2014 Reads: The Most Captivating and Profound Books I Read in the Past Year

Zen in Motion: Lessons from a Master Archer on Breath, Posture, and the Path of IntuitionShantaramYogic Management Of Common DiseasesThe Strain Volume 1The Elephant Whisperer

Your Brain on YogaKalari MargamThe Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal PracticeThe Hindu-Yogi Science Of Breath

VALISThe Essential Guide to Being Hungarian: 50 Facts and Facets of NationhoodThe AlchemistThe Golden Sayings of EpictetusMake Room! Make Room!
Sorry I Ruined Your OrgyThe Coroner's LunchNorwegian WoodThe Bhagavad Gita

I read 80-some books in 2014. A few stood out above the rest. I’d put the best of the litter in two categories: the captivating and the profound. This is a more appropriate division than fiction and nonfiction. The captivating books were the ones that I couldn’t put down because they were intriguing and intense. The profound books were the ones containing ideas that changed my approach to life. Very few–if any–of these books came out in 2014, so if you’re looking for the best books of the year you might want to look here or here.

The Captivating

1.) The Elephant Whisperer   [A wildlife preserve owner takes in an elephant herd, and learns about how the mighty animals think, feel, and communicate.]

2.) The Beach  [A traveler in search of a fabled perfect beach finds it, and ultimately wishes he hadn’t.]

3.) Shantaram [An ex-con on the lam hides in Bombay and experiences life as an ex-pat, a slumdog, a prisoner, a medic to Mujaheddin, and a gangster.]

4.) Gone Girl  [A wife goes missing, and the husband becomes the prime suspect–but nothing is as it first appears.]

5.) The Fault in Our Stars  [An ill-fated romance blossoms between two teenage cancer patients.]

6.) Norwegian Wood  [A young man’s life is shaped by his love for the girlfriend of a suicidal former best friend, and other relationships with unusual women.]

7.) History of the World in 6 Glasses  [The title says it all. How beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola shaped the world.]

8.) Dawn [A woman awakes in the custody of aliens to find that an unwanted leadership role is being thrust upon her as the Earth is to be repopulated.]

9.) Veronika Decides to Die  [A suicidal young woman is told that she has only days to live, and finds a new lease on life.]

10.) The Novice  [An old story about a young monk who stays virtuous in the face of multiple betrayals, as told by the famous Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.]


The Profound

1.) The Rise of Superman   [How extreme athletes are using a mental state called the Flow to achieve phenomenal feats.]

2.) Warrior Pose  [How yoga saved the life of a cancer-riddled war correspondent with a broken spine and an addiction to painkillers.]

3.) The Way of Chuang Tzu [Thomas Merton Edition- A series of Taoist stories as told by the prolific Trappist monk.]

4.) The Tao of Jeet Kune Do  [Bruce Lee’s guide to the tactics and techniques of his martial art, Jeet Kune Do.]

5.) The Introvert Advantage  [An explanation of the widely misunderstood state of introversion, and how introverts can optimize their lives in the face of their introverted nature.]

6.) The Art of Peace  [The philosophy of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the martial art of Aikido.]

7.) The Wild Life of Our Bodies   [We our not alone. The human body is an ecosystem, and killing off the other species that reside within us can have dire results. And a dire warning to clean freaks.]

8.) Mind Over Medicine  [A medical doctor reviews the literature 0n the body’s tremendous capacity to heal itself under the right conditions, and a discussion of how those conditions might be achieved.]

9.) The Heart of Yoga  [A guide to building a personal yoga practice by T.K.V. Desikachar, son and student of the legendary guru T. Krishnamacharya.]

10.) The Science of Yoga  [What modern science has to say about the benefits and risks of yoga.]


Bernie Gourley’s favorite books »


Share book reviews and ratings with Bernie, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

3 thoughts on “2014 Reads: The Most Captivating and Profound Books I Read in the Past Year

  1. Some great reads – some of which I coincidentally read myself and a couple of which I read on your recommendation. Many thanks. I see Lissa Rankin has a new book on developing courage coming out in the new year. Happy reading in 2015 (or whichever year counting system you choose)


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