This year I included a new category in my reading totals–books of more than 100 pages that I read aloud to the kids (or audio books I listened to with them, or longer books I read in order to discuss them with the kids for our family book clubs). I had never kept track of those books before, and it was interesting to note how much our school reading and nightly read aloud time adds up.
In 2014 I read 139 books for myself (including Hamlet, which I forgot to review, but it’s good, of course), plus an additional 73 books in the read aloud/kids category, for a total of 212 books.
Below I’ve compiled a list of my absolute top favorites out of those 212 (links are to my longer reviews).
- On Such a Full Sea – When a literary novelist combines incredible writing with a setting in the dystopian future and themes that delve into class distinctions, cultural narratives, and heroes, you almost have to read it. And you won’t be sorry.
- The Night Circus – I actually read this book twice in one year (well, I listened to it on audio the first time, but still). I’m not sure if it will go down as a classic, but the story is fabulous.
- The Bone Clocks – Weird, but exceptionally well-crafted story about time, humanity, good and evil, and all sorts of other things. Gripping.
Best Life Management
- Essentialism – This exceptional book is not about maximizing your life in 15 minute increments, but more about how to untangle confusion, busy-ness, and triviality to get at what’s most important to you, and then how to protect your time and focus so you can really give your best efforts to those priorities.
- Deconstructing Penguins – Makes talking to your kids about books much easier and more productive. Great vision as well as practical helps for homeschoolers or traditional schoolers (it’s about a book club for public school kids, so not a homeschool book at all, just FYI).
- How the Heather Looks – This travel memoir of a young family touring England in search of the locations from all of their favorite books is wonderfully written and inspiring.
- A Neglected Grace – A succinct, inspiring description of the vision and practical implementation of family worship. Very helpful.
- The Great Influenza and Asleep – After reading these two books, my family will be getting flu shots every year. Fascinating, frightening, and compelling.
Best Read Alouds
- The Saturdays – Along with the rest of this series (the Melendy Quartet), a fun, original book about a group of siblings having great adventures.
- Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – A perennial favorite (read twice aloud plus several times independently by both Jack and Hannah) about a colonial boy who pulls himself up by his bootstraps.
- Five Children and It – Also a series (all wonderful!), this book follows a marvelous family of children and a weird creature who grants wishes.
What were the best books you read in 2014?