My Year in Books 2014

Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas morning was happy.  I’m always glad that the Catholic Church splits Advent and Christmas into different liturgical seasons.  Advent always wears me out, but Christmas I enjoy.  We’re going to be traveling to see my mom and dad this weekend, so our Christmas celebrating isn’t quite done.  I’ll post my Christmas wrap-up post (or unwrapping post, as the case may be) when we get home.  But for now I decided to reward myself with a little bit of a breather to post my book stats.

(We all got some good books for Christmas this year, too, of course.  That’s probably my favorite part of the Christmas season: finally getting to sit around and read.)

I didn’t sign up for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge this year, and I have to say that I missed it.  I still set my Goodreads challenge to 60 books, as I usually do, to account for cookbooks, e-books, and shorter children’s books, in the hopes that I would collect 52 “countable” books for the year; this year I ended up with 63 books, but only 48 were YA or adult books. (My Goodreads stats show that I’ve read 14, 910 pages this year, but last year I read 16, 946 pages with 60 books.  By the way, if you are a book-stat geek you will appreciate this spreadsheet.  Or this one, which allows you to track how much money you spent on books.  Or you could read this post, which includes an amazing number of spreadsheets that will allow you to track any bookish thing that you want.)

Anyway, the total number of countable books will probably go up because we’re taking a trip, but I’m not sure it will go up four books unless I diligently work on finishing all the books I started this year and have left hanging.


Ok, let’s be honest; that probably won’t happen.  But there’s always next year, and I’ve been thinking about my reading goals.

  1. Read more fiction! (That’s always a goal.)
  2. Read from my shelves! (This is what is affectionately refered to in our house as our “anti-library”.  The term comes from a Nicholas Nassim Taleb book, in which he maintains that the collection of books which you haven’t read but want to is just as important as the collection of books that you have read. Anti-library/library.)
  3. Read less diet and health books.  (They all contradict each other anyway.)
  4. Do a better job of reading along with my high schoolers.
  5. Do a better job of reading aloud to my younger kids.
  6. Listen to more audio books — especially when I’m making dinner. (I got a wireless bluetooth speaker for my phone for Christmas, so now I can listen to my Audible app.)

And… do a better job of writing about my reading.  To that end, I’ll be signing up with the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge again.  I have this crazy idea of trying to read 52 novels this year (one a week), but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try it.  I do think I’m going to challenge myself on Goodreads a little this year, though, by upping my challenge number to 75 titles.

In any case, here it is… the complete reading list for 2014, sorted by category. (I’m a fairly eclectic reader.)  Starred titles were ones I particularly enjoyed, found to be especially thoughtful or informative, or would otherwise recommend.

My favorite reads this year?



I’ve recently been making more of an effort to read fiction, but many of my titles are pretty light.  That’s a function of when I usually sit down to read a novel — at bedtime when I’m nursing the toddler to sleep. SF = Science Fiction/HF= Historical Fiction.

  • Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (SF)*
  • At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, Alexander McCall Smith*
  • Portugese Irregular Verbs, Alexander McCall Smith*
  • O, Pioneers! Willa Cather
  • The Lilies of the Field, William E. Barrett*
  • The Road from Home, David Kherdian (YA, HF)*
  • The Martian, Andrew Weir (SF)*
  • Fidelity: Five Stories, Wendell Berry*
  • The White Mountains, John Christopher (YA, SF)
  • The City of Gold and Lead, John Christopher (YA, SF)
  • The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker (SF-ish)
  • The Firebird, Susanna Kearsley (HF)
  • An Abundance of Katherines, John Green (YA)


Books About Writing

This year I felt myself nudged back toward writing more — not just on my blog, but creatively again, on a short story-turned-novel I’d begun years ago.  Anyone who noticed the pattern in my reading list could probably tell that I was being nudged.  As many changes in my life do, this one began with the books first.  I’ve let the writing slip over the holidays, but I plan on getting back into the saddle again (one sentence at a time) in the new year.

  • How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul (e-book), Ruth Soukup
  • The War of Art, Steven Pressfield*
  • Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield
  • You Are a Writer (e-book), Jeff Goins (too short too count, really, but I’m going to list it anyway)
  • Good Prose, Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd*
  • Mini-Habits (e-book), Stephen Guise* (Probably also too short to count and not just about writing, but it was an important read for me this year.)


Diet and Health

Once again, this section is depressingly large.  I’m not sure that reading piles of books about diet and health is always all that healthy.  I stumbled across a Mark Twain quote the other day: “Be careful about reading health books.  You may die of a misprint.”

  • Death by Food Pyramid, Denise Minger*
  • Your Personal Paleo Code, Chris Kresser
  • Practical Paleo, Diane San Fillipo
  • The 21 Day Sugar Detox, Diane San Fillipo
  • The Immune System Recovery Plan, Susan Blum
  • The Thirty Day Heart Tune-Up, Stephen Masley
  • The Virgin Diet, J.J. Virgin
  • The Fast Metabolism Diet, Haylie Pomroy
  • The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, Sarah Ballantyne
  • Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating, Steven Bratman
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John J. Ratey*
  • The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine, Terry Wahls


I didn’t read as many science books as I do some years.  But the ones I did were ones that made a deep impression on me, and were probably more helpful than all the diet and health books I read this year put together.

  • Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Martin J. Blaser **
  • Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World, Jessica Snyder Sachs **
  • The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Partners, and Parasites That Shape Who We Are Today, Rob Dunn


The faith section was pitifully small this year.  I’m hoping to rectify that next year.

  • Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent, St. Francis de Sales
  • Roses Among Thorns, St. Francis de Sales**
  • The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero, Roy Wenzl*



I like memoirs, so there are usually some on my list.  There weren’t as many this year as there have been in years past.  I like memoirs because they’re stories.  So they have that fictional element about them, even though they’re non-fiction.

  • Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It, Jennifer Fulwiler*
  • Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, Beth Kephart
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, Donald Miller
  • My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff


Books About Books

I reread a few bibliographies of children’s books and materials over the summer, but those weren’t entered into Goodreads.  Still, it seems that every year I add a few more new titles to my “Books About Books” shelf.  I’m not sure why I enjoy reading about reading so much, but it’s usually a good way to pick up a few leads on new books to read.

  • The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Wendy Welch
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs


I’m getting to the point in our homeschooling adventure where I don’t have to read every homeschooling book that comes out, but… I’m still learning and probably always will be, so I usually read a few (or more) every year.  And frankly, sometimes I need inspiration.  I also tend to dip into old favorites during the summer, but that reading isn’t reflected here.

  • Home-Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World, Ben Hewitt*
  • Free to Learn, Peter Gray*
  • Project-Based Homeschooling, Lori McWilliam Pickert
  • Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater, Michael Sokolove
  • In Defense of Childhood, Chris Mercogliano
  • Free At Last: The Sudbury Valley School, Daniel Greenberg

And that’s it.  Those are all the books that weren’t read-alouds, or too short e-books, or cookbooks that I read this year.

So what did you read in 2014?







  1. Found myself nodding in agreement with some of your reading goals. Dietary books all do seem to contradict, listening to my body these days not the ‘experts’. and it’s the rare hsing book I read these days. Thanks for the stars, very helpful.
    Erin recently posted…Your Favourite Posts and Mine of 2014My Profile

  2. Nice list, Angela! I read Anna Karenina at the start of 2014, that was an accomplishment! I loved “My Antonia” and George Wiegel’s “Letters to a Young Catholic.” That one is terrific!! I also read “Trusting God With St Therese” by a fellow Catholic homeschooling mom, Connie Rosinni. Highly recommend!
    I laughed about what you said regarding diet books. So true. I read the exact same “reviews” of both Paleo and vegan….” I lost a gazillion pounds, my diabetes is gone, I’m so energetic!!” Sorta frustrating, too many veggies and I’m a wreck with IBS, too paleo and I’m tired and….broke…it’s so expensive.
    Carry on and Happy New Year!!!

    • Hi, Diana! It’s nice to see you in the combox! :-) And wow, that is an accomplishment. I keep thinking that I am going to read more classics but trying to read them just before bedtime when I have a few quiet minutes is not a good recipe for concentration. I can handle Willa Cather — I have really been enjoying her novels over the past couple years, although I liked My Antonia a lot better than O, Pioneers, which was kind of depressing — but Tolstoy still scares me off. (I have almost exactly the same experience trying to follow the various diets, by the way, so this year I’m really just going to try to listen to my body more instead of constantly searching for the perfect health guru to tell me what to do… I figure happiness ought to count for something!)

  3. Great list! I agree that books about nutrition, diet, and food choices all seem to contradict each other, and the List of what’s good for you and what’s not seems to change every year and with every book you read. Homeschooling books can be the same way. It’s a journey to find what’s right for yourself and your family.

    Thanks for linking at the Saturday Review at Semicolon.
    Sherry recently posted…Semicolon Speculative Fiction Awards 2014My Profile


  1. […] always enjoy the book chat that abounds at this time of the year. Casting a look over my […]

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