Fiction and Non-Fiction: A Year of Reading

My current bed-time reading will have to wait until next year's list.
This book will have to wait until next year’s list.

It’s a life-long habit of mine to leave a novel next to my bed, and I cannot go to sleep without reading at least a few pages.  A good book gently removes the cares of the day from my mind while I get absorbed in a different world.  Besides, if I keep my novels upstairs I stay more productive during the day!

In 2014, however, I had trouble finding good fiction.  Did anyone else have that problem?  It seems that most of what I read would qualify as…just ok.  I read 50 books last year, 33 of them novels, and the list of good ones to recommend is relatively short:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kid.

The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout

The Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Tinkers and Enon by Paul Harding

Books 2014The non-fiction books that I read were excellent.  These books, not bedtime reading, were absorbed while hiking on the elliptical machine or sitting in my favorite chair or at my desk.  They stuck with me, and I have referred to them since.

Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller.  Keller’s book was by far the most helpful book I read in preparation for teaching the book of Job.  I have personally benefited from it as well.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Voskamp’s book is one that I will read again. And again.

God’s Prayer Book by Ben Patterson.  Patterson’s prayer book based on the Psalms is a gem.

If Only: Letting Go of Regret by Michelle Van Loon.   This book truly helped me to deal with my regrets.  I read it because a friend wrote it, but I recommend it because it is worth reading.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Influencer by Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer and Kerry Patterson.

Remembering the Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Finally, as always, I read the Bible.  The Bible is non-fiction, but many of the stories are told with great skill and read like fiction.  Right now, in CBS, I’m teaching through the book of Esther: sex, power, bad guys and good guys, God’s providence and his rescue all in 10 chapters.  It’s excellent reading.

Once again, the Bible is by far the most interesting, thought-provoking, and life-changing book that I’ve read in the past year.  It is in a category all its own.

What have you read this year?  Anything good?

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…”  Colossians 3:16


13 thoughts on “Fiction and Non-Fiction: A Year of Reading

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  1. Hi, I just found your blog and am looking forward to reading more posts soon.
    Oh, my. I love to read and usually knock out about a hundred plus a year. This year I haven’t read as many as usual for some reason.
    I have several I have reviewed and a few fiction stories that were truly life altering for me.
    BTW, I love Francis Chan’s books.
    I tend to do like you and write on scraps of paper until I am buried beneath them! I got two inspirational planners this year, one for my daily happenings and one for my blogging/reviews/reading. Praying this will organize me a little bit better than usual.
    God’s Blessings!!

  2. Seeing you read this much,  have you ever thought of throwing a book out there for your followers to read and maybe do a quarterly book review on it?  Mary JO and Lora and I thought it would be fun and we would come!  We all read.  I loved 1000 gifts as well!!  Super book!

  3. Thanks for sharing your lists, Judy. I’m putting together my reading list for this year and I’ll keep yours in mind. I’ve struggled with how to keep track of recommended books too, and this year I started adding the books to my Amazon wish list. I’ve used Goodreads too, but I keep forgetting to check it. I think I might just use a good old-fashioned list on my magnetic white board!

    1. That’s one of my problems – I have too many lists! I started keeping one on Evernote, and then I got going on Goodreads, and let’s not forget all the little scraps of paper floating around with book recommendations. Happy reading, Beth, and let me know if you read any good ones!

  4. First, may I say that I generally enjoy reading your posts, whether or not I like /comment on them.Second, I have found very few fiction books worthy of my time. (I did order the ones you mention to give them a try). I borrow many fiction titles from the library, but they often return unfinished; they just aren’t absorbing. Sadly, much Christian fiction is ‘trite’ and life is not trite, it is challenging. On the other hand, I read many non-fiction books. As you mentioned, Experiencing God through Pain and Suffering is amazing. As a matter of a fact, so is every other Timothy Keller book, and I am close to having read them all. Philip Yancey’s most recent book Vanishing Grace is also worth reading. I am wondering how often those of us who read a fair amount take the time to post reviews on-line, either through our blog, or via Good Reads. I admit I have not done so very much. Yet, finding good literature, especially contemporary literature, can be challenging.

    1. Hi Wendy, I need to find a system for book recommendations. I’m always asking for them, but then I write them on a little scrap of paper or plan to remember and I lose track of them. Drives me crazy! I agree with you about “Christian” fiction, and I don’t tend to read much of it. Just give me a good story, and I’m happy. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  5. I also have the same habit of having a book on my nightstand and reading at least a few pages before turning off the light. The majority of books that I read are novels, with mysteries being my favorite. If I can’t find a good book to read, I reread my favorites. In fact, until I gave my copy away, I had “Tramp for the Lord” by Corrie ten Boom on my nightstand for years. Each chapter was pure gold.

    Okay here’s my favorite novels for 2014: “Hunger Games Trilogy” (read all three twice); “Four Days with Hemingway;” “The Last Policeman;” “Defending Jacob;” “The Gods of Guilt;” “Saints of the Shadow Bible;” “Standing in Another Man’s Grave;” “W is for Wasted;” and “The Reversal.”

    My favorite nonfiction books included: “War in Heaven: God’s Epic Battle with Evil;” “No Longer a Slumdog” (reread over and over); and “Depot Street Memories: The Lawler Stories.”

    It’s fun to see what books other people read. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your recommendations, Larry! I like a good mystery too. And I also really liked the Hunger Games trilogy. Someone told me the premise a while ago, and I was horrified, but the books were very good. They are true, in a sad sort of way.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, the Jan Karon book pictured. Her characters and dialogue are wonderful. I read it between Christmas and New Year’s and it was the perfect way to end 2014 and begin 2015. I think you will enjoy it. Father Tim is one of my favorite people!

    1. I just started Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. It’s been a while since I’ve read a Mitford book, but it’s all coming back. I feel like I should read all of them again, but I probably won’t:). I agree – the perfect book for the start of 2015! Thanks for your comment Terry!

  7. I appreciate reading lists. Thanks for sharing your highlights Judy. I read about 50 books too (well, 49). Since you are a thinking type person, I’m glad you also liked One Thousand Gifts. I started reading it, expecting not to like it, and ended up greatly appreciating it. I think some of the more academic or critiquing type people, went at it with a theological magnifying glass!

    1. Hi Laura, One Thousand Gifts was a surprise for me too. I read it, expecting it to be decent, but it was a deeper book than I had imagined. I missed all the theological inspection, but that’s just as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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