bringing sexy back, again (via the top 20 books of 2014).


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…  Or so I say because little known fact: reading is sexy.  And if this be the case, then call me Cara Timberlake once again because I’m bringing sexy BACK!

We do a lot of reading around here.  Stacks of books adorn various rooms of the house like glitzy red and green Christmas decorations.  There’s always a book in my purse, at the gym or in my ears (via Audible) while folding the laundry.  And in the midst of this, opinions are formed and knowledge is had and life, in those fringe hours, is lived.

So, how exactly did all this reading happen in 2013?  What books were actually read (and completed)?  And what top twenty books would I then beg you to read?

Number of books read: 102

Mode of reading: Audible (28), hardback (14), Kindle (26), paperback (34)

Worst book read: To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927).  It’s a classic.  I’m supposed to like it.  I’m supposed to get sucked into fog-filled England in the early twentieth century and never come back.  But no.  Ick.  Bleh.  Meh.  I couldn’t stand it and wouldn’t have finished it but for my commitment to the Sassy Ladies Book Club.

Best book read: A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving, 1990).  In my first year or two of teaching, a student read this on her own time and declared it “The Best Book Ever, Miss Mac!”   I remember looking the title and dismissing it with a wave, because Christian + fiction = Bad News Bears.  Well, friends, I was wrong.  While this book contains strong spiritual themes, it is not a Christian book; instead, you will laugh and cry, think and giggle, and likely remember Owen Meany for a long time to come.

Book genres: YA/children’s (18), Christian/spiritual (13), classic (7), fiction (23), humor (1), memoir & spiritual memoir (24), non-fiction/biography (14), poetry (2) – these can be broken down even more, but for your viewing pleasure, simplification is key.

2015 reading goals: Keep reading memoir …because I need to read what I want to write.  Add more mystery to the fiction mix, and because there are some hilarious people out there, Give Me Funny!

Male/female authorship: 67 female, 35 male

52% of the books read were published in the last five years.

July boasted the most number of books read in one month (14), while November held the lowest number (4).

# of pages consumed in a year: 30,363!

(You can see almost all the books I’ve read on Goodreads, or ask me for the full & nerdy excel doc!)

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – in addition to A Prayer for Owen MeanyI beg you, I implore you to take a gander at the following 19 books.  Not every book received a five-star rating, but all of them stayed with me for one reason or another …and that brings sexy back, man!



Best Not-Too-Brainless Beach Read: The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion, 2013)

Second Best Not-Too-Brainless Beach Read: Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty, 2014)

Piece of Fiction I’d Most Like to Live Within: Crossing to Safety (Wallace Stegner, 1987)

Favorite YA of the Year: Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Carol Rifka Brunt, 2012)

Best November Book of All Time: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte, 1847)

Best Romance Novel I Didn’t Know was a Romance Novel: Outlander (Diana Gabaldon, 2005)

Best Fictional Narrative for Issues of Race: Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013)

Honorable Mentions:  A Tree Grows in BrooklynThe Invention of WingsLes Miserables



Most Fascinating Biography: Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson, 2011)

Best Celebrity Memoir (With Twelve Cheers for Adoption): Instant Mom (Nia Vardalos, 2013)

Most Important Book for Every ‘Vert to Read: Quiet (Susan Cain, 2012)

Funniest Book Evah: The Honest Toddler (Bunmi Laditan, 2013)

Best Read on (Memoir) Writing: Handling the Truth (Beth Kephart, 2013)

Favorite New-to-Me Storyteller: Kelly Corrigan, via Glitter and Glue (2014)



Most Endearing Spiritual Memoir:Found (Micha Boyett, 2014)

Best Mix of Journalism and Memoir: Does Jesus Really Love Me? (Jeff Chu, 2013)

The Book Every Human Should Read: The Enneagram (Richard Rohr, 1989)

The Book Every Preacher Should Devour: The Preaching Life (Barbara Brown Taylor, 1993)

Spiritual Memoir Nearest to my Experience: Leaving Church (Barbara Brown Taylor, 2006)

Best Mix of Spirituality, Science and Storytelling: Learning to Walk in the Dark
(Barbara Brown Taylor, 2014)

Honorable Non-Fiction Mention: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


So, there you go.  Here’s to another year of Bringing Sexy Back!

Otherwise, what was the best book you read this year?  Worst book?  Which of my top twenty list do you gravitate toward, and which ones produce a bit of mouth vomit?  And if you’re here for the first or the 500th time, consider subscribing to email or “liking” my Facebook page today!  Happy reading!

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17 thoughts on “bringing sexy back, again (via the top 20 books of 2014).

  1. Thanks for the recommendations…dually noted in my literature notebook!!! You truly are an inspiration to me….and I am retired and ‘have all the time in the world’ to absorb dozens of incredible pieces of literature every year! Love ya, Muddah

  2. I so relate to you–I have a book with me everywhere I go. 🙂 Adding A Prayer for Owen Meany to my list. I love the breakdown of your book genres.

    Oh my. I’m not the only one? I keep my books on an excel doc too. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this list. I know it takes time to put together, but for us book-lovers, it’s well appreciated! I see lots of my favorites on here and lots more than I want to read.

  3. I love the way you broke it down. I thought about including my least favorite books of the year, but I thought I’d have to go into a long explanation since all three were books that many people just loved. (Gone Girl, The Goldfinch, and Crazy Love). The book I’m most interested in after reading your list is Nia Vardalos’ book. I hadn’t heard anything about it before, but since I’m very interested in adoption in the future it sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing and happy reading in 2015!

      1. Glad someone is with me on Crazy Love, haha. And about Gone Girl – I know why a lot of people liked it. I actually really enjoyed the movie (I read the book first). What I didn’t like about the book is that it seemed to be trying to make some broader statements about marriage and relationships – how does a good thing go so wrong, etc. But I didn’t feel like it could really do that once there was a psychopath involved. Psychopaths aren’t capable of normal relationships. So while this could be a really entertaining book, it really couldn’t be saying something larger about marriage and relationships in our society because the central relationship of the book is not a real or authentic one. I guess I would have liked it better if I didn’t feel like she was trying to make it have deeper meaning. Anyway, just my two cents. 🙂

          1. Ugh. Yes, exactly (about Chan). At first I really appreciated his reflection on the vastness of God and what it really means for this all-powerful God to have a relationship with us, but then it was guilt, guilt, guilt, angry God who is disgusted with us, etc. Even though he kept saying, “This isn’t supposed to make you feel guilty,” the tone was just hard to get past. Sigh. I gave it a 2-star review on Goodreads. Like that was really taking a stand, haha. 🙂

  4. Love how your broke down your reading! So many good books on this list. I sat down yesterday and wrote out my list of “books I keep meaning to get round to reading but never do”. That’s now my goal for this year 🙂

    1. Yes! And I’d also add (although I forgot to in the original), read through all the books I’ve purchased and HAVEN’T read, instead of buying new ones! xo fiona!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.

  5. I look forward to your list every year. Agree with you on Outlander. Had no idea it was gonna be a romance. I’ve read the first three books in the series. They are fun but gosh are they long. Taking a break for a while.

    Interested in reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. And Jane Eyre… It’s a classic I’ve never read. You say it’s worth the read?

    I listened to Crime and Punishment this past year and it was just okay. So long and meandering.

    1. I listened to Outlander on Audible and it took over me almost a month and a half to finish it (which is really long for an audio book). Yes, PLEASE read Jane Eyre. It’s a classic I wholeheartedly recommend, and definitely read Owen Meany as well – seriously, it’s hilarious and engaging and deeply spiritual all at the same time. See you Friday!

      Cara Meredith


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