2014 book list

So back when, I made a commitment to read at least one book a month. And I’m doing it! Sometimes by the skin of my teeth, and sometimes with glorious aplomb. Here’s what I’ve read so far (since May, to be exact). (And considering that I only read one book—Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox—in the six months prior to my commitment, this list is pretty impressive, thankyouverymuch.)

*The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. An old favorite, although I think I love Poisonwood Bible more. And her book of essays is fab.

*Free to Learn by Peter Gray. The most perspective-changing book I’ve read all year. Maybe ever. If I had to choose one book for everyone to read, this would be it.

*Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I got bored halfway through. There’s a brain-scarring rape scene that I wish I hadn’t read. Interesting storyline but long and teetering on tedious.

*The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Fun (if you call “crying your eyes out” fun, and I do) and fast. I have no interest in seeing the movie. (Feel free to convince me otherwise.)

*Natural Born Learners by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko and Dr. Carlo Ricci. Some good ideas. Glad I read it. Nothing amazing.

*The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Brilliant and engaging. The perfect Pleasure Read.

*Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Some new perspectives, but over all her stuff is getting repetitious.

*Home Grown by Ben Hewitt. Slow, thoughtful, meandering. Lots of nature talk (not my thing), but a rewarding look at an alternative worldview. (Though I think I prefer his sharp Outside article and his shootin’-the-breeze blog.)

*Still Alice by Lisa Genova. For the first time, I feel like I have a handle on the monster that is Alzheimer’s. The book is sobering, educational, and easy to read. It reminded me of Flowers for Algernon.

*Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. Not as good as The Glass Castle, but still good.

*The Death Class: A True Story About Life by Erika Hayasaki. In which a reporter follows a college professor who teaches her students (her class has a three year wait list!) about death. Fascinating concepts. Challenged me to think more directly about death.

*The Astor Orphan by Alexandra Aldrich. Boring as heck.

*Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom. A renowned psychotherapist delves into his doubts, questions, and personal idiosyncrasies (he spares nothing) as he relates to his patients. The details got boggy, but I slogged through. And I’m glad I did! It’s those very details that gave me a better handle on what good therapy is all about (or at least what it’s all about according to Yalom).

*Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast. A graphic novel about caring for aging parents. Raw, harsh, ugly, and ultimately, profoundly beautiful. (I had no idea that a graphic novel could be beautiful.) My son read it and said, “I hope you guys die fast.” My mom is reading it now and she says it’s “sublime.” I’m recommending it to everyone I see. Everyone. READ IT.


And for the 2014 Grand Finale: here’s my current stack of reads:

It’s a little ambitious but I blame NPR. They did this nifty book of the year thing and so of course I had to immediately hop on the library’s website and put a bunch on hold.


So… what does your book list look like?

This same time, years previous: flat and marshmallows.


  • Anonymous

    I've read some of the titles on your list. I am an RN who dreams of her own facility to care for our elders. I've been present as families faced inevitable aging and I have been part of a family dealing with aging. Thanks for the recommending Roz Chast's graphic (oh yes in more than one way!) novel. I will be sharing this one.

  • beckster

    Thanks for sharing your list. The movie of TFIOS was good, but as usual, not nearly as good as the book. The best book I read all year long was All the Light We Cannot See. It is one of those novels that is masterfully crafted and shows the humanity of those involved in war. Highly recommend. Have a very happy and safe holiday season!

  • Starr

    I've read many of the books on your list. Anyway, one of my favorites this year was "The Martian". It's sci-fi, but not geeky at all. The story is compelling and it can be finished in a snap.

  • Sara

    I love book list ideas! Some of my favorites from the last year are: The Secrets of Mary Bowser, Orphan Train, A Light Between Oceans, Unbroken, The Language of Flowers, and most things by Ann Patchett, but especially State of Wonder. Hopefully we all get some holiday reading time in.

  • Katia

    I just finished reading a biography on Elizabeth 1st by Anne Somerset. It was a bit tedious, but it lead me to dive into a biography on Mary, Queen of Scots.
    The one book that I will re-read in 2015 is "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is achingly beautiful, each short story superbly crafted.

  • Becky

    My book list is compiled by the reviews that sound interesting in my Sunday NYTimes book review section. And what I hear is good. Or what friends give me.

    The Fault in Our Stars movie was well done. I read the book because my daughter gave it to me, she went to see the movie when it opened and has seen it countless times. It's well done, but definitely an ugly cry movie. As in, I was hard core sobbing at the opening credits. Even my husband cried like a baby the first time he watched it.

  • mamawanda

    Thanks for your list. I've put a few of your suggestions on hold at the library. I recommend "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande to you.

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