It’s time for the end of the year lists. I love to read about what other people are reading and so I thought I’d just do a quick round-up of my 10 favourite books in 2014. (I wasn’t able to read as much as usual this year – it’s been a busy one – but what I did read, I thoroughly enjoyed across the board. So much good work from so many.) I read a ton of popular novels this year – I think I was looking for an escape, not only from the world but even from my own mind or my own book writing. It served me well. And of course, I did a lot of research-reading in the non-fiction genre but that’s not quite the same as reading for the fun of it, is it?
So here are my 5 favourite fiction reads and my 5 favourite non-fiction reads of the year – so difficult to narrow it down! Let me know what you read and loved this year, too….
Favourite Fiction Reads
Lila by Marilynne Robinson :: I wait for a new Marilynne Robinson book like kids used to wait for the new Harry Potter. I loved Home and Gilead so much but this one was something else, a bit more of an edge of danger to it, a bit more real somehow. I loved Lila as a character and the book is her side of the story but the writing is quintessentially midwestern, simple and straight forward and then staggeringly beautiful.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman :: It’s odd to me how much I enjoy fantastical novels like this since I’m not a huge sci-fi or fantasy fan (with the notable exception of Doctor Who). But Neil Gaiman is such an incredible writer with such a spooky and lovely imagination. This book is weird and creepy, sad and beautiful. It stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty :: I have loved Liane Morarity’s novels since “What Alice Forgot” (still one of my favourite novels to recommend to women in the tired thirties with me.) Such a great un-put-down-able story. The characters were beautiful and real and flawed, I love each one of them and actually missed them when the novel was over.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (the Year of Jojo Moyes) :: Thanks to a recommendation from Shauna Niequist (who never steers me wrong on novels), I decided to pick up my first Jojo Moyes novel. And then I disappeared for 24-hours while I devoured it. DEVOURED. This book was so good. It was definitely my favourite of hers – the heroine of the novel and her family were so dear. And the questions it brought up and the conversations it sparked were so interesting. I ended up devouring all of her other novels, too.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd :: What a fascinating book. I love Sue Monk Kidd’s work and style – I think it’s that strain of the mystic to her work that I love or perhaps how she can write such complex women so well – but this one was an interesting story, compelling characters, and filled with empowerment and passion. It’s intense and complicated and brave. It makes me appreciate so much more deeply the women who came before us all.
Favourite Non-Fiction Reads
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. I know, I know, I’m a total BBT fan-girl. But this book was so vitally important to me this year. She articulates the liminal spaces of our lives so beautifully and turns the narratives of dark-light on their head in a way that made total sense to me. I got this book – anyone who has ever found God in the dark or in the in-between will get this book.
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of St. Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr. I’ve been fascinated with St. Francis for a while now but this book takes us beyond the usual stories and biographical details, into the heart of Franciscan life. (Perhaps it’s because of Pope Francis that we’re all so dazzled by the idea of a Christian who actually seems like a Christian?) I found this book brilliant and challenging.
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman. Oh, man. This book. This book! It reads more like poetry than spiritual memoir genre (which makes sense since Wiman is a poet). It blends theology with poetry, faith with doubt, edges with beauty. It’s luminous and devastating, worth a slow read.
Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. You might have missed this unassuming book but goodness, Micha can write about prayer and motherhood like no one else. Every word is earthy, loving, and present. It made me feel a little less alone in how I wrestle not only with prayer but with the performances of prayer or the old habits no longer fitting.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler – I’m not usually one for reading humour books or books by comedians in general, but I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants and so I decided to grab this one from the library as a bit of light reading one weekend. I ended up howling with laughter and texting my sister certain lines. It’s profane, accessible, hilarious, fearless, and strong. I think I need to find my inner Amy Poehler.