Best Books of 2014

I had a particularly good reading year; I made my reading goal for the first time ever and kept reading. I'll share the full list of the books I read this year soon, but first I'm linking up with the delightful Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy by sharing my favorite reads of 2014. 

In no particular order:

1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I had actually forsworn this book on account of someone (ahem) spoiling the plot for me. I hate reading books when I already know what's going to happen. But even though I knew where it was going, I still loved this. And I totally burst into tears at the end. Beautifully written. And those characters!

2. Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill

This is probably one of the best, most memorable novels I've ever read. Epic. The concept itself was brilliant - a girl falls into a well, and in the hours that follow, the author tells the stories of a generous sampling of her seemingly innumerable ancestors. I found it the tiniest bit hard to get into; at first it felt like a disjointed collection of short stories. But then - goodness. The threads connecting everything and everyone are tightened and, well. I shed a lot of tears over this one, too.

3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Harrowing, exhilarating, illuminating. I loved the narrator, and the goodness of several of the characters. I was kind of afraid to read this because it was so hyped, but it fully lived up to the hype.

4. The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

Before I read this, I had seen one episode of the BBC Call the Midwife. I liked it quite a bit, but ultimately I'm glad I read this rather than watched it. Worth's observations about the world in which she worked as a midwife were so nuanced and detailed, and really well told. I ended up thinking a lot about the strengths of written narrative vs. visual media. The fact of the matter is, I don't quite have the imagination to conjure the world Worth describes as well as the BBC did, but I learned so much more from the narrative than I could have from passively watching the series.

5. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I just loved this so much. Alma! Ambrose! Moss!

6. Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition, & the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michel

I've been increasingly drawn to a more evangelical expression of Christianity in the past few years. Not necessarily evangelical theology or culture; evangelical spirituality. Teach us to Want offers an excellent exploration of evangelical spirituality. Michel really knows how to tell her own story in a way that edifies the reader; she's instructive without being didactic. The prose is perfect, and the wisdom is gentle, challenging, and new. This was a formative book that I've recommended to several people and will likely read again.

Check out Anne's books and the other link-ups here. 

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