Top Books of 2014

Top Books of 2014

Every year, I find myself reading with the maniac intensity of someone who believes it might be the last reading year. (I like to turn everything into an extreme sport.) After all, what self-respecting writer doesn’t study at the feet of the masters as much as she can? I had so much fun sharing my top books from last year that I couldn’t wait to do it again. So, without further ado, here are my top books of 2014.

I try to read three or four books at a time: a novel, a general non-fiction book, a writing book, and a devotional book. Below, you can find my Top 5 favorites in each category.

But, first, here are my stats for the year:

Total books read: 135

Fiction to non-fiction ratio: 61:74

Male to female author ratio: 81:54

Top 5 genres: Non-Fiction History (with 36 books), Classic Fiction (with 25), Writing How-To (with 15), Fantasy (with 11), and Historical Fiction (with 9).

Number of books per rating: 5 stars (6), 4 stars (48), 3 stars (53), 2 stars (21), 1 star (4).

Top Fiction Books

For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

 The Officer’s Code by Lyn Alexander

2. The Officer’s Code by Lyn Alexander

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

3. The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

 Rose Garden Susanna Kearsley

4.  The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Ready Player One Ernest Cline

5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Top General Non-Fiction Books

Soldiers John Keegan Richard Holmes

3. Soldiers by John Keegan and Richard Holmes

Was That Really Me?  by Naomi Quenk

4. Was That Really Me? by Naomi Quenk

 Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

5.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

 

Top Devotional Books

Heresies Harold O J Brown

1. Heresies by Harold O.J. Brown

The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul

2. The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul

Knowing Me, Knowing God by Malcolm Goldsmith

3. Knowing Me, Knowing God by Malcolm Goldsmith

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesteron

4. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesteron

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

5. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Top Writing How-To Books

Story by Robert McKee

1. Story by Robert McKee

Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

2. Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

 Writing in Obedience by Linda W. Yezak and Terry Brooks

3.  Writing in Obedience by Linda W. Yezak and Terry Brooks

Writer's Doubt by Bryan Hutchinson

5. Writer’s Doubt by Bryan Hutchinson

My Books

And if any of those titles pique your interest, then you just might find some of my own writing to be right up your alley too!

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Tell me your opinion: What are your top books of the year?

Top Books of 2014

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. 135 books….Quite Impressive. Are you able to speed read?

    Thanks for sharing your favorites! I always find such lists inspiring. 😀

  2. Show off!! ;-p

  3. I’m at around 42 and thought that was miraculous — 135 is unfathomable!

    Thanks for the head’s up on Writing in Obedience; I have heard of (or even own) many of the others, but this one wasn’t even on my radar… adding it to my Christmas wishlist now! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I’m actually lucky enough to have Linda Yezak, the co-writer of that one, as my critique partner.

  4. thomas h cullen says:

    Just the something to honestly stimulate the mind. One time, going into a Waterstone’s bookstore, in Shrewsbury, I came across a mini-stand – £1.00 story booklets.

    Like that! Just that sort of something that’s honest, and creative……that sort of something whose creativity and honesty are intertwined.

  5. Lorna G. Poston says:

    I used to keep track of titles, authors, and star ratings, but I stopped doing that. I should start it again so I can remember the good ones when you ask questions like this. 🙂 But the most recent 5-star book is one I already told you about: The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry. It’s a historical literary novel, and I highly recommend it. It’s one of those books that stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

    Another 5-stars in fiction went to: Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright, Five of the books in The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson (the other books in the series gained 4-stars), Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis, and Halos and Freefall by Kristen Heitzmann.

    One non-fiction also got 5-stars: Hope Rising by Kim Meeder—a ranch that rescues abused horses and uses them as therapy animals for broken children. Several of the stories in this book require Kleenex.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I really find the extra effort of recording titles to be worth it. I’m always looking back through my file to see what I read previously or what I rated something. You could technically do all that on Goodreads. But I find it so much more accessible to also keep it in a dedicated Word doc.

  6. A very diverse list. I was glad to see G.K. Chesterton and Brent Weeks on your list. Believe it or not, I have a copy of Orthodoxy sitting on my bookshelf in line for a read in 2015.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      It’s a good one! To be completely honest, I actually haven’t finished it. But it’s been fantastic so far.

      • By the bye there is a free audiobook of Orthadoxy on itunes, which is read very well, for those of us who like listening and are slow readers. I have never read the book straight through but I have listened to it and gone back to some parts more than once. The chapter on fairy tales was the most memorable for me. I have enjoyed some of his essays and The Ballad of the White Horse (King Alfred vs the Danes/Vikings) very much and keep going back to them. There are also free audio books of those on Librivox.org. (G K Chesterton is out of copyright if your wondering.)

    • I too have Orthodoxy on my “to read” list. Unfortunately, I’m a slow reader but I’m working my way to it. I hope to get the book for Christmas, but if I don’t I’ll go out and buy it immediately after.

  7. OMG! When do you sleeeeeep? I’m both so impressed and totally jealous. I thought I doing a decent job by reading two dozen or so.

    Wow, just wow. Great list. Some I’ve read. Many others, I want to check out now!

  8. robert easterbrook says:

    Well, thanks for embarrassing me. ;p

    All kidding aside, I don’t think I’ll reach 100 books read in 2014.

    But it’s fun trying. 🙂

  9. Ye gads, I thought I was a bookaholic but I think you top me. When do you find time to write???

    I’m eager to check out “Write Your Novel from the Middle.”

    My top picks:

    The Rosie Project, Monument Road (two fiction books)
    Ask and It Is Given, Essentialism (two non-fiction books)
    Immediate Fiction, Story Engineering (two writing books)
    A Path with Heart (spiritual)

  10. My favorite books this year were the Kalix series (“Lonely Werewolf Girl”, “Curse of the Wolf Girl”, and “The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf”) by Martin Millar, and the Inheritance Cycle series (“Eragon”, “Eldest”, “Brisingr”, and “Inheritance”) by Christopher Paolini. I’ve also been enjoying the Alpha Girl series by Aileen Erin, which kind of reminds me of Twilight but with less navel-gazing, and a female protagonist who does more than get herself into trouble and wait around for a cute guy to rescue her.

    I can easily get a good book finished in a day or 2, but only if I don’t do anything else. I’m pretty sure reading with a screenreader or listening to an audio book takes longer than someone who can read with their eyes, but the main limit to how much I read is finding something interesting to read.

    What I’ve seen most of my friends and acquaintances reading doesn’t seem to interest me, so most of what I find is through some kind of luck. Believe it or not, I found the Kalix series through a series of links that started with a movie about a cappella and ended with a google search about female werewolf, she wolf, or wolf girl stories (I forget the actual google search now). To this day, that series of links surprises me, and I’m glad I found Kalix, because she’s one of my favorite fictional characters.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Why wait for an ugly guy to rescue you? 😉

      In all seriousness, though, it always fascinates me how others (and I) end up discovering books. So much of it is serendipity.

  11. Aww Katie, bless your heart. I’m so glad you enjoyed “Writer’s Doubt” so much. 🙂 Also, thank you for the tips on a couple other books I see I’d like to read soon, including yours! I’ve heard great things about Bell’s book.

    Bests,
    Bryan

  12. I love your blog and I love end-of-year lists and I love to-read lists – so pretty much this post made my afternoon 🙂

    To share my top reads from the year, they are Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende and whatever Game of Thrones volumes fall into this period, since I started reading them in 2013.

    Great way to summarize your own books,it would be so helpful if more websites and list were arranged like that!

  13. I read Ready Player One earlier this year–that one was a blast. And I’m putting Write Your Novel From the Middle on my to-read list now. I’m digging that concept.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yeah, the whole Midpoint notion is gamechanger. I hear so many writers struggling with the Second Act. Whatever the question, the Midpoint is almost always the answer. Jim’s approach is really innovative and helpful.

  14. The Officer’s Code is AMAZING! I’ve been fortunate to read books #2 and #3 (early draft of #3) in that series and each book is incredible. I’m so happy to see that book on your list.

  15. I really liked Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane and In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. While very different books, each transported me directly into the story and left me with characters I’ll never forget. Thanks for the list here. I’ll check ’em out!

  16. Just the most appreciative thanks, K M, for including The Officer’s Code on your 2014 list. Egad. Take a deep breath. Second below Hemingway ??? Wow.
    I too enjoy the books by James Scott Bell and Larry Brooks.

  17. Several Items. Firstly I just bought Lyn Alexander’s ‘The Officer’s Code and am looking forward to reading it.
    Hemingway is one of my favourite writers. Started reading his books when I was a teenager and re reading them again.

    K.M. How to you find the time to fit everything in ?

  18. Elisabeth Marion, bless you.
    I too live in the middle of nowhere, but I have ‘nowhere’ near the energy that KM displays.

  19. Thanks for the recommendations. I have been rereading the Deborah Harkness series lately as well as the Divergent series and Alice Hoffman’s new book. I am a little bit all over the place, but that is what makes it fun.

  20. KM – I’m wondering.
    There are so many opinions about what is literary fiction, and what is not…
    Where do we draw a line?
    I’ve heard writers classify ‘literary’ as any novel where character is more important than plot ~ but I find that a bit simplistic.
    Question
    How close does The Officer’s Code come to ‘literary’?
    It won’t devastate me if you respond, ‘not very close’.
    = )

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      For me it’s mostly just a feeling – a wordy dreaminess to the prose, more than any other qualification, and Officer’s Code actually does come pretty close to matching that feeling.

  21. It’s always nice to hit more than one category in the lists.
    But then, we wouldn’t classify it as ‘literary’, right?
    I don’t reach for literary, being more interested in following the mind of the character into the story – and the Schellendorf character goes nowhere near wordy dreaminess.
    That is an excellent way to define literary. I have always likened ‘literary’ as being a work in which the beautiful words, while exploring character, tend to bury the action of the story.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Although literary *is* obviously a genre, I liken it more to a style. Technically, we could a write a book of any genre, but in a style that would qualify it as literary.

  22. I want to read Orthodoxy, just haven’t yet, and that how to write superhero stories looks great so I have to get that one. My favorite book this year. . . I’m not sure but I do like Yawning at Tigers, East, and TMNT the Ultimate Visual History. Good books.

  23. That’s a great way to define ‘literary’.
    If one searches for a publisher, some publishers define themselves as ‘literary’. A number of them declined my four Schellendorf novels as either more of a project than they wanted to take on, or not quite literary enough to take on. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Honestly, that’s where I find myself with most of my books as well. I write genre fiction with strong plots, but I like to think they’re more “poetic” that most genre books. It’s good spot to be stuck, IMO!

  24. and here I am, so proudly calling myself a bookworm and still in her 70ies 🙁
    I had a 100 books target and couldn’t finish it

  25. robert easterbrook says:

    Even though I didn’t read one hundred books this year, do I still get a bookworm badge? ;p

  26. Sophia Zervas says:

    I was so excited when you decided to continue the “top books” tradition! My favorite book this year was, hands down, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The symbolism was incredible, not to mention his writing. I still can’t get over the fact that English was his 3rd language! A close second would be Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It’s hard to compare a translation to the original, but the characters were distinct and original and the thematic implications fascinating.

    Outside of the classics, I loved your Behold the Dawn! After avidly following your blog, it was fun (and extremely helpful) seeing your advice applied in novel form. The writing was absolutely gorgeous and the characters captivated me (I’m a sucker for “strong and silent heroes,” and Gethin fused shades of light and darkness brilliantly). Also, Cathy Gohlke’s Saving Amelie is keeping me up way later than I should be! Speaking of…off to finish the last 40 pages! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Aww, you just made my day! I’m so glad you enjoyed Behold the Dawn. And I totally agree on Joseph Conrad. Love his Lord Jim.

  27. Aaron Lambert says:

    I recently finished listening to the audio version of Ready Player One, read by Wil Wheaton. The beginning was a bit of a downer and there were a few problems I had with how the Oasis worked, but otherwise a very fun story. It was a fantastic tribute to the good ol 80’s, especially where gaming and geek culture are concerned, in other words, right up my alley.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yeah, all the pop-culture tributes are really what make the book roll. I didn’t listen to the audio version, but I hear lots of good things about it.

      • Aaron Lambert says:

        Have you ever read The Final Quest by Rick Joyner? Essentially, it is a spiritual analogy based on a vision the author had. It is powerful and moving and unlike anything I’ve read before. And it’s a quick read to boot. I haven’t yet read the following two books in the series, but, from one believer to another, I highly recommend giving the first one a shot.

  28. How awesome! I read my first Hemingway book this year: the old man and the sea. And I loved it. Looking forward to read more of his books soon.
    As for 2014, my favorite read may have been Self-Help by Lorrie Moore.

    I wrote a post about the books I read in 2014, you can check it out here: http://nurcosta.com/2015/01/01/books-ive-read-in-2014/

    Have a lovely reading this 2015!!

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