Every year, I try to read more often and read books that challenge me. To continue recapping 2014, I wanted to share the books I read this year, since I enjoyed all of them! I like to read a mix of fiction, nonfiction, business and fun books, as well as books that grow me spiritually and personally. Several travel books made it on my list this year too. In total, I read nine books, including some for classes, some for blogging, and some for leisure.
The Purpose Driven Life is all about finding and living out God’s purpose in life. Divided up into small chapters, this book was easy to read, but also really insightful, challenging me in new ways. I found some of my favorite verses from this book and I am glad I had the chance to read it. I finished it in January, right before I traveled to Spain, and it was great timing reading this book to begin 2014.
Image via Emily Freeman
I am blown away by Emily Freeman, her book, A Million Little Ways, and her blog, Chatting at the Sky. In A Million Little Ways, Emily shows how we can define ourselves as artists and how we are living art everyday. This book expanded my view on creativity and developed a sense of curiosity and passion in me. This is easily one of my favorite books I read this year, perhaps one of the most life-changing.
The Fault in Our Stars was the first book I read cover to cover. Well, I should probably mention I was stuck on a plane for seven hours, coming back home from Madrid to New York. TFIOS was the only book I bought in Spain, and I even found it in English. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I just watched the movie recently. It was a fun but emotional story, and I would recommend it!
I decided to read Heaven is for Real because my mom had been recommending it for a long time. Then, when the movie came out, I knew I wanted to read the book before watching the movie with my friends. I enjoyed the book very much and I think it was a good representation of the struggles with faith that many of us go through. Even though many people have different thoughts on the book and movie, I enjoyed the book and it challenged me to get to know God more.
Little Princes is about Conor Grennan’s story about working at an orphanage in Nepal, and getting to know the boys there, until seeking to reunite the lost boys with their family members in the war-torn region. This is easily my second favorite book I read this year, easily life-changing. This book was an adventure – emotionally, physically and spiritually, for both the author and me as a reader. It opened me up to how travel can change you, but also how the world can change you. It was powerful, heart-breaking, and eye-opening. I loved getting a feel for a country I’ve never researched or knew much about. I loved feeling the geography and the culture of the places in Nepal. And I cannot recommend this book enough to my world changers and travelers out there, who are not afraid to dive deep into culture and out of their comfort zones.
Blog Inc. was my first book I read about blogging, and it came at a good time as I revamped by blog this summer. I really enjoyed this book and learning from other bloggers in the interviews included. I was also able to participate in a Blog Inc. book club with other ladies around North Carolina in September. If you would like to learn more about the book, I wrote a post about the lessons I learned from Blog Inc.! I would recommend it to newer bloggers, and even seasoned bloggers who want to brush up on some tips and tricks!
As part of my travel writing class, I picked an independent reading book about travel to review. A Thousand Sisters was Lisa Shannon’s journey into the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005 and how she was able to raise money and support for the women there. Through learning about the region, the political unrest and the injustices of the women and families there, this book opened me up to a new culture and made me realize just how small we are and how small some problems in life are. This was a challenging book to read because of the content. It will make you cry. But it was a beautiful account of how travel–but more so people–impacts us deeply.
I read Brand Media Strategy for my Strategic Campaigns course this fall. It reviewed many topics we learned in class, and also provided some useful tips for building a brand’s presence on social media and how analytics are so important in the media realm. Overall, I learned some great tips from this book for building a brand’s online presence as well as creating an integrated communication plan for companies.
A classic book about travel and philosophy, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was an interesting and unforgettable read. Sometimes the philosophy parts were hard to understand, but I enjoyed thinking critically about the world and reflecting about my travel experiences and how we can define travel as it plays a part of a larger life journey. This book allowed me to take time to realize my the importance of taking in our surroundings, soaking them in, and living in the present.
As I reflect back on the words and wisdom I read in 2014, my heart is full of wonder for this world and the people who live in it. Stories are powerful and so crucial for making important decisions in our lives. I loved gaining insight through reading this year, and I can’t wait to see what I learn from reading next year. With many books on my wishlist already, I know 2015 will be an epic year of learning. What did you read in 2014?