Top 14 Books of 2014

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The main reason I started a goodreads account is because I can never remember what I am reading. Even if I have a book on my bedside table, the title and author often slip right off my tongue when anyone asks. It could be a case of book amnesia - but it's more likely that I just read far too many books to keep them all in order.

Now that I look through my 2014 list, it's clear that this year was the year of non-fiction and memoir for me (which is semi-surprising because I love fiction just as much). I actually made my way through a decent number of the hot new fiction titles, but I was disappointed by most of them. If you have fiction recommendations, please do leave them in the comments.

*Note that these books were not necessarily published in 2014. They were ones that I read and enjoyed in 2014.

Without further ado - and in no particular order - please find my top 14 books of the year.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor EstesThe Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Written in 1944, this timeless story offers beautiful messages about friendship, forgiveness, and compassion. My 5-year-old and 7-year-old were captivated by the plot and characters.

Protecting The Gift by Gavin de BeckerProtecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker

BEST book I've read on the topic of the safety of children. An important read for every woman (including teenage girls) and every parent. I'd like to re-read this one every three years or so.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Endearing, funny, and altogether delightful. I was suspicious at first of a book entirely composed of letters, but quickly forged ties with the characters.

This novel is destined to become a movie and I would very much like to see it.

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo BakerSurprised By Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

A beautiful, redemptive memoir about the transformative changes that accompany motherhood. A good gift for a first time mother!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I was impressed by "The Kite Runner" - its depth, its mournful sadness, the way hope is woven through the story in the midst of oppression.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is equally as disturbing and beautiful. In fact, I think it is even more of a masterpiece. It's the kind of book that challenges you to do your part to make the world a better place for women and children. We must not be silent.

TORN by Justin LeeTorn by Justin Lee

Excellent. Thought-provoking. An important read for book clubs and small groups.

Walkable City by Jeff SpeckWalkable City by Jeff Speck

This data-driven book offers key insights and recommendations to help cities become more pedestrian-friendly. (I'm a nerd). (I know).

The Heavenly Man by Paul HattawayThe Heavenly Man by Paul Hattaway

The tag for this autobiography is "the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun." Translated by Paul Hattaway, it is indeed remarkable. Yun shares his story as a young believer and later a pastor in China. Imprisoned three times, tortured, and slandered, Yun puts his hope in Christ alone.

I closed the pages and Francis Schaeffer's words pumped through my blood - "How Should We Then Live?"

Although not in the top-tier for written eloquence, I give this book five stars because it is a powerful account that simultaneously encourages and challenges. Yun's words will undoubtedly stay in my soul and push me toward greater faith in Christ.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn MillerThe Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Donalyn Miller is clearly a master teacher with a wealth of knowledge about encouraging, motivating, and inspiring readers. In an upbeat and charismatic way, Miller challenges conventional teaching methods. She decries the use of whole class novels, popcorn reading, book reports, and reading worksheets - all things that detract from the joy of reading. I highly recommend this book to all Language Arts teachers and/or parents of reluctant readers. Even if teachers don't choose to follow in her footsteps completely, they're sure to gain some new insights and will be stimulated to question whether their current practices are engaging and creating lifelong readers.

The Defining Decade by Meg JayThe Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay presents a compelling case for "why your twenties matter - and how to make the most of them now." I found myself nodding in agreement with almost all of the "Work" chapter. Smart perspectives and advice.

The "Love" chapter was less powerful and I didn't see eye-to-eye with the author's lackadaisical attitude about casual sex. Even so, she does provide some persuasive arguments about the negative repercussions of "living together" and the importance of being more intentional about positive relationships.

A good read for any twenty-something. Super book club and/or mentoring pick as there are lots of discussion points to cover!

Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark BattersonPraying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson

A breezy read, "Praying Circles Around Your Children" is a mere 103 pages. The book itself is pocket-sized and I easily read the whole thing cover-to-cover in about an hour (maybe less?).

Good refreshers; lots of ideas for possible implementation by different families.

I was reminded anew to pray specifically, pray daily, pray fervently, pray with, and pray for my children.

Something Other Than God by Jennifer FulwilerSomething Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler

Jennifer Fulwiler shares her childhood and young adulthood as an atheist...and her subsequent pursuit of happiness. In the pages of her memoir, she wrestles with the question of human suffering and finds herself reading the Bible in bathroom stalls (to avoid scrutiny from coworkers). You'll be moved by Fulwiler's intelligent questioning and humorous stories as she discovers Jesus.

Bread & Wine by Shauna NiequistBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Part memoir/part cookbook, this 2013 book by the daughter of Bill Hybels is exquisite. Shauna invites her readers into the painful corners of her heart and also gently prods them to become better friends + better hosts. The book is about hospitality and intentionality, but it’s also a celebration of food and friendship. When I closed the last page, I wanted to be a more thoughtful friend…and I wanted to go out and buy some champagne. A perfect pick for a book club!

Lean In by Sheryl SandbergLean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, writes a smart manifesto about “women, work, and the will to lead.” Sandberg confronts the reality of gender inequity in the workplace (and in the home) and calls women to “take a seat at the table” in politics, corporations, and non-profits. She also writes candidly about work-life balance and motherhood. A compelling read for both men and women.

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Have you read any of my 14? What were some of your best reads of the past year? Chime in with your thoughts! 

©2020 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
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