My 2014 Book List and the Five–Okay, *Seven*–Best Books/Series I Read This Year.

Because I’m a nerd, I write down every book I finish reading during the year.  And because I’m probably a little arrogant, I’m going to assume you want to find out what I read and what were my favorites.

You’ll note that some are graphic novels (usually trade paperback collections of superhero comics) and some were “read” via audiobook. I don’t make distinctions about those in my reading list, and neither should you. No need to be snobby–words are words, story is story, books are books.

So here are the books I read in 2014:

Books Read in 2014 (* indicates started in 2013)

January

>>Untameable God–Stephen Altrogge
>>Superman: Earth One by… (graphic novel)*
>>52 Things Every Wife Needs From Her Husband — Pat Bayleitner (Audio book)
>>Crazy Busy–Kevin DeYoung
>>7–Jen Hatmaker (audio)
>>The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Neil Gaiman (audio)
>>Beautiful Chaos–Gary Russell

February

>>Hawkeye: My Life is a Weapon–Max Fraction (graphic novel)
>>Nothing O’clock–Neil Gaiman (novella)
>>What Every Groom Needs to Know–Robert Wolgemuth and Mark DeVries

March

>>The Inmates Are Running The Asylum–Stephen Altrogge
>>For Us And For Our Salvation–Steven Nichols
>>Brilliance–Marcus Sakey

April

>>David and Goliath–Malcolm Gladwell (audio)
>>The Fault in Our Stars–John Green
>>Sexual Intimacy in Marriage–Dr. William Cutrer

May

>>Gone Girl — Gillian Flynn
>>The Martian — Mark Weir

June

>>The Reason I Jump — Naoki Higashida

July

>>Debt Free Living — Larry Burkett (audio)
>>Unbroken — Lauren Hillenbrand
>>The Night Circus–Erin Morgenstern
>>Carte Blanche — Jeffrey Deaver
>>Date Your Wife — Justin Buzzard
>>The Meaning of Marriage — Tim and Kathy Keller

August

>>The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth — Norman Juster
>>Die Empty — Todd Henry
>>Hinds Feet on High Places — Hannah Hurnard
>>The Giver — Lois Lowry

September

>>A Better World — Marcus Sakey
>>The Pastor’s Justification — Jared Wilson
>>Start! — Jon Acuff

October

>>I Am a Church Member — Thom Rainer
>>Out of the Silent Planet — CS Lewis
>>Perelandra — CS Lewis
>>Friends and Lovers — Joel Beeke
>>That Hideous Strength — CS Lewis
>>The Flash: Reborn — Geoff Johns (graphic novel)

November

>>Casino Royale — Ian Fleming
>>Do the Work –Steven Pressfield

December 

>>Allegiant — Veronica Roth
>>All of Grace — Charles Spurgeon
>>The Sparrow — Mary Doria Russell

=====

42 books (including 3 graphic novels and a novella).That’s a good reading year for me, especially when you factor in a semester of school, moving, and getting married.

Some books were definitely shorter than others. There was a time when I’d dig into the analytics of book length and type, but I’m pretty sure no one would be interested in that but me. (Okay, just one tidbit: It’s interesting to me that the fiction/non-fiction breakdown was almost an even split. Seems like the pendulum swings wildly in terms of book type, year to year. It felt like a fiction-heavy year, but it may be that the works of fiction hit me harder than the non-fiction, with a few exceptions.)

Instead, let me give you the official 4thDaveBlog recommendation on 7 great books/series from this list:

Brilliance/A Better World by Marcus Sakey: I’ve already written on this series, but I wanted to give it another plug. If you’re looking for an exciting story in the “near/alternate future” category, this series is pretty fab.

The Martian by Mark Weir: I can’t believe I haven’t written about this one yet!  This novel is fantastic. It’s the story of an American astronaut who is stranded on Mars during a research expedition, when he’s separated from the rest of his crew during a crisis and presumed dead. Once he is able to contact NASA using the equipment in their temporary Martian outpost, it’s a race against time as the “last man on Mars”fights to survive while the rescue operation is launched. The narrator/protagonist is a foul-mouthed Macgyver, patching together broken equipment, scrambling to think outside-the-box to find solutions to life-or-death problems, and trying to keep his sanity in the solitude of space. I loved this book. It’s full of dry humor, fascinating technical concepts, and a few unexpectedly poignant moments; I’ve never read anything quite like it. (Content note: LOTS of bad language. Just be aware.)

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand: To quote my review from August:

I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know. Unbroken tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who joined the Air Force during WWII and was shot down over enemy waters. The book recounts Zamperini’s struggle to survive as a castaway and as a prisoner of war. The inhumanities of war are starkly displayed, and Zamperini’s determination to never give in to them will inspire you. The best part, though, is the story of redemption that weaves its way through Zamperini’s life. This amazing story will be coming to theaters at Christmas, but I highly recommend that you read it first. The truth will be so much grander than anything put on screen. Consider this my highest recommendation.

I did see the movie last week, and it was a great film. It was even a good film adaptation that gives a good sense of the book’s material. So, see the film, by all means. But don’t pass over the book. The story of Louie Zamperini is so rich, so inspiring, it’s worth a second look.

Die Empty by Todd Henry: Again, to quote from August:

I’m about halfway through this one, and I’ve already decided that I need to purchase it and read it at least two more times in the next year. Henry challenges the reader to be more focused on contributing something to the world. He argues that too many people reach the end of their lives with their best work still inside them. Rather, he writes, we need to “die empty”–to start living with the intention of pouring out all the great work we have to contribute to the world, so that when we get to the end of our lives, we won’t regret not finishing or producing or accomplishing our personal best during our lifetimes.  This book is very challenging.  High, high recommendation.

I finished the book and immediately put it back on my To-Be-Read list. If you know deep down that there’s more for you to do, this needs to be part of your 2015 reading list.

The Space Trilogy by CS Lewis: I talked about this classic trilogy a few times back in October. Like Lewis’ Narnia, this series took on new and deeper meaning, now that I’ve read it as an adult. If you haven’t read The Space Trilogy (or The Chronicles of Narnia, for that matter) since you were a teenager or younger, you really need to give them a second look.

Start! by Jon Acuff: I reviewed this one back in October. Acuff’s book has been a big part of my personal growth over the last few months, as I’m shifting into the next phase of life and looking to grow creatively and really start acting like a writer. This one’s another title that’s worth a read and a re-read.

The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson: Still gets my strong recommendation for anyone in pastoral ministry. I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back to this one over and over, and loaning it to friends who serve God’s people.

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