Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Best Books I Read in 2014

I read many amazing and wonderful books this year. But I want to highlight three because they are extraordinarily good. And this is why I am a writer, because I strive not just to write, but to write well. I want to make a difference and these three books have done that for me. They are keepers. They are friends to accompany me on my journey.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. If I loved Code Name Verity, I loved Rose even more. It had so much heart. I know some people don't like all the details of flying or cars or whatnot, but I absolutely adored all the details that allowed me to imagine more fully as I read the book. The author's voice is sure and strong in both books and I trusted her to take me for a brilliant ride again. I've been interested in Holocaust survival stories since I first picked up the Diary of Anne Frank. These are stories we must never forget and I thank Elizabeth Wein for writing an unforgettable story about the Polish *rabbits* and their friendship with the women in Ravensbruck. Despite the difficult subject, there were moments that made me laugh. It just goes to show that joy is the most infallible sign of God's love. This is a book I will definitely read when I want to remember the power of perseverance and the power of words.

The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation by St. Alphonsus Ligouri. I might have started off a bit sour, thinking it's too hard to practice these Christian virtues but this great saint has been guiding me this entire year on increasing my virtue and it's a book I will return to again and again, perhaps even next year. This is not a self-help book. This is a book about getting to heaven. And for less than ten bucks, you can't afford not to study and live this book. Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. ~ Matthew 5:48 

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass. I'm only halfway through this book because I'm doing the writing exercises and boy does Don push you to dig deeper and deeper. I already have his Breakout Novel Workbook and it helped me to revise the first novel I ever completed. But this book, through various prompts and exercises forces you to think beyond the obvious. If you ever hang out at Writer Unboxed, you will discover what a generous fellow he is. Even his comments are mini-lessons.

What are the best books you read this year? What are you looking forward to? Please do share. I value the recommendations that come from you.

Wishing all my Jewish friends a very happy and blessed Hannukah!


Leandra Wallace said...

I haven't read either of Elizabeth Wein's books yet. And I love historical fiction, so I really need to!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I like the variety represented here. I haven't read any of these. But you make me want to.

Best books I read this year? Hmmmm - I really liked Nest by Esther Erlich although I almost quit reading it because, after the initial hook, nothing happened for awhile. THEN jut when I was ready to abandon it, the story took off.

Oh - I listened to A Fine White Dust on audio and LOVED it!I'd like to get your take on that one.

dbp said...

Hi Vijaya,

Three books stick in my mind from this year:

REAMDE by Neil Stephenson. Not as well written as some of his past work but full of ideas and action. Involves computer hackers, gaming, Russian mafia and terrorists.

Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn. I like to read some of what is popular now, just to keep in touch with what is going on and I have to say I liked it a lot. Very intense and not always very predictable. I would like to see the movie now that I have read the book. Especially since it has my new favorite actress, Rosamund Pike.

Tremor of Intent, By Anthony Burgess. This is part of my quest to fill-in some of the lesser known works by my favorite writers. This is a spy novel full of the usual debauchery but also has strong religious elements, especially Catholicism. Even though the tone of the work is world-weary, I would say it comes down favorably toward the RCC.

Johnell DeWitt said...

I haven't read any of them, but they all look interesting. I'm very interested in the Donald Maass book as well.

Stephanie Faris said...

That third one definitely looks great. I'm going to have to read that one!

Marcia said...

Well, there's variety for you! :) My list: Brown Girl Dreaming, Nest, Nightingale's Nest, Seeing Red, What the Moon Said. But I feel like there's so much I haven't read.

Vijaya said...

Leandra, you won't be disappointed with EW.

Joyce, I hope you'll get to my book recs and thank you for yours. I'm making a list and will be checking these out at the library ... gift cards also appear at Christmastime, so it's always a treat to go to the bookstore.

David, you're such a GUY! And I like your recs not only for myself but for Max. I like unpredictable but inevitable in a book ... something I strive for in my own writing, so will have to read GG for sure.

Johnell, the DM books are great for novel writing, but not much help with PBs. They are a completely different stripe of cat, no? But he does force you to dig deeper and that's where the gold lies.

Stephanie, DM's books are great for all stages of a writer's journey.

Marcia, thanks for your recs and esp. enjoy all your book reviews.