If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware that I love reading. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. The past few years I’ve started tracking the books I read on Goodreads. I like that I can give each book a rating and write my thoughts and the site helps me keep track of what I read each year including the number of total pages (38,515 in 2019).
In 2018, I decided to try to read 100 books in a year and started an Instagram page, @meganbyrdreads, to track my progress. I succeeded in reading over one hundred books (136 to be exact). This year I wasn’t as concerned about reaching that achievement again but hit it anyway, my total coming to 129. So that you don’t have to scroll through my entire feed, I thought I would share with you my favorite books read last year. Below are five titles of each of my favorite fiction and nonfiction books.
Top Fiction Reads of 2019
1.And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten people are invited to Soldier Island under various pretenses. After dinner, they are each accused of murder by their unknown host via a recording. One guest dies shortly after. Suicide is suspected until another guest dies. When the third person dies they realize there’s a murderer on the island. Could it be one of them? Will the murderer be discovered before they complete their plan?
It was a very engaging and exciting book and I raced through it to learn the identity of the murderer. I had a few suspicions and was partly right but still quite wrong. Great murder mystery! This book was my introduction to Agatha Christie’s work and I loved it.
2. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
A fun, fresh take on Pride and Prejudice. Ayesha’s first impression of Khalid is not a pleasant one – he is judgmental and dismissive. When she runs into him again at a meeting at the mosque, she decides to have some fun and pretends to be her flighty cousin Hafsa who fails to show for the meeting. The two begin spending time together and learn that first impressions aren’t always accurate. When Khalid’s controlling mother realizes her son is falling for Ayesha she takes matters into her own hands and sets him up with a fiancé – the real Hafsa. Will it be a case of star-crossed lovers, or will Ayesha and Khalid be able to procure a happy ending?
It’s an enjoyable story with twists and turns that are predictable if you’re familiar with Jane Austen. I really enjoyed this unique perspective from a Muslim community.
3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I read the whole series with my daughter in about two months. It was both of our first times reading it and it was quite engaging. I especially loved discussing it with my then-8-year-old. I can’t really pick out a specific book because I think it is best enjoyed all together, therefore, I don’t consider listing seven books in one slot as cheating. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. I had waited so long because I’m not really a fantasy-genre person but these were fantastic.
4. Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
This picks up shortly after the end of Beartown with the town trying to put itself back together after being torn apart by rape, denial, and hate. The hockey club is on the brink of closing and is saved, at least for a season, by the new owners of the factory. There is more scandal in Beartown and even more hate between the towns of Hed and Beartown.
I love the way Backman spins the story where you’re never quite sure what has happened until he finally lays it all out. A heartbreaking yet hopeful story. If you haven’t read Beartown, start with that one.
5. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
April May leaves work very early in the morning to take the subway home but her card won’t work so she heads back toward her office to get another one when she nearly runs into what she thinks is a giant art installation. She calls her friend to come make a silly video with her which ends up blowing up into something crazy when they learn there are actually 64 of the same robot in major cities all over the world. Where did it come from? Why is it here? Things get crazier when it is realized that everyone is having the same dream. Are the robots dangerous? What do they want?
I was sucked in quite immediately and enjoyed the writing style. The main character is very flawed but acknowledges them. I was disappointed by the ending of the story because there was not a satisfying resolution. AFTER reading it, I was told there would be a sequel. I would suggest waiting until the sequel (A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor) releases in July so that you can continue with the story immediately. However, part of me fears this will actually be a trilogy and I’ll have to wait another year and a half for final resolution. Only time will tell.
Top Nonfiction Reads of 2019
1. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
I devoured this book. It was so engaging. It reads like fiction but it’s a very interesting (true) story about a therapist, her life and experience with patients, and her time as a patient when she had things she needed to sort with a therapist. I loved the explanations of various theories and psychological terms. It was a neat perspective of a therapist sharing her experiences in both chairs of an office and how we all have similar fears we’re dealing with in various ways.
2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott
This is a great book for writers. This was my second reading and I got even more out of it than last time. Anne does not sugar coat the writing and publication processes. She reminds us of our true purposes and goals in writing. She pulls back the veil to let us see her writing process and publishing experiences. I appreciate her openness and the wisdom she imparts.
3. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
An illustrated book about the relationship between a boy, mole, fox, and horse (obviously). Charlie gives the backstory to their relationship and the story is so lovely and uplifting. I will reread it whenever I need some encouragement. It’d make a great coffee table book.
4. Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents by Courtney Ellis
Courtney embarks on a journey to integrate spiritual practices into the everyday life of parenting. She tackles contemplation, service, the examen, listening prayer, scripture meditation, fasting, stillness, gratitude, pilgrimage, and celebration, honestly sharing her failures, successes, and lessons. She helps us see that even in the midst of parenthood it is possible to draw closer to Jesus with intentionality. Very encouraging and inspiring!
5. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The author compares sea shells with seasons of life and uses the experience of vacations at the beach to help remind us of more natural and beneficial life rhythms that we tend to forget in normal life. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and appreciate the relative timelessness of the content that is so relevant today as it was in 1955.
I’d love to hear your favorite reads from 2019. I’m always interested in adding great reads to my list. Please share them in the comments section.