The books I read in 2014 were a little all over the map, but I like it that way. It keeps me on my toes and my mind alert as I learn and read about different subjects. I read quite a few Christian books, some biographies, more books about history and WWII than I probably have ever read and a few bestsellers. I enjoyed nearly every book I read, but a few stand out as my favorites of the year.
In no particular order, here are my favorite books that I read in 2014.
1. Heaven — Randy Alcorn
This is not your run-of-the-mill “Left Behind” book. Nor does it describe Heaven as full of feathery, white angels singing and playing trumpets. Alcorn does an amazing job painting a picture of what Heaven will most likely be like. He advocates for you to learn and read about Heaven because we read and learn about all of the other places we know we are going on (i.e. trips, places we are moving, etc). But why we don’t take time to stop and think about, let alone learn about, Heaven is his case for why we should. I finished the book feeling excited for Heaven and longing for it, which is exactly why Alcorn wrote the book.
2. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald — Therese Anne Fowler
If you loved The Paris Wife or are a fan of any 1920’s literature, you will love this book! Zelda Fitzgerald is the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the infamous author of The Great Gatsby. Fowler used Zelda’s journals to write the book and truly writes in such a way that you feel like Zelda is your new best friend (at least I did). With the many references to Hemingway and other famous members of the “Lost Generation” this is a fun read because she incorporates the characters and even the writings of these people into her book. Fowler develops Zelda’s character beautifully, and although it pained me, by the end of the book I liked her more than her husband.
3. The Case for a Creator — Lee Strobel
I have read quite a few of Strobel’s books this year, but this one is by far my favorite one. Strobel makes a strong and convincing case for a Creator by interviewing experts in every scientific field imaginable. Although I am not a very “science-y” person, I was in awe of the majesty of God in the grandeur of creation, as well as the intricacy of God in the details. This will probably always be one of my favorite Christian books because of the overwhelming argument for the greatness of God seen in creation.
4. The Defining Decade — Meg Jay
This is a must-read for all twenty-somethings! Jay argues against “thirty being the new twenty,” as today’s culture wants you to believe and advocates for making the most of your twenties. For anyone who has felt a little lost and directionless in this decade of life or thinks that they have plenty of time to do X, Y and Z, read this book. Jay gives thought-provoking advice about a slew of topics, including work/career, relationships, social networks and identity.
5. Bonhoeffer — Eric Metaxas
For those of you who are unfamiliar with who Dietrich Bonhoeffer is, he was a pastor, theologian, spy and martyr. Metaxas’ biography does a great job of not only providing insight into who Bonhoeffer was, but the perspective and information needed in order understand the events and characters that shaped Germany in the years leading up to and during WWII. As a theologian and pastor alone, Bonhoeffer’s life and musings give great insight into who God is and how to live a godly life. But Bonhoeffer was more than that — he was also a martyr and involved in attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This man truly lived an amazing life, and Metaxas shows you in this inspiring biography.
6. Night Film — Marisha Pessl
This book is a thriller and action movie in written form. I was amazed by how fast it read and how action-packed it was. Pessl’s writing style was an added bonus to the intricate plot — she used articles, clippings and images to paint a picture as if you were actually a character in the book. When our book club met to discuss this book, we had one of the liveliest conversations yet — full of questions and thoughts of what had happened in the book. This book is really good!
7. Unbroken — Laura Hillenbrand
Between the actual book and the movie (which came out on Christmas Day), Louie Zamperini’s story was a popular one this year and rightfully so! Upon reading this book, I didn’t know anything about Zamperini or what this book was about. However, I was left utterly amazed by his story and his will to live through all of the traumatic events that he endured. Although I enjoyed the movie, the book is better because Hillenbrand gives you the full account of Zamperini’s life including what happened when he came back to the States following his experience in WWII. This book will leave you horrified, inspired and will remind you of the freedom in forgiveness.
Overall, this was a great year of reading for me. To be honest, I am left surprised by the books that I truly loved this year, but I think that’s a good sign! I read things that were out of my box and stretched myself to new genres and topics. I can’t wait to see what books 2015 has in store for me!
Click here for a list of all of the books I read in 2014.