At the beginning of 2018, I started tracking my reading using Google Docs, and I haven’t stopped. Tracking my reading has become fun, even addictive, and it’s spurred me to read even more than I already was. And, despite what my husband might tell me when I’m up past my bedtime devouring a book, more reading is, as Martha Stewart would say, A Good Thing.
Before I dive into a discussion of my favorite books that I read in 2019, a quick peek at the nuts and bolts of my year in reading. As I mentioned, I read more in 2019 than I did in 2018. In 2018, I read 47 books (some of which I discussed here). In 2019, I read 66 books (and I finished one on January 1, 2020, which does not count towards my total)! All in all, this amounted to over 17,000 pages of reading completed. Not too shabby, if you ask me!
One of the most interesting new trends in my reading life in 2019 was how many books I borrowed from the library. In 2018, I did not use my library card even once, mostly because it was too much of a hassle to get myself physically to my local branch (see: children, laziness). In 2019, though, I discovered the life-changing Libby app and used it to borrow 44 out of the 67 books I completed (plus some others that I didn’t finish). This genius little app has saved me a lot of money and has allowed me to try books that I might not have been willing to shell out for. Borrowing books also takes the sting out of not finishing ones that simply aren’t for me. I can happily return an unfinished book to the library (digitally, of course) and let some other reader have at it.
Speaking of books I didn’t finish, there were quite a few. Among them: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt, and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. My reasons for not finishing these and other books are included in my reading notes, which can be found in my Google Doc here.
Now, onto just a few of my favorites that I read in 2019 (NB: not all of these books came out in 2019; in fact, many of them are pretty old).
Number one favorite: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. My review here.
Runner-up favorite: Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
Best memoir: Tie between Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb
Most surprising: Get in Trouble, by Kelly Link
Most practical: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
Most overrated: Tie between Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney
Best mystery: Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson
Best thriller: Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
Creepiest: Fever Dream, by Samanta Schweblin
Best non-memoir non-fiction: Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
Best sci-fi/fantasy: Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
And, of course, my least favorite read, which I joyfully did not finish, was Dare Me, by Megan Abbott. What an utter stinker. (Sorry, Megan Abbott, if you’re reading this (you’re not). I liked some of your other books but this one really REALLY did not work for me).
You can read more of my thoughts on all of the books I picked up this year on my Google Doc or on my Goodreads profile. We are now three days into 2020 and I’ve already finished two books and am midway into a third, so I’m hoping I can blow through my reading record for 2019 this year. Happy new year and happy reading!