Well, 2019 was a slower year for me as far as reading goes. Compared to last year’s triple digit stats, I only read about 75 books. Due to some life changes I didn’t have as much time to read as I have in the past. But I’m not complaining.
For the first time ever I was part of a book club in 2019. I was only able to attend three times unfortunately. But because of this I read books I might not have otherwise; The Wedding, The Quiet Game, The Getaway Girls. I also participated in an online book club. The book choice was Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, which I didn’t like nearly as well as Jane Eyre. But I did enjoy discussing it with others online.
Once again my non-fiction choices revolved around my other obsession which happens to be classic film. I read a few biographies like Enchanted: The Life of Audrey Hepburn, Edith Head: The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell, Olivia de Havilland’s sarcastic but ladylike story of her life in France, Every Frenchman Has One and a book of celebrity interviews, You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet.
New Authors/Author Discoveries
I also continued with last year’s trend of trying new authors. In fact, around one third of the books I read this year were written by authors I had never read before. And several of those books made this year’s list of favorite reads . Some of my favorites discoveries were Lucy Parker, Christina Lauren, Jenn Bennett, Jules Wake, Melanie Benjamin, , Nancy Campbell Allen, Julie Berry, J’Nell Ciesielski and Tari Faris.
And now it’s time to share my favorite books of the year. If you follow my Top Ten Tuesday posts, you may already be familiar with these as I shared them there recently.
- Carry Me Home – A gorgeous historical romance debut with a unique setting by an Australian author. This book literally made me ache.
- Whose Waves These Are – Few authors can write with such poetical lyricism and also tie together the past and present in such a beautiful way. There’s such detail and complexity in this ultimately simple story.
- Suffering the Scot – I’ve long enjoyed this author’s historical rom-coms. But in her newest release she balances that humor with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness in a story of a woman longing to break free of societal and family expectations.
- What the Wind Knows – One of my favorite authors upped her game with absolutely gorgeous story-telling in every way.
- Fawkes – Loved the creative storytelling and genre mash-up of this book. It shattered all my pre-conceived notions.
- Drawn by the Frost Moon: Love the War Woman – Rarely have I read a book that does a better job of turning a villian into a hero and that also shows the feminine side of a female warrior
- Marilla of Green Gables – The “pre-quel” I never knew I always wanted that managed to honor the original author and her beloved series.
- The Girls in the Picture – I had no expectations and was happily surprised by how much I loved this fictionalization of two of Hollywood’s early female trail blazers. I also loved how it brought the historical industry to life.
- In Spite of Lions – This is another book I went into blind and found myself pleasantly surprised by how fascinating I found this subject material. Based on the lives of David and Mary Livingstone and tribal chief Sechele, this really made their story feel real.
- Shadow Among Sheaves – The biblical story of Ruth is a a familiar one. But this re-imagines it up by placing it in Victorian England. Turning the main characters into a British land-owner and an Indian widow gives a fresh spin on this tale.
- Beautiful in His Sight – This one introduced me to a major historical event I had never heard of before, namely the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Not to mention, it features a beautiful and redemptive romance which proves that appearances aren’t always what they seem.
- Wooing Cadie McCaffrey – This rom-com novel was sweet. But I appreciate that it tackles the notion of cinematic rom-com tropes and the unrealistic ideas of romance that they build up.
- Fearless – This author writes incredible stories in my favorite era (medieval). But this is definitely one of her best yet. It turns the assumptions about men’s and women’s roles as well as the idea of what it means to be a warrior upside down.
- Lovely War – This one barely squeaked in at the last minute. I just finished reading it. It’s such a creative way of telling not one, not two, but three love stories. I love that it manages to include some of the Greek gods as narrators. It’s also a sobering look at racism during the early years of the last century as well as a realistic portrayal of the effects of war.
If this year’s reading experiences have taught me anything, it is that it is worth it exploring new authors. And also, that reading time is precious and I need to be strategic about which books I give my time to. I hope your 2019 was full of great reading experiences. Here’s to 2020.