I love keeping a running book list going all year on my phone. There are actually two lists: one for “books to read,” and one for “books read in 2014.” Keeping track of both of these has helped me read more books, read more books that I actually want to read, and also to feel encouraged when I look back over the list! Win-win-win.
Blogging about my favorite books this year has been so fun, especially because so many friends are taking me up on the recommendations! I love that!
1. The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen 
Gary Haugen is the President and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), and this book explains why their work is necessary and crucial in our world. To be clear, this is a difficult book to read. However, as a member of a generation full of non-profit startups out to save the world, it is incredibly important to understand the systems in place. For example, a micro loan or a job won’t actually help a widow buy a house if her property is seized unjustly by men in her village. The loan or job becomes pointless when the police and justice systems won’t step in to stand up for her. This book is important and extremely well-written.
On a lighter note, you’ve heard me talk about this beloved Wingfeather Saga before, and I think #2 is miles ahead of book #1. If you enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll love these books. These stories take creative writing to a whole new level. I love them!
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 
I hesitated to put this book on the list, because I didn’t love it as much as the others, and there was a fair amount of language in it. However, I read it over a month ago and I’m still missing and thinking about the characters! Set in Australia, a quirky older professor with Aspergers sets out to find a wife in true scientific form, called “The Wife Project.” This is a quick read, and I have heard a few movie rumors for the future.
4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 
If you haven’t read this yet, stop what you’re reading and go buy it right now. Seriously. It is THAT good. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because everyone else I know seemingly has read this and loved it as much as I did. I don’t say this lightly, but this may be the most inspiring stories I have ever read. It’s also the craziest; I was sitting in our living room gasping out loud during 60% of it. This true story is being made into a movie releasing Christmas Day 2014!
Shauna has become on of my favorite people ever. Yes, we’re on a first name basis. No, we’ve never met. ((Although, I did see the back of her head and sat in the same room as her in February at the IF: Gathering. So we could probably totally count that.)) She’s a beautiful writer/blogger/speaker, and it’s a little crazy I didn’t read this book till this summer! My roommate Rebe told me it was a life-changer for her, so I picked it up immediately! It’s a memoir format, written with one story per chapter so you can pick this up & put it down as often as you like. Truly lovely.
6. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens 
I’m convinced I need more classics in my “book diet,” so every once in a while I’ll tackle a highly-referenced one like this. To make life easier, I checked this one out at the library on audio book, and settled into some highly detailed prose every day. I can see why Oliver Twist has become a classic though, and why it’s one we should all read. Dickens does not shy away from difficult topics, including a lot that still exist today. As someone invested and interested in the plight of the orphan in the world, this was a significant read. If you only read this back in 8th grade, it might be time to give it another go.
Full Disclosure:: Some of these books were heavy. And we went to the beach. While we were at the beach, I wanted to read something light and escape-like. Enter the NYT bestselling series: The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter [2007-2013]. Feel free to mock my young-adult fiction taste, but this six-book series was so perfect! My sister and I could not put them down, and they were such fun to read! So, if you’re up for a page-turning, fun, clean, girly spy book, this is your jam.
Happy reading! xo