2019 has been an incredible reading year for me! I have read quite a few books that have become all time favourites. Normally there is one book that really stands out for me, but this year there were three books that shared the top spot! So first I will share those with you, and then I will talk about the other books that made my top 10.
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
Bitter Orange has all of the elements that make me fall in love with a novel. It is descriptive, atmospheric, character-driven, and sinister. Claire Fuller has become one of my favourite authors and I am in awe of the way she is able to bring her stories to life. I began to feel suffocated while reading. I loved how the reader knows something is not right for the beginning, but things are slowly revealed. Some great twists!
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The Nickel Boys has been on many “Best of” lists this year and for good reason. After reading The Underground Railroad, I did not think that Whitehead would be able to outdo himself but he managed it with The Nickel Boys. It is devastating to know that The Nickel Academy is based on a real school and reading about the horrors that went on there was difficult. I know saying that a book is important is cliche, but I truly feel that way about this book. It was a gut punch!
Lanny by Max Porter
I do not even know how to begin to describe Lanny to you. It is one of those books that you just have to read in order to understand. There is a character named Dead Papa Toothwort who you need to discover for yourself! I think that this book has some important things to say about life, communities, grief, parenthood, etc., and does so in a way that is wholly original and thought-provoking. Lanny has such a sense of place. It is one of the most atmospheric novels that I have read in a long time- the village truly comes to life.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Ah this book! I get emotionally just thinking about it. As someone who has had a cat all of my life, this one hit me straight in the feels. I thought that the fact that the narrator is a cat may be cheesy, but it is just works. I thought that Nana’s commentary was exactly how I imagined my own cat to think. The mutual love between Nana and Satoru is endearing.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews has quickly become an autobuy author for me. Women Talking made this list last year and I would not be surprised to see one of books on this list again in 2020. There is something about her writing that resonates with me. I appreciate that she comes to her stories from a place of experience. What I loved about All My Puny Sorrows was the focus on the relationship between sisters and the ethical/moral questions that is poses.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
By far my favourite YA novel of the year! I loved that cooking was almost magical and I am always here for a main character with a passion. I also thought that the romance was very sweet and realistic. I will read anything Acevedo writes. Can’t wait for her 2020 release!
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I have mentioned a few times how much I love books that involve art in some way. That was definitely a big part of Starfish. I am drawn to stories where the main character uses art as an outlet to work through grief or hardship. I was truly moved by this story and it has stayed with me.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I have seen some mixed reviews for Normal People, but I personally thought it was fantastic and so authentic. One of the most honest looks at relationships that I have ever read. At honest look at how a person can bring out both the best and the worst in you.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I would say that City of Girls was the most surprising book of 2019. Admittedly, I was not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love so I was reluctant to pick up anything else from Elizabeth Gilbert. I am so glad that I gave into the hype because City of Girls blew me away. The imagery is so vivid and I loved that we follow the main character throughout her lifetime. I adored Vivian and I actually find myself missing her. I need to reread it at some point!
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
Disoriental is by far the most underhyped book on this list, which is such a shame! I read it early on in the year and the story has stayed with me. It is the book that inspired me to read more books in translation. Disoriental alternated between the past and the present, which can easily go wrong, but Djavadi made it feel seamless. I enjoyed both narratives equally.
Honorable mentions: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Looking back on my list of favourites I made a few interesting observations. Two of the books are translated, so I obviously need to read more translated works in 2020. Five books where written by author’s who I have read from in the past, and five are new to me authors. While only two of the books are YA, that is more than there has been in the past.
What was your favourite books of 2019?