My Favorite Books of 2014

2014 was a very productive and satisfying year for me in reading. I read 44 books, surpassing my goal of 40, and many of them were some of the best books I’ve ever read. One of the things I love about using Goodreads to keep track of my reading is how easy it is to see the patterns and trends of my reading habits. Here’s a breakdown of some aspects of my reading for 2014:

  • 80% of the books I read were ebooks (35 out of 44), my highest percentage yet.
  • 43% were nonfiction, a much higher number than I would have guessed.
  • 27% were rereads, but most of those were books I had not read in at least 15 years.
  • 16% were in the Religion/Spiritual category.

Of the 44 books I read in 2014, the following ten were my favorite:

  1. The Rosie Project by Graham SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graham Simsion: I don’t know if I have ever laughed out loud as much while reading a book as when I read The Rosie Project. This romantic comedy makes it to the top of my list because it’s the book that makes me smile the most when thinking about it. (And I see that the sequel has just been released. Looks like I get to start my 2015 off with a smile, too.)
  2. Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge: Of all the books I read in 2014, this one had the most profound impact on my life. With the combination of this book, my UP24 fitness band, and the MyFitnessPal app, I lost a significant amount of weight and got into a healthy exercise regimen. Now, almost a year later, I truly do feel younger.
  3. The Truelove/The Wine-Dark Sea/The Commodore by Patrick O’Brian: Since 2011 I have been rereading the 20 volume Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian, and this year I was able to finish volumes 15, 16 and 17. Picking up a book in this series is like sitting down with an old friend you haven’t seen in years and catching up with him or her. After Don Quixote and Lord of the Rings, these are my favorite books.
  4. Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser: This outstanding book is a sequel of sorts to The Holy Longing. The subtitle says it best: “A vision for a deeper human and Christian maturity.” Like several other books I read this year, I will be rereading this again and again for its spiritual insights. A spiritual must-read.
  5. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon: I absolutely loved reading this book. It was funny, uplifting, and mellow. But most of all, it had the one thing I appreciate most in fiction: characters that I want to get to know. I plan on reading more in the series this year, and if the rest are as good as At Home in Mitford then I may have another favorite series to enjoy for many years to come.
  6. The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner: Like Sacred Fire, this book is a spiritual must-read. Each of us, Benner says, has “a sacred call to self-discovery,” and his book is intended to give the reader the tools needed to find within themselves the person God created them to be. Practical, deeply spiritual, and grounded in solid Christian theology, this is a life-changing book.
  7. The Fionavar Tapestry (The Summer Tree/The Wandering Fire/The Darkest Road) by Guy Gavriel Kay: I have been waiting for this fantasy series to be available as an ebook ever since I got my first Kindle five years ago. It was finally released in 2014, and I bought all three books as soon as they were available, though the price was much higher than I like to pay for an ebook. It was worth it. At times dark, and definitely not for young readers, The Fionavar Tapestry is outstanding in many respects: characters, plot, setting, and theme.
  8. Longing and Belonging: The Complete John O’Donohue Audio Collection: This massive audio collection took seventh months to listen to in my car and while exercising. Clocking in at over 30 hours, this is John O’Dohonue presenting material from Anam CaraBeauty: The Invisible EmbraceEternal Echoes, To Bless the Space Between Us and more. Listening to John O’Donohue present Celtic spirituality is a true blessing.
  9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: An amazing true story by an amazing writer. I’m glad I read it before seeing the movie, as the book is far superior.
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker: I read this because my teenage daughter had to read it for her high school English class and I had never read it before. I don’t really know why it took me so long to finally get to this classic, but I was truly surprised by its high quality. It also has the distinction of being the first book I read using Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice technology. That is, I would read some of the book on my Kindle, and then when I drove in the car I would connect my iPhone to the car stereo and the professional narration would pick up where I had left off. Then, when I go home was ready to read on the Kindle again, it would know where the audio narration had stopped. I have to say I really enjoyed reading the book this way. The narration was excellent, with several outstanding actors reading the different journals that make up the book: Alan Cumming, Simon Vance, Katy Kellgren, and Tim Curry as Van Helsing.

The runners-up:

And a special mention to the book S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. This book is a fascinating artifact and a unique exercise in meta-fiction. It was a very challenging read, and I’m sure I will try it again when I have more time to devote to it, but I give them high marks for producing such an interesting and beautifully packaged volume.

Reading in 2015

As 2015 approaches, I will once again set my goal at 40 books and look forward to several great reads:

  • I hope to finish the last three books of the Aubrey/Maturin series, after starting them four years ago, and I also can’t wait to read the unfinished final volume, 21, which I have not read before.
  • I am excited to read The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project.
  • I think 2015 will also be a year for reading more classics, since I have been downloading lots of free classics from Open Road Media. I love their free email newsletter, Early Bird Books, that comes each morning, Monday through Friday and always contains at least one free ebook. I love the classics from Open Road because they have such good formatting.

As always, feel free to connect with me on Goodreads. I’d love to share reading recommendations with you.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

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