Before I get started with my annual recap of the books I read in the past year, I wanted to acknowledge that this blog turned ten years old about a week ago. It’s gone through a lot of changes during that time and I obviously had a lot more time to write when I first started it. But even though I don’t post as often as I’d like (and I know that’s bad for gaining traction and just existing on the web, etc.), I still like knowing that my little corner of the web is here with my mundane thoughts and babblings, the weird stuff I’ve come up with, and the books I’ve read.
Which takes me to the books. In 2019, I set a goal to read 25 books and ended up reading 31. I read 30 books in 2018, but while I only read one additional book in terms of overall numbers in 2019, my page count jumped up quite a bit. I read 1,484 pages more in 2019 than I did in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a few books. Or a really big book. Really, I think it amounted to reading longer books this year (and also continuing to do more audiobooks throughout). So I feel pretty good about hitting 31 books with that overall page count.
So let’s get to it. It’s important to note that not all of these books were published in 2019. This isn’t that kind of post. I just get a lot of requests for book recs. Here are the books I read in 2019, along with my book stats (courtesy of my Goodreads annual roundup).
|Title||Author||Dates Read||My Rating||Genre|
|Becoming||Michelle Obama||Jan 1-27, 2019||5/5 Stars||Nonfiction; Memoir|
|The Library Book||Susan Orlean||Feb 5-23, 2019||4/5 Stars||Nonfiction|
|The Wife Between Us||Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen||Feb 21-Mar 1, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller|
|Daisy Jones & The Six||Taylor Jenkins Reid||Mar 28-Apr 3, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|The Silent Patient*||Alex Michaelides||Mar 27-Apr 9, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller|
|Queenie||Candice Carty-Williams||Apr 3-10, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|An American Marriage||Tayari Jones||Apr 10-May 18, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Sometimes I Lie||Alice Feeney||May 5-14, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller|
|Britt-Marie Was Here||Fredrik Backman||May 12-28, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Shrill*||Lindy West||May 1-June 25, 2019||4/5 Stars||Nonfiction; Essays; Memoir|
|Educated||Tara Westover||June 8-27, 2019||5/5 Stars||Nonfiction; Memoir|
|Lady Killer||Lisa Scottoline||July 4-13, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Mystery/Thriller|
|All We Ever Wanted||Emily Giffin||July 12-22, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Summer of ’69||Elin Hilderbrand||July 25-Aug 10, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction; Historical Fiction|
|Rush||Lisa Patton||August 10-27, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction|
|No Exit||Taylor Adams||Aug 20-31, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller|
|P.S. I Still Love You||Jenny Han||Aug 28-Sept 7, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Young Adult|
|An Anonymous Girl*||Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen||Aug 12-Sept 16, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller|
|Always and Forever, Lara Jean||Jenny Han||Sept 8-24, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Young Adult|
|Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love*||Jonathan Van Ness||Sept 24-25, 2019||4/5 Stars||Nonfiction; Memoir; Celebrity Memoir|
|Hey Ladies||Michelle Markowitz & Caroline Moss||Sept 25-30, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating||Christina Lauren||Oct 2-23, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction; Romance|
|The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11*||Garrett M. Graff||Oct 23-Nov 4, 2019||5/5 Stars||Nonfiction; Historical Accounts|
|Ninth House||Leigh Bardugo||Oct 28-Nov 13, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Fantasy|
|The Bookish Life of Nina Hill*||Abbi Waxman||Oct ?-Nov 15, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Evvie Drake Starts Over||Linda Holmes||Nov 18-30, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction|
|Someone Knows||Lisa Scottoline||Dec 5-12, 2019||4/5 Stars||Fiction; Domestic Thriller|
|Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee*||Casey Cep||Dec 3-22, 2019||4/5 Stars||Nonfiction|
|Christmas Shopaholic||Sophie Kinsella||Dec 15-24, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction|
|The New Me||Halle Butler||Dec 26-27, 2019||3/5 Stars||Fiction|
|The Family Upstairs||Lisa Jewell||Dec 29-31, 2019||5/5 Stars||Fiction; Thriller; Domestic Thriller; Suspense|
I read and enjoyed a few books in 2019 that I probably wouldn’t have picked up if not for #Bookstagram (follow that hashtag on Instagram) and the community of readers sharing books and reviews there. But even though I didn’t like some of those books as much as others did (example: I really didn’t like the Silent Patient that much, and I liked it even less the more I thought about it after I read it), I’m still glad that I read those books. I didn’t quit any books in 2019.
Top 5 Favorite Books in 2019
I’ll be the first to tell you that my ratings system probably could use a little work. I tend to judge a book based on how I feel immediately after reading it. I rate most books as a 4 because I really like them. If I just plain like a book, I’ll rate it a 3. If I’m crazy about it, it’s a 5. Somehow, though, not all 5s are among my favorites. I can’t figure that out, but I’ll try to be more consistent in 2020. Anyway, here are my absolute favorites that I read in 2019, in no particular order.
1. Educated by Tara Westover – a truly incredible memoir about Westover’s atypical upbringing in a survivalist, doomsdayer family in the mountains of Idaho, as well as her quest for education, despite not stepping foot in a classroom until she was 17 years old. What would you give up to pursue an education?
2. The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff – This was, hands down, my absolute FAVORITE book in 2019. I listened to the audio which just added another layer of total heartbreak to this comprehensive collection of stories, woven together as the author moves minute by minute of that day. Had me remembering all of the details of where I was that day, too. So good. Difficult, but worth it in every way.
3. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – I’m a fan of thriller and suspense novels, but this one really gave me a run for my money. There were lots of twists I wasn’t able to anticipate and I stayed up way, way too late reading until I finished it.
4. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep – This book is told in three parts. The first reads as a mystery, telling the story of the Rev. Willie Maxwell and how his wives and others close to him ended up dead — and he as the beneficiary of their life insurance. But then at one of the funerals, someone shoots and kills Willie. The second part is about the lawyer for the trial. The third part is about Harper Lee and her interest in the case. She’d planned to write about it, but never did. It also looks at her meticulous work with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood (and examines that book and Capote’s claims about it a little more closely), and, of course, discusses To Kill a Mockingbird extensively. It’s nonfiction, and my English major heart found it fascinating. It opened my eyes to some things about Lee, Atticus, and TKAM for sure, though.
5. No Exit by Taylor Adams – This book was super intense. Once it starts, you’re on the edge of your seat, hoping for the best. There are some really graphic parts (violence) if that bugs you. But I’ll tell you what: I never look at a rest stop on the turnpike the same after reading this. This book is a heart-stopper.
Honorable Mentions (the rest of the top 10):
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
I could talk about books for a long time, but I know you have the attention span of a goldfish. Less than that, even. You can follow me on Instagram: @renee.reads.books. Please know that I don’t have “aesthetic” or whatever the kids call it.
Drop me a line below and tell me what you read this year, what you loved, what you hated, and what you’re excited to read in 2020!