As the 2014 year draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the books that left an impact on me this past year. Some of these books are old, some for school, and others were books for the book club. Every book I read this year left its mark on me, but these 10 books I felt had the most impact or really kept me thinking beyond the read. Feel free to share yours and comment! Just a note: These are not in any particular order.
- The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – This book left a major impact on me this past year. We read it for our book club early in the year. I found the story to be interesting to follow, and I related to some of the books referenced as book club selections for the “end of your life book club.” I think another reason this book stuck with me and kept me thinking was because I had a loved one pass away from cancer this year. As I was reading this book, I reflected on loved ones lost and my friends and family still close. The book club I’m in was the perfect group to read this book with and allowed me to discuss the topics and reflect with friends in an intimate setting.
- The Wild Vine by Todd Kliman – As some of you may know, I started my own website for a Digital Public History class assignment this past year. The Wild Vine was one of the books that helped to inspire my topic of choice for both this class and my museum studies class: the history of VA wine. The Wild Vine follows through the history of the Norton grape and its impact in Virginia and outside states. It’s a great history, and one I recommend for the Virginia historian and wine lover alike!
- Lincoln’s Sanctuary by Matthew Pinsker – This book paired with a trip to Lincoln’s cottage is what left the real impact on me. Lincoln’s cottage is a house Abraham Lincoln used to escape to in Washington, DC during his time as President. The house sets quietly at the top of a hill in the city… it is silent there and you can feel a fresh breeze on your face. For a while there, I forgot I was in the middle of the city. The trip was a great experience, and the book helped to create that experience and further my background on the old soldier’s home, Lincoln’s trips to escape, and the impact this “sanctuary” may have had on Lincoln’s decisions during the Civil War.
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – This book was just a great book from 2014 as evident through the awards it has won. I did not want to put the book down, and when I did it left me thinking about the events and trying to draw connections. We read this for book club, which allowed for a great discussion when we met to talk about the book. If you have not read it yet, check it out.
- Lexicon by Max Berry – This was another book club book I was hooked on. The story requires the reader’s attention. There are some twists in the story I found intriguing. After finishing the book, I started recommending this to a few people who also liked it. While the storyline did not fit up my usual genre of reads, I really enjoyed Lexicon and would recommend giving this story a chance if you are looking for a little suspense, mystery and thrill.
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug – I added this book to the list that I enjoyed and left an impact because it helped me understand content building for my website. This was another book assigned to me by my digital public history professor and one I will forever keep by my computer side. It included information on coloring and fonts, as well as organization and links. Some of the content may seem like “no-duh” information, but it really is informative and helpful in website building. It’s worth checking out if you have a blog or are looking to start your own website.
- The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane – Yet another book from my digital public history class I enjoyed. This is a short book with some basic content strategy and design notes for building a blog/website. I found the material to be helpful, and I plan to keep this one also by my computer for site updates and future works.
- The Marketplace of Revolution by T.H. Breen – I loved this book. I read it for my American Revolution history class. The book focuses on the marketplace in the 1760s and 1770s in the American colonies and how a consumer revolution was created and built up here. The growing marketplace and politicizing of goods was one of the causes that led to the American Revolution. This book opened my eyes to the multiple causes and revolutions that took place during the period of the American Revolution. I enjoyed the read and discovered a new way of looking at the events leading up to the American Revolution.
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Another thriller from Flynn… I read Gone Girl and found it wicked. I could not put that book down, nor could I put down Sharp Objects, Flynn’s debut novel. Flynn really knows how to get into the readers head and make them feel uncomfortable or unsure of their surroundings. Things are not always what they seem… Sharp Objects is a great example of just how mysterious and twisted a person’s life can be.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – We read The Book Thief for our book club, and at first I was not the biggest fan of the book. Looking back, however, I think I may have judged the book too quickly. While it was still a long read, I still find myself thinking about the story and the end events. It’s a “tug-at-your-heartstrings” kind of read, and one that left a mark on my years’ readings.
There you have it… 10 books that left an impact on me and that I enjoyed this past 2014! Stay tuned for my next list coming up: 15 books I can’t wait to read in 2015. Happy new year!