A Few Of My Favorite Reads This Past Year, What Were Yours?

I listen to a lot of books on Audible…around 8-10 each month. If I’m driving on an errand, sitting in traffic or on a long trip, a book is playing. If I’m sorting through the way-too-many pictures I’ve taken for a post and cropping or editing them, a book is playing. If I’m washing dishes, folding laundry, staining the deck, planting shrubs, spreading pine straw or cleaning out the garage, a book is playing. Even the most mundane or dreaded chore becomes tolerable, if not enjoyable, when I’m lost in a great book.


Shakespeare and Company in Paris


I thought I’d share some of my favorite listens this past year because even if you’re not an Audible member, these books are all available in book form or for e-book readers like Kindle. (I didn’t include any of my fave decorating/design/gardening/entertaining books in this group because I already share those a few times a week via the In The BNOTP Library posts. If you aren’t currently subscribed, you can sign up to receive an email when one goes up here: In The BNOTP Library)

The books I’m sharing are not in any particular order, just a short list of a few of the books I’ve listened to and enjoyed over the last year. Please be sure and leave a comment sharing your favorites! The book(s) you share don’t need to be books you listened to on Audible, any book you enjoyed this past year would be great to share!

So here’s a few of my faves from this past year:

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

Upstairs At The White House: My Life With The First Ladies by J. B. West

Get Up! by James A. Levine

Provence by Peter Mayle (Includes a ‘A Year in Provence’ and ‘Toujours Provence’)

Acquired Tastes by Peter Mayle

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg

The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are by Robert Wright

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Hadn’t read it since high school and enjoyed hearing it, again. BTW, Harper Lee is releasing a new book called Go Set A Watchman. It’s a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird and in it, Scout Finch is all grown-up.

A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens

The Great Courses: Love The Great Courses series on Audible…they are inexpensive and many are great listens! Here are some of my faves below:

The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins
The Story of Human Language
Great Masters: Beethoven-His Life and Music
Secrets of Sleep Science:From Dreams to Disorders


Currently listening to:

My Early Life by Winston Churchill

Just downloaded and will be starting soon:

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James

The Eight by Katherine Neville

One of my favorites from past years was Ghost In The Wires: My Adventures as The World Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick. It kept me on the edge of my seat, I couldn’t stop listening. 🙂


Some things you may not know about Audible

1. No matter if you listen to a few pages or an entire book, if you don’t like it or think it wasn’t worth the cost, you can return it and get your credit or $ back, no questions asked. Love that policy and I have used it when the book was something I didn’t like or just couldn’t get through!

2. When you’re a member, you can sign up to receive an email each day with the “Daily Deal.” It’s usually a book you can purchase for some super discounted rate like $1.99 or $3.99. So, in addition to the book credit(s) you get each month with your membership, there are lots of opportunities to purchase additional books for just a few $. I do this a good bit during the month. They also offer regular specials where you can purchase a book from a select list available for $4.95.

3. You can listen to books on iTunes, your home computer, an iPod, a mobile phone and on several other types of devices. I download all my books to my phone since it’s always with me.

Okay, please share your favorite reads from this past year. They don’t need to be books you purchased/read via Audible. Any book you checked out at the library, purchased, borrowed, whatever…that you read and enjoyed.

Looking forward to hearing your faves!

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  1. I love thrillers. Any James Patterson is great. I enjoy Harlan Coban and Joseph Finder. I down load from the library and listen on my computer other books. Have you listened to any of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet
    Evanovich, especially the first ones..One for the Money, Two for the Show, hysterical. But the ones I am enjoying now is from Greg Isles. The Penn Cage is the character and love them. Good Luck, will try to hook up with Audio Book.

    • I have just discovered the Penn Cage books by Greg Isles and love them as well. My family moved to Mississippi in 1964 so his solving the old mysteries from back in those times is fascinating to me.

  2. Love Audible! I listen to books all the time, quite often more than once. My current favorite is “A Civil Contract” by Georgette Heyer. She writes Regency romances – a little like Jane Austen’s stories, but funnier, same time period. Great use of Regency period slang. Audible has loads of them. “The Help” by Katherine Stockett – great story, great recording; “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Kellgren – an intriguing story and great narrator. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books, and Atticus Finch is a timeless hero…Sissy Spacek does a great job narrating.

  3. Susan, I LOVE books, and this is a great list! I haven’t ever tried Audible, but I may give it a shot. I love to listen to books while I’m sewing. I was excited to hear about Harper Lee’s new book too!

  4. We do “books on tape” from the local library whenever we’re in our vehicle!! It has “saved our marriage.” 🙂 I just finished “Elements of Style” by Erin Gates…she is a cool gal and “One Man Folly” by Julia Reed…love the photos!! franki

  5. So many books, so little time……..always the Hobbit (and Trilogy); the Harry Potter series (I read these once a year just to “get away”); The 5000 Year Leap by W.C. Clousen (should be required reading for all); Things that Matter by Charles Krauthammer; Europe, Globalization, and the Coming Universal Caliphate by Bat Ye’or; American Sniper and Lone Survivor; and last, but certainly not least, The Bomb in the Basement by Michael Karpin.

  6. I am embarrassed to say, I have not read ONE book this year. Since I started my floral business, the only things I am reading are wedding related, flower related material.

    I need to do the Audio books. Your list looks intriguing.

  7. I love Audible. We got Steve Martin’s autobiography for our road trip to Maine over the fall and I think if I’d read it, it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. But having Steve read it and put the right emphasis on something or to not misinterpret his meaning made it that much better for us.

  8. Jill Kimmins says

    There is nothing like reading, in any format, to brighten a busy day! In 2014 I discovered the incredible Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – the audio versions of this series, narrated by the extremely talented Davina Porter, are just wonderful! I can’t say enough about them and am currently on book six of the series. Among my four-and-five-star favorites from last year (I keep track of my reading on Goodreads) were comedy books by David Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin and Denis Leary; the modern classic And The Mountains Echoed, by the Kite Runner’s Khaled Hosseini; The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, a clever, humorous book set in Africa; a re-read of a favorite classic by my favorite author – Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea; as well as A Game of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin, the first in the Game of Thrones series; and His Last Bow, from the Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I also read some ‘seasonal’ books – Irish authors like Frank McCourt during March in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the New-Orleans-based mystery, That Old Black Magic, by Mary Jane Clark during Mardi Gras time, and Shepherds Abiding from Jan Karon’s beloved Mitford series during the Christmas season.

  9. jon anne winstead says

    I’m so like you, I listen to audiobooks all the time!! Audible loves me, I’m sure!!

  10. Ruhanna Neal says

    I read Upstairs At the White House by J.B. West when I was in high school. I loved it, saved it and lo these many years later, have passed it down to my granddaughter. It gave me so much insight into how the White House is run, the personalities of the different First Ladies, and an appreciation that the White House belongs to the U.S. People and each Presidential family is only a custodian of that historic home. Wonderful piece of history!

  11. I read The Mockingbird Next door by Marja Mills so I was excited to learn a new book by Harper Lee was coming out. Although I will read it, I can’t help thinking that had she wanted it read, she would have had it published in her lifetime. I hope it’s not being published against her wishes. Am currently reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson which has had me hooting with laughter. I’m also enjoying the series The Awakening (book 1) and The Unbelievers (book 2) by Lisa M. Lilly. Book two ended on a cliff hanger and book three is still being written. ARRRRRH!

    • Andi, thankfully she is still alive and kicking. She’s 88 now. I’m not sure why she waited so long to release this one, apparently she wrote it shortly after she wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. You can read more about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/books/harper-lee-author-of-to-kill-a-mockingbird-is-to-publish-a-new-novel.html?_r=0
      Thanks for sharing the Lawson book…will have to check it out. 🙂

      • Harper Lee is still alive? I can’t tell you how delighted I am to read that. I am convinced I read her obituary and web sites that told me she had died. Worryingly, it’s something that happens to me quite often, someone well known will die and I am convinced I remember an announcement they had died years before. In this case perhaps it was Alice, her sister, whose death I read about (I think I’m right that she died, but then I can’t be sure!)

        • Harper Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee died recently (Sept. 11, 1911-Nov. 17, 2014) She practiced law until she was a 100 years old.

          • Wow! They have long living folks in that family. Impressive that she was able to practice to that age! I’d love to know what she ate everyday! 🙂

  12. Nan, Odessa, DE says

    What is the membership with this return policy and daily deals?
    Do you know if KINDLE supports the audio book?
    Sounds good! I am interested.

    • I just have the basic, one book a month membership. They offer so many good ones in their Daily Deal and other specials, that I’ve just stuck with the basic membership. There is some deal for Kindle readers, but I’m not sure what it is. Nan, call their number. They always answer quickly and should be able to answer that. I’ve never found them to be pushy…very polite. Here’s their number: (888) 283-5051)

  13. I’ve just finished “Song of the Lark” by Willa Cather. LOVED IT!
    I see you read a lot of nonfiction … I do too, but I’ve been on a campaign to read more of the classics in recent years. So much great literature to choose from!
    Thanks for your reading list … I’m going to check many of those out!

  14. There is nothing I like more than a good book! Which makes this post one of my all time favorites! I just love that you also share a passion for reading and let us all know about your top picks from last year. Also, thanks for the information about Audible! I will definitely check it out.

  15. Christy Keyton says

    All the Light We Cannot See was my fave last year. Engrossing historical fiction set in WWII France. Loved it- very realistic at times which was hard to read. But such a great story!

  16. Sherry Stuifbergen says

    Just finished “Cold Mountain” which is my second read in a long time. Love it and highly recommend it. I like Linda Castillo (author) for easy reads about a sheriff in an Amish community which is usually a thriller. I read at night when I go to bed. I have never used an audio book.

  17. I love that image in your post, Susan!! I’ve never tried Audible, but I do have a Kindle, and I use it a lot more than I ever thought I would. I’ve just finished reading A Dance With Dragons (part of the Game of Thrones series) which our son got me interested in. 🙂 I also read four books of “The Outlander” series, by Diana Gabaldon in 2014. On your list, I’m sure I would enjoy listening to the special version of “A Christmas Carol,” since that’s one of my favorite stories. I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” many, many years ago. I have read “A Year in Provence” and absolutely loved it!! It’s laugh-out-loud funny, isn’t it? 🙂 I wanted to read “Toujours Provence” but had trouble finding a copy. I’ll have to try Amazon again.

    I’ll have to try out Audible one of these days, since that would allow me to multi-task and still enjoy books. 🙂 Have a great day!


    • Acquired Taste is fascinating and also pretty funny. I think it’s kind of written tongue in cheek while giving us a glimpse into a lifestyle few can afford.

  18. Regality (aka The Quing) says

    This is my list of all the books I read last year. The ones with the asterisks are the ones I enjoyed most.


    I’m not a big fan of audio books. I tend to drift off and stop listening. I also am not fond of e-readers. Give me a good old-fashioned, hardcopy book, thank you kindly.

  19. Sherry Stuifbergen says

    I forgot another “favorite” title you might have read…”On the Corner of the Bitter and Sweet.” It is an historical fiction around the time of WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Great read how it is written. I forgot to say that “Cold Mountain” is a Civil War historical fiction. They made a movie of it with Nicole Kidman which I never saw. Books are better. Movies based on books are usually a disappointment.

  20. What a great post! I have recently gotten hooked on Audible, and am always on the lookout for new books. I hate finishing one and not having another one at the ready to dig into, so I’ll be pinning this. 🙂

    I recently listened to a bunch of books by Liane Moriarity – starting with “What Alice Forgot”. It’s nice that the books are based in Australia, and are read by Australians – love that accent. I’m currently listening to “The Girl on The Train”. I listened to “Still Alice” last week, which was so insightful and scary, when you think about how devastating Alzheimer’s disease is.

  21. I, too, love listening to audio books whether driving around town or driving on longer road trips. Three books I’ve recently enjoyed are Anne Tyler’s Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant, Daniel James Brown’s Boys in the Boat and Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Will have to check out the books on your list.

  22. I love Jane Austen books. Read the book by J. B. West (Upstairs In thr Whitehouse). Great books. Will check out the website you mentioned. I like your list of books! Warm regards…

  23. I listen to books all the time, just finished my first Podcast which was “Serial” and I really enjoyed it, but felt there was more to the story so I’m not ready for it to be over lol. Currently listening to “All The Light We Cannot See” and enjoying it very much.

  24. Hi Susan, I’m a HUGE Audible fan and listen to about 2 books a week. I just finished Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, it was a hoot as you might guess if you need a chuckle 🙂 I’m a huge Diana Gabaldon/Outlander fan and anxiously awaited for her 8th book in the series. Davina Porter’s audio performance is fantastic and adds so much to the book!

  25. Hi Susan,

    Harper Lee actually wrote this new release BEFORE To Kill a Mockingbird
    and an editor or publisher told her that the grown Scout’s flashbacks to her childhood were so compelling that she should flesh them out and write a book around them- hence, she put aside her first manuscript, wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and the rest is history. This was in an on-line interview released this week.

    • Oh, that’s makes sense. I saw something about Scout’s flashbacks and wasn’t sure what they meant…didn’t have time to read the whole article. Thanks, MEM!

  26. I’ve read every book that Peter Mayle has written & enjoyed them immensely! His writing, as well as the books of France’s Mayes has given me a wonderful sense of familiarity with regions of France & Italy that I have never visited. For as long as I can remember, I pick an author & read every one of their books. I’ve done this with the classics & modern novels alike & it has become a habit. I’ve recently started doing the stair master & I love the idea of listening to Audible to make it more tolerable!

  27. I just happened to find this post and not ten minutes ago I finished the best book I have ever read. I read hundreds of books so I do not take that sentence lightly. It was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Yes I know the movie is out, but I wanted to read the book first, and I am so glad I did. It touched me like nothing I have ever read. Seriously, if you enjoy reading, (or listening, my son listened to it on Audible) you will be blown away.

  28. Susan – I love Audible and listen to books, when I am doing chores. My husband and I, also, listen to them together on long trips. Usually, I listen to books that I would not ordinarily read, but do make exceptions. My favorite book in a while has been “Malice” by Keigo Higashino. It is by far the most complicated and beautifully woven mystery tale that I have read or heard in many years. I followed up with another of his books “Devotion of Suspect X” and it was very good, too. However, “Malice” is the gem here. I do not want to use too much space on your post commenting on all of the books that I have loved, so I will stop here. I could go on and on and on…Lol!!

    • Diane, please do go on and on. I love hearing the books you would recommend and I know others do, too. Love getting ideas for books to listen to! Thanks for recommending Malice…will check it out!

      • Susan – I would love to know what you think of “Malice”, when you are done! I am a voracious reader and it would take an entire post to write about all of my favorites (like children, hard to pick “a” favorite). However, I did enjoy two other books recently that are not for everyone – “The Orphan Masters Son” by Adam Johnson, which won The Pulitzer Prize and is set in North Korea. The other is a Scottish novel, “The Wasp Factory” (definitely, not for everyone – please read about it, before you purchase!!) by Iain Banks. I like reading “different books”. I will give you an idea that came from my daughter, Susan. She recently has begun a “Read Around the World” project and has dedicated herself to reading at least one fictional work (story must be set in the country of the author) from every country in the world. It is a fascinating project and all of the books she has purchased so far look extremely interesting. I thought I would pass this along for any of your readers who, also, are seriously interested in learning more, about other cultures. Thank you, too, for your recommendations!

  29. Kathy Roloff says

    Love this post! I’ve never listened to a book before, afraid my mind will drift off. I highly recommend any of the 4 books by Kate Morton an Australian author. I have read all of the James Herriot books, All Creatures Great and Small, etc 4 times, once each decade. Time to read them again. I was thrilled to visit Thirsk in Yorkshire a few years ago. The little town where he practiced. I also am re-visiting the classics. Bleak House by Dickens, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Hardy. Will definitely take advantage of the titles listed here!

  30. bobbi duncan says

    Goodness, there are so many! First, I have never used Audible. I’m usually disappointed with the narrator’s voice or rhythm of language based on CDs and tapes I have listened to. I prefer to do my own imagining of voices of characters and read at my own pace. However, some said Outlander’s narrator is excellent, but I’ve already read 7 of the 8 books, so too late for that. My tastes are very eclectic, but I have a tendency to like settings I am familiar with and love visiting, such as the lowcountry of SC, Nantucket and Williamsburg, as is evident by some of my choices. These are my favs for 2014:
    1. Outlander series- by Diana Gibaldon (the next TV episodes can’t come soon enough!).
    2. All the Light We Cannot See- by Anthony Doerr
    3. Orphan Train- by Christina Baker Kline
    4. Ghost Boy- by Martin Pistorius ( a truly unimaginable life story!).
    5. Still Alice- by Lisa Genova (the heartbreak of alzheimers).
    6. 1776- by David Mc Cullough. Two other good ones of his were John Adams and Truman.
    7. The Greatest Game Ever Played- by Mark Frost. A great true story for any golfers out there.
    8. Unbroken-by Laura Hillenbrand. Title could easily define this author’s own trials with illness…could be a book in itself! Another one I loved by her was Seabiscuit (there is a great movie version of this book as well).
    9. Folly Beach (lowcountry tales) by Dorothea Benton Frank. Have loved all her other books and her wit .
    10. The Summer Girls- by Mary Alice Monroe. First book of the trilogy which is set in the lowcountry of SC.
    11. Winter Street- by Elin Hilderbrand. She reigns from Nantucket, which is the setting for her stories.
    12. Girl Gone- by Gillian Flynn is what I’m reading now. Haven’t read enough to give a thumbs up or down.
    Some other author’s books I’ve read and enjoyed before 2014 are: Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook is my fav of his), Edith Wharton, Anita Shreve (amazing talent, but most stories are dark), Anne Rivers Siddons (except for her last book, all others were fabulous stories of the lowcountry of SC, Atlanta, and Maine), Pat Conroy (wrote Prince of Tides and other lowcountry novels), and Henry James. There are others but this is already way too long. Thanks to all for giving ideas for new reads, and thank you, Susan, for this fun post. Lets do it again in 2016.

  31. Home by Julie Andrews. I highly recommend it as an Audible book, because she narrates it herself and her voice is such a treat.

  32. Patti O'Donnell says

    I read/listen to mostly fiction and have many favorites. Louis Penny’s book are wonderful. Start from the beginning. I also enjoy Deborah Crombie’s book are very good too. I started reading/listening to Outlander since it was coming out on Starz and I read it 100 years ago. This was so fun to read as the scotish accent was great! I’m now on book 4 in that series. The Ballard Novels by Sharyn McCrumb are wonderful too.

  33. Rosann Hoglund says

    I’m looking into books on tape for a special friend in a convalescent home.
    What is the best and easiest device to use that they could enjoy?

    • Rosann, I’m not sure. Maybe they could listen to them on one of the portable players that’s designed to play them. I think a lot of books are available on CDs now. Do they still have them on tape? You could rent or borrow one of those books from the library, then go to a place like Best Buy, Target or Walmart and ask someone in the electronics department what they recommend for playing the book and that would be easy enough for your friend to operate. Also, you may want to ask the office personal at the home what they would recommend. They may already have something your friend could use/borrow.

  34. Lovely to read everyone’s input and get some ideas about books to put on my list. I have diff reading lists: bedtime, dead time(waiting room) bookclub, driving/audible books, etc. So: The best of 2014, and I’m just choosing a few, I read alot: BEDTIME – 1.Jan Karon of course, her new one, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good – I’m a fast reader and slowed down to make it last longer. 2. Fannie Flagg, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, is a good read and a good audible as you feel like she’s in the car with you and telling you a story. She is a southern woman and Lordy, she loves the details, but it works, just get in the rhythm. 3. Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, very fun! Our Bclub read this after reading The Book Thief, we needed to laugh:) BOOKCLUB – Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch; All the Light We Cannot See; The Husband’s Secret(don’t read at night) is a great moral discussion; The Son by Meyer, very grim but good Bclub discussion; Eat Cake and Step Ball Chain are by the same author-Jeanne Ray. You will LOL at parts, they are for women, fun at bookclub for a light read – we made cakes for the Eat Cake discussion:) and great bedtime reads also; Same Kind of Different As Me; Getting Life by Michael Morton, will make you think…the crimes committed against this man are unthinkable and you will never again see our justice system the same, thank God for Innocence Project. Most of us in Bclub wept at some point in the book, this is a true story. I’ve been priv. to meet him since reading his book. Wow. Great faith and grace in his life.

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