13 Books I read in 2014


Book Review, Books / Sunday, January 11th, 2015

I read a few others Books of 2014 posts and for some reason didn’t think I read that much last year. Then I went through my blog posts and realized I mentioned 13! While looking through them I remembered I did read some really great ones after all. This isn’t necessarily a top 10 (or even a top 13) or a favorites list, merely a simple list of what I read with a few notes to go along or a link to where I did write more about it. I did add a little asterisk by the ones I enjoyed the most last year and would most recommend. You might also like some of the suggestions from Christy from Fountains of Home, Rachel at Efficient Momma, and Joel at I/fwp.

Here’s What I Read in 2014 (*Updated with 2 at the end I somehow failed to include!!)

*1. A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

A lovely and delightfully satisfying Young Adult Catholic fiction! Ellen Gable, a fellow contributor at CatholicMom.com, reached out and asked if I’d like to review her book. I was not very familiar with the book but thought it would be fun to give it a try. Little did I know just how much I’d enjoy it! And I’m not just saying that so Ellen sends me more of her books to review! 😉

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a young adult fiction and I can say I have never read a young adult fiction book that is truly authentically Catholic also. I read a few Christian teen fiction books I found at the old Christian book store – I think it was called The Better Book Room. (I loved going there!) But I was always disappointed there weren’t any specifically Catholic ones.

I don’t want to give anything away, you can read the summary of the book here. Basically, it takes place in the late 1800’s set in Philadelphia. It’s a sequel to Gable’s, In Name Only – which I haven’t read yet but definitely intend to as soon as I can! I was so impressed with how Gable wove all the Catholic traditions and historical culture into the story. She presents the story with a delicate, but enthralling, style. I felt quite comfortable lending it to our high-school-aged babysitter and plan on keeping it around for our daughter to enjoy in a few years.

My only complaint about the book was that it was so engrossing that I couldn’t put it down! I’d stay up way too late just to see how the plot would unravel. It was wonderful, actually! It was like gooey fudgy warm brownies for my book-loving-heart.

*2. The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living

Yes. Read this. I should know Lisa’s writing well enough by now but I was yet again surprised with how talented she with her delivery. She pulls together so many great quotes, scripture, Catholic teaching, and real-world examples into a basically inspiration in a book. It made me want to say, “Yes”, to God more. I also blogged about it here and here

3. The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works–and How It’s Transforming the American Economy by Charles Fishman

Ok, technically I didn’t read this all in 2014 because I had to return it to the library and didn’t quite finish. I can say that it was enjoyable and interesting to listen to it in the car, gave me something intellectual to think about besides what I was going to make for dinner or why in Honda hasn’t invented a sound-proof window between me and the back seat.

I think Fishman provides a wide display of information about Wal-mart and how this one company effects us all in more ways than we might think. What most impressed me was the information about how Wal-mart’s relationship with their suppliers actually has a big impact on the whole market. It’s not just about supply and demand, it’s about how low companies are willing to go to either compete with or partner with Wal-mart. I was also fascinated by the whole relationship and disconnect between the price we pay and the wages the worker gets. One quote that has stuck in my mind summarizes it poignantly: “Whenever the Wal-mart happy face knocks down prices in the store, a factory worker gets slugged in the gut.” (and I paraphrase)

Fishman admits he still shops at Wal-Mart so I wouldn’t describe this as an “anti-Wal-mart” book but it does give one a few things to consider and perhaps reevaluate how we look at Wal-mart. I’ll try and check it out again sometime and give a fuller review.

*4. A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

What an incredible story. I think I heard about this book on NPR (yes, sometimes I listen to liberals, sheesh.) and thought it sounded interesting. The first part of the book was a little long and drawn-out, although it was cool journeying with Amanda on all her escapades and adventures into new lands. The second half was gut-wrenchingly addictive. I hated to read it, but I couldn’t stop. Amanda’s amazing strength and ability to continuing hoping past hope was inspiring. I’m not sure what I would have done in her same situation and the whole thing really gave me a lot to ponder about Islam and about real faith when it’s put to the test. This isn’t an “anti-Islam” or even against anti-extremism in Islam, although it does offer some different perspectives on the whole subject. It’s a story about one woman’s horrible journey in captivity and what she did to survive.

*5. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

This book filled up my researcher/anthropology/social sciences heart. It was incredibly fascinating to learn about the study of time and how we as humans, and especially as women, have evolved and survived – or not survived – the ever-changing and high-pressure demands of our modern society. I also blogged about it here.

*6. Momnipotent: The Not-so Perfect Guide to Catholic Motherhood

Another book I got super excited about and enjoyed. I appreciated Danielle’s blunt honesty about motherhood – both for the good and the bad. It helped me want to be a better mother and gave me very practical steps for how to do that. I also blogged about it here

7. The Nanny Diaries: A Novel By Emma Mclaughlin, Nicola Kraus

Blogged about it here.

8. In the School of the Holy Spirit

Wonderful. A true inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been wanting to grow closer in love and understanding of the Holy Spirit and this book definitely helped with both. I think I’l re-read it and let it all soak in even more. I also blogged briefly about it here.

9. Catholic Family Fun – A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative or Clueless by Sarah Reinhard

Another great resource! Blogged about it here.

*10. Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It

Deeply moving, entertaining, thought-provoking and exciting. I also blogged about it here and here.

11. Robopocalypse.

This was my nerdy sci-fi for the year. I give it a 3.5 or maybe a 4. It was suspenseful and definitely hard-to-put down. I was impressed with all the technical jargon and a little creeped out by it’s plausibility. It kind of lost it’s bang and petered out at the end though so that was a little disapointing. I also didn’t care for the rough language but, like in a good action/sci-fi movie, got used to it after a while. If you like books about robots that take over the world, this one’s for you.

12. The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis

Really enjoyed this and will re-read it again. Blogged briefly about here.

13. 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other by Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes.

101 tips for a happier marriage book image

Definitely a keeper and a great wedding/anniversary/engagement gift idea! Blogged more about it here.

I feel like I’m forgetting one but that’s all I blogged about last year so I guess anything else wasn’t good enough to mention. I added all these to my “read” Shelfarie bookshelf and I now have 58 books on it! (These are all the books I remember reading. I’m sure there are many more I’ve forgotten to put on there. Only 42 to get to 100! I already have a list of what I’d like to read this year but I’ll save that – and your time! – for another post.

*Update, somehow I missed these last two for my 2014 reads. I thought I read them in 2013, silly me!


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