Favorite Books of 2019

I cannot believe I am about to write this out….You GUYS. I read 55 books this year.

55.

Excuse me, what?! This coming from the girl who did not finish ONE book in her whole high school career? (Sorry, Mom & Dad!) But your girl has been a reader for a few years now, and last year when I read 45, I thought that it would never happen again. My goal each year is to read 30 books, and I’m not going to keep increasing it. I think that reading 2-3 books per month is a great goal!

However, there were a few things this year that really ROCKED my reading world. I’m gonna give you the low down and hopefully some of these will help you as well if you are wanting to find more books you love!

1.) I started following “What Should I Read Next” on Instagram & listened to the same Podcast! I’ve probably only listened to 15 of the episodes, but they are each jam packed full of great insight about great books! Also – Anne Bogel, the creator of the WSIRN podcast also has a blog called “Modern Mrs. Darcy”. She publishes a Summer Reading Guide with her top book picks for each summer and this year, I signed up for her e-mail list and downloaded it! IT WAS PURE GOLD. I read multiple books from her recommendations & was surprised how many I fell in love with!

2.) I also started following Reese’s Book Club & Jenna’s Book Club on Instagram. I did not read all of their picks – but it’s fun to have social media pages that are promoting reading! And the best part is actually the comments from other people talking about their recent favorite reads! I have found some gems in the comment section of so many posts!

3.) I talked more about reading online & asked for recommendations from friends & social media! THIS. This was actually where I got so many of my recommendations. I would share about a book I love – and then the recommendations would pour in for others that people thought I would like! I never realized how many of my friends are avid readers, and having friends to talk about books with has really been fun!

4.) I Fell in LOVE with Fiction! Normally I read a lot of Memoir/Non-Fiction/Business/Self-Help books. Things that make me feel like I am learning. But you guys, this year my brain needed a BREAK. I was in need of books that helped me relax and get out of thinking about work and to-do lists. Enter some incredible fiction stories that I got wrapped up in and couldn’t put down!

I’ll break down the books by category & give a small snippet of what the book is about or why I liked it. I’m not a New York Times book critic, so I’m just going to tell you in my own words. For more in-depth descriptions, click on the title of the book or the image & it will take you to Amazon where you can also purchase the book! All of the links are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase. The experience doesn’t change for you – same site, same prices! Thank you supporting my reading life!

FAVORITE HISTORICAL FICTION :

  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    • Historical Fiction about two sisters in France during World War 2. You will fall in love with the characters. It has some hard and painful moments because of the content – but well worth the read. Favorite book of 2019. Rating : 10/10
  • Beneath A Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan
    • Based on a True Story about an Italian teenage boy during World War Two in Italy. I also have given this to so many friends & they have all loved it. Inspiring, heartbreaking, incredible. Rating : 10/10
  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
    • This book was written in 2008, but was recommended on Amazon to me because of some other books I had purchased. I love books based in World War 2 because there are so many incredible stories that happened during the midst of such tragedy. The book has two main characters and switches between their stories. One is a 10 year old girl in France (Sarah) during WW2 – the other is a modern day Journalist who is writing about the period of time that Sarah was living in. Kept me hooked until the end. Rating : 8.5/10
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
    • This book was intense. Based on real life scandals in the late 1930’s where poor children were kidnapped and sold to wealthy families in the South. The book flashes between 1939 and present day – and even though it took me about 75 pages to get into the book, once I was hooked – I couldn’t put it down. Twists and turns all throughout the book. Rating : 8/10
  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
    • Follows a Polish family through World War 2 – Three Generations (multiple characters, it jumps back and forth between many story lines – I found it a little hard to follow at the beginning as I was learning everyone’s names & how they were related, etc.) but in the end, I enjoyed it. Rating : 7.5/10

FAVORITE FICTION :

  • The River by Peter Heller
    • Mystery. Written so well that I couldn’t put it down & read it in a day. A story of two college friends who go on a canoe trip one summer. It starts off quick and you will be hooked trying to find out what happens next. Full of adventure. My husband & dad both loved this book. Great for someone who loves the outdoors. Rating : 10/10
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
    • LOVED. Makes you want a dog. The book is narrated by the dog, Enzo – but in the least cheesy way. They also made it into a movie which was great. The book has a few things that the movie left out. Worth the read. Will also make you want to hug every dog you ever see. Rating : 9/10
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
    • Quirky main character, Bernadette, is someone I fell in love with immediately. Her daughter Bee is wonderful and smart. Her husband is a Microsoft Exec. Set in Seattle – so that was fun! I’ve heard the movie wasn’t great – so read the book instead! Rating : 8/10
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
    • I really enjoyed this book. Romantic Comedy set in present day. I would say it was like reading a really good movie. Not cheesy, but easy to follow. I laughed & shed a few tears. Would be a great vacation read or when you want something not about war. Rating : 8.5/10
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
    • I love Kristin Hannah’s writing, (The Nightingale & The Great Alone are two of my favorites). About two very different sisters and their mother who is originally from Russia and throughout the book, you find out the mother’s story and her life during World War Two in Leningrad. Rating : 8/10
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
    • So unlike any book I’ve read before. Patchett’s writing is beautiful & I immediately added all of her other books to my wish list. A story of two siblings, their father, their step mother/step-siblings, their and a giant old house. It’s smart. Well written. More like a drama. Just a really good story. Not based on any specific event – but follows a family over decades. Rating : 9/10
  • Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
    • Elin Hilderbrand has been named “Queen of the Beach Read” and I now fully understand why! I read this in Hawaii and it was the perfect beach read. Set in Cape Cod during 1969. You get hooked really quick in her books, and have enough drama to keep you interested, but aren’t hard reads. Enjoyable. Rating : 8/10
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    • The book is so well written you will think that it was non-fiction. About a band in the 1970’s. I did not think I would love this because it is so different than anything else I read, but I had heard about it from multiple friends, so I gave it a shot. Lots of drug references, and it is written like one long interview of the band members. Easy to get into. Also – the author even wrote lyrics to an entire album to go with the story. WHAT. So talented! Rating : 7/10

FAVORITE NON-FICTION/MEMOIR :

  • Educated : A Memoir by Tara Westover
    • THIS BOOK WILL BLOW YOUR MIND. Tara’s story of growing up in Idaho with a survivalist family. She didn’t go to school until she was 17 years old, but then went on to earn her PhD from Cambridge University. I had some BIG FEELINGS when reading this book. But I think it was a great read. Intense & violent at times. Rating : 9/10
  • Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
    • LOVE THIS BOOK. Perfect for foodies. New York Times Food Critic who dressed up in disguises when she was reviewing restaurants for her job as to not be recognized. I laughed out loud, loved the food stories, and it made me want to book a trip to NYC immediately. Rating : 9.5/10
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
    • Written by a therapist about her experience not only as a therapist but going to therapy herself. I LOVED this book. You will laugh, you will learn about yourself, you will think. It is great. Rating : 9/10
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
    • WOW. This book was refreshing and intense. Written by a pastor in Portland, OR who was burnt out and he gives the best advice for how he eliminated a lot of things in order to really live life. I was inspired to make some changes in my own life. Rating : 9/10
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • OBSESSED. My whole copy is highlighted and there are notes in all the margins. If you are trying to start or quit something in your life, or if you are a human person – read this. His writing is practical and easy to implement. And yes, the book is about habits. Rating : 10/10
  • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
    • This book explains the enneagram and does a great job breaking down things about each Type. Highly recommend if you are interested in the Enneagram and learning more about yourself and the people in your life. Felt a little long at times & repetitive, but overall a good read. Rating : 8/10
  • The Path Between Us : An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile
    • Basically the sequel to “The Road Back to You”. I liked this one even more & shows how each enneagram type acts in relationships. LOVED this one. Especially for marriage, friendships, and family relationships! Resist the urge to only read about your type, read about all of them and you will learn so much about the people in your life. Rating : 9/10
  • The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
    • About making decisions. Written from a Christian perspective. Emily is a gifted writer and I loved this one. If you are in transition, or struggle with making decisions – highly recommend. Rating : 8/10
  • I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel
    • Short & Sweet. Anne is the creator of the “Modern Mrs. Darcy” Blog & the “What Should I Read Next” Podcast. She is an incredible reader, and for someone who loves books, this was a fun book! It would make a great gift for a reader in your life! Rating : 9/10

I ENJOYED THESE, BUT THEY WERE NOT MY TOP PICKS:

  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • This was an incredible story and this book has won so many awards. People LOVE it. But for me, I wish it was maybe 100 pages shorter (it was 500+ pages). The middle felt LONG to me. I am still glad I read it, just was hard for me to finish. Rating : 6.5/10
  • Auntie Poldi & The Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
    • This book was recommended on the WSIRN Podcast to a listener and it definitely made me laugh out loud. A murder mystery – but also a comedy. Auntie Poldi is a 60 year old woman living in Sicily and is a CHARACTER. Rating : 6.5/10
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
    • Loveable main character Don is quirky and has some social challenges – but is looking for a wife & creates a survey to filter out “unqualified candidates”. Enter Rosie – let’s just say she doesn’t qualify to be his wife. It’s charming and you will fall in love with the characters. Rating : 7/10
  • Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
    • Some gems in here with some inspiring stories from Marie’s life. I love the premise of “Everything is Figureoutable”, but it wasn’t my favorite book of the year. Good to read if you DON’T feel like you can figure things out. Especially in business. Rating : 6/10
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
    • I read “Girl, Wash Your Face” and even though some people have strong negative opinions about Personal Development Speakers, I enjoyed it & like following Rachel Hollis. I don’t take everything she says as absolute truth, but she has some great insight on certain things. Rating : 6.5/10
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
    • I read this on vacation and it was just like a feel-good chick flick. The main character loves romantic comedies and there are so many good references to old chick flicks on here. It’s not going to change your world, but it’s going to be an fun, light read for when you want to read in a beach chair with sunglasses on. Rating : 6.5/10
  • The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
    • I loved Amy’s other book “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” and this one was good as well! Set in Wisconsin on an apple orchard. Fiction. Easy to read. Rating : 7.5/10
  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
    • This book has gotten a LOT of hype from people who love it…I was not one of those people. I was too stubborn to put it down, because it was my final book of 2019 and I wanted to hit an even 55 books. No doubt that the author is talented, but it wasn’t my style. I wanted a different middle, and I wanted a different ending. It felt sad and heavy through most of the book. Rating 5.5/10
  • Nothing to See Here
    • Such a strange book about some children who literally catch on fire when they get worked up. It sounds more intense than it is. But I felt like the lead in to the story was long – and it ended really quick. I wanted more at the end and for the story to be better developed. Interesting, but not my fav. Rating : 5/10

I’d LOVE to hear what your favorite books of the year, or even of the decade were! I’m always looking for new books to add to my TBR (To-Be Read) Pile & even trying genres that aren’t normally my thing! Who knows, maybe I’ll finally read a thriller in 2020!?!

To Read Last Years’ Book Blog, Here’s the Link:

Favorite Books of 2017

Favorite Books of 2017!

One year I’ll get my life together and actually get this post up before the February, but we’re in mid-March and its still on my to-do list. Oops!

Long Story Short : Each year I have a goal to read 30 books. That’s 2-3 books/month. Some months I read 5. Some months I read 0. (Wedding season, ya’ll). I’ve loved reading since I was young. I used to get in trouble for staying up past my bedtime reading “The Boxcar Children”. Things haven’t changed much. I still stay awake too late some nights with a book that I can’t put down. And there is nothing that makes stress disappear in my life faster than a good book & a hot bath.

I’m going to highlight my favorite books of the year here & at the bottom I will list out all of the books I read this year! I read a mix of books this year, and for the first time I enjoyed fiction. I prefer a memoir style book, or a business book to teach me & give me inspiration. I love when a writer tells good stories. I love feeling like I gain a friend by the time a book is over. This year I read 26 books. There were a few that I started and put down after a while when they weren’t really doing anything for me. There is nothing worse than a book that you don’t enjoy reading. Life is too short. Put down the books you don’t like and find one you LOVE. Then, you will finally learn what it feels like to get lost in a book. Find the genre that you love the most.

I love following my favorite authors on social media & looking at the books THEY are reading. This is one of the ways I have found my favorite books. Authors know what good writing is. It’s like asking your foodie friends where to go to dinner – you’re always going to get a good recommendation.

I won’t say which book, but there was a line in one of the books I read this year that talked about people in their “20’s”. It rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t shake my frustration & disappointment that a writer would paint with such a broad brush a whole DECADE of humans – of which I was included. So – I did a thing. I e-mailed the writer. Just asking for clairfication and explaining how it made me feel. AND GUESS WHAT? They e-mailed me back. WHAT WHAT WHAT? I could not believe it. They understood my feelings & apologized. This changed my life. I LOVE authors. You know why? Because writing is such a personal job. So they take very seriously the comments and questions from their readers. I want to be like that in my own life.

Onto the books! These are my top picks! 

Option B – by Sheryl Sandburg & Adam Grant : THIS BOOK. This book is about adversity, resilience, and grief. Sheryl Sandburg tells her own story about losing her husband – but also uses research to show you how to not only work through your own adversity, but how to be a support when your friends are going through hard things.

Frientimacy – Shasta Nelson : Does anyone else feel like adult friendship is hard? I do. I’ll just be honest. This book is practical & it helped me see areas I need to work on in my own life in regards to my friendships. Things are not as easy as when we were in school spending 5 days a week together. I thought this book was very insightful!

Cherish – Gary Thomas : Are you married? Are you in a relationship? Are you hoping to be one day? BUY THIS BOOK. Loved the heart of this book & the practical advice on how to cherish one another. It was encouraging. Instead of hearing how “hard” marriage is – Gary Thomas shows us with practical advice how to have a marriage full of love, joy, and closeness. Highly recommend!

At Home in the World – Tsh Oxenrider : Tsh tells the real life story of her & her husband traveling the world for 9 months with their 3 children. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It’s not a “how-to” book, but more of a memoir style. It made me crave travel. AND it made me realize that adventure does not have to stop once parenthood begins! Love that Tsh and her husband took their children WITH them on this adventure. I am sure they will remember this for the rest of their lives! If anything, read it for the amazing writing and to add a few places to your bucket list! I know I did!

Finish – Jon Acuff : One of the best business books I’ve ever read. Has to do with goal setting & actually ACCOMPLISHING your goals. The things that keep us from finishing what we started, and strategies to make reaching your goals easier. Jon is one of my favorite people to follow on social media also – he is hilarious and also is always giving practical advice.

The Turquoise Table –  Kristin Schell : This book about hosting & community in your neighborhood! I LOVED the practical advice she gives and the stories about how she cultivated a community of people right around her who she can count on. It is totally what I desire in my own life! Really encouraging.

The Go-GiverBob Burg & John David Mann : This book is written like a story, but is one of the very best business books. So many gems & pieces of wisdom you can use in almost any area of life. Easy read, I read it in a day.

 

 

A list of all the books I read in 2017 : 

Yes, Chef – Marcus Samuelsson

A Man Called Ove – Fredrick Backman

Finish – Jon Acuff

Option B – Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

How’s Your Soul? – Judah Smith

If – Mark Batterson

What Falls From the Sky – Esther Emery

Choosing Real – Bekah Jane Pogue

Never Unfriended – Lisa Jo Baker

At Home in the World – Tsh Oxenrider 

The Turquoise Table – Kristin Schell

Cultivate – Lara Casey 

Nothing to Prove – Jeanie Allen 

Wind Words – Rob Kaple 

Messy Beautiful Friendship – Christine Hoover

Frientimacy- Shasta Nelson

A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle 

Of Mess & Moxie – Jen Hatmaker

Gift of the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

A Simplified Life – Emily Ley

Notes From a Blue Bike – Tsh Oxenrider

Church of the Small Things – Melanie Shankle

Love Lives Here – Maria Goff

Simply Tuesday – Emily P. Freeman

Cherish – Gary Thomas 

The Go-Giver – Bob Burg & John David Mann