I missed the big wave of 2014 book roundup blog posts. And it’s really okay, because I am not sure what I even read last year anyway. (New Year’s Resolution: Keep up with Goodreads!) So I thought I’d come late to the party with a little twist on the top books post and do my favorite books OF ALL TIME.
With the exception of the first category, here is how I selected the featured titles: I’ve read each one more than once (preferably more than five times, because as you know, a great book gets better with every reading). Each book stands out in my mind due to some combination of excellence, sentimental value, and the mysterious x factor. And so, without further ado:
Special Category: Recent Contenders These are books I’ve met for the first time in the past few months. Only time will tell if they have the staying power to be added to this elite list, but I enjoyed them so much that I want to give them a mention here.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Somehow this was the right book at the right time for me. Although it is most definitely, in the words of Shauna Niequist, “a little nutty,” it’s motivated me to make some major changes in my home routines and organizational systems. It might actually be LIFE CHANGING…stay tuned.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
I read this while Leah was in the NICU and it was a totally engrossing work of fiction. I don’t know if I’ll read this exact title again (much of the enjoyment of this book is dying of suspense to see how all the pieces are going to fit together), but I’m definitely going to be checking out more books by this author.
Delancey by Molly Wisenberg
A charming memoir about a husband and wife as they open a gourmet pizza restaurant in Seattle. It’s simple and charming and full of recipes that I will never make, but enjoyed reading nonetheless. (Side note: it pairs nicely with the author’s first book, A Homemade Life, which I also read in the NICU, and which is another fun food and cooking memoir.)
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
I get the shivers every time I get to that twist, even when I know it’s coming. Please don’t judge this book by the first 50 pages.
The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock
Quiet, evocative imagery. Deeply inspiring. Expect to cry through the entire last book in the trilogy.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The sweet, funny, powerful coming-of-age story that contains some of the most memorable characters of all time (Atticus, Scout, Boo, Miss Maudie, Dill, and, of course, the original Jem.)
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
An unlikely friendship between two Jewish boys growing up in New York City in the 1940s.
The Zion Covenant series by Bodie Thoene
Several intersecting storylines crisscrossing Europe as World War II unfolds. I’m pretty sure this is where I first loved the name Leah. (I also love the Shiloh Legacy series and the Zion Chronicles series by this same author, but NONE of her others, for reasons I can’t quite understand.)
Lighthouse by Eugenia Price
An epic historical novel based on a true story. The paperback cover makes it look like a trashy romance, but don’t be deceived. (There are two sequels that are worth reading but the first story is my favorite.)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It’s everyone’s favorite for a reason. (And if you say you already know the story because you saw the Kiera Knightley version, please know that you are LITERALLY killing me.)
Almost French by Sarah Turnbull
An Australian journalist goes through major culture shock when she takes up residence in Paris.
Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling
IMHO, the best of the celebrity memoirs
Forever, Erma by Erma Bombeck
A best-of collection. She is basically the original mom blogger, except she wrote before the internet was a thing.
Right Turns by Michael Medved
I just love him. This is the story of Medved’s transition from Democratic activist to conservative writer and talk show host.
I’ve already talked about this one: my favorite account of life with a newborn. (There’s a sequel, too, which is a sweet and funny read as well.)
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
The hilarious, true tale of an efficiency expert, a psychologist, and their twelve children. (Also, having nothing in common with the ridiculous Steve Martin movie with the same title.)
(I feel like I need to explain: I do read a lot in this category, but it’s out of my comfort zone. I hardly ever read a spiritual book more than once. But after seeing this teeny little list, I’m resolved to do better here!)
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
It all comes back to gratitude. This book was hugely influential for me the year that our son Sam died.
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
My favorite in the “discerning God’s will” category
Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings ed. Richard Rushing
Great Puritan writings distilled into daily readings
Young Adult Fiction
(Not just books that I enjoyed as a child,
but ones that I still read now for my own pleasure.)
The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Not a very nice portrayal of the aforementioned Puritans, but otherwise a charming and sweet story of a young girl struggling to find her place in colonial New England
Emily of New Moon Trilogy by L.M. Montgomery
I like the first Anne book pretty well, but this lesser-known series by the same author has always been my favorite.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Nothing really new to say here…With the exception of book 5, each one gets better.
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
A young boy and an old man are stranded on an island. A sweet story of unlikely friendship. I was introduced to this title in the fifth grade and then read it four years in a row when I taught fourth graders.