A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Books I Read in 2014

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Like many bookworms, I keep a running log of books I’ve read. It’s always really fun for me to go back and look at the list and remember all those happy reading memories!

I thought I’d share this year’s log with you, because I’m pleased about having gotten to read all these great books this year, and because, well, who doesn’t love lists of books? (If you don’t, feel free to move on, of course!)

I’ll use the crude but useful five-star rating system for how much I liked each one, and I’ll link to any posts in which I discussed the book listed.

Classic Fiction

 (I don’t have the translators’ names handy for those last three.)

Contemporary Fiction

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple ∗∗∗∗∗
  • Me and You by Niccolò Ammaniti
  • The Full Cupboard of Life, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, and The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith ∗∗∗∗
  • Payment in Blood, A Suitable Vengeance, Well-schooled in Murder, For the Sake of Elena, and Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George ∗
  • The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla ∗∗∗∗
  • The Rainmaker by John Grisham ∗∗
  • Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman ∗∗
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ∗∗∗

 Children’s Fiction

  • All four books in Maryrose Wood’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series (The Mysterious Howling, The Hidden Gallery, The Unseen Guest, and The Interrupted Tale) ∗∗∗∗∗
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (again) ∗∗∗∗
  • The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein (again) ∗∗∗


  • My Reading Life by Pat Conroy ∗∗∗∗∗
  • 50 Ways to Prevent and Manage Stress by M. Sara Rosenthal ∗∗
  • Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight ∗∗
  • Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman ∗∗∗∗∗
  • Republic by Plato ∗ (finally! I’ve been trying to read it for years!)

The Life Changers

I am literally obsessed with the book Bringing Up Bébé—you will very likely be hearing me gush about it in the not-too-distant future. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy has been a huge positive influence on my attitude about being a writer, and I just absolutely adore The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. Bonus—a book I’m not finished with yet but that has become almost sacred to me for its brilliance: The Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

Wishing you all book-filled holidays,


9 comments on “Books I Read in 2014

  1. MeredithMorckel
    December 16, 2014

    Well don’t you have good taste!


  2. emilievardaman
    December 16, 2014

    I plan to check out a few of those books! I’m always looking for more, more more. Just finished I am Malala. Heartbreaking but wonderful. Also really liked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I think we all need to read both.


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      December 17, 2014

      I’ve been meaning to read I Am Malala for a while now. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve heard of the other; I’ll go ahead and add it to my to-read list.


  3. whatmeread
    December 17, 2014

    I’m curious about this. You obviously don’t like Elizabeth George as well as I do, but if you rated them one star, why did you read five of them? I think I’d have stopped at one if I thought they were that bad. Now, I gave The Alchemist one star. I liked Bernadette, too, and The Secret Garden is always a goody. I have been looking at Don Quixote on my pile for awhile, but haven’t read it yet. You’ve got a few books on your list I haven’t heard from. I’ll have to look into them.


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      December 17, 2014

      Good eye! I was wondering if anyone would catch that. Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer: it took me that long to figure out that reading those books was hurting my soul. I kept at them because I always enjoy an easy mystery with an interesting setting and good characters, and because my best friend really enjoys Elizabeth George and we would often find it therapeutic to talk about Barbara’s various predicaments. But in almost every single book, there were dark and graphic incidents that made me feel low inside, and I finally decided that reading them wasn’t worth that to me.

      You have to understand that it’s not just here; I am overly sensitive to violence and cruelty in everything I read and watch. I sometimes even just watch children’s TV shows as an escape from the heaviness of regular shows!

      So, after the terrible, HORRIFYING ending of the first book (A Great Deliverance), I decided to keep trying, for my friend’s sake. And I really did come to enjoy the characters and settings. But I almost quit after each violent scene (especially when the violence was particularly perverted) and during Deborah’s endless mourning and moping in whatever book that was, until finally the rape scene in Missing Joseph just put me over the edge. I finished the book and told my best friend, “Sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore.”

      Also, I do get impatient with Elizabeth George’s writing sometimes, mostly with the heavy description at the beginning of scenes. I prefer writing that weaves description in with the action, so my attention doesn’t wander.

      So, I feel like I went through an ordeal with Elizabeth George. But I’m not sorry I read them. I now have the setting-memories of the college in For the Sake of the Elena and the mansion in Payment in Blood (I think?), etc. And I will miss Barbara, for sure.


      • whatmeread
        December 17, 2014

        That’s a very interesting answer. I confess to liking my mysteries a little dark. I’ve been feeling like pulling away from the series because I like the recurring characters but lately they have been doing things I don’t think they would do. And in the last book, Barbara’s behavior seemed shocking, but then they pulled a little dirty trick on us to explain some (but not all) of it.

        Sounds like you might like more of the cozy type of mystery.


        • Sarrah J. Woods
          December 17, 2014

          Yes, that’s a good way to put it—I like “cozy” mysteries. Thanks! I think that label might help lead me to some good new mysteries. I haven’t explored more than a tiny fraction of my library’s mystery section yet, partly due to overwhelm from its size. So now I’m thinking I can use this concept to “judge the books by their covers” to choose ones that look cozy, not dark. I’m excited now! Yay for a wide range of mysteries to appeal to readers’ different tastes!

          I know what you mean about characters not behaving believably within a story or series. I’ll have to ask my friend if she’s noticed that too with the later EG books.


  4. Stefanie
    December 17, 2014

    A wonderful year of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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