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
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