What Had Happened Was: My Favorite Books from 2014.


True story. I’m a book nerd. Tracking my reading on Good Reads  (because what nerd wouldn’t want to know how many pages they read this year), I am in the low 70s for books read, but in my defense since I am a comic guy and have a Marvel Unlimited Account (all the Marvel comics online), my page numbers there are low. Sorry for the #nothumblebrag. But I love books, hoard them aplenty, and am also poor so I tend to be months if not years behind; so my list will not match all the NY Times. This is simply a list of books I read this calendar year that rocked my world. Enjoy.
Editors note: I am poor so I can’t buy hardcovers of the new big thing. i do library. I do nook. I do paperback. so the books here may or may not have been published in this calendar year. These are simply the books i read that should out for this year.  they are listed in no order. 


fivedayscover1. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
– Sheri Fink. This is a great book. It won a Pulitizer for its account of the events at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. Bad things happened. Bad decisions led to bad outcomes which led to a court case. Fink’s account is well researched, fair, and nuanced. It was a great meditation on what it means to be human in a crisis.

faultcover2. The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green .
I did all the John Green this year. This was my favorite. You could read this as just a great story or you could read it as a thoughtful discussion of the ways in which we process grief and loss. Both are well done.

toobigcover3. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves – Andrew Ross Sorkin .I started this last year then got sidetracked. It really is an engaging look at the 2007-8 crisis with a balanced accounting of the time in which our country and world narrowly avoided financial Armageddon.

bonhoeffercover4. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas . I had also started this multiple times; but sat down with it while out sick for a week. It was a moving tale of Bonhoeffer and his attempt to live out the Kingdom in Nazi Germany. It actually a more complex and meaningful telling than I expected as it did not allow Bonheoffer to be a static, passive, reflection of the author’s politics. It also challenged many of the current mythologies about the man.

evolvingcover5. Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions – Rachel Held Evans . I have been reading Evans blog for a while so I was excited to sit down with her memoir. It did not disappoint. Her story of finding, losing, and finding faith is dramatic and a needed one.

beautycover6. Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity – Brian Zahnd . I responded to the elevator pitch for this book: that beauty is the ultimate apologetic for our faith. Zahnd does a great job of showing how feeling and faith are to be combined, not distanced. It was worth a read simply for his quote: “Jesus would rather die than kill his enemies.”

girlcover7. Girl Meets God – Lauren F. Winner . Such a good memoir of faith and maturity. Winner went from Reform Judaism to Orthodox Judaism to Anglicanism. This story of a brave woman seeking God and the freedom to serve him as a woman is touching and humbling. It really helped me process the change in my life from Charismatic to Anglican. It also make me feel less alone in that journey.

sharpcover8. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn . I read all of Flynn this year as well. This was my favorite (despite the fact that everyone talks about Gone Girl). This mystery thriller narrated by a unsteady eye would seem to be just another trope. Yet  using a female voice as the unreliable narrator and using one that is so resonate and relate-able while so damaged was a fresh and needed twist.

sexcriminalscover9. Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick (Sex Criminals #1-5) – Matt Fraction (Writer), Chip Zdarsky (artist). I’m sure that many people read this for the titillation factor (a graphic novel about someone’s sex life); but beyond that it was a great discussion of the intersection of gender, sex, attraction, and personal history. It is intimate and expositional and moving.

eastcover10. East of West, Vol. 1 – Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Nick Dragotta (Artist) . This was a fine piece of spaghetti Western in comic form. One could easily see 60s era Clint Eastwood as the title character. Such a mesmerizing inhabited world created by Hickman. It is a tale of revenge and rebirth. It is a great piece of writing. 

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