Favorite Books Read in 2014

Whooo's Reading? from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Enokson, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

2014 was not a banner year for tucking reading into free moments; it was more of year of noodling the big philosophical questions in life. However, I still managed to knock out 32 reads in the course of the year. My favorites list is a bit shorter this year, but they were more impactful

Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health (2013) by Alejandro Junger

I survived a 21 day clean eating challenge courtesy of Clean Gut. I eliminated sugar, flour, dairy, most fruit, grains and starchy vegetables from my diet for 21 days — well, I cheated with 3 raisins halfway through — and chased it with a ton of supplements to reset my gut.

The results were kind of staggering.  On the days I planned my meals well, I was high energy, had no interest in snacking and my mood was pretty stable. Now that I’m back to eating whatever, I find that meals filled with processed grains or sugar make me tired and thirsty, something I did not experience while eating clean. And those foods just aren’t as satisfying as the non-processed meals I was enjoying during the program. I highly recommend the Clean Eats cookbook if you’re looking to add some whole foods-laden meals to your diet.

Unexpected side effects:

I had the world’s worst toothache for three weeks. I ignored it because I loathe dentists and the prospect of drilling. Turns out as soon as I started to add some of the missing foods back into my diet at the end of the program, the toothache went away. Go figure.

What the book and anyone who has done similar programs neglected to mention to me is that the sudden shift in what you eat can hit you hard.  I found myself crying on and off for no reason for the 3-weeks, and things that normally didn’t phase me made me really emotional. As soon as I started adding other foods back into the rotation that were verboten on the program, the crying stopped. Amen.

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul (2014) by Danielle LaPorte

Anyone who knows me fairly well, has probably heard me recommend a book or a pod cast or the mailing list put out by Danielle LaPorte.  I find her electronic missives to be thought-provoking and inspirational, while her longer publications tend to offer prompts that encourage some deep thinking on what you want and how you’re going to take active steps in that direction.

The premise of her latest tome is that to really feel fulfilled we have to focus on how we imagine our successes will feel, rather than the tangible achievements themselves. It’s not buying a Mercedes or getting the big title jump at the office that we’re really chasing; rather, it’s how we thinks those victories are going to make us feel that keeps us chasing the dream. That moment of pride when being acknowledged and validated for your efforts with a promotion is actually bigger and more important than the promotion itself.  Achieving a feeling of affluence as you’re driving off the lot in a status car is the electrifying part, not the new material good.

With that in mind, she encourages readers to think about their goals and their core desired feelings that those goals are meant to achieve.  And you should work to bring yourself closer to those feelings every day, letting go of activities and relationships and patterns that aren’t serving those core desired feelings.  For me  in 2015, the core desired feelings I’m working on more fully realizing, include channeling more electric energy to be in the moment and alive, applying my strengths to feel more powerful and in turn be more impactful, while working to be more connected to the meaningful people in my life.

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair (2014 English translation) by Joel Dicker

The year was not all about self improvement. I could not put down Dicker’s first novel. It followed a novelist experiencing writer’s block on his sophomore effort following a huge splash on the literary scene. He finds inspiration and danger in a cold case involving a missing teenager and his then-twentysomething mentor. It was a page-turner from cover to cover.

What about you? What were your favorite reads of 2014?