I absolutely love reading friends' book recommendations (goodreads is awesome! add me as a friend!), so I can't help recommending a few myself.
I used to think I didn't enjoy non-fiction, but I think I had just been reading the wrong stuff! I am allll about the non-fiction now, as you'll see in my list below.
Here are the best books I read in 2014:
Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel
This is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. It is so emotional, powerful, important, and eye-opening. It follows the post-war lives of several wounded (physically, emotionally, or both) veterans.
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
By the same author as Thank You For Your Service, this book was equally as amazing. So well-written. How is it possible to write a non-fiction book about war in such beautiful prose? David Finkel's writing astounds me. Be warned, though - the f word is used at least a hundred times.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Probably the best YA novel I've read in years, if not in my lifetime. I'm sure everyone has heard of this by now. The movie was great, too, but I loved Augustus so much more in the book. Hazel, too.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
This was wonderful historical fiction about 2 of the first female abolitionists (the Grimke sisters) and their family's slaves. I just adore Sue Monk Kidd's writing. (If you haven't read The Secret Life of Bees, check that one out, too. That was one of my favorites in 2013.)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
I loved that this trilogy felt so different from any other I've read! It was so fun!
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
An incredible account of a young journalist who was kidnapped and held hostage for 15 months by Islamic extremists in Somalia. There is certainly a heavy dose of brutality, but people who are squeamish will appreciate that most of it is not described in detail. You learn more about the author's emotional reaction to her torture than you do the torture itself. Sure sounds like a downer, but it's actually kind of amazing. And she lives to tell the tale and even does charity work in Somalia now.
[I almost left these next 2 off, but I think that's only because I read them early in 2014 and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed them.]
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
This book wasn't perfect (the last third dragged for me) but it was just so darn interesting I have to include it. This young journalist seemed fine one day, then woke up in the hospital completely psychotic. She had hallucinations, couldn't move or speak and didn't remember anything from the prior month. When doctors can't figure out the cause of her sudden demise, they chalk it up to mental illness. Eventually a doctor discovers the cause and she recovers enough to write the book.
Breaking Night by Liz Murray
Similar to The Glass Castle (one of my all-time favorites!) but without all the swearing, this is a great memoir. The tagline is something like "From Homeless to Harvard." Girl grows up with drug-addicted parents, ends up homeless at 13 in NYC. Pretty incredible stories.