Favorite Books of 2014 – Gift Guide, Too!

Dec 3, 2014

I remember when my friend Mary owned her B&B in Inverness, California. I met her on my (first) honeymoon and we became friends after I read all her columns in Innkeeper Magazine while recouping from food poisoning. We had come to Mary’s inn because she called it “an inn for hikers and readers.” Well, that fit me to a T!

Every year Mary published a newsletter with her 10 favorite books. I’ll never forget how happy I was when she chose The Woman’s Comfort Book!

I love telling people what to read, and since books are the best gifts ever (okay tied with chocolate), here are my favorite reads, organized via possible gift-giving category. (Note: we’ve provided a link to Powell’s and to Amazon.)

(Not all these books were published in 2014 but I read them in this calendar year.)

For the Climate Changer

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
All I can say is please read this book.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.


For the Writer

The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
I’ll never write a book about writing now because DeSalvo has covered what I would have and far  better. From practical matters of organizing your time to how to improve your craft – so good.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
He not only writes about writing in ways that blew my writer’s brain, he demonstrates what he is writing about through his writing style. Very meta.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

For the Memoir Lover

The Crack in the Teacup by Joan Bodger
Part autobiography of an amazing soul, part manifesto for living a rich inner and outer life, part story of a woman bumbling through a challenging life, Joan was, above all, a great storyteller.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
What I loved about her story was that she showed us how she faced into her past as she was doing it. She led us through the process and I felt wiser for going along for the ride.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
I have resisted reading about people taking care of their parents: I want to hide out in not knowing what’s ahead. This was a gentle, funny, and tender way to peer at some of my fears and dark feelings.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

For the Seeker

Playing Big by Tara Mohr
This book will change how women think about contributing to the world. This is the book we need to launch our desires and shape a fairer world. Buy this for every woman you love who needs a road map to creating more of what she wants.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan
A legal term for a failure to face what’s wrong – whether that’s what is happening at Enron or in your marriage. An eye opener in all ways.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
Deeply researched, funny, and honest, Schulte explores the question: why are we so overwhelmed, and why are women the most overwhelmed of all? Great insights into why it’s difficult to forge a sane life. She also includes a concise what-to-do-about-it chapter at the end.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

For the Fantasy Lover

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
I adore this trilogy. To me, Grossman has taken the promise of fantasy literature – that goodness exists and can triumph sometimes over banality and disconnection – and turned that into a modern-day compelling story.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Lexicon by Max Barry
Gritty, clever, compelling, thought-provoking thriller + a little magic. Smart airplane read. Boys and men might like it.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.


The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Solid fantasy with excellent driving action, feisty female lead, and tantalizing made-up world. First in a series. Great for young adult readers, too.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

For the General Fiction Reader

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki
Some might find her writing polemical, but if you love Barbara Kingslover, join me in loving Ozeki just as much. A book about what is to be a family, how to survive mistakes, and why we need to keep working together to make a just world. My favorite book read in 2014.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Clever structure, a smart main character who still has a huge blind spot, a love story, the chance to journey to Nigeria, biting questions about race – another favorite read this year.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A quirky love note wrapped in delightful characters. Originally written as a screenplay. Great pick-me-up book.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.


For the Poet

Desire Zoo by Alison Luterman
Alison’s poems open my heart as if her words were a knife made of love that knows just where to cut.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.


Good Poems selected by Garrison Keillor
A fine older collection that I bought for Bob. Excellent for people just getting into poetry or as a hostess gift.
Available at Powell’s and Amazon.


Coming soon… a new book by me. National Geographic is publishing it. It’s called A Year of Daily Joy. Next week a super delish offer for you and your BFF (or a woman you would like to be closer to). Stay tuned!




P.S. This is Casey, Jen’s assistant, and I cheekily added The Life Organizer book in because it’s such a great book and makes a perfect gift! (Available at Powell’s and Amazon.)

Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

Made for writers, artists, mail art makers, knitters of sock puppets, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, Tarot readers, and anybody who needs to make stuff they love.

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.