this year’s favorite reads [2014]

Most of the people reading this blog know that [once upon a time] I worked for Target at their headquarters in Minneapolis.  But what you may not know is that I spent more than a year as a member of the ultra-exclusive book club that selects the ‘Bookmarked’ Club Picks which are featured in store.  Since it was a very limited group with a long waiting list, it felt prestigious [except it totally wasn’t a paying gig].  The only requirement?  Read a lot of books.  Four per month at a minimum, from a pool of publisher submissions, but reading six or more was pretty much the standard.

When I first started, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books we had to read.  I learned more about the dissatisfaction that comes with finishing a terrible book [ugh, I’ll never get that time back!] and realized the joy of uncovering a gem that hasn’t yet made it ‘big’ [like one of my all-time favorites, Molok’ai].

Yes, my reading has scaled back pretty dramatically since then, but I continue to read a lot of books [27 this year… to be exact].  And I can’t kick of the habit of labeling them ‘recommend’ or ‘do not recommend.’

A great book recommendation list!So, out of the 27 books I read this year, here are the EIGHT you should read too.  At least according to me… because we’ve already established that I’m highly qualified [hah!] for making book recommendations.

  • Tiny Beautiful Things.  Oh, this book.  THIS BOOK.  My favorite from the entire year.  When it was selected for my book club, I looked at the description “advice on love and life from Dear Sugar” and scoffed [‘ugh, an entire book of advice columns?  I’m going to hate this!’].  I only picked it up because I NEEDED to go to book club that month for some grown up time and a glass of wine.  But, once I started reading, I wanted to highlight nearly every line Cheryl Strayed wrote.  There were so many “I need to remember this some day… because THOSE are the exact words I need to say in that situation” moments.  She’s hilarious.  She’s blunt. She’s a teeny bit vulgar.  But most of all, she’s wise.  And I loved reading this book.
  • The Invention of Wings.  This was written by the same author that wrote The Secret Life of Bees [another favorite] so I had high expectations.  It’s a fictional story about a young slave on a plantation in Charleston. As much as you can say you ‘enjoyed’ a book about slavery, I enjoyed this one.  It was a really good read.
  • Wonder.  I don’t know exactly how to label this book.  According to Amazon, it’s #1 in Children’s Personal Hygeine [HUH? I wouldn’t have given it THAT label.]  Is it a Children’s book?  Is it Young Adult?  Yes, you could read it with your school-aged children, but it’s something I am glad I read for myself.  It’s a fictional story of a young boy with a severe facial deformity and his entrance into mainstream schooling.  It taught me a lot about compassion and grace.  It may be difficult or emotional to read, but it will make you a better person.  I highly recommend this book… for everyone.
  • Lone Survivor.  Oooof, another book that was hard to read.  So hard at times.  But I’m very glad I did.  I didn’t see the movie because some of the imagery was hard enough for me to digest while reading and I don’t think I could handle watching it on a big screen.  I finished this book with a greater understanding and intense appreciation for our Navy Seals.  An incredible book.
  • This Is Where I Leave You.  Nothing like the other books on this list.  A grown-up comedy about a dysfunctional family that made me laugh out loud at times [not many books do that].  It’s a little crude though so I almost didn’t put it on my recommendation list.  I personally am excited to see the movie.  If it’s true to the book, it’ll be hilarious.
  • The Light Between Oceans.  This book really sucked me in, emotionally.  It’s a captivating story about a husband & wife and their very isolated life controlling a lighthouse on an island.  Without giving too much away, there’s a big moral dilemma that pulled on my heart strings.  I wasn’t fully satisfied with the end, but it was a good read.
  • Still Alice.  I’m not exactly sure why but I CONSUMED this book.  I believe I read it in one day.  It’s a story about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s.  It’s such a horrible disease, but because it was told by the woman, it brought a new perspective that made me terrified and compassionate at the same time.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I’m not going to lie, I kind of hate the title.  It sounds like a cheesy teenage romance novel.  Yes, it’s totally a love story, but it’s full of information about the Japanese internment camps.  So, I felt like I learned something about history [which I certainly didn’t expect from the title].  And it’s set in Seattle… so there’s that.


Want more book recommendations?  Check out last year’s list!

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, you will pay the same price, but I receive a small commission.  Obviously I only share products I love from companies I trust.  [don’t believe me?  just ask our UPS man how many boxes we get from amazon…]

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