December 31, 2014

Our Favorite Reads from 2014

As we finish up 2014, we thought that we would share with you our favorite reads from this past year, like we did last year.  Whether it be on the crowded city bus or lying on a hammock in our patio, we always enjoy entering a story. 

Both of us enjoy a variety of books - fiction, non-fiction, spiritual/theological, biography, historical and fantasy (Kevin only).  So here are a list of our favorites from this past year.  Keep in mind that we read them this past year, but that they may have been published previously.



  • Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott – One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, did it again with this powerful book.  She shares three simple prayers essential to coming through tough times, difficult days and the hardships of daily life.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – This is said to be the “greatest romance novel of this decade.”  It was an unusual book for me to pick up, but I am so glad that I did.  I finished it in one sitting and ended absolutely sobbing.
  • Amerikanah by Chimamana Ngozi Adichie – Racism, Hair, Blogging, and Life in America for the Non-American Black Person.  This was an incredibly insightful book that combines social satire and heartfelt emotion.
  • Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala - On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived.  This is her story.  Warning: I bought this book for my sister last Christmas and she said it was the most depressing book she has ever read.
  • All Joy, No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior – As we wait patiently to become parents, we often wonder how little ones will change our lives.  Jennifer Senior asks just this, What are the effects of children on their parents?
  • Attachment Focused Parenting by Daniel Hughes – Leading attachment specialist and clinician Daniel Hughes shares theory and insight for attachment focused parenting.  This is one of many attachment books that we have read in this past year and we expect to read it again.
  • Development to a Different Drummer by Richard Yoder – I thought it would be important to read this classic development book, being that we are working in Nicaragua with the Mennonites.  It was an insightful read, encouraging me in many of the best practices that we are already utilizing and providing ideas for how we can better our work.
  • Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey - Bessey speaks directly and compassionately to her fellow Evangelical Christians, arguing the case for viewing Jesus as unbounded by gender considerations in valuing the worthiness of humans.
  • Jumped In by Jorja Leap – Leap tells the story of the gangs of Los Angeles in the words of the gang members themselves as well as the people who interact with them on a daily basis.  Most importantly, she discusses gang members for exactly who they are – human beings.
  • Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did, but Gaffigan had me laughing out loud.  Here he shares his humorous stories of parenting.
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall by Anne Fadiman - When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover.  This is a true-story which discusses immigration issues, the history of Laos, child welfare and the American medical system.  This was by far my favorite book of the year!  Anne Fadiman, please write a second book.


  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - I read Franzen's Freedom last year and was intrigued enough to pick up his earlier work. If you enjoy family drama and can relate to the ways in which Midwesterners passively communicate with one another I would highly recommend this dark comedy.
  • Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan - Kegan, a psychologist who has spent the majority of his academic career studying how humans fail to differentiate and the difficulties they face because of this failure. Kegan's most recent work demonstrates human failure to act and how we as a species can work to overcome our impotence.
  • The End of Education by Neil Postman - Postman's work is as melancholy as it is humorous. This is a valuable book for anyone who works in the field of education, has children or pays taxes!
  • World Order by Henry Kissinger - How can the inhabitants of the world live in peace? Kissinger reflects on his years of international diplomacy in order to hypothesize ways in which 7 billion people can live in harmony as we move toward the 22nd century.
  • On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics by Jürgen Moltmann - In a series of essays and lectures Molmann makes the argument that our view of human rights must stem from our createdness as Human Begins. Moltmann continues to show how this rooted belief should propel our lives into all spheres of our existence.
  • Any Book by Cormac McCarthy - I have fallen in love with the writing of this well aged man. During this year I have had the opportunity to read The Border Trilogy. I really appreciate his writing style, his gift of story telling and his take on life. If you have only taken the time to read The Road or No Country for Old Men I would encourage you to pick up another one of his works.

We would also like to give a shout out to the Hennepin County Library back in the frozen tundra.  We are so grateful for your amazing digital services, thank-you for providing free books to us year-round.


lisa said...

It's helpful to have book suggestions-thanks for all of these! I'm honestly not a huge reader, but I do enjoy it when I have a book that I can get into. Last year I tried to read 1 book/month and it helped to fuel my reading habits. I'm doing the same thing this year, so this is a good launching point for inspiration.

Cassie and Kevin Zonnefeld said...

Awesome Lisa. I love that goal! If you have any recommendations, please pass them my way. -Cassie