Last year, I did an “awards ceremony” for the fifteen books that impacted me most in the year … they didn’t win awards per se, but they did win recognition and commendation. Like last year, this year’s list represents many genres—and also, because it’s limited to fifteen, is unable to include all the books that impacted me. I read 51, which beats last year’s score by quite a bit, but that also makes the decisions harder! These are more or less in order, but a bunch of them ranked very close together, so don’t pay too much attention to the numbers. (If I were to do this list again without referring to the order here, I would probably discover that I had rearranged them.)
Without further ado …
The Perilous Gard
Elizabeth Marie Pope
This YA novel brought me back to the type of books I enjoyed most when I was younger: historical fiction with a dash of fantasy and wonder. About Tudor England, mysterious cults, and the beautiful landscape, it’s no wonder this was captivating enough for me to exclaim, “I’d love to write a book like this someday!”
The Kings and Queens of England
This fun history book untangled the English monarchs enough for me to have them memorized at one point. It’s proved helpful several times just in the few months since I’ve read it!
This was an adventurous, hard-hitting novel about David as a boy and young man, the first of seven in a series. Fivash has an excellent understanding of ancient Hebrew history. Since I’ve been studying David this whole year, I know how fantastic his story is … so I look forward to the rest of the series!
Friendship and Folly
Although I’m not finished yet, I plan to be before the New Year, and I already know this book belongs here. I’ve been wanting to read a modern author that hearkens back to Jane Austen, and while there are some differences (which are delightful), I think I’ve found her!
Rose in Bloom
Louisa May Alcott
I love Louisa May Alcott, and I was very glad to revisit her story of the Eight Cousins. This book was filled with what I love best about her writing—gentle moralizing, character-driven plots, family relationships, and comforting evocation of 19th-century America.
Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest
L. M. Montgomery
Montgomery is a very satisfying writer, and I loved being able to finish the Emily stories that I started two years ago. Emily is a writer with a whole lot of depth, and these books were beautiful.
The Pickwick Papers
These two have to be linked together, because after I read Dickens’s funny serial novel, I was privileged to edit Scheele’s funny retelling and laugh at all the inside jokes. Pickwick will always be special to me as the book I brought with me to England (and did not have much time to read).
Thaw: Winter’s Child, Winter Queen, and Prince of Demargen
E. Kaiser Writes
This hasn’t been released yet, but it’s another book I had the privilege of editing, and I enjoyed every part of it. It’s a retelling of Frozen and The Snow Queen, so it has light fantasy but a historical feel. The characters are richly endearing and constantly tugged at my heartstrings.
I seldom reread a book, but Jane Austen has been the consistent exception. This classic’s 200th anniversary was in May, and I had a lovely time studying it and savoring Austen’s words again. The story with all its moral richness sank into me even more upon a second reading.
I read this Victorian novel in anticipation of visiting Manchester myself during my tour to England. Like all Gaskell’s works, the characters were extremely well drawn, every social issue was fairly dealt with, and Christianity was shown to be the light that it is.
Remembering the Alamo
Alicia A. Willis
As a Texan, the story of the Alamo grips me. This was a very good telling of that story from a different perspective than I’ve heard before, and my emotions at reading it are still fresh in my mind … that’s how I know it belonged here, near the top of the list.
Kisses from Katie
Katie Davis, with Beth Clark
This memoir of a contemporary young woman who began a ministry in Uganda taking care of orphan girls was a very thought-provoking, inspiring read. I appreciated the look at modern Africa, and was encouraged to do what God has called us all to do: live with more love (among other things)!
The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells
I myself am very, very (need I put another very?) surprised to see this so high on the list. But perhaps because it was such a different book is why it stuck with me and made me realize it had to be here. It was mildly disturbing, but fascinating, and made me think of the Apocalypse. I didn’t see the resolution coming, which doubled its impact.
Twenty Years at Hull-House
This memoir about the humanitarian Jane Addams and her laudable projects was powerful for its history, smooth prose, and thought-provocation. Although it’s 100 years old, it made me want to do something and be in some ways more like Jane Addams.
Majestic Is Your Name
Theresa of Avila; edited by David Hazard
This devotional really got to the heart of spirituality, and it was something I really needed after feeling dry earlier this year. I see now that it was the first step in drawing close to God again after feeling disconnected.
As far as years go, 2014 was an excellent one. The high point was England and all the time I got to spend with my very dear, but distant, friend Laura. There were several disappointments, but none that I can’t see the reason for … instead, they opened up other things! I thank God for this year!
What was your favorite book(s) of 2014? Your favorite part of the year?