One 2014 New Year’s resolution that I absolutely nailed was my goal to read two books per month.
I read 39 books all year.
If you’re looking for a list of books you can’t afford to skip in 2015, here are my top 10 favorites from my 2014 reads:
1. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
I became a boss this year, and I may have had a little anxiety over it at first. Okay, okay, I had a lot of anxiety over it at first. So I did what I’d do in any other situation – I checked out a ton of books about how to do it best.
Multipliers made me realize managers have a responsibility to inspire. To motivate. To challenge. To push their employees to grow. I learned about the importance of observing people and capitalizing on their strengths to make them superstars.
Want to be a better leader? Do yourself a favor and just purchase this one outright. You’ll want to dog-ear every other page and visit it when you hit a rut at work. Trust me.
2. The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne
Have you seen Interstellar? It’s, by far, the best movie of 2014. I’ve seen it several times, and it only gets better. The day the movie hit theaters, Kip Thorne’s book also hit shelves, and I, of course, had to consume one right after the other.
Thorne, Nolan’s right-hand physicist, discusses the science within the movie and how every fact and scenario presented in the film is considered scientifically possible. He explains everything from Gargantua and gravitational slingshots to blight and Bulk beings. If you love astrophysics or just have an aching curiosity to understand the science in Interstellar, it’s a must-read.
3. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
My admiration for famous, intelligent, successful women comes with an unshakeable curiosity. I want to know about their roots, professional and personal paths, achievements and all the bumps and bruises they got along the way.
As a fan of Parks and Rec, I couldn’t avoid picking up Yes Please. Amy delivers her life stories with punch, inspiration and, of course, hilarity. Need a few laughs or an example of the courage required to follow your dreams? Pick this one up.
4. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Dr. Lois Frankel
It’s not easy being a woman in business. Or in life, actually. But the workplace presents all kinds of difficult decisions for women. How can we display confidence without coming off as abrasive? Are we talking too much? Not enough? Did we ask for enough money? For too much? Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office leads with a quick quiz to help you determine your weaknesses in the office and give you insight on what you need to work on. Dr. Frankel then jumps into 101 behaviors and choices in the workplace that aren’t doing you in any favors and how to fix them.
What I learned – 1) my desire to be liked is stretching me too thin in the workplace and 2) striving for unattainable perfection will eventually drive me bonkers and set me back in my career. Oh, and women, don’t sit on one leg! It makes you look infantile.
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
When it comes to science fiction, dystopian science fiction is my sweet spot. (Brave New World is my favorite book of all time.) My sister suggested I pick up Ready Player One, and I couldn’t put it down.
The year is 2044, and humans practically live in OASIS, a virtual reality created by James Halliday. Years before, the genius put breadcrumbs and puzzles related to his love of the 80s for his users to find the prize of a lifetime – an incredible fortune and power. OASIS user and protagonist Wade stumbles upon the first clue one day, and the whole world jumps into the quest. I couldn’t wait to see who reached the end first. For the delightful 80s references alone, you’ve got to check it out.
6. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
There’s a reason this book is on every must-read list – Sheryl is the best. In Lean In she reviews how many women hold themselves back and therefore are part of the bigger problem of inequality in the workplace. This book led me to a complete reassessment of my career, ambitions and life trajectory. Quite honestly, its lessons shook me a bit. I strongly encourage all women, and yes, all men, to check out Lean In for an eye-opening, inspirational experience.
Need a full assessment before jumping in? Check out the blog post I wrote last year outlining its important lessons and takeaways.
7. Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry
Yeah, me neither.
Todd Henry opened my eyes and made me realize my life’s great work has to start today, not tomorrow. I have start living my dreams right away, because the longer I put them off, the more unlikely achieving them becomes. He outlines the importance of defining goals, getting out of your comfort zone and the importance of a curious mind. My favorite chapter warns of mediocrity – a point that hit home.
Eventually your tomorrows will run out. Pick this one up, and start taking advantage of today.
8. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Sometimes, we get wrapped up in our own little worlds. It happens. We forget that our actions and choices affect others in a butterfly effect, especially those close to us. The novel centers on the relationship between a brother and sister and their love that spans thousands of miles and several generations. At three years old, Pari is sold to a rich childless couple. Her parents want a better life for her. They don’t want her to starve. Her ten-year old brother, Abdullah, is devastated. The novel circles through their lives following this separation and its consequences for everyone involved.
I had to put this one down often. The depth of the feelings I had while reading And the Mountains Echoed shook me during my journey to the last page. If you find yourself desperate to feel something outside your own life’s possibilities, this book is your answer.
9. The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
A fictional murder mystery set in a fictional town in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, this book put me on edge. I finished it in one sitting, desperate to find out who killed Lucy’s mother years before and has been hunting women in the small town since.
The novel follows Lucy, a teenager who stumbles on a clue about the murders and starts searching for answers. She’s led to the possibility that her family members may have more information than they let on.
The next time you go looking for a quick read that keeps you looking over your shoulder at night, pick this one up.
10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Confession: I meant to get Gone Girl from the library last June to prepare for its film release but spaced and accidentally checked out Dark Places instead. Both stories ended up freaking me out equally, so it all worked out.
Dark Places follows a pretty complicated storyline about how a seven-year-old’s testimony put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars for murdering their entire family. But did he actually do it? Now an adult, Libby starts asking herself painful questions about what happened that night. The further she gets into her investigation, the weirder the story gets. But the end is worth it. And I never saw it coming.
Curious about the other 29 books I read this year? Check out my Goodreads account for the full list.