This Year in Books 2014

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This Year in Books 2014

Living in Indonesia was good for my reading. With time being so loosely approached, I often found myself sitting and waiting, sometimes for a few hours. We’re going to the immigration office? Let me get my book. You’re inviting me to come to a conference with you that I can’t participate in? Let me get my book. Dinner is soon? Let me get my book.

Fortunately, I enjoy reading, and the Fulbright crew had virtual stacks. If I were to pick one item that I most closely interacted with this year, it was my Kindle. Here is a list of the books I read in 2014 with some commentary and recommendation.


Mindfulness Precepts & Crashing in the Same Car by Ajahn Jayasaro

Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is good. He’s a genius, in fact. I would stick with his major novels though, unless you’re looking for a quick, easy, but far from light read. He is the master of dark comedy

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

Highly recommended. I knew very little about Malcolm X before, and realized I had a false perspective shaped by mass media consumption. I also found the historical explanations of the rise of Islam in the United States extremely relevant.


An Introduction to the Life and Teaching of Ajahn Chah by Ajahn Amaro

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Alchemist Paolo Coelho

Maybe I was too old to have read this for the first time, but The Alchemist wasn’t the life-changing inspirational novel I anticipated. It was a good story with a good theme, but not spectacular.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

 The Foer brothers rocked my world with two completely different pieces. Jon dove into non-fiction and lays out a really good outline for why he chooses not to eat meat. For those contemplating vegetarianism, I highly recommend this piece. His brother Josh threw out this memorable story of his training and competition in the US Memory Championships. The best part is practicing the strategies he shares for improving memory.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless by Ajahn Sumedho 

So far, this is the best book teaching and explaining Buddhist philosophy in a way that resonated with me. A gift from Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was in Bali – I had to read it. Surprisingly good! It was raw and honest and insightful in ways that Hollywood chewed up and ruined. At least for the section on Indonesia, she was spot on with her interpretation of Indonesian culture in my opinion.

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel by Rolf Potts


Buddha by Karen Armstrong

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi by Mario Livio


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse


I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This was my first Gaiman, and I loved it. This is one of the few stories I put down really hoping there was a whole series to go through. There isn’t. The creativity of the fictional world he creates, the suspense, the shock and darkness mixed in were much more adult than I was anticipating.


The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan


The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

A Selection of Poetry by Rumi

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman


The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

The House of Incest by Anais Nin


Jared Brett's 2014 Best Book Awards
2014 Book Awards

2014 Book Awards

Best Book: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Most Useful: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Best Prose: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

Best Non-fiction: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Best Fiction: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Most Important: Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless by Ajahn Sumedho