2019 Year in Review –> 2020 Goals

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By the Numbers:

I read 167 total books this year! I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but it’s true! Last year I read 154 books, and I intentionally made it a goal to read less this year. Clearly, that didn’t work out for me. 🙄 In 2020, my goal is going to be 100 books.

According to Goodreads, I read 56,432 pages and I averaged a 4.0 star rating. (My personal average was 3.9, but Goodreads doesn’t recognize ½ stars so I’m sure that’s where the discrepancy comes in.)

Author:

Out of 167 books read, 130 (78%) were written by women, 35 (21%) were written by men, and 2 (1%) were written by authors who self-identify as gender nonconfoming. In 2020, I want to add a whole lot more diversity to the authors I read. I want more men, gender nonconforming authors, and more diverse authors.

Genres:

As for genres, I like the diveristy in my reading. Here’s the official breakdown: 37% fiction, 12% nonfiction, 11% historical fiction, 16% memoir, 10% thriller/mystery, 10% YA/middle grade, 3% fantasy/scifi, and 1% humor. I want to continue to read widely, but I especially want to focus on reading more #ownvoices in 2020.

Success Rate:

If you follow Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), you know she’s all about the data. And while I’m not quite as good with numbers as she is, I have been inspired to try tracking my reading a little differently. This year, I had a 74% successful rate for books I finished (like Sarah, I count any book I rated 3.5 stars or higher as successful). When I add in the books I DNF’d that number fell to 57% 😔. Next year, I want to get better at reading books I know are in my wheelhouse. Sure, sometimes it’s fun to be surprised by a book you wouldn’t normally pick up, but I want more quality in 2020!

Book Length:

My average book length is 337 pages and I would really like to see that number higher in 2020. Part of the reason I am making it a goal again this year to read less is because I want to be able to read some longer books and not have to worry about the pressure to meet a number goal at the end of the year (quality vs quantitiy, see above). I also learned this year that, even though big books can feel daunting, they usally end up among my favorites. I have a few books on my shelves that are 400+ pages and I don’t want a reason to skip over them!

Popularity Contest:

The most popular book I read was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which makes sense because it was published in 2011. This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it so much more the second time around! The least popular book I read was Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta. If you’re interested in the writing life at all, I would definitely recommend it!

#bujo:

This year I played around with bullet journaling. Two of my favorite bookstagrammers that bujo are: Allyson (@bookstaandbujo) and Jorie (@jojobuckreads). They take bujo-ing to the next level and I love seeing what they come up with.

Jorie totally inspired me (and everyone else it seems!) with this Book of the Year spread!

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Favorite Books:

And while Know My Name by Chanel Miller is definitely the Most Important Read of the Year, my Favorite Books of the Year were actually City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Fiction) and The Only Plane in the Sky by: Garrett M. Graff (Nonfiction).

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By the Month:

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Honorable Mentions by Month:

January 

  • Waiting for Eden by: Eliot Ackerman
  • The Paragon Hotel by: Lyndsay Faye
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by: John Carreyrou
  • Golden Child by: Claire Adam
  • Sugar Run by: Mesha Maren

February

  • The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides
  • Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Daughters by: T. Kira Madden
  • The Huntress by: Kate Quinn

March:

  • A Woman is No Man by: Etaf Rum
  • A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian
  • Next Year in Havana by: Chanel Cleeton
  • The Island of Sea Women by: Lisa See
  • Queenie by: Candace Carty-Williams
  • The Other Americans by: Laila Lalami

April

  • I Miss You When I Blink by: Mary Laura Philpott
  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by: Mira Jacob
  • Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts
  • Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim
  • #IMomSoHard by: Kristen Hensley & Jen Smedley
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by: Brittney Cooper
  • Life Will Be the Death of Me…And You Too! by: Chelsea Handler
  • The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by: Melinda Gates

May

  • Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by: Shauna Niequist
  • Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia
  • Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane
  • With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Farm by: Joanne Ramos
  • The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth
  • The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal
  • Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner
  • Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

June

  • The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary
  • Fall & Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff
  • Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand

July

  • The Editor by: Steven Rowley
  • The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger
  • American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by: Maureen Callahan
  • Americanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Chain by: Adrian McKinty
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal

August

  • Dear America: Notes from an Undocumented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas
  • More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by: Elaine Welteroth
  • Dry by: Augusten Burroughs
  • Patsy by: Nicole Dennis-Benn

September

  • After the Flood by: Kassandra Montag
  • The World That We Knew by: Alice Hoffman
  • The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 by: Garrett M. Graff
  • Red, White, & Royal Blue by: Casey McQuiston
  • The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt

October

  • The Dutch House by: Ann Patchett
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by: Linda Holmes
  • The Turn of the Key by: Ruth Ware
  • A Monster Calls by: Patrick Ness
  • The Dearly Beloved by: Cara Wall
  • The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern

November

  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by: Dani Shapiro
  • In the Dream House by: Carmen Maria Machado
  • How We Fight For Our Lives by: Saeed Jones
  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants by: Bill Bryson

December

  • The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller
  • Recursion by: Blake Crouch

Whew! That was A LOT! I’m curious: have you done a 2019 reading wrap up and/or set your goals for 2020? I’d love to hear them!

 

The Most Important Book of 2019

E1454893-F875-46C2-A0FF-C4CA15007341All of my Top Lists of 2019 have already been published (The Best of the Best: My Top Fiction Book & Nonfiction Book of 2019Top 10 Fiction Books of 2019Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2019Top 10 Backlist Books I Read in 2019Top 10 Audiobooks of 2019, and 2019 Honorable Mentions), but I saved the most important for last!

READ THIS BOOK ASAP!

In January 2015, Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, a student-athlete at Stanford University. For the duration of the trial, Miller was referred to as “Emily Doe”, but with the release of her memoir, Know My Name, earlier this year, she rightfully took back the narrative of her story.

Miller’s writing is brilliant and well thought out. She doesn’t come across as a whiny victim; she simply wants to be seen and known as something more than just “Brock’s victim”. She is anything but that. She is smart and funny and enjoys art. She is loved dearly by her mother, father, sister, and boyfriend.

I believe this book should be added to high school (and college) curriculums, and I believe every mama (of girls AND boys) needs to read it. Miller quite pointedly explains to us what sexual assault is and what it looks like. She teaches us how it penetrates all aspects of a survivor’s life, from her own personal demons to those of her loved ones. And she shows us how our society perpetuates and tolerates a pervasive rape culture.

“What we needed to raise in others was this instinct. The ability to recognize, in an instant, right from wrong. The clarity of mind to face it rather than ignore it. I learned that before they had chased Brock, they had checked on me. Masculinity is often defined by physicality, but that initial kneeling is as powerful as the leg sweep, the tackling. Masculinity is found in the vulnerability, the crying.” (pg 123, acknowledging how the two Swedes, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonnson, reacted when they witnessed Miller’s assault.

2019 Honorable Mentions

I’ll be finishing the year having read roughly 170 books. So believe me when I tell you that picking the top 10 best books of the year can be really hard! I did it, but I also wanted to take a moment to let you about a few more books that didn’t make my final cut.

I’m sure I left out a book here or there that’s worthy of being mentioned, but I hope you’ve enjoyed the various lists I’ve put together for you!

Here are some links to the other posts already published:

Now, on to the Honorable Mentions of 2019!

 

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The World That We Knew by: Alice Hoffman

I love how Hoffman writes magical realism, and this one was a perfect blend of that magical element and historical fiction!

The Paragon Hotel by: Lindsay Faye

I loved this one and it would have made my Top 10 List had the syntax not taken so long to get the hang of. It was a totally new perspective on Portland, Oregon than I’ve ever heard and I was fascisnated.

Mrs Everything by: Jennifer Weiner

I was expecting something on the lighter side when I picked this one up, but found it surprisingly deeper. I also thought it would be more popular than it was, but either way, I really liked this one!

Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand

I had never read Hilderbrand prior to this one and many of my book twins didn’t love it, but I personally did! I loved the time period and the setting and found it to be the perfect escape earlier this year!

 

Memoir:

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How We Fight For Our Lives by: Saeed Jones

Jones has a powerful way with words and this memoir touched my heart. I listened to the audiobook; Jones narrarates it himself and that adds to the overall impact of the book.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas

Vargas is a journalist and his intelligene shows through in this book. He brings a new and valuable perspective to the issue of immigration and it’s absolutely timely.

Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

This is a tough one  because it wasn’t a total homerun for me; however, it was well-written and an important perspective to the coming out conversation. I also lived vicariously through the story because a summer in Montauk sounds absolutely fabulous!

All That You Leave Behind by: Erin Lee Carr

Many mentioned this one as a good book that handles grief…and while I agree, it wasn’t among the top memoirs I read this year. I loved reading about the relationship Carr had with her father and there were some great takeaways for me.

Long Life the Tribe of Fatherless Daughters by: T. Kira Madden

This is an extremely open and honest look into Madden’s coming of age story. It’s full of trigger warnings (addiction, rape, assault, etc), but also so very well written and good! I highly recommend it!

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by: Brittney Cooper

I also listened to this one on audiobook and it is narrated by Cooper. She is so smart and I learned A LOT from this one!

 

Best Book Club Choices:

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Golden Child by: Claire Adam

I personally think a book club pick should be divisive, controversial, and full of discussion topics. This book fits all of those things…and more! The ending will leave you reeling and it’s sure to ignite a lively conversation at your book club meeting. It’s also a story that sticks with you long after you’ve finished it!

The Dearly Beloved by: Cara Wall

Not my favorite book I read this year, but it’s full of lively discussion topics. Wall tackles issues of faith and everyone should be able to find themselves somewhere in one (or more) of the characters.

The Need by: Helen Phillips

This one is best to go into blind. You don’t want to know much about it as it could potentially spoil the overall effect. Once you’ve read it, you’ll definitely want to talk to someone about what happened…a great choice for your next book club selection!

The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger

Not only did this book gain a lot of attention this summer, it also did a fairly good job of dividing its readers. Some seemed to love it and others could have done without. While I fell firmly in the middle immediately after finishing it, I have found that its premise has grown on me as the months have passed. Regardless, there’s a lot to discuss here and it would be an excellent choice for a book club!

The Farm by: Joanne Ramos

Books that fall under the dystopian genre (an imagined state or society where there is great injustice and suffering) are perfect choices for book clubs. They meet all the requirements of division and controversy. Add in topics that are hot political issues and you have a definite winner. This one will challenge your beliefs and give you some great conversation!

The Dreamers by: Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers is a great choice if you like to speculate about what is acutally going on. It’s not so outlandish that it doesn’t feel realistic – it seems as if such an epidemic really could happen! This is an imaginitive novel that will liven up any book club meeting!

 

Fiction, With More Substance:

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A Woman is No Man by: Etaf Rum

This one has stuck with me since I read it. Powerfully done, it really touched my heart.

The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

There are many deeply flawed, but relatable, characters in this story and I loved it! I couldn’t put it down!

Very Nice by: Marcy Dermansky

This book was like a soap opera – full of drama and eccentric characters – I could not stop reading this one. I think I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because it was that good! I hope someone picks it up to make it into a movie because it would be excellent!

Patsy by: Nicole Dennis-Benn

So many parts of this book made me angry and made me want to throw it across the room. However, the writing is excellent and the issues it talks about are so good and I ultimately appreciated the growth all of the characters showed.

Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams

This book requires patience and trust on the part of the reader. For awhile, it’s just irritating and it will make you want to DNF…but if you stick with it, it begins to blossom into a beautiful story that will change your heart.

Sugar Run by: Mesha Maren

I found this story facisnating! Many didn’t like it, but I found it meditative. I especially enjoyed the main character and was rooting for her throughout the book.

The Other Americans by: Leila Lalami

Worthy of much more buzz than it got, this book gave me a lot to think about.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

I still haven’t read Jaswal’s first book, but if it’s anything like this one, I’m in for a treat. Light and sweet, it’s also very deep and meaningful. I related to the element of grief and I thought the story was well done.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal

Again, I haven’t read Stradal’s first book, but many argue it’s even better than this one. I liked this one so much so I’m excited…I can’t imagine how it could get much better!

Red At the Bone by: Jacqueline Woodson

When an author gives mulitple perspectives surrounding the same time period or event, I’m automatically interested. Add Woodson’s writing ability to that equation and you’ve got a great book!

 

Nonfiction:

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Fall & Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff

I’m a big fan of reading anything related to the events surrounding 9/11 and this one is well done! I preferred The Only Plane in the Sky, but also think they offer different things (while also reiterating some of the same things).

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by: Bill Bryson

This book was so fun! Factual information can be fairly boring, but Bryson has a way of relaying that information and I couldn’t put it down!

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by: Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I probably liked this one the more because it was set in Colorado so I was familiar with a lot of the landmarks Fajardo-Anstine talked about. However, the short stories were interesting as well and I enjoyed reading them (that coming from someone who isn’t crazy about short story collections)!

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by: John Carreyrou

I think everybody has heard of this story by now and for good reason! It’s a fascinating look into the Pheranos scandal in Silicon Valley. Carreyrou is a talented writer and this one almost reads more like fiction!

 

Thriller/Mystery:

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Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim

This book made me question how far I would go to protect my children. It’s an interesting question and one that I’m not sure you can answer until you’re put in a position that requires you to make a choice.

The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides

I loved this psycholically twisted mystery and it made me appreciate the thriller genre in a whole new way!

The Doll Factory by: Elizabeth Macneal

One of the most atmospheric reads I had this year, there was something about this one that kept me reading. Ultimately, it’s a very slow burn and it won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it!

The Chain by: Adrian McKinty

I think it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to think about their child being kidnapped. But would if you had to kidnap another kid in order to get your child back? That’s the premise of this book and it had me hooked from the beginning.

The Whisper Man by: Alex North

A lot of people thought this was super creepy. I wasn’t all that scared, but I still enjoyed it as a thriller and couldn’t wait to find out how it ended.

The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth

There is a mystery to be solved in this one, but it’s much deeper than that. There’s a lot to unpack here and I really enjoyed it!

 

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by: Linda Holmes

A romance done right usually gives me all the happy vibes and this one did not disappoint. It was light and fun and I really enjoyed reading it!

The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary

Maybe my favorite romance I read this year, this one has it all! I loved the characters and the progression of the story. It wasn’t cheesy and didn’t have dialogue that made you roll your eyes as you read it. I loved everything about it.

Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey

Out of the three, this one is probably the cheesiset, but it still didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself while I read it.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas, Friends! 🎄

Today seems like the perfect day to let all of you know just how grateful I am to have you sharing this small piece of the internet.

I don’t have a lot of friends IRL who read (let alone LOVE to talk about books) like I do, so to have a place to do that is priceless for me.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and I look forward to sharing another bookish year with you!

Merry Christmas! 🎅🏻

The Best of the Best: My Top Fiction Book & Nonfiction Book of 2019

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Here they are: my favorite fiction book and nonfiction book of 2019!

Fiction:

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

“At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”

When 19-year-old Vivian Morris gets kicked out of college, she finds herself moving in with her Aunt Peg who owns a rundown theater, the Lily Playhouse. There she is introduced to an eclectic assortment of characters – flamboyant, vivid, and unconventional. Vivian has a lot of growing up to do and as she discovers who she is and what kind of life she desires, she makes mistakes and grows from them.

Admist the razzle dazzle of the theater and the showgirls, the setting of NYC is fabulous! I’m so glad I was able to read this one while vacationing there with my husband; it really brought the book to life in such a memorable way!

This book still manages to find its way into my mind from time to time. It’s the perfect balance between light-heartedness and fun, but also deeper and more complicated issues. This book made my Mid-Year Top 10 List back in July and it was never knocked off from its #1 spot in my mind. I also mentioned it on Sarah’s Book Shelves Live Podcast as one of the books that has deserved all the hype it’s gotten.

Nonfiction:

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by: Garrett M. Graff (Avid Reader Press) – Pub Date: September 10, 2019

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this amazing book except READ IT! Powerful, emotional, and essential, it is THE book of all books.

Told in oral history format, Graff took meticulous notes to compile a priceless historical account of the day that changed the world, September 11, 2001. This is a book that should be read by every American, and I also believe it needs to be added to high school and college curriculums everywhere.

This book is outstanding in every way. While I initially read the print version, audiobook will be next for me. This is one of those books that I will recommend for years to come and I plan to visit it as a reread annually.

I’d love if you leave a comment below telling me your favorite fiction book and nonfiction book of 2019!

Top 10 Fiction Books of 2019

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If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais (Putnam) – Pub Date: July 16, 2019

This was a strong contender for my favorite fiction book of the year (find out what I chose as my favorite on Tuesday!). It narrowly missed the top spot! I like to think of this book as one that sneaks up on you…around the halfway mark, it really takes off and before you know it, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you’ve finished the book. These are my favorite kinds of reads – the ones that make time disappear. It’s been months since I read this book and I still catch myself thinking about it at least once a week. It just has staying power and I adored it! (I take every opportunity I can get to mention this book!

You can find other mentions here: 5 Books That Flew Under the Radar5 Books I’m Thankful For…, Book Flights Vol. 1 and Mid-Year Top 10.)

After the Flood by: Kassandra Montag (William Morrow) – Pub Date: September 3, 2019

What would you do to survive if suddenly the entire world was underwater? I certainly wasn’t expecting to love this one as much as I did, but it had all the themes I really enjoy: dystopia, motherhood, grief, grit, hope, and determination.

This book was also mentioned in: 5 Books That Flew Under the RadarTop 5 Surprising Reads of 2019!, and Grief: Be the Expert, Ask the Expert, Become the Expert

Cantoras by: Carolina De Robertis (Knopf) – Pub Date: September 3, 2019

Sometimes a book comes along that changes your world. It changes your perspectives, your opinions, and your empathy levels. I loved how this book made me emotional – extremely happy, extremely sad, and everything in between. I learned a little about Uruguay’s political past, but mostly I found the idea of one’s “chosen families” and what that can mean. I know I’m grateful for my chosen family and wish everyone could find that comfort and safety for themselves.

Also mentioned here: 5 Books That Flew Under the Radar, and Top 5 Surprising Reads of 2019!

The Most Fun We Ever Had by: Claire Lombardo (Doubleday) – Pub Date: June 25, 2019

If you’re looking for some over-the-top snark and dysfunction, this is the book for you! Full of eccentric characters and complicated issues, I loved being in the world of the Sorensons. This book has themes of family secrets, forgiveness, and hope. While this book is long (many have said it could have been about 100 pages less), I thought it read quickly. 

The Dutch House by: Ann Patchett (Harper) – September 24, 2019

The thing I loved most about this complicated family drama was the sibling relationship presented. So many times, I feel like books pit siblings against each other instead of in close, caring relationships so this was a nice change from that usual trope. It did get a bit long and repetitve at times, but I’m a fan of Patchett and truly enjoyed this one!

Red, White and Royal Blue by: Casey McQuiston (St. Martin’s) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

This one caught me completely by surprise! I loved everything about this book – it had the perfect balance between light-hearted romance, the exploration of deeper issues, and a well-developed plot and characters. Besides, who isn’t intrigued with the idea of a romance between America’s First Family and the British Royal Family?

Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts (Ballantine) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019

This historical fiction book about the creation of the Wizard of Oz flew under the radar and deserved so much more recognition than it got. In a genre that easily gets bogged down by WWII, this was a fresh and (mostly) upbeat change of pace.

I also mentioned this one in the following posts: Mid-Year Top 10 and 5 Books That Flew Under the Radar.

A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian (Algonquin) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019

Another book that totally flew under the radar (in my opinion), and I really wish more people would have read it. I loved the characters in this one and appreciated a story where the relationships between women was supportive and genuine rather than competitive or ugly. While the people live in dire circumstances, they were optimistic and hopeful.

This one is also on my Mid-Year Top 10 list!

Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine) Pub Date: March 5, 2019

I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but this book is so well done and in a class of its own! The audiobook is equally as good as the print version (Daisy made my Top 10 Audiobooks of 2019), and in fact, I devoured the story in both forms. I got different things from each version, so I’d encourage you to do the same!

Daisy is also on my Top 5 Surprising Reads of 2019!

Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane (Scribner) – Pub Date: May 28, 2019

This book has it all – coming-of-age, tragedy, complicated relationships, love, forgiveness, and hope. I read this clear back in May and included it in my Mid-Year Top 10 List. It has stuck with me all that time and now makes its reappearance for my final list of Top 10 Books for the year!

Top 10 Backlist Books I Read in 2019

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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by: Cheryl Strayed

I mentioned this one yesterday in my Top 10 Audiobooks of 2019, but this one is equally as good in print form! I began it on audiobook, but loved it so much I immediately ordered the book because there is so much I wanted to underline and remember. I absolutely love this book; it’s definitely an all-time favorite!

We Were the Lucky Ones by: Georgia Hunter

This was the first book I read in 2019 and it has totally stuck with me. Sarah had the author on her podcast and it prompted me to pick it up immediately! It’s an historical fiction novel that reads like memoir and I couldn’t put it down!

The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt

This was a reread for me and I loved it more the second time around. Tartt writes about grief so well. I also really enjoyed the plot much more this time; something about the book was easier for me to understand after having some background. It also may have helped that I hosted an online book club and we had some great insight and discussions to help us decipher the story. (This book is included in my post about grief.)

The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern

Another reread in anticipation of Morgenstern’s recent release, The Starless Sea (my review), I also appreciated this one much more the second time around. What I love about Morgenstern’s writing is her ability to create magical worlds that I want to immerse myself in. I thought the character and plot developement were a little flat, but the imagery she created made this one such a great atmosperic read! (Also, if you have to choose, I suggest The Night Circus over The Starless Sea!)

Americanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Admittedly, it took me awhile to get into this one, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. This book forces the reader to think. I see this book being added to high school and college curriculum to better teach the nuances of issues like race and class privilege, racism, immigration and emigration. I think it will one day be classified as a modern classic – and for good reason! 

Dry by: Augusten Burroughs

I have never read Burroughs before (apparently he has quite a list of published books!), but this book was so well-written, I was engrossed in his story. In Dry, he talks about his struggles with sobriety, admitting himself to a rehab facility, and the loss of one of his closest friends. It’s raw and honest and I truly appreciate when an author can give the reader their heart and soul. Dry is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read!

A Monster Calls by: Patrick Ness

This book was beautiful and good and so unexpectedly gorgeous! About cancer, caretaking, and grief, this book gave me all the feels. I know I will return to this quick read over and over again because it truly handles the topics and themes of grief so well. (I also included this on my post about grief.)

Dear America: Notes of an Undocutmented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas

Vargas was brought to America as a young boy, but when he went to the DMV to get his learner’s permit for driving, he found out that all of his documentation was fake and he was not, in fact, a US citizen! This book gives detailed insight into America’s problematic immigration system. This read is timely given the situation on the US/Mexico border and I think all Americans (especially those in politics) need to read this book!

Waiting for Eden by: Elliot Ackerman

This book packs a punch in its small size. It’s a beautiful meditation on death, love, loyalty, guilt, and yearning. This book’s premise is unlike anything I’ve read before and Elliot Ackerman masterfully delivers. You’ll want to add this one to your TBR soon, if you haven’t read it already!

Next Year in Havana by: Chanel Cleeton

For some one who claims not to llove rereading books, I sure did a lot of it this year! TI’m happy to report that the rereading of this book held up! This gives the reader the most interesting Cuban history and Cleeton’s writing makes you feel like your walking along the seawall in Havana! Maybe my favorite historical fiction book ever, I can’t wait to revisit it again in the future!

There you have it…my top reads of backlist books in 2019. What books would you add to the list?