Favorite Reads in 2014

In 2014, I went everywhere. That’s a topic for another post. But travel means lots and lots of airplane time, which means lots and lots of time on Kindle. When I did a quick count, I had read over 80 books. I keep finding more physical books lying around the house that I read this year, so who knows. I read a lot.
Some books are short, some are graphic novels, and some are YA/middle grade, but it’s still quite a few. In fact, I think it’s my record (I recall  in 4th grade I tried to read the entire school library. I was pretty close when we moved to a school with a bigger library). How did I read the most books I ever have? Read this.

The following is an incomplete list of what I read, from best to worst.

Best Reads

The best best book i read in 2014
The best best book i read in 2014

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End This was the best book of 2014. If you are a human, you should read it. How a book about death and dying can be so resolutely hopeful I have no idea. A masterpiece.

The Girl With All the Gifts Not what you expect, all the way to the end. Don’t read the description or reviews, just download the sample and go. Avoid spoilers.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Just, wow. I liked it so much I bought the audiobook also so I could just keep reading it. I think next New Year’s project will be memory.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most The most important book to read for your career, because we all need to talk about the hard things

 Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart. The book I have been seeking to understand how to structure compelling writing. Good for fiction, nonfiction, presentations and more.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
It deserves its popularity. Do NOT buy the kindle version; get the paperback.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor I cannot say how much I love this beautiful book. Brainpickings can. The image above is from it.

Uglies: Uglies; Pretties; Specials; Extras The best YA dystopia, 4 books, beats Hunger Games hands down (IMO)

The Scorpio Races Beautifully written, expertly plotted, ultimately satisfying. Buy for the music of the prose, finish for the thrilling plot.

Blacksad: Amarillo The Blacksad series is amazing; the best film noir since humphrey bogart stopping making films.  But don’t start here, start at the beginning.


Awesome fiction

The Steel Seraglio Pitch perfect. A lost tale of arabian nights: fast plot, compelling characters, strong women, gentle men and believable magic.

Wonder Boys Yes, I only got around to reading this year. Yes, it’s crazy awesome. Yes, the movie blew it.

6 book series, the first being Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera Book 1) Ok, do you like high fantasy, like Lord of the Rings? This is high fantasy based on Rome rather than the middle ages. Loved it.

The Rook: A Novel “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves.

The Time of the Ghost because Diana Wynn Jones

Norse Code Nice day for a nordic apocalypse, what?

California Bones Um, inexplicable, but very good.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ Very thought provoking.

Tamsin Bought to read to Amelie, it’s a bit old for her yet, a bit young for me, yet loved it anyway. Shivers.


Awesome Nonfiction

from Follow the Yellow Brick Road
from Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Selling To the VP of No A framework for codesinging a great project and closing the sale. Also a short read with many insightful pictures!

The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny The only bad thing I can say about it is it’s not as good as Moonwalking with Einstein and sometimes the authors seem to be trying a bit hard, but super fascinating read anyhow.

UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design One of the few UX/Lean books I read this year, and terrific. Actionable, readable, smart– I use it in my class.

Business Model You: A One-Page Method For Reinventing Your Career Not as good as its inspiration, but still very useful if you are thinking “What should I do with my life?”

Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work Why, yes I do read everything from an author I like, don’t you?

Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author Must read if you wish to change an organization

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice Tiny wonderful

A terrific trainwreck of a book Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Learning to Give, Take, and Use Instructions

Field Guide to Gestures by Melissa Wagner Mostly pictures, but very good pictures.

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently Learn to draw what is in your head

The Death and Life of Great American Cities Finished in 2014; important book. More important ot read than A Pattern Language, I believe.

Books on Writing

This year, I wanted to up my writing game


Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and) The best book on writing I read. Has all the pieces of great writing, from structure to form. Will be my text book for next year’s Story class.

My close second favorite is this series Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing Book 1), Rock Your Revisions: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel (Rock Your Writing Book 2), WRITE EVERY DAY: How to Write Faster, and Write More (Rock Your Writing Book 4) Loved it so much I hired the author as my editor.

The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish, & Market Your Book Only read the first of the books, but it was invaluable for creating a selfpublishing strategy.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing Book 1) Interesting for how the author shapes his book as well as for the information he imparts.

Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells Do you like worksheets? I do.

Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing (Million Dollar Writing Series) Terrific little book on the wisdom of being just original enough.

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love So good, I got into her fiction.

Want to be great at Nonfiction writing? A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers

Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop I’m not quite done, but I have to recommend it. Fascinating story of the life of a writing workshop… yes, I said fascinating.

I also decided to get good at speaking

From Show and Tell

Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations As good or better than his other book, with a fresh look at presentation structure

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences Terrific, though not as terrific as her workshop on it…

Give Your Speech, Change the World: How To Move Your Audience to Action The best book on the content of your speech

Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident, Calm, and Competent Presenting Most suited to a beginning speaker

Generally Awesome

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You because Oatmeal.

Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms because books as art.

Wabi Sabi because gorgeous

So Awesome, I read it a second time

From the ever lovely Night Circus
From the ever lovely Night Circus

The Night Circus I love this book more than words can say.

Siddhartha a map for life.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Extended dance remix of night circus with jane austin cut in and some wuthering heights and hey, a bit of Neil Gaimen.

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School Buy this.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Best book on change ever written.

The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking I read it a second time because I wanted to learn how to do it.

Kind of Trashy, But Awesome

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, third book of Raven Boys
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, third book of Raven Boys

3 books, this is the first: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book 1) YA, with all the angst and romance that comes with but really well written.

The Winter Long: October Daye #8 But you should start with the first one

Sparrow Hill Road Not her best, but still pretty good. Urban legend told form point of view of the legend.

Half-Off Ragnarok: Book Three of InCryptid This is the third so find the first one…. Professional ballroom dancer/cyptozoologist. Shall I say more?

15, yes, 15 books, all read this year, the first being Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) and you know, they are pretty darn good. The man can plot. Which lead me to his Alera series (above, in the best section)

5 books and a Novella prequel, some collected into omnibuses so buy carefully. The Legend of Eli Monpress Good fun read

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories Book 1) Jane Austin+ Magic

Read With Amelie, Who is 9

IMG_6019I read books 5 & 6 this year, you should read them all. Amelie did this year.  The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Castle Waiting Look and you’ll know.

Chi’s Sweet Home, volume 1 Nearly wordless, so not sure they count. We “read” a half dozen of these. Good cutesy fun.

The Wee Free Men (Discworld Book 30) and A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld Book 32) which I love reading aloud because of the Nac McFeegle have accents. There are two more Tiffany books, but we’re having a break to read Wednesdays in the Tower (Castle Glower series Book 2)



From Loisel's Peter Pan
From Loisel’s Peter Pan

Peter Pan I originally read this in french, with a french-english dictionary in my other hand because it’s that good. It’s also not an easy read, and not for kids.

Saga, Vol. 1 Strange and interesting, but getting a bit odd in the fourth book. Ok, it was always odd, but not I’m not sure where he is heading.

Grandville Steampunk furry animal detective story.

Morning Glories Volume 7 TP Read the latest couple this year, but a weird tale fo a boarding school, because all tales of boarding schools are weird, as far as I can tell.

The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir No superheros, just a really dysfunctional family and a daughters effort to fix her life.

Miracleman Book 1: A Dream of Flying Read when the first came out, finally collected after years of legal battles, Alan Moore’s disturbing take on superheroes before Watchman.

Astro City: Through Open Doors The weakest book in a very beloved series. But if you haven’t read Astrocity, it’s like an anti-watchman. And wonderful.

Another latest in a favorite series Powers: Bureau, Vol. 1: Undercover

And this: cannot recommend Unwritten too highly The Unwritten: Orpheus in the Underworld

Same deal: awesome series Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind

The Fairest spinoff of Fables has been interesting reading Fairest Vol. 4: Cinderella – Of Men and Mice
but then this one just went splat into piggery Fairest Vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal Great new take on a classic heroine

Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks Last in the series, wonderful horror (if you don’t like horror, you will not enjoy this because horror. But if you liked Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run, you might well like it)

Also Read

In Patagonia (Penguin Classics) Wonderful travelog, get if you visit Patagonia

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management (including featured article “Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter) Strong collection of critical essays

Manga for the Beginner Chibis, Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures
Amelie and I are learning to draw Manga

The Falconer: Book 1 Just Trashy.

Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Book 1) fun

The Dude De Ching No idea why I read this, yet I did.

Eight Days of Luke Dianna Wynn Jones always

Disenchanted & Co. Trashy fun

Greywalker defenstrated by book three.

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner, Book 1) I read all three so you don’t have to. The plot will hook you in, but the writing is extremely poor. Don’t do it.

Dreadful JPod Also can’t believe I finished it.

Now I’ll stop because I’m tired of listing! 🙂



Add Yours
  1. 2

    Have you read Wonder with Amelie yet? My girls are 11 and last year (4th grade) one came home from school, where the teacher was reading it in class, each week telling me about it. She’s a huge fan of fantasy (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson) and graphic novels but described this book as the best she’d ever read. I saw on Amazon that it had a full 5 stars, so I downloaded and started reading it aloud to both daughters – staying just behind what her teacher was reading in the classroom. We finished the book with me reading aloud in the car on a family road trip, and even my husband who joined the story mid-way became absorbed with the story and characters. We are waiting, waiting for R.J. Palacio to write another novel.

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