January is the new December. At least, that’s what I’m going on this year. 🙂 I’m using January as my catch-up, prepare-for-2015 month. So, here we go: my top 10 books from 2014.
It was a little challenging actually choosing 10 (I first picked about 6), since I only read 40. But nonetheless, these are 10 books that very much changed and shaped me as a person in 2014.
1. Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image (review here) (Hannah Anderson)
Hands down, this was my favorite book of 2014. Hannah’s writing is deep, as is her theology. But both are also presented in a way that is accessible. This book will no doubt contribute to growth in my desire to pursue personal flourishing and callings for the sake of God’s kingdom, present and eternal.
2. Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us Hardcover (Christine Gross-Loh)
Sadly, I did not end up reviewing this book here, but it was definitely one of my favorite reads for 2014.
Excellent, excellent work encouraging American parents, in particular, to step back and look at the range of parenting practices across societies and over the course of history, rather than simply holding up the current American norm as best (or even normative for humans) simply because it is the American way. We tend to overestimate our children emotionally, while underestimating their physical capabilities. We push them to a too-early independence as babies and toddlers, while hovering over them as teens. In short, we’ve got it backwards.
The American psyches that we esteem so highly (such as self-reliance, independence, and toughness; and that do indeed benefit us in other realms) play into how we treat our children more than we realize.
This is not a parenting guide; but if you can read between the lines, this is a good book to cross-pollinate societal parenting observations into actual, practical parenting practices. This book combines so many of my passions, which earns it a place as a well-marked, heavily highlighted resource for years to come.
It is similar to How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm (review here), but dives into cultures a little bit more deeply, also providing with more commentary along the way. I’d love to reread this book in 2015, but we shall see! 🙂
3. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds (review here) (Jen Wilkin)
2014 was a good year for women’s theology books to step outside the pink box. Women of the Word would be a valuable read for men and women both, but as a book specifically addressed to women, it’s quite the excellent theological and devotional resource. I am thankful for the way God is gifting women to teach and lead in this area, during this time when the need for strong theology among American Christian women is so great. My heart was encouraged and convicted, and my mind stimulated and invigorated.
4. The Book Thief (review here) (Markus Zusak)
I’ve still yet to see the movie, but this story lingers on in my mind. The was a bestseller, and it’s not surprising why.
5. The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence(review here) (Gary A. Haugen, Victor Boutros)
When I read The Locust Effect earlier this past spring, I noted it would be one of my top reads for the year. Without a doubt, it kept its placeholder high on this list. This book was a hard read, but important in understanding violence, poverty, and abuse, both at home and abroad, though it is written to specifically address this globally.
6. Black Like Me (John Howard Griffin)
Black Like Me is the incredible story of the white caucasian male reporter, John Howard Griffin, who, with the aid of medicine and ultraviolet light assistance, “became” a black man for six weeks, and wrote the story of his time of immersion into the segregated Deep South. This book is required reading for many US high school students, but if you’re white like me and attended a private school, you may not have heard of it. I am shocked and saddened that I had neither known of it nor read it until my recent foray into writings on America’s racial history.
Griffin was expecting it to be bad, but it was far worse than he had imagined. As I read this during the the aftershocks of Ferguson, I was amazed at how much of Griffin’s experience and subsequent closing commentary paralleled must of contemporary events.
Not equipped with the emotions and hormones typical of my gender, I can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried postpartum. This book was two of them. Please read if you haven’t already.
7. For Calvinism (Michael S. Horton)
This was another book I read postpartum, and so I didn’t manage to get a review written over here. But you can read my brief review on Goodreads here. I read this in conjunction with Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism, and while I benefited from reading both books, this work took on a particular devotional vibrancy, such that it stands out as one of my better reads of 2014. Anyone who considers themselves an Evangelical could benefit from a reading of both.
8. Brideshead Revisited (review here) (Evelyn Waugh)
This book won me over with a wealth of well-wrought words. It was a visiting of literary brilliance that I had not had a chance to pursue earlier in life, so perhaps it seemed particularly scrumptious during this season of life.
9. Angle of Repose (review here) (Wallace Stegner)
Angle of Repose was yet another work of fiction that took me by surprise. The story itself was one of hardships, but when I think about this book, my mind recalls memories of the storyline as if I had lived alongside the characters themselves. There’s a reason this book won The Pulitzer Prize.
10. Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire (Michael Masterson)
As my knowledge in the realm of personal finance has been somewhat lacking, my 2014 reading included several books on the subject, including this one. We are in a season of life and present calling of earning money, rather than depending on others to finance our ministry or lives. And thus, we want to learn how to better handle, grow, and steward the finances and financial opportunities we have been given. I found this book to be right up our alley with many of our current interests: entrepreneurship, creating multiple income streams, real estate investment, and pursuing financial independence. This book was primarily inspirational, but also contained a good deal of practical advice (although some parts are already outdated). Much of the insight and wisdom here is also available in other works, and Masterson frequently references well known works and authors. Nonetheless, the particular way that this was presented and formatted proved to be especially helpful to our family’s current situation.
Reading this book is no guarantee of seven-year success, nor is even putting the contained principles to work. But, no doubt emphasis on these ideas will help already hard-working individuals to be able to not only work hard, but to also work smart.