These are my top 5 books that I have read in 2014, not necessarily that were published in 2014. Sometimes I’m late to the game, but just because something isn’t brand new, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mentioning. Every year I intend to read more than I actually do, but this is the first time since I was at University that I have taken advantage of the library on a regular basis. It’s the perfect way to try something you’re not sure about, which has led me to some complete gems over the past twelve months.
So, without further ado…
The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
This book was immensely enjoyable, but hard to describe. Larger than life characters and even bigger plot, this book was so carefully crafted that the suspension of disbelief – even in the face of insurmountable odds – never wavered. I dare anyone not to root for the main character from beginning to end. From Soweto to Sweden, the comedy is punctured by some dark moments, but a reminder to never, ever underestimate someone because of who you believe they are.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
My sister is a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and she’s been trying to get me to read his books for years. I finally got round to doing so earlier in the year, and I’m glad I did. I think Mistborn is a perfect entry point into his writing, and you can read my original review here. For any would-be writers of fantasy, it is also a great tool for understanding the importance of world-building and how to get the balance right between background and plot.
Self Help / Personal Development
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
I found this book by way of his Ted Talk, via the Productivity Book Group podcast. As a person not naturally given to positivity (I tend to think of myself as a hardened realist), I’ve been trying very seriously over this past year to work on my mindset as much as anything else. Insightful without being patronising, this book has delightful anecdotes, interesting research and some basic, simple tips to help people take the steps towards the benefits of being more mindful.
My Spiritual Journey by Dalai Lama
This falls into the category of random library find. I gave a brief review of it earlier this year. It was humorous, insightful and gave a picture of the man I had heard of (who hasn’t?), but didn’t really understand. Spiritual without being preachy, there was no attempt to hard convert to Buddhism here, as there so often is with books containing religious figures. It was simply a fascinating window into the life of a man who has travelled a very different road to most of us.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
In the interests of honesty, this was not the first time I had read this book. It was probably one of the first books I had read on business/personal development, probably a decade or so ago. Back then, I just didn’t get it. I found it too dense, too remote, too hard to plough through. The only thing I remember taking away was the concept of mission statements. I opened it again this year and it was a completely different experience. I was finally ready for it, I think. I’m a big fan of organisation and productivity – both personal and business – and I try to follow the principles of Getting Things Done by David Allen. Now that is engrained in my life (six years and counting), I think the maturity of my own process allowed me to understand the bigger picture approach that Covey prescribes. Proof that sometimes, you have to go back to something twice to get a true understanding of the content.
Now I’m starting to plan my reading for 2015 – if anyone has any contenders then feel free to pop them in the comments below. I’m always up for a challenge!