December 31, 2014

When I started this blog, I envisioned it as a travel blog. Nick and I have been traveling a lot, but there are so many other fun things I like writing about, too. I am sort of still trying to find my blogging niche, and Nick has been encouraging me to just write about things that I love. It’s no secret that reading is one of my biggest loves, so I am taking his advice today and am going to write a little bit about that.

Books are another sort of travel, aren’t they?


2014 was the year I rediscovered my love for reading. For the first time in my life, I didn’t read a single thing I didn’t have to. It was liberating and at times overwhelming because there are just so many books I want to read and such little time.

I was on Goodreads the other day looking back at all of the books I read this year and I saw that they have a little “year in review” that you can pin and share so that your friends can see what your year in books looked like. I thought it was pretty cool and I wanted to share it with you all!

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I love reading my friends’ reviews on Goodreads, so if you are on there, let’s be friends!

When I first challenged myself to read Amazon’s list of 100 books to read in a lifetime, I was not sure if I could stick with it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be restricted in the books that I read. But I am just reading the books at a leisurely pace whenever they appeal to me, and reading whatever other books come my way, too. I have discovered some amazing books, some of my favorites, through challenging myself to read this list. Looking back through Goodreads, I wanted to share with you my absolute favorite books of 2014.

Some of them are on Amazon’s list, others aren’t. There is no way I could possibly rank them, but here they are, in no particular order:

A Song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones series) by George R.R. Martin

When Nick gave me all 5 books in the Game of Thrones series for my birthday,  I wasn’t sure I was ready for that kind of commitment. Each book is about 1,000 pages long and they are not quick reads. I spent the next 5 months unable to put the series down. These books are intense, complex, and will rip your heart out. They are kind of hard to describe — very different from other fantasy novels I have read, but still fantasy. They are not for everyone, but if you like fantasy and reading about different worlds, and if are up for the challenge of just trying to keep all of the characters straight, this book is for you.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

I was looking for a really good book to read for a little book club I have going with my friend Christy. I  have always been drawn to stories about those in the armed forces and Louis Zamperini’s story is incredible. The things he endured and the ways he survived are emotionally devastating and extremely difficult to read at times, but also so inspirational.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb   

I am completely in awe of and inspired by Malala Yousafzai. She almost died because she refused to give up her right to get an education, something we take so much for granted here. From her remarkable parents to her explanation of the history of Pakistan, I felt completely immersed in her life and her story. There is really not much more I can say about Malala except that she is one of my heroes.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver


I wrote a bit more about The Poisonwood Bible here, so I will just repeat that this book will challenge you and change you. It is an absolute must-read.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is a book about growing up. Reading this book again for the first time since college, I felt like I appreciated it so much more. It’s definitely a book I will be going back to over and over again throughout the years.


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 

Thanks goodness for Christy. She always sends me the best books, and I am so grateful to her for sending me this one. Set in Afghanistan, the book follows the story of two women and encompasses 30 years of history. Heartbreaking and haunting, the book illuminates the brutal ways women are treated in Afghanistan. But for these women, their strength, resilience, and love  overcomes all that almost destroys them.

1984 by George Orwell

I honestly did not know what to expect from this book and wasn’t sure if I would like it. This is a book I probably would never have read had it not been for Amazon’s list, and I am so glad I did. I wrote a more detailed review of this book here but again, it’s one of those books that makes you see the world in a completely new way.



I am so grateful for all of the ways in which reading has helped me look at the world with new eyes, has given me a deeper understanding of history and other parts of the world.


What were some of the best books you read this year?

Happy New Year’s Eve!

11 responses to “The best books I read in 2014”

  1. Christy says:

    Oooh read The Things They Carried in college and loved it! So glad you loved the books I sent you! Can’t wait to pick up where we left off in 2015!

    • carolann says:

      Me too Christy! I just finished The Things They Carried and I just loved it. 2015 is going to be a great year for reading!

  2. Melanie says:

    I love your book selections. I have read about 1/2 of them from your list– which makes me think the other half are going to be just as good! Thanks for the recommendations!
    Melanie @

  3. LEA says:

    So awesome that you have a chance to reconnect with one of your “loves” … books! Wish I could make time to explore some of these recommendations – maybe one day! Happy reading! xox

    • carolann says:

      It’s such a great way to unwind and disconnect from whatever else is going on! I really think you would like I am Malala or A Thousand Splendid Suns. Maybe one day!!

  4. A thousand splendid suns is my favourite book! Isn’t it just so movin! II’m also part way through Malala’s book too. I used to read lot but since the blog, most of my free time goes into writing so I miss the reading a lot!

    • carolann says:

      I agree Shikha! I have The Kite Runner in my pile of books to read and I hear it’s just as good as A Thousand Splendid Suns, so I am looking forward to it!

  5. Emma says:

    Books are simply my avourite way to travel (often whilst travelling!).

  6. […] You can also check out my favorite books of 2014 here. […]

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