Another year has already come and gone. I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe that I read all 52 books in 2019. I was filled with doubt and, mostly, annoyance at myself. But then, after I finished, all I felt was pride, and a little tired.
This one is always the hardest… the recap. Which books were the best? Which were the worst? Which books are waiting for Hallmark to pick them up? I had to go back and read some posts to remember what I thought about some books. The ones I like are always the easiest; it also helped that my BFF asked me what my favorites were recently. But it’s the ones I didn’t like that are blocked from my memory.
Without further ado, here it is. The 2019 recap of Another Year of Books.
The Book to Read if You Love Big Little Lies
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
It helps that Moriarty wrote Big Little Lies. Despite a slow start, s**t will get crazy as nine strangers, who signed up a cleanse, will find themselves being part of a new practice, they didn’t sign up for. Get through the first section and you are in for a treat with this suspenseful read.
The Book to Read When You Want to Feel Empowered
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
Women can be empowered in the simplest of ways… equal opportunity, equal pay, eliminating child marriage or access to something as simple as contraceptives. Read Gates’ book to see how women around the world are being impacted by changes like these. You’ll feel the women power.
The Book to Avoid When You Want to Feel Empowered
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
I know that a good number of people are fans of Rachel Hollis, but this one didn’t turn me into one of those people. Hollis came off preachy and instead of empowering me to be more confident, I left feeling disappointed (completely different feeling than Gates’ book above).
The Book I’ve Gifted Twice Already
One Day in December by Josie Silver
It’s true. My sister got a copy for her birthday; my future sister-in-law got it for Christmas. It’s a quick read that has comedy, female friendship, and a meet-cute. It’ll have you rooting for a bus boy.
The Books to Read Followed by Movies to Watch
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (movie on Netflix)
Read the book, then watch the movie. Or vice versa works too. Each are great in their own right. Willowdean believes a swimsuit body is a body with a swimsuit on it, and she’s willing to take on a local pageant to prove it. Also, read Puddin’, the sequel.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
It’s a book, told from the perspective of the family dog. You can’t go wrong. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but as always, read the book first.
The Books I Would Avoid if I Were You
*This year, there were only a few books that fell into this category. Pretty impressive for 52 books, huh?
Family Trust by Kathy Wang
I have nothing to say, except this was my least favorite read of 2019. It dragged, and dragged, and dragged. Not cool.
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
If you can’t decide if you liked a book, you probably didn’t like it. That’s how I felt after reading this three-sectioned book.
The Sequel to Skip
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Do yourself a favor. Skip this sequel to The Devil Wears Prada and go right to number three. You’ll thank me later.
The Books to Read If You Love Corniness (Like Me)
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The last read of 2019 was the perfect ending. It has humor, chemistry, odd situations, and a little bit of luck. I liked every single page of this romantic comedy.
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenz
This book had me rolling me eyes at some of the corniness, yet turning the page each and every time. It’s a charmer focused on how life sometimes just works itself out.
The Memoirs to Read
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This was SO CLOSE to making the top 5 (it is #6). The only reason it didn’t is because it had a slow start, unlike the top 5. But come on, it’s Michelle Obama! She is a strong, powerful, inspiring woman, and this book shows that.
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
My friends and I love Ali Wong. I loved Always Be My Maybe on Netflix. I loved her comedy specials (also on Netflix). I loved this book filled with letters to her daughters. Her husband’s ending was the perfect touch.
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
Dorey-Stein becomes a White House stenographer during the Obama administration after answering a Craigslist ad. Experiences and drama follow. Could you imagine running on the treadmill, looking over, and seeing President Obama running next to you? Sir - I am a member of the local Planet Fitness. Stop by any time.
And finally, The Top 5 Reads of 2019:
This one was so tough. I flipped the order around so many times. This is what I finally settled on.
5. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are enjoying their successes, when, on a visit to Roy’s parents, he is accused and found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Celestial and Roy communicate through letters and short visits, but a marriage is hard to maintain as years pass. It’s a story of injustice, perseverance, and learning to move on. This book is beautifully written, with a high quality of writing on every page. Oprah liked it, I liked it, and you should too.
4. The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland
A dramatic family comes together for the first time in years, to celebrate the 70th birthday of its matriarch. Secrets will be revealed, drama will ensue, and a family might see that coming together is easier than you think. While I don’t see in a cruise in my future, I’d like to be sitting at the table next to the Feldmans.
3. Educated by Tara Westover
Westover was raised by survivalists in Idaho, and never stepped foot into a school until college. She tells stories of her herbalist mother who heals the worst injuries with home remedies, and a crush that helped show her the outside world. Westover sets her sights on BYU, but her education is not limited to the classroom. It’s a peek into how an education isn’t always limited to a degree you earned in a classroom. I was on the wait list for months to read this one. It was worth every day I had to wait.
2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Lale Sokolov, a Slokovian Jew, volunteers to be the family member sent to work for the Germans. He is taken under the wing of a fellow prisoner, and becomes the Tatowierer, marking his fellow prisoners with ID numbers. After meeting Gita, he vows to marry her. Morris tells a true story that needs to be told. You’ll read of beatings, shots fired, too many tattoos and the building of gas chambers. But you will also read of friendships between people, who wouldn’t have glanced at each other on the street. Most importantly, you’ll read of a hope that never dims, even in the worst of times.
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
There is a reason this book is still on the bestseller list, and why after being on the wait list for 3 weeks at the library, I finally caved and bought a copy. In her debut novel, Owens tells the story of Kya Clark, aka “Marsh Girl,” who raises herself after her entire family leaves her. Soon, an unthinkable thing happens, pitting the whole town against Kya. But will the facts say the same? Read it to find out.
I had to read this book because GMA (aka Grandma) told me to read it; of course, I had to listen. Yes, this book is a little weird. But it’s the best kind of weird; it’s the weird that keeps things moving. Trust me, read it. Out of 52 books, this one stands out for a reason.
I hope 2020 finds you all well, with a list of books waiting to be read. For the past three years, I have read at least 52 books a year. Honestly, it’s getting harder and harder each year. Work changes, commuting changes, chores to do, more and more streaming services (yes, I mean you, Disney+), all play a part.
For 2020, I decided I won’t be aiming for 52 books. Instead, I’ll just read however many I read. Instead of going for 52, I plan to reread the Harry Potter series, read the books on my bookshelf I have yet to touch, and to continue to go to the library whenever I can.
While I am not planning on reading as much as usual, I do plan to keep writing about some of them. It may not be all (do you really want to read 7 posts about Harry Potter? Probably not. Each would just talk about how everyone should go to the Studio Tour outside of London). So, Another Year of Books will be about the ones I like, or really dislike, and think you might want to read.
So cheers to all of you, readers of Another Year of Books! Thanks for sticking with me for another year; you are the best.
Happy 2020 friends,
Strand Bookstore, New York
Daunt Books, London