Stone Soup for Five: The best books I read in 2014

The best books I read in 2014

At the beginning of the year, I joined Jon Acuff in filling a shelf with books I had read.  It was a GREAT year of reading for me, and I read more books this year than I have since my college days!

I did plow through my share of not so great books, but for the most part, it was a lot of fun!

I thought I'd give you a breakdown of my favorite books from the year of the Empty Shelf.

Best family book:  

My boys loved Hatchet and other survival type stories and I was so surprised at how much we all loved this one.  Historical fiction about the early settlers to America and a 13 year old boy's time alone at his homestead.

Most entertaining:  

This book read like a thriller movie.  Intense and fast moving. Stick with it for the first few chapters that might seem kind of slow and you won't be disappointed!

Best parenting: 

Both of these were huge for me this year.  Love and Respect has great tips on raising your children and family relationships and Cleaning House was chock full of REAL and practical ideas for ending entitlement.  Great, great books!

Best Audio Book:
This is a tie between
Around the World in 80 Days

Both books were read by Jim Dale, who can make a Physics textbook sound amazing.  Around the World we listened to as a family and it was a great adventure book with some very interesting characters and history. Definitely a must read!  
The Night Circus, I listened to myself as it was part love story, part magic, not really appropriate for younger kids (or my boys).  I found myself wrapped up in the story and characters and the magical circus.  It was a great escapist book and Jim Dale's reading added so much!

Best Christian Book:
Another tie between 

In the Land of Blue Burqas has hung with me the most this year. I keep thinking back to the author's way of gently sharing the Gospel, but being fiercly prepared for all situations (and she was in some hard situations).
Lit! Was a wonderful book about the importance of reading all kinds of genres and how to get the most from each.  HIGHLY recommend both books!

Best Time Management: 
Full of information about making a routine and examples of famous and not so famous people who have changed their lives.  Real and practical!

Books that most shaped my thinking this year:

A refreshing and very do-able book with real life application and a great encouragement.  For a more indepth review, read my post here.

This book has totally changed what I think about reading.  Though there are some better books for the actual "how to" of improving your speed this is a WONDERFUL introduction to it.  Just in the time I read this book, I improved my reading speed from 268 words per minute to over 550!  Easy and very exciting!

As one of my friends says, this is a very "ouchie" book.  It can hurt while the author points out things you can be doing to hurt or strengthen your marriage, but it is SO worth the time to read.  It's a fairly good sized book, but worth the time invested.  He gave me a lot of food for thought.

This book, hands down, has completely revolutionized my prayer time.  I set up my Prayer Binder based on suggestions from this book and it has changed everything!  You can see how I used it to set up my personal prayer binder here.

This book takes you step by step in figuring out what you truly believe and shaping your own purpose statement and really clarifying your thoughts.  You can see my more in depth review here.

The Sticky Faith Guide
Definitely a must read book.  I read the first Sticky Faith book and jumped on the chance to read this one.  The authors do a wonderful job of not making you feel like a miserable failure while also encouraging you to try more things that other families have had success with.  Some immediate things I was able to pull from here and do right away were: have other believers share their story of faith with your family, minister to college students away from home, and spend one on one time with your children on the day of their birth every month.  Simple items, but very practical.  You can see my more detailed review here.


  1. Thank you for all the ideas. Happy New Year.

  2. Awesome! Will be checking some of those out!

  3. Reading more is on my new years resolution list. I will definitely check these out! Plus, if you have more boy books like the hatchet one and the other one, please send the names my way!

    Also, since you're taking a facebook break, I don't think you saw my comment... I wanted to tell you that you encouraged me to tackle some "big hairy frogs" (is that what you call them??) yesterday. I deleted thousands of emails, filed hundreds and unsubcribed to a lot of places in two e-mails. It felt awesome!! Thank you. :)

    1. WOO HOO! Go Becky!! Doesn't it feel good to declutter, even if it's digital?! I will keep notes better on books the boys love. Ryan is flying through the Warriors books, about cat clans. He LOVES them. Aaron just finished Bear Grylls book "A Survival Guide for Life" and loved it. There is also a series of books he wrote for kids on Amazon. Oh, and we also really enjoyed The Birchbark House. I'll keep you updated. Oh, and let me know of ones you find too!

  4. I missed this post when it first came out, but I'm so happy to be reading it now. The only ones on your list that I've read are Sacred Marriage (ouchie yes, but good), Hour That Changes the World (thanks to you), and The Night Circus (so much mental imagery, I loved that). Thank you for making this list so I have somewhere to start. I really want to read good stuff and not waste my time.


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