Top Books I Read in 2014

Last year was a good reading year for me. I started reading 27 books, and finished 24 of them. (Two were in progress, and I had to quit a terrible devotional -- odd for me, since I can endure a lot.)

Of the 24 books I finished, 4 were re-reads. Years ago, someone explained to me the power in mastering a few books, as opposed to reading widely but shallowly. I don't go to that extreme, but I try to temper a breadth of knowledge with a depth of knowledge.

Old Favorites

The four books that I re-read were:

New Fodder

Of the 20 books that I read for the first time, 9 were fiction. I can't remember the last time I read 9 fiction books in one year. I really enjoyed reading books for the pure story of it. A couple of these books -- Frankenstein (Shelley) and Cannery Row (Steinbeck)-- were classic works for adults, and the other seven were children's books. (More on this below.)

Well, that narrows down the remaining eleven books to non-fiction that I read for the first time. Of those eleven, here are my favorite, all of which I highly recommend:
  1. The Weight of Mercy (Deb Richardson-Moore). Changed my views of this church in Greenville, and about ministry to homeless people.
  2. United (Trillia Newbell). Provoked me to think about diversity in the church, or the lack thereof.
  3. Transformed (Caesar Kalinowski). You can't read this and not be challenged to live more missionally.
  4. Through Gates of Splendor (Elisabeth Elliot). I read this because a respected mentor said, "Every Christian needs to read this book." He was right. I was inspired by her story, and by another mission biography I read, a student's version about Corrie Ten Boom.
  5. The War to End All Wars (Russell Freedman). For the first time ever, I understand World War I.

A Great Story for Kids, and for You

Years ago, I read some of the Chronicles of Narnia books to my kids, my third time reading them. And a couple of years ago I read The Hobbit to them, also for the third time. (Wow -- I just realized how many times I've read books three times.)

Since I was their age, I have been captivating by the power of a good story, especially when that story involves a fantasy world. And this interest has been rekindled in me by their own enjoyment of those types of stories.

Based on a strong recommendation from a friend, I started reading the Wingfeather Saga, a 4-part series by Andrew Peterson. I loved it, and my older two children devoured them, too. It has been fun to connect with them over the stories in these books.

What's so great about it? Imagine the Chronicles of Narnia, but easier to read and with giggle-inducing moments on every page. If your children enjoy adventure stories, you must get these books into their hands! And do yourself a favor, and read this series for yourself, too.

Get lost in this adventure.

Do You Have a Reading Plan for 2015? 

One obstacle to reading goals (like any goals) is the failure to have a plan. Jon Acuff explains why he only read a dozen books in 2014, and gives 4 Ways to Read More Books. Additionally, in another post he explains that reading isn't enough. We need to engage with and be changed by the books we read.

Do you have a reading plan for this coming year? Based on a suggestion from Darcy Kimmel, I have a spreadsheet to track my progress. I have 10 columns, each headed with a different genre of books, plus one column to track my re-reads. I will read at least one book from each of these categories, and plan to read at least 20 books in 2015.
  1. Parenting
  2. Marriage
  3. Theology
  4. Spiritual Growth / Gospel
  5. Missional / Evangelism / Church
  6. Leadership
  7. Culture / Education
  8. Biography/ History
  9. Classic Fiction
  10. Modern Fiction / Children's Fiction

Let's hear from you:

What great book(s) did you read in 2014? What is on your list for 2015?

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