Thursday, January 1, 2015

THE BEST OF 2014

Although I didn't do a very good job keeping up my blog this year, there were many stellar books that stand clearly in my mind as the year's reading highlights. The first two titles were my only five star reads this year, the second three I gave four and a half stars, and the last five were four star reads.:

The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd (novel)
Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe - Nancy Goldstone (history)
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - Jan-Philipp Sendker (novel)
Moonwalking with Einstein - Joshua Foer (science)
Savage Harvest - Carl Hoffman (history)
Blood Diamonds - Greg Campbell (history)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon - Anthony Marra (novel)
Empire of Blue Water - Stephan Talty (history)
Salt: A World History - Mark Kurlansky (history)
Matterhorn - Karl Marlantes (novel)

Best Audio of the Year: The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

What made these outstanding (Titles I reviewed show up maroon--click on the title to be connected to my thoughts.):


The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd: Hetty and Sarah will live inside my head for a very long time.  Their story was powerfully told through the excellent narration of Adepero Oduye and Jenna Lamia.





Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe - Nancy Goldstone:  A wonderful story of four sisters who’s lives paint a vivid picture of life in thirteenth-century Europe.


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - Jan-Philipp Sendker: We all have things we are seeking in our lives.  Sometimes what we learn along the way is more important than arriving at our destination.





Moonwalking with Einstein - Joshua Foer:  What a fascinating look inside the art and science of memory.  Engagingly written and full of useful information to go along with the story that frames the book.



Savage Harvest - Carl Hoffman: I couldn’t care less about primitive art or the Rockefellers, but this quasi-mystery was just plain great story-telling.






Blood Diamonds - Greg Campbell: You will never, ever look at your engagement ring quite the same way again.  An important story that needed telling.




A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon - Anthony Marra: A story of our times about how people in the worst situations can connect and touch each other’s lives for good or evil.






Empire of Blue Water - Stephan Talty:  A rollicking good yarn about Henry Morgan, the great age of pirates, and how the Spanish lost their grip on the New World.






Salt: A World History - Mark Kurlansky:  You really can tell the history of the world through salt (who’d a thunk it?) and turn it into a genuinely fascinating tale.







Matterhorn - Karl Marlantes: Raw and unflinching, full of characters you cannot evict from your head.  Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, but vital reading for anyone who wants to try to understand Vietnam.

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