Books as a gateway drug to being a better person

14 Books To Read In 2014

Did you love reading as a kid? I did. I was a voracious reader. I had a single mom for awhile and when my babysitter didn’t pick me up from school, I walked to the local branch of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library and parked myself in the kids section and read until she came to pick me up. The library would run summer reading challenges and one summer I read more than any other kid who entered. To do that I had to sneak books into the car for our annual August summer vacation. I hid them under my stuffed animals. I was most likely 6.

Reading became slightly less fun when it was textbooks and almost nonexistent in my life during my first few years in the working world. I didn’t have time! I had mountains to climb and ceilings to shatter.

Until 2009. That is the year that I went on sabbatical and volunteered around the world. That year, I read more than I had in the past decade combined. I savored each page when I was traveling through remote areas in South America and Southeast Asia. I hunted down book exchanges in coffee shops and hostels.

Then I came back to the U.S. and realized more than anything I needed to make sure books stayed a part of my life.

Books, at one time, were a revolutionary technology.

Before the internet and eReaders, books (and newspapers) were the go-to technology to share information. In a world of go-go-go with 140 characters and text messages it’s hard to maintain focus. It’s shortening our attention span. And we need that! Focus is required for so much of what us fundamentally better as human beings. It’s required to build something from scratch, to make big life decisions, or just have a deep and undistracted conversation with a friend or loved one.

Long reads and Pocket don’t count. I mean they do — you can save long form articles to read later. But nothing is like diving in and committing to reading a book. If it takes you a day or a month, you are focusing on one task. You can’t read and do anything else at the same time. To read a book and absorb it’s information you give it 100% of your focus.

There is something simple and beautiful about that.

In 2013, I committed to reading 52 books in 52 weeks and to my surprise I hit my goal! Of those 52 books, here are 14 that I think you (the wide audience of you) would enjoy in 2014. If you have ones you loved and wanted to suggest, add them as a note!

14 Books To Read In 2014

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss
Personal History by Katharine Graham
Quiet by Susan Cain
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Richest Woman In America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
The Bolter by Frances Osborne
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

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