2019 was a pretty great reading year for me. I read an unprecedented (for me) 120 books, and actively read outside of my comfort zone or my usual genres. I found some books that I really disliked, some books I was disappointed by, some books that were surprises, and a lot of books I ultimately loved. Compiling a top ten list is a little arbitrary by number, but thinking of how to narrow down the list, and what made the cut and what didn’t, was quite difficult yet made me think of which books I loved beyond all else. The list itself has surprised me, there is non-fiction, and fantasy, and a list compiled mostly of brand new authors!
The list itself is in no particular order:
The Priory of the Orange Tree Samantha Shannon (review)
This book was my first foray into Shannon’s literature, and was pretty much the first time I had read an epic adult fantasy written by a woman. It was rich in fantasy, diverse in a non-tokenistic manner, and powerfully feministic and I thought the world of the book. I ended up ordering a signed copy in addition to the ARC I was lucky enough to win and feel like the book was a ground-breaking entry into a male dominated field.
Red, White, and Royal Blue Casey McQuiston (review)
This book completely caught me by surprise. I have never heard of the author, or much of the hype surrounding it when I was reading it, but quickly fell in love with the political setting, the depth of the characters and the plight of their love story, and was pretty devastated when the book was finished and I couldn’t continue reading about them.
Becoming Michelle Obama (review)
I’ve always liked Michelle Obama, I mean, what’s not to like, but I don’t think I really knew that much about her! This book was warm and funny and interesting and really shed a new light on so many events and moments that we have seen happen. It was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed the narration she provided for the audiobook too.
Nevernight Jay Kristoff
I don’t know if I put off reading thing because I had heard bad things about it, or whether it just didn’t cross my radar for whatever reason, but this book came really close to being my book of the year, because it is really good. It’s unfiltered and dark and funny and action packed and I just adored it.
Ninth House Leigh Bardugo
I had the pleasure of seeing Leigh talk about this book and you can really feel that this is a soul book, one that has taken a long time to write and is the better for it. It was dark, and rich, and magical, and had such a knowing feel that it was enticing and just a great example of an adult fantasy book that strays so close the normal it permeates the mind long after you finish it.
The City of Brass S A Chakraborty
Again, just like with Ninth House, this is a book that comes from the soul and comes from a writer I had the pleasure of meeting. This book is researched and nuanced and is a doorway into a world that is under portrayed and under appreciated. The words and imagery were colourful and enticing, and spectacular.
The Nickel Boys Colson Whitehead (review)
This book was heart breaking. It was eye opening. It was devastatingly written and incredibly evocative emotionally and should be essential reading.
Not F*cking Ready To Adult Iain Stirling
I don’t know whether it was a just that Stirling is a gifted performer so the audiobook was great, whether it is because he is (obviously) very funny, or whether he nails the millennial adulting journey with an unsettling accuracy, or whether it is a combination of all three, but this was disarming and amusing and hit the nail on the head regarding growing up as a young adult right now.
Our Stop Laura Jane Williams (review)
Honestly, I can’t tell you exactly what made this book stand out in the sense of picking one characteristic and one moment. It was just gloriously warm, and unique, and funny, and hopeful. It addressed issues well, it didn’t attack or evoke negativity, it was simply a kind and joyous read.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions Chimamanda N’Gozi Adiche (review)
This simple piece, this heartfelt feministic piece is so characteristically her and so desperately needed and so eye-openingly obvious and just a brilliant example of books being powerful.
Born to Run Bruce Springsteen (review)
I bloody love Bruce, and so it was nice to get to know more about him and his life and his journey, and hear more about the man behind some of my favourite songs.
Shades of Magic V E Schwab (review)
This is less a book and more a collection of comics, but man are they good. I love V’s writing, I love the artistry in these pieces, and I love delving back into the Shades of Magic world.
D’you know what, sometimes things take a little while to think about and write. Yes, we are over a month and a half into 2020, but who cares, this is a great list of books and I enjoyed them all immensely.
Have you read any of them, and if so, what did you think?
What were your best books of 2019?