Is one of your resolutions to read more in the upcoming year? Well if it is, then I have a great list to get you started! (If it’s not one of your resolutions….this is still a great list!) I did this a book review last year on the blog for 2013 and thought I’d share with you my favorite books from this year as well. I read 49 books this year and these were my top favs by category. (They weren’t all written or released this year….I just so happened to read them this year.)
Best Fiction: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I love a good historical fiction book and this was a superb one! Silly me must have missed the memo that it was based on the life a real heroine until I was completely done with it. That made me love it even more. The story follows the lives of a young girl growing up in the south in the 1800s and the friendship she forms with the slave she is gifted on her birthday. Although the time period is bleak: slavery and women’s rights (or lack of), the story that follows these women’s lives throughout the years as the nation is changing and they are changing with it, is so compelling it is hard to put down.
Best Non-fiction: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
Remember that time Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch because he was in love with Katie Holmes? America was freaked out by that and this book explains exactly what was behind that moment….along with a lot of other well kept secrets in one of our nations most intriguing and secretive religions. At times there are so many facts and characters I had a hard time keeping it all straight but truly a fascinating read that lead me to do much more of my own research after reading this!
Best Classic: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I had seen the movie long ago and written it off. So many people told me how amazing the book was though so I finally took a crack at it. Oh my goodness, they were right! Maybe it helps that I have some Southern roots so I appreciate a classic tale of Dixieland, but this book is so complex. From the characters, to the setting, to the romance, to the history, to the tragedy, this book has it all. You’ll love Scarlette, then you’ll hate her, then you’ll admire her, then you’ll be ashamed of her. She’s so flawed and yet so human. If you can make it through that many pages then you won’t be disappointed!
Funniest Book: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
I think most of us know him as the “Hot Pocket Comedian,” but did you know he has five kids and he raises them all with his wife (whom he speaks so highly of) in a teeny NY apartment? And that she birthed them all in that teeny apartment? He has some great commentaries about all of these things along with the roller-coaster ride of parenting in this book. It’s a fast read and I found myself laughing out loud at so many parts and then reading them out loud to my husband. In this day and age, it’s nice to find someone in the spotlight who seems to be a pretty wholesome and moral family man and I think you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.
Most Unique: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
This book is written mainly like a comic strip and is just like the style she writes with on her blog of the same name. It might take a certain kind of humor to appreciate her style, but I love it and the simple hilarities and truths she finds in the mundane. It truly is amazing what you can create with basic stick figures in Microsoft Paint too! I’d check out her blog first to see if you like her humor and if so then definitely read this book!
Best Chapter book to Read Aloud as Family: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
We read lots of books together at bedtime as a family this year and it was really hard to pick just one, but for some reason this one stood out to me. I think the adults laughed at Pippi almost as much as my 5 year old did! She has some crazy antics and quotes that even young kids can see are silly. My only complaint was that it ends very abruptly but it leaves more for the imagination I guess! We also liked watching the movie together as a family on Netflix when we were done!
Best series: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Yes this could also go in the “Best Read Aloud” category, but I really do enjoy them as an adult too. I forget if we read 2 or 3 of these this year, but it’s such a poignant series about the history of our country (and more specifically a bit of the area we live in!) My daughter had some very important and tough questions when it came to the topic of the Native Americans, but it brought up some great discussions I think on how we handle other cultures and people that are different from us. Books are such great tools to introduce our children to history, culture, ideas, and worlds they may have never thought about. This was a great way to promote family discussion as well as historical education.
Favorite Devotional book: Children of the Day by Beth Moore
I enjoy her Bible studies so much. Our ladies class at church read this one on Thessolonians this year and as always it did not disappoint. Yes some of her “girlfriend” speech gets on my nerves a bit, but I can let it slide because of the way she can bring passages and scripture to life. She has a great way of connecting the Bible as a whole and weaving together the Old and New Testament that I appreciate. As always, it’s the discussion with others that makes it come to life even more so if you read this, find a friend or two to read it with you and discuss!
Best Parenting: Scream Free Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel
I feel the need to read this one again already! And maybe tattoo some of the advice on my wrist or forearm or somewhere easy for me to use as a cheat sheet! This book flipped the script for me on what my “role” as a parent really is. By changing the framework of how we see our relationship with our children, we really can change the way we handle some of those tough or stubborn situations with them. I will admit….I have raised my voice at my child since reading it….so I’m obviously not cured, but hence the reason I need to re-read! And with another one on the way I’m sure I need to re-read this yearly!
Best Self-Improvement: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown
Her book Daring Greatly was in the category last year and I feel like this book had a lot of the same wisdom in it but it’s also some of that wisdom that I need to read yearly….if not monthly, or even daily! She gives great insight into how we can achieve wholehearted living and I think everyone can benefit from her writing. It’s one of those books you want to buy for everyone you know and give out as gifts!
Best Memoir: What I was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
This book might be a bit scandalous for a “mommy blog” and I dubbed it the slutty version of Eat, Pray, Love but I did enjoy it. The author shares her true life travel adventures in the off season of writing for popular TV sitcoms. I enjoyed her writing style and the humor she has as she navigates the globe with friends and all by her lonesome. She has some hilarious observations about other cultures and travelling in general that I think most would find funny….but fair warning I would rate it R!
I look forward to more great reads in 2015! What books did you enjoy most this year? Please share in the comments so we can all reap the benefits of good recommendations!