Favorite Reads, 2019
I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say about my year in reading. It feels like I’ve been reading a LOT (171 books as of December 3rd), but I don’t think I’ll hit last year’s 188 book total. And yet, if you asked me, I think I’d say that I’ve spent more time reading this year than last. I’ve very often felt like curling up with a good book and just letting it take me away, and so I’ve done that. At the same time, it all feels a bit unremarkable; I liked a lot of books A LOT, but nothing really stands out as the one book YOU HAVE TO READ. They were all good. Six of the books are straight-up romance, seven are non-fiction. Three I read in 2018 as ARCS (they came out in 2019, so they go on my 2019 list), three made me cry. One is YA, one is middle grade. Eight are by authors I’ve read (and loved) in past years. In other words….
They’re good books, brent. Alphabetical by author:
- The Valedictorian of Being Dead, by Heather B Armstrong. Famous due to her blog, Dooce, Armstrong’s memoir of experimental treatment for depression is honest and heart-rending. Great for helping to understand what depression can feel like.
- Well Met, by Jen DeLuca. A Renaissance Faire setting for a romance novel? Yes yes yes! So wonderful and sweet. Loved it.
- The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, by Garrett M Graff. This is a sad read, and one of two 9/11 titles on this list; I think they’re ideal companions and should both be read. Important and gripping and made me cry.
- Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand. Ah, another summer book by the Queen of Beach Reading, but boy, was this one a doozy of a great read.
- The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang. Hoang is writing delightful romance novels about people who aren’t neurotypical, and they deliver. This book was cute and zany, and I loved it.
- Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes. Reviewers have described this book as cozy, a Hallmark movie, and charming, and those are perfect descriptions. Love the imperfections of the characters, and how real they feel.
- Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, by Mira Jacob. An absolutely shattering and perfect graphic novel memoir. It feels like an essential book about living in 2019, in the United States.
- Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane. So often the ends of books let me down. Not this absolute stunner. Worth all the hype, in my opinion. I still think about this book, and I read it in April as an ARC.
- All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership, by Darcy Lockman. As a woman married to a man, this book was familiar and disheartening and will, in fact, fill you with rage. But it was excellent and speaks truth to power. Don’t skip the chapter about how men avoid giving up their privilege. Essential.
- Brazen and the Beast, by Sarah MacLean. MacLean is doing really interesting things with alpha male heroes and alpha female heroines, and how they come together in a love relationship. In historical romances, no less. I loved every minute of this.
- Blitzed, by Alexa Martin. Martin is quickly becoming a VERY good romance writer. Third in a series set in the world of football, this romance is fun and flirty and frustrating, in all the best ways.
- Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. I somehow read this m/m romance in fall 2018, even though it came out in summer 2019. It made a huge impression at the time, and all the hype? Deserved. You love to see it.
- Dear Sweet Pea, by Julie Murphy. The only middle grade title on my list, by a YA author extraordinaire. Sweet Pea was funny, charming and really, really lovely. Adults could do worse than to read this, even childless ones like me.
- The Austen Playbook, by Lucy Parker. I *heart* Lucy Parker’s romances so much and I wish more romance readers knew about them. Unfortunately, libraries don’t really have them because she’s published by a small press. I made sure OLPL got them, though, so come check her out.
- A Better Man, by Louise Penny. Ah, the Gamache series. My first great mystery love. There hasn’t been a bad book in the series yet, and this one was just wonderful. You absolutely must read this series in order though!
- Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. So much hype for this one! I read it as an ARC in the fall of 2018, and I knew immediately that it would be big because it deserved to be big. Really entertaining.
- Birthday, by Meredith Russo. This book is a revelation. The format of this book is absolutely fascinating, and the story is really just…lovely. I had a hard time putting it down. Very compelling.
- No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, by Rachel Louise Snyder. Okay. This is a tough book. TOUGH. It’s heartbreaking and terrifying. Scary as sh*t. But it’ll make you rethink everything you thought you knew about domestic violence in the best possible way.
- The Witches Are Coming, by Lindy West. Lindy West writes the way I think. I always enjoy her essays, and this was no exception. Sharp writing underpinned with radical feminist thought.
- Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11, by Mitchell Zuckoff. A more narrative telling than the oral history above. Again, a very sad, hard read, from the first page to the last, but so important and so rewarding.