constructed. I know the WW2 storyline is also good (I’ve seen the movie), but how these words are crafted is blowing me away.

2. Think Like a Freak
by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner


I so enjoy these anecdotal stories of culture and economics from the authors of Freakonomics. This book comes highly recommended from some of you blogger friends so I know it’s a win. (I also love their podcast Freakonomics.)

3. Born to Blog
Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time
by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith


I definitely don’t blog for business, but I do like to read books about things I like to do. This was one of the library eBook freebies that caught my eye. I’ll let you know next month if it’s useful for the casual blogger or not.

4. The Narcissist Next Door
Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed–in Your World
by Jeffrey Kluger


Another trial library eBook. Although it’s not written necessarily from a believer’s viewpoint, pride is a universal struggle that affords addressing from any angle, so this book might prove interesting. If not, nothing lost.

* * *

What’s one of your favorite books from 2014? What do you want to read in 2015? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

24 thoughts on “Books I read in December ’14

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    You read at about the same rate I do!

    Right now I’m re-reading “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen (pseud.). It was very controversial when it came out, because it allegedly revealed classified information. Balderdash. There’s nothing operationally sensitive, and no “winking” at “stuff I can’t tell you”. It’s a good read, and accurately captures the mindset of the special warfare operator.

    ANother spectacularly good book is “Kaigun”, by Evans and Peattie. It’s a bear of a volume that describes the development of the Japanese Navy from 1887 to the eve of WW2, and is absolutely vital for any kind of understanding of Japanese naval doctrine in the Pacific War.

    There are more, of course – I read a book every two days – but I’m a bit too ill to add to the list this morning. I will try to return later.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No Easy Day sounds very intriguing. I’m probably not ready for Kaigun yet. 😉 I’d need an easy primer first. I’m glad you’re still enjoying reading. I pray I never get too ill to stop reading, but if I do, there’s always audio books…. Praying for you to have a better morning tomorrow, Andrew.

  2. Jerralea

    My daughter has been urging me to read “The Book Thief” so you’ve inspired me to follow through. The book by Zinsser sounds interesting as well.

    I’m always amazed at the wide variety of your reading choices! I tend to stay in the same genres. Okay, I’m stuck in a rut!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, do read it, Jerralea! I’ve only been reading it for 2 nights, but both nights I have to stop and read a portion out loud to my husband because it’s so beautiful. 🙂 He may want me to stop reading it. ha.

  3. Sharon

    Interesting, Lisa – just yesterday my hairstylist told me she had just seen the movie, “The Book Thief.” She loved it, highly recommended it. I actually own that book, just haven’t picked it up to read yet. Now, with your hearty endorsement, I think I will sooner than later!

    My favorite book from 2014 was “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb. It was an amazing read for me, shifting my view on how I look at suffering. How God uses brokenness to get us in touch with our deepest longing, and our biggest dream – knowing our need for Him. I highly recommend it!

    I just posted about my year of JOY – the word God gave me for 2014. It was an interesting journey. And I am so glad that this was the year that God had me read “Shattered Dreams.” I haven’t learned everything yet (ahem – understatement), but I know that God is expanding my heart in my desire for Him. Books are such an important part of my life, and I love what we can learn through them.

    Especially THE Book – the Word of God!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you’ll love The Book Thief, Sharon, since you’re a word person like I am. It’s written from the unique perspective of death, but not in a morbid way; just realistic. After losing your dad this year, I know death isn’t a foreign subject to you either.

      I love Shattered Dreams too! So much good stuff from Larry Crabb. He’s one of my favorite authors. The greatest authors are deeply rooted in God’s truths (even when some of them don’t know it yet).

  4. Barbara H.

    I’m hoping to read The Book Thief – I have heard it’s writing is wonderful. And I put A Captain’s Duty on my TBR list after your previous mention of it.

    I haven’t tried e-books from the library yet. My computer is rickety enough that I wasn’t sure it could handle it, but I could probably read them on my iPad mini – that’s where I read Kindle books anyway. Will have to look into it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My library gives several options of where to download your eBook. The computer is one option, but my computer sounds like yours and it doesn’t need the extra stress. ha. So I have them sent to my Kindle (and they come by way of Amazon, curiously enough).

  5. Jean Wise

    Great list as usual. I just ordered the Nudge from our library thanks to your list. ( : I am reading In the Shadows – how to help your seriously ill adult child. I am interviewing on the the authors for our local paper’s health page in a few weeks. She has a heart for helping parents with sick adult kids – an issue that doesn’t get much attention. Ever total up how many books you read in 2014? I started to but never completed the list and now regret that.. Your blog probably keeps track for you since you report them here. again love this post you do and share with us.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “In the Shadows” sounds like such an important work, Jean. How wonderful that you’re bringing light to it in the newspaper. You’re right that caring for an adult child gets very, very little attention, even though it is of high, high value.

      I probably read around 80 books this year, which seems too high actually (do I really finish more than 1 book per week? not possible). And yes, doing the monthly nightstands on my blog helps me keep up with it easier, and especially using Goodreads! I’m glad I switched over to them from Shelfari.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “The Pleasures…” was a pretty quick read, so you probably won’t regret pushing it higher on your list. It made me feel better about reading things because of a “whim” too. 🙂 It messes with my carefully constructed to-read list for the year, but it’s worth it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The Happiness Project was a very useful book to me. It was one of those books that I actually used for a whole year since it was divided that way. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. Susan

    I’ve just recently begun reading some Kindle books thru the library — like you, the loan time makes me nervous and I don’t know if they can be renewed (I *think* they just need to be re-checked out, which is a bit of a pain). I loved Book Thief, and yes, the writing is beautiful! The Tidying-Up book looks like a good one to begin the new year with. I enjoyed Freakanomics, so the book by that author intrigues me too … happy new year!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I should find out in a week and a half how possible it is to renew my Kindle books. I hope it’s going to work, otherwise I’ll have 4 unfinished books to “return.” I tend to use my full 6-week of renewals with “real” library books. 🙂 Happy New Year to you too, Susan!

  7. Linda@Creekside

    I’ve got a nice little stack of books in my e-reader! Maybe now’s a good time to settle in … with another screen?


    I guess I’ll always prefer the musty smell of a library book, the worn pages that tell their own story.

    And I just have to let you know that I’m grateful for your presence in my life, Lisa. We have been steady companions along the road, and for that I truly am thankful. I pray that God will keep us close together as we travel ahead into 2015.

    Hugs, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I do love, love me some real library books too, Linda. As much as I love my Kindle as a super addition, it’ll never replace those books.

      I am so thankful for you too this year, Linda. You’ve a positive stream of encouragement to continue on following the Lord no matter what. Blessings to you in 2015!

  8. floyd

    All I can say is “Geez Louise”! You’re an animal! (in a good way of course…)

    I hope to read more this next year. It’s been a while since I’ve got read and enjoy a book.

    Happy New Year, sister! God bless you and yours! Tell Jeff I said “hi” and if he can slow you down on the reading there’ll be something in it for him!

    Good year, Lisa. Thanks again for all you do.

    May our Father pour out His warm grace and mercy on you and yours.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. I read your comment to Jeff but he’s pretty much lost control of me in bookland. ha. I keep trying to pull him in here with me, but he only dips his toes in. But all is well; to each his own. 🙂 May the Lord bless you and your family with sweet mercies this year too, Floyd!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I haven’t heard of that collection of Lewis’s letters. Do tell us about it when you’re done. I love how Bonhoeffer continues to inspire, long as he’s gone.

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