Sunday, January 4, 2015

Favorite Books of 2014

Reading is one of the true pleasures in my life and I read voraciously. Here are a handful of my favorite books from 2014.

Business 

Ice Cream Social: The Struggle for the Soul of Ben & Jerry’s
For entrepreneurs and business owners, there’s an ongoing struggle between making a profit and contributing to society. Ice Cream Social discusses how Ben & Jerry's evolved, how they tried to involve employees, use their buying power to make political changes, and run an ethical business. In the end, they sell the business to Unilever, but they persist in their efforts to run an ethical business – a fascinating and optimistic book.


Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
Chip and Dan Heath write awesome books, informative and eminently practical. I started using their suggestions before I had finished reading this book.


Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products 
If you’re curious about how Apple products are designed, here’s your answer.

Travel

Tea & Bee’s Milk: Our Year in a Turkish Village 
Tea & Bee’s Milk is an absorbing account of an American couple’s year-long stay in a small Turkish village. It paints a picture of how the locals live, from their farming practices to their electrical wiring.


Grape Expectations: A Family’s Vineyard Adventure in France
You have to be slightly crazy to buy a vineyard and start making wine when you have absolutely no background in the industry. It’s a struggle, but this Irish couple and their children are making a go of it.


Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole my Heart
This is another book for those of you who share my daydream of living in a foreign country. And who wouldn’t want to live in on a Greek island, swim in the sea, and fall in love with one of the locals?

Food

Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen 
I was fascinated to discover the ins and outs of communal living on a Hutterite colony. And there are recipes for those of you who are so inclined.


Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through Today’s China
The author attends cooking school in China, then apprentices at a noodle/dumpling stall before moving on to a classy Shanghai restaurant. The book is an eye-opening look at cooking in China.


The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement
Food banks are a stop-gap measure as they don’t address the underlying problems. The Stop gave me insight into what the Saskatoon Food Bank is attempting to achieve by setting up a garden, offering cooking classes, and participating in government committees.

Perseverance 
My recovery from back surgery this past year was slow and painful. Two books showed me the way forward.


The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency
Polio didn’t stop Roosevelt from becoming President of the United States. I also gained a better understanding of polio and what my mother went through as a teenager.


New Life, No Instructions: A Memoir
Gail Caldwell is surprised to discover that a hip replacement can give her back her life. It’s painful, but she embraces the unexpected and moves forward.

I wrote a longer review of these books here: Bibliotherapy for Legs that Don’t Move the Way They Should

Politics 
Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them
Shopping for Votes is a depressing but informative look at how we’ve turned democracy into a marketing campaign.

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