Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Reads of 2014 (Dec 16)

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(Note: I started this post last night, but fell asleep before I could finish it and post it!)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Books I Read In 2014’. I’ve read 73 books so far this year. With a couple of weeks to go, I should manage a few more, hopefully. Picking my top ten reads has been quite difficult, but here goes:

girl who saved the king of sweden small1. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – Jonas Jonasson. I read his previous book (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared) last year and really enjoyed it, so I was worried that this wouldn’t live up to my expectations after that one. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed and I almost enjoyed this one more, although it’s hard to say which one is the better of the two. This one is a very funny book and definitely worth reading. The main characters in this book seem so far apart at the start of the book and you wonder how it is all going to come together, but in the end it does in very funny and plausible way. The story becomes more engrossing the further you get into it and I found it hard to put down. I’m really looking forward to Jonasson’s next book and hope that it’s not too far away.

in the name of jesus2. In the Name of Jesus Henri J.M. Nouwen. I read four books by Nouwen this year and, although I enjoyed them all, this was the one that spoke to me the most. It’s a very short, but powerful, book, speaking about Christian leadership. The book is based around the three temptations faced by Christ early in his ministry and what they mean for anyone involved in Christian leadership today. What comes through a lot is the humility of the writer, through many of the personal illustrations he shared. Although he passed away almost two decades ago, Nouwen’s writing is still very relevant to us today and I wish I had read more of his books when he was still alive.

19293. 1929 – A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future – John Larsson. When this book first came out a few years ago I was mildly interested in reading it, but never got around to picking it up. While visiting London in the summer this year I picked up a copy for 2 pounds and decided to read it when I got home from our trip. I have to admit that I knew very little about the content matter and was interested to find out why what had happened had been seen as such a major crisis. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed this book. It was very engaging and I found myself staying up much later than normal to keep on reading it. Perhaps even more surprising is that it was one of my favourite reads of the year!

ocean at the end of the lane4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. Gaiman rarely disappoints and this one was far from disappointing. It’s a highly imaginative book, but is very magical and beautifully written. It didn’t take me long to read as I just kept on reading, finding it hard to stop. I know I’ll have to read it again soon, perhaps slower to take more of it in. However, I still have many unread Gaiman books on my shelf that I need to get to as well, so it may be a while until I get back to it.

opening to god5. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer – David G. Benner. I’ve spent a lot of time this year exploring different spiritual disciplines and practices, so this book, recommended by a Spiritual Director I met with earlier in the year, was very timely and helpful. It’s a very practical and insightful book, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Benner’s books soon.

other voices small6. Other Voices: Exploring the Contemplative in Salvationist Spirituality – Christine Faragher. This was another book recommended to me by a Spiritual Director. I sometimes struggle with the fact that I am quite contemplative and introverted by nature, especially in light of the work I do. This book really helped me with this struggle by showing me that the organization I am a part of has quite the rich heritage of contemplation in its roots. This book also has very helpful study questions after each chapter and is one that I will continue to enjoy for a long time, as I hope to return to it often.

late starters orchestra thumb7. The Late Starters Orchestra – Ari L. Goldman. I received a free review copy of this book from LibraryThing. Something about it just grabbed my attention and I was fortunate to get the chance to read it. I enjoy books about music and musicians but, as I wrote in my review, I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did, so it was a pleasant surprise when I did. You never know what you’re going to get when you request a review copy, but this one was great.

allegiant8. Allegiant – Veronica Roth. I was a latecomer to this series, as I read the whole series this year. The reason for this was that I didn’t want to see the first movie before I’d read the books. The movie turned out pretty well, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I actually thought this book (the third one in the series) was the best of the three and, unlike many others, thought that it was a great ending to the story. The ending that many people seemed to want would not have been true to the characters or the story.

jesus a theography9. Jesus: A Theography – Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. I’ve really enjoyed reading Viola ever since I read his Pagan Christianity? a few years ago. He and Leonard Sweet have put together what can best be described as a theological biography of the life of Jesus. It’s quite an in-depth study of Jesus, but is well worth taking the time to read through. I tried it a couple of years ago, but only got back to it this year. I think my mind was more in the right place this time, as I found it to be a great read, even if at times it was challenging.

first phone call from heaven small10. The First Phone Call From Heaven – Mitch Albom. Ever since I read Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven a few years ago I’ve been an avid reader of his books. I like his style and I never find him too predictable. He’s a great storyteller and I have really enjoyed all the books of his that I have read so far. My favourite is probably Tuesdays with Morrie.

So, that’s my top ten for this year. One other book I would have included in the list is Tony Jones’ The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. The only reason I didn’t include it is because it was a reread. It is one of my favourite books of recent years, as it is so practical and has helped me a lot on my spiritual journey. It is one I always heartily recommend.

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