Last year I read 26 books, and this year I set my Goodreads goal to the same, in the hope I might match myself again in 2019.
In fact, I ended up reading 29 books – and I’m not sure how, since I seem to spend all my time in bed scrolling through social media!
Out of those 29, only one book was a trial, and the final tally doesn’t even include that one novel I couldn’t bring myself to continue after two chapters. I’d say that’s pretty good going!
I wanted to share with you my favourites out of that pile of 29, in the hope that you might find a new favourite of your own to add to your shelves this year.
If you’re feeling curious, you can see my full read list via Goodreads; I also post a lot on Twitter and Instagram about what I’m reading too, if you ever need inspiration for your own TBR list – here’s a whole thread of mini book reviews waiting for you.
Here are my favourite books of 2019.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This was one of the last books I read this year, but shot straight to the top of my list; I know it’s going to be one of those novels I buy all my friends as presents so they just *have* to read it, too.
This book is rich and seductive and full of surprises. It tells the story of a gorgeous and beguiling classic Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, through her seven husbands – but this novel does far more than it says on the tin. I picked it up after seeing it shared by many online friends and was thrilled when it went above and beyond my expectations.
Add this to your TBR list for 2020; you won’t regret it.
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
This is another book I’ve been buying for people. Tangerine was a surprise for me; there are twists and turns aplenty, and it’s definitely the book for you if you like psychological thrillers and unreliable narrators.
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
I took A Ladder to the Sky on holiday with me in March as my ‘back-up book’, expecting it to be the lesser of the two I read while away. How wrong I was. This is another novel about deception, lies and twisted identities, but this time the story follows an unscrupulous and driven young man in his quest for success, and he really will stop at nothing to get there.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
One of the first books of 2019 for me, and one of the best. A hard-hitting tale about loyalty and love within an immigrant family that touches on some very relevant and hard-hitting themes, the ending alone pushed Home Fire from a four-star to a five-star novel, in my opinion.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Much-raved about for a reason, An American Marriage lived up to my expectations. It covers some pretty current topics, and offers a very human account of love and relationships when a world is torn apart, exploring race and justice through a window onto simple human nature. It sounds like it could be a tough read, but that’s far from the truth; I whizzed through it in no time.
The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single by Catherine Gray
This is one of my favourite non-fiction reads of the year. Ironically, I started reading this just as I started dating my now-boyfriend (yep, casually dropping that in there!) after four years as a single woman. Pretty poor timing – or fate, perhaps? Nonetheless, this book was everything I had learned in that time and more, and was just the book I would have needed back when I was newly going solo.
It’s not at all patronising, and it’s easy to read and liberating; I highly recommend for anyone single and wanting to make peace with it in 2020.
The Humans by Matt Haig
The Humans was an unusual one. I didn’t expect to love it so much, mainly because it’s a little surreal and I’m not usually one for books with a science-fiction vibe. However, I adored it. It holds some wonderful messages about human nature and life amongst its pages. Don’t be put off by the aliens (yes, there are aliens) – I promise it’s worth it. I would say it’s out of this world, but that might be a little corny even for me!
How To Fail by Elizabeth Day
Another non-fiction gem here, and one that will remain a favourite for a long time. I love Elizabeth Day’s podcast of the same name, and the book is a fabulous extension of the lesson that, actually, failure is not only ok, but utterly necessary to live a full and rich life.
If you feel low about setbacks and supposed ‘failures’, this is the book for you. I read it to ‘train my brain’ for the inevitable outcome of my performance at the Royal Albert Hall in June (i.e. that I wouldn’t even get close to winning – which was true). I hate failing, losing, and not doing my best; but reading this book helped me realign my thoughts and see things differently.
Plum by Hollie McNish
I only read a few poetry books last year, shamefully, but this is the one that stuck with me. Hollie’s honesty, bluntness and playfulness with her words means that she is a breath of fresh, gutsy air in a world that is often a little too polished. This book is a great introduction to modern, feminist poetry; but be prepared for very few boundaries (just as poetry should be).
What was your favourite book of the last year?