What a fabulous year in books! I’ve compiled my top ten choices from last year’s “books I’ve read” titles- not all were published in 2014, some I wrote reviews on, and others I just simply savored. I definitely notice a leaning towards women writers telling the stories of strong willed, independent women – and lots of historical fiction. I’ll miss these women, but I’m eager to start my discoveries in 2015- my shelves are groaning with new titles!
I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
A fabulous novel by a northern California ex-teacher-turned writer – after years of research, Erin Lindsay McCabe’s tells the love story of Rosetta, a strong willed young woman who follow her new husband into battle during the Civil War. I had the most wonderful time getting to know Erin this year – I love it when a great author is living right in my backyard! You can buy her terrific novel here: I Shall Be Near to You: A Novel.
These Is My Words/Sarah’s Quilt/The Star Garden by Nancy Turner
I fell in love with Nancy Turner’s stories last summer – I couldn’t put down her thrilling stories of Sarah, a tough willed woman living in the 1900s Arizona Territory. This trilogy was the type of story that sucks the reader in, riding the prairies alongside her as she shows us how very hard it was to be a strong woman at the turn of the century. You can purchase her stories here: These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)
Mitten Strings For God/The Gift of an Ordinary Day/Magical Journey by Katrina Kenison
I must say, finding the books of Katrina Kenison was a true highlight to my year. I first read her blog, and fell in love with her simple yet poignant stories of the changing landscape of motherhood, and what it means to keep in touch with our selves during it all. I found myself savoring each word of each book, knowing how much they would be missed when I came to the last page. My books are highlighted and flagged, and in her words, I found so many quotes to include in my own writing. If you’re a mother, start with Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry and relish each word through The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Magical Journey. You’ll be glad you did.
The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson
I discovered this book through From Left to Write, an online book review group I’ve been writing with for the past few years. Maddie’s story of 44-year-old Rosie, who suddenly discovers she is pregnant, made me think a lot about motherhood and how simple, yet not always easy, parenting can be. You can buy Maddie’s book here: The Opposite of Maybe: A Novel
Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou
Oh, the sadness of losing the brilliant voice of Maya Angelou in 2014…only tempered by her heartwrenching story of her relationship with her own mother. One of my role models, mentors, and most cherished writers of all time, Maya’s words of love and her stories of being raised by Vivian remind me of the importance of showing our daughters how to be strong, confident, and fiercely loyal to our ideals. You really should read this book – you can purchase Mom & Me & Mom here.
Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner
In keeping with my fascination with strong women in history, picking up this title was a natural. When I read stories of the Donner Party, particularly as I’m spending my weekends in the Sierras, I’m endlessly fascinated by their sheer determination to not only survive, but to maintain a ‘normal’ family life amidst the complete devastation of all they knew to be true. If you enjoy historical fiction, fiesty women and stories of survival, pick up a copy of Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner this winter.
If you’re looking for more titles, you might find some additional ideas on lat year’s post, My Year In Books 2013. If you’re a book nerd like me, I’d love to connect with you on Goodreads – I love adding books to my shelves and reading and writing and chatting about books!
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Kari PetersonDecember 26, 2014
I will love poring over your list! I love, “groaning” shelves. I, too, hope 2015 will be the year of READING.
Love your blog.
Happy end-o-year and 2015 to come.Reply
Jennifer WolfeDecember 26, 2014
Thank you, Kari. And a huge YES to a year of reading in 2015 – I need to post a ‘shelfie’ to commit to what I want to read! Right now I’m reading Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See – have you read it? Lots of friends have said it was one of their faves of 2014. So far, I’m loving it!
Claire 'Word by Word'December 26, 2014
Great choices, loved the Nancy Turner trilogy, so inspiring, a friend and I read them together and also one of the Tamsen Donner books.
Have you read Sandra Gulland’s trilogy about Josephine Bonaparte? The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine Bonaparte? I am sure you’ll enjoy these as well, we read them after Nancy Turner’s books, needing another gripping trilogy of historical fiction based on a true story, and it met all our expectations.Reply
Jennifer WolfeDecember 26, 2014
Oh thank you, Claire – I haven’t read Sandra’s books, but they’re going on my Goodreads list right now! I’m currently reading “All the light we cannot see” – have you read it? So far, soo good – has had lots of good reviews. I read Nancy’s books alongside my mom and aunt; we all loved them. Have you read her other titles, too? Thanks for the good recommendations!