On this, the last day of 2019, we wanted to give you a peek back at our year in reading. Please enjoy, and share in the comments some of your favorite reads that you discovered this year!
This year’s reading ran the gamut. From fantasy to memoirs to non-fiction (and more adult contemporary that I have read in many years). Hilariously, even though I read more contemporary books than normal this year, only one makes my list of call outs for the year. Here are some of my favorite reads of 2019:
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
These books were immersive – terrible and beautiful. When Karou loses those she has loved the most, the monsters who raised her, at the hands of angels, she goes on a quest of vengeance and discovery. With Laini Taylor’s beautiful storytelling and amazing gift for character development you love and hate every character in these books (on an ever-changing, sliding scale). This is a series where if I could read them again “for the first time” I would jump at the chance. They’re fantastic, and I loved every minute of them.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston.
I kept seeing this book mentioned on BookTube as a “must read in 2019” early in the year and oh, boy did it hit all of my sweet spots. When Alex, the son of the President of the United States, causes an international scandal with his feud with an actual Prince, the son of the Queen of England, they’re forced by their respective PR teams to “make nice.” I don’t think any of them had “fall in love and cause an even bigger scandal” in mind. Hilariousness and sweetness ensues. This book is charming. I laughed out loud several times, loved the advancement of their relationship through emails and texting. Red, White & Royal Blue is literally what would happen if Aaron Sorkin wrote a romance novel. I loved every impossible minute of it.
Carry On and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
These books are the fanfic being written in Fangirl brought to life, and they are glorious. Baz & Simon have to save the world, and then they have to figure out how to move forward when everything has changed. Even though it makes me sad that it’s meant to be the last in the series, I’m super excited for when Any Way the Wind Blows is released. I would happily read all of the Baz and Simon so part of me hopes they won’t leave her brain, either. Just remember to keep your eye out for the numpties.
My honorable mentions are:
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – A beautifully written novel about survival and family, with a little mystery thrown into the mix. I’ve written a review of Crawdads on the site; you can read it here.
- Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future by Pete Buttigieg – Introspective, honest and my GOD so smart. Loved this insight into one of the candidates for President.
- The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – Action packed and satisfying conclusion to the arc of the first 3 books in the Mistborn series.
2019 was a fantastic year of reading for me, hitting an all time high of 60 books read. And just as always, I read just about every genre I can think of: sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, nonfiction, memoir, mystery, thriller, YA, self-help, horror. All of that and more. It was a delightful run. And, I didn’t DNF anything this year, which means I’m choosing more wisely, I suppose. Here are some highlights:
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
This isn’t a book for people that need answers to every question. It isn’t a book for someone that needs to understand what every single symbol means. But if you like a puzzle and don’t mind things being left to interpretation, this book is an amazing ride. To me, it is a fantasy-fairy tale-love letter written for bibliophiles. Sweeping imagery. Beautiful prose. And it centers on a fantastical library. What could be better?
Recursion by Blake Crouch
I’ve been spouting off about this science fiction novel to anyone who will listen. Mind bending, fast paced, and with a healthy dose of philosophical intrigue, this novel is on my short list of absolute favorites. You can read the full review here.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
A lovely, introspective memoir about what happens when the brilliant therapist needs a brilliant therapist. Thought provoking and filled with emotion, this memoir was fantastic.
A Dream About Lightning Bugs by Ben Folds
He’s not your typical rocker and this isn’t your typical rock memoir. Even if you don’t know his music, it is a moving ode to creativity. See my full review here.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Centering on the rise and fall of a fictional 70s rock band, this book, for me, was fluff at its absolute best. It read like a Rolling Stone interview and reminded me of Almost Famous (one of my favorite movies). If you are looking for a fun read, this is a great one!
Educated by Tara Westover
Wow. A fascinating window into an abusive family with a complex dynamic by a strong, dynamic narrator. I could not put this book down.
Everything by Victoria Schwab
Fellow bloggers Amy and Jae suggested I try some Victoria Schwab (aka V.E. Schwab) and let’s just say it escalated quickly. I read eight Schwab novels this year, and enjoyed each and every one. She builds a beautiful world and writes complex, fascinating characters. If you haven’t read any of her novels, give them a whirl.
With a final tally of 186 books read this year, I’m finding it hard to pick out just a few favorites. If I listed them all below, I’d have something nice to say about each one, but I’m not going to make you sit through that. However, if you’d like to see my entire list, here’s a link to my Goodreads year in review.
One of the things that draws me to books is when I love the characters so much that I miss them when the story is over. I wish I could hear another story about their lives. Laini Taylor (who wrote the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy mentioned by Amy above) really knows how to create characters you love, hate, and love to hate. I read and loved that trilogy, as well as another duology by the same author this year beginning with Strange the Dreamer. (I even reviewed that one for the blog.)
The kids and I listen to a lot of books in the car, so I’m always on the lookout for good Middle Grade stories that I’ll love as much as they do. I absolutely love the first Morrigan Crow book when it came out last year, and was pleased with the second, Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend, this year. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed reading the Skulduggery Pleasant books (written by Derek Landy) with my children. There are a lot of funny moments, and you find yourself rooting for many of the characters.
Another thing that draws me in is a super-cool premise. That’s how I felt about the Book of the Ancestor trilogy by Mark Lawrence (Red Sister, Grey Sister, and Holy Sister). From the prologue to the first book, I devoured everything about these stories. I also love the premise of the Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff. The third and final book in the trilogy, Darkdawn, came out this year. I devoured that one, too.
Speaking of Jay Kristoff, the Illumniae Files trilogy (which he co-authored with Amie Kaufman) is basically in a category of its own. They look huge, but they’re told in transcripts and are therefore surprisingly fast reads. They are basically YA sci-fi, but they are so much more amazing than I could ever explain. If anything else I read is in your sweet spot, you should try these.
Speaking of sweet spots, there are some books that just hit you in the right place. Maybe it’s the right time to read them. Maybe it’s the way the characters are drawn, or the subject matter, or an author you already loved. Maybe it’s for no reason at all. The Truly Devious books by Maureen Johnson were just that way for me. I read the first and second this year, and I’m anticipating the release of the third at the end of January.
With that, and many other amazing books, on the way, 2020 is sure to be another great reading year!
I love V.E. Schwab and I need to get through all of her books, though I’m slowly but surely making my way along. I love the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, and I thought Red, White, and Royal Blue was amazing. I have Strange the Dreamer that I need to read this year. I also read Nevernight last year and I need to continue that series.
Well, here’s to hoping you get to read all of those wonderful books in 2020!