Here are some of the best books I've read.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood: This book is so good it discouraged me totally from becoming a writer of novels because I could never write anything like it. It's the story of a woman and her sister over a lifetime with lots of secrets and stories within stories.
To Show and to Tell by Phillip Lopate: I hesitate to post this because if I ever decide to teach an online blogging class I will teach secrets from this book. Phillip Lopate is so good at explaining what makes narrative non-fiction good you'll want to devote your life to the writing of it.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: I borrowed this book from my friend Carrie for about 10 years before I finally ordered it from Audible and listened to it while I weeded my flower beds. It's a giant book, but well worth reading. This book is a fantastic history (complete with copious footnotes) of the restoration of true magic in England. There's a BBC mini-series of it now too. It's the kind of thing Hermione could have written scrolls and scrolls about.
How Children Succeed by Paul Tough is a parenting must-read. I read all the parenting books. I don't recommend all of them this strongly. Paul Tough researches school success and the kinds of things we do wrong that actually de-motivate kids (saying "Good job!" too much is one of those things). Give it a try.
The Power of Every Day Missionaries by Clayton Christensen is so great. He says what we all know in our gut: Missionary work grows out of true friendship and care. No one wants to feel like somebody else's project and our stress on missionary work in the LDS church sometimes leads to an over-emphasis on numbers and conventional measures of "activity." Christensen describes his own experience where he actually offended a couple who thought he was their true friend because he quit hanging out with them after they declined his offer to baptize them into the church. This jibes so well with my personal feelings about making genuine connections with people in our own unique ways. For some people that might be the conventional shake-hands-get-to-know-you sort of thing but there are a million ways to be a friend (and that goes for being a visiting teacher, too). I highly recommend this book.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is by far my favorite book from 2014. A WWII story that takes place in occupied France, this book is so nicely done and unique that it takes its place next to The Book Thief among my favorites. But you can't go by me. I'm kind of a WWII junkie.
I have so many more books to tell you about that I read when I wasn't blogging as much. Don't worry, I keep a list of all the books I've read since 1999. I won't forget any of them. Remember that great speech at the end of A Few Good Men?