I’m thrilled to report that in 2019 I read 51 books, completing my goal of 50 for the year. I track my books in Goodreads, which is good motivation and also helps me remember what I read (and whether I liked it). Most importantly, it helps me find my next book. I’ve always found choosing books to be the hardest part.
I worked hard this year to pick up my Kindle instead of my phone when sitting on the couch or lying in bed, and I feel like this year re-solidified reading as a true hobby of mine. I’ve always loved to read, but as an “adult” it can feel less productive than what I “should” be doing, so for a long time I didn’t read nearly as often as I would have liked. But guess what? Reading books feels way better than scrolling Instagram. So I’m all in.
These are in approximate order of how much I loved them.
1. Love and Other Words (2018, romance)
I couldn’t put this book down. There are two timelines, “Now” and “Then”, and a secret between the two. I was torn, because I was compelled to find out the secret from their past, but I also didn’t want the book to end because it was such a pleasure to read. There was a lot of coming-of-age character development and that’s always one of my favorite themes.
2. The Night Tiger (2019, historical fiction / magical realism)
This was another book that I just raced through. There were multiple characters, multiple mysteries and perils, and a good handful of magic realism. I recommended this book to just about everyone I know who reads, because it was engrossing and fun to read. The setting, 1930s Malaysia, was the perfect backdrop to this mystical story.
3. In the Company of Women (2016, nonfiction interviews)
I’m late to this party, but I finally requested Grace’s book from the library and I savored every page. This book just oozes creativity, inspiration, and grit. Every one of the women interviewed has passion and ambition, but what unites them all most is that they all work really hard. It’s a realistic window into the lives of creative types, and shows that doing what you love isn’t easy and deserves a ton of respect.
4. Evvie Drake Starts Over (2019, romance)
I loved this book from page 9, where we find Evvie laying on the floor in the middle of the night because there’s just too much going on in her brain. My college roommate and I still talk about how great it was to come home from a day of class and just flop on the floor of our dorm room when the day had been too much. So from the start, I found Evvie delightfully relatable. Watching Evvie’s transformation from her past self into her true, thriving self was a great journey.
5. Little Fires Everywhere (2017, contemporary fiction)
Mia Warren’s character caused me to fall in love with this book. She is a photographer and mixed-media artist and I loved Celeste Ng’s descriptions of the various projects Mia would be working on. It always amazes me when an author manages to have such depth of imagination. This book exemplifies my favorite kind of book: I love stories about families and communities, their intersections and their quirks.
6. The Name of the Wind (2007, high fantasy)
I can barely recommend this book with good conscience because it’s the first in a trilogy, and the third book is still unfinished (perhaps unstarted…) even though the first was published in 2007. But I never read fantasy, and when I saw that this book began with a custom map, I almost put it down because that’s my general indication that it’s… not my thing. But I loved this book. It’s fantasy and definitely has some wacky magic, not to mention a dragon, but it’s different than any book I’ve ever read and I loved it.
7. The Bride Test (2019, romance)
The Bride Test is a companion book to The Kiss Quotient (2018), which I read last year. Each book begins with an unlikely premise/predicament, but Helen Hoang writes such a compelling story that I quickly forgot how unrealistic that one minor plot device could be. Both books feature characters on the autistic spectrum, and the way they are written is just perfect. They’re relatable and realistic, and it’s great to see the world from that perspective.
8. A Piece of the World (2017, historical fiction)
This book falls into the historical fiction genre but it’s almost a pseudo-biography. A well-researched and well-written story about real people. Its realism does mean that this is not a lighthearted book, but it was an interesting view into the life of Christina Olson and the artist Andrew Wyeth.
9. A Question of Holmes (2019, young adult mystery)
This is the fourth and final book in the Charlotte Holmes series, a cute set of books that explore the lives of the grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Watson – who work together (sometimes grudgingly) to solve mysteries, of course. I especially enjoyed the fourth book, as our protagonists finally got some much-needed character development and growth.
(start with Book 1, A Study in Charlotte)
I’m spoiled at our current house because I can walk to the library! But I tend to keep it even simpler than that, and borrow library ebooks to read on my Kindle. Hopefully you all know this, but I feel like lately I’ve met far too many people who don’t have library cards. Get a library card! They are pure magic.
I’m always looking for more books to add to my list! What did you enjoy reading last year?