Best Reads in 2014: Part 5

If you want to read the previous posts about some of the others I met, read, and fell in love with this year, you can check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and my review of Gilead

Time to close out this series on new favorite books I encountered for the first time this year! These aren’t books that were published in 2014, but ones I read for the first time in 2014.

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Best Reads in 2014: Part 4

Tomorrow morning, I’ll post the final books in my best reads in 2014. I originally planned to lump this one in with the larger post, but I had far too much to say about this book for it not to stand alone. View part 1part 2part 3part 5, and my review of Gilead for the rest. 

When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman ♦

Sometimes you pick up a book that hits you in the emotional gut and leaves you aching for days. A co-worker passed this book to me in the early days of my job in publishing (it was one of the first books published by a sister imprint).

Addie Zierman grew up in the frenzy of 90s evangelical Christianity. She throws herself into this youth group culture with an intense, zealous desire to be the perfect evangelical Christian girl. As she grows older, goes to college, gets married, and attempts to find her identity, Zierman finds following her youth group directed theology and lifestyle to be spiritually insufficient. What follows is a struggle to find hope, joy, and genuine connections in a system that’s proven itself to be hollow. Continue reading

End Notes: December 19


The Martian by Andy Weir ♦

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly ♦

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ♦

Live From New York (Updated) by James Andrew Miller

J by Howard Jacobson ♦

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This week, I thought I’d share the recent books I’ve acquired. I don’t know if I’m more excited about Station Eleven or  The Night Circus. I ordered Night Circus from a used bookstore in England through the HPB Marketplace because the British hardcover has black edged pages and a ribbon bookmark…how could I say no to that? They each have a high reputation to uphold, so I’m anxious to see if they live up to the hype. But so far it’s been a great pre-Christmas haul. Now to the reviews.

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Gift Ideas for the Bookworm

PSA: There are only 11 days left until Christmas. Jewish friends, you only have two days left until the first day of Hanukkah. It’s time to knock out your last minute holiday shopping.

Of course you probably intend to shower the people in your life with books and book related gifts. Why wouldn’t you? After all, if they don’t want a book, do they really deserve a gift at all? It’s a serious quandary.

But sometimes it’s hard to know what books your reader friend wants, hasn’t read yet, or would want to own (limited shelf space and such). So as a service to you, I thought I’d offer up some sure-to-please light reading options and accoutrements to help you cross those names off your list. I stayed away from novels and nonfiction titles to offer up some different ideas that should appeal to a variety of bookworms.

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Best Reads in 2014: Part 3

This is the third in my favorite reads in 2014. View part 1part 2part 4part 5, and my review of Gilead for the rest.

 Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was beautiful and sad and thought-provoking and wonderful. It shed light on gender roles and familial relationships and the way culture shapes our perception of the world around us. It could also very easily be called The Poisonwood Bible: How to be the Very Worst Missionary. 

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Best Reads in 2014: Part 2

This is the second of my favorite reads in 2014. View part 1part 3, part 4part 5, and my review of Gilead for the rest. 

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

 BJ Novak is the writer/producer/director/actor most known for his role as Ryan on The Office. This book, his first, is a collection of 64 short stories (he also has a hilarious children’s book out right now). If you are thinking, “My goodness, what an awful lot of stories for such a little book”, you are entirely right.

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End Notes: November 23-30

The final weekly word on books I finished and books I started this week; A quick glance at my current and recent reads over Thanksgiving break. 

 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley ♦

This is the retelling of King Lear set on an Iowa farm that I mentioned starting last week. It grabbed my attention and I was slightly grumpy anytime I was interrupted while I was trying to read it over Thanksgiving break. When I finished this book, I was shocked, heartbroken, and emotionally exhausted.

I’m really not sure how I feel about the work as something to recommend or reread, though. It was a  beautiful rework of the play, but also so…dark. I don’t typically shy away from dark topics or themes. I love Gillian Flynn, I regularly read weird books about the psychology of criminals and I’m not afraid of tough stories. But this book was rough in tragic, everyday ways without much redemption or growth. Smiley writes broken characters and doesn’t hesitate to leave them broken. I suppose it’s appropriate, given the Shakespearean tragedy she is working from, but it doesn’t make it any easier to digest.

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Best Reads in 2014: Part 1

If you want to read the rest of the posts about books I met, read, and fell in love with this year, you can check out part 2part 3part 4, part 5, and my review of Gilead

On a recent blog, my friend, cubicle mate and coworker Amy said something brilliant about striving after her yearly reading goal:

“Okay, it’s not really about how many books I read, necessarily, but the odds are in my favor (see what I  did there?) to find more favorite books if I read lots in a year. And that’s the kind of math that I can get behind….In pursuit of the next amazing read that I can recommend to everyone I know, I continue.”

This has been a year of epic reading. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather, Taylor’s huge workload for school, or all the new books coming my way now that I work in publishing, but I have been on a reading tear this year. When I was still a student, I found time to read a respectable number of books in my free time. But once I dropped out of seminary, it was like the floodgates of reading opened. I’ve spent this year happily swimming through book after book after book and I will continue to do so until I drown in them. Which, looking at my to-read list, isn’t an impossibility.

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Book Haul: Denver Public Library Book Sale and Black Friday

In the spirit of tomorrow, let it be known that this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the Denver Public Library’s winter book sale.

I was expecting it to resemble some of the garage-sale style book sales libraries tend to have: a room packed to the edges with old paperbacks, used classics, and old library editions. The sort of sale that seems, at first, to be full of great finds but ultimately results in finding maybe two books that are actual steals.

This sale was better than I ever hoped. The popular fiction, nonfiction, and mystery sections held recent hits and popular titles from the past few years. It didn’t help my planned budget that the volunteers walked around handing shoppers boxes to fill as they shopped. I came away with an incredible haul of books, all of which were on my to-read list. But at great prices (hardbacks for $3, trade paperbacks for $2, and pocket paperbacks for 50 cents) I didn’t have to feel too guilty about my finds. Easy on my purse, hard on my overstuffed bookshelves.


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End Notes: November 15 – 22

I love Book Riot’s Inbox/Outbox feature, so I thought I’d do my own weekly end notes of books I’ve started and books I’ve finished. A quick inventory of my revolving bookshelf.

Let’s Begin:

9780316055437_custom-8387e636d286aa86fc16d49b6a17f95c8558d406-s99-c85The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

“Started” is a dishonest descriptor. “Started…again” is probably better. I’ve had this book on my reading queue since I picked it up at the Tattered Cover in March. It was one of the biggest books of 2013, and it felt like once a week someone eagerly asked me if I had read it yet.

Almost 8 months later my answer is…Well, no. Not yet. But I’m giving it another go. I’m intrigued by all of the buzz around it: winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, named one of the New York Times Book Review’s best books of 2013, and it was wildly praised by pretty much every person that I know and several other major trade publications. I’m trying to read more ‘literary fiction’ and up my reading game. Here’s hoping.

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