The 4th Quarter in Books – 2014

I reviewed 48 books in October, November, and December of this year.  As I was out of town last week and my husband drove (hurrah!) I actually finished a couple of other books, but we’ll save those for 2015.  🙂


  • During the Reign of the Queen of Persia – Unexceptional writing, uninteresting characters, undeveloped plotlines…I was completely underwhelmed by this book and don’t recommend it.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Uplifting story of a poor family in the early 1900s and how they overcame adversity. Funny and poignant in turns, well-written, memorable.
  • *The Night Circus – I actually re-read a work of fiction within a calendar year.  This book is excellent.
  • *The Bone Clocks – An exceptional literary novel with striking characters, deeply developed plot and themes, and gripping pacing.  Some weird stuff, but highly recommended if you like to study excellent writing craft or just like a good story.
  • The Zone of Interest – A remarkably well-done twist on Holocaust fiction.  Thought-provoking, especially if you notice the allegorical elements.
  • Parnassus on Wheels – Fun, quick story of an early 1900s bookshop housed in a horse-drawn wagon.  Worth it.
  • The Haunted Bookshop – Sequel to the above, the main characters are party to a mystery now that they’ve settled down to Parnassus at Home.  Good, clean, fun.
  • The Children Act – A story that turns around legal and ethical dilemmas and how a judge’s personal life parallels her verdicts.



  • Transforming the Difficult Child – Hate the title, found the system rather complex, but did glean some helpful tips for dealing with bad behavior.
  • The Way of Boys – By far the best parenting book I read this quarter.  Refreshing, helpful, and positive.


  • Grace Filled Marriage – Not the best book I’ve ever read on the topic, but a solid addition to the genre and a good reminder to check the lenses you use to view your relationship.


  • The Reading Promise – A heart-warming memoir of a girl whose dad read aloud to her every day of her childhood until she went to college, and the impact that had on her upbringing.
  • Dad is Fat – I love Jim Gaffigan’s comedy in real life, but as an audio book I thought it was lacking (even though he read it himself!).  A lot of comedy is in delivery and interacting with an audience, so maybe that was it.  Still, lots of funny parts.
  • Run Like a Mother – Dated, not my style, some questionable advice–overall I didn’t find this running how-to/memoir all that helpful.
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Sort of about running, sort of about writing, mostly about how the author’s experiences of the two disciplines inform and explain each other.  I really enjoyed this.
  • The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap – A fun and interesting memoir of a couple who decide to open a used book shop in a small town in Virginia, and how they find a place in their new community.


  • Asleep – Completely fascinating account of the encephalitis lethargica epidemic that occurred on the heels of the Great Flu pandemic in the early 1900s.  Scary and gripping.
  • 1177 B.C: The Year Civilization Collapsed – Overhyped, over-titled, not well-organized or well-written. Try Susan Wise Bauer instead.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life – Fans of the Little House series will appreciate the historical insights into the real life Laura and how she came to write her semi-autobiographical fiction.

Culture and Ethics

  • The Devil Reads Derrida – A well-written, smart, highly readable unmasking of cultural blindspots from a Christian academic.  Especially recommended for those in (or with interests in) politics, academia, or the arts.
  • *The Locust Effect – Difficult to take in (in terms of content, not the writing) but critically important to understand, this book explains why justice and protection from violence are linchpins to solving problems like hunger, disease, poverty, and human trafficking.  A must read.
  • The Sunflower: The Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness – Framed around an ethical dilemma of the Holocaust, this book asks when and how forgiveness is possible, and what purpose it serves.  Thought-provoking.


  • Tell the Truth – An uncommonly helpful book on sharing your faith, with depth and as a lifestyle rather than drive-bys or tract-tossing.
  • Joy to the World – A short book of Advent activities for families, this one has some good ideas, as well as Jesse Tree details if you don’t already know about that tradition.

Time and Life Management

  • The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow – Solutions for living a more intentional life.
  • To Be a Runner – A detailed book on running that includes tips and helpful training insights, it’s also about how to push yourself to excellence without burning out in life.
  • Do Your Thing: How to Find Time To Do What Matters – An encouraging, realistic, and challenging impetus to take a life inventory, evaluate your life, reorder your priorities, and live on purpose.
  • Slim By Design – Fascinating account of research-based ways to tweak your life to keep pounds from creeping on.  Very helpful and super interesting.
  • 100 Days of Real Food – If you eat a Standard American Diet this book will be very helpful to you, but even if you know a lot of basics about healthy eating, this book would be a good reminder and also contains some solid recipes.
  • Leading the Life You Want – Although purporting to be a great business/balance/leadership book, the detached style and lack of unique spin made this book feel tired and derivative.  Skip it.
  • The ONE Thing – A helpful take on identifying your priority and then actually accomplishing it.


What was the best thing you read this quarter?

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