Welcome to my Best & Worst of 2019 series! Although 2020 is in full swing now, I’ll traipse down the memory road to reflect on my 2019 reads throughout January and February!
Today I’m here to present 10 best books I read in 2019. The books may have been published whenever, but I happened to read them in 2019. I’ll start from #10 and move towards my top favourite 🤩
You’ll notice that my ratings of these books don’t perfectly correspond with their position in this list; a 4-star book may be ranked higher than a 5-star one. But that’s because I use different ranking scales for giving star-ratings and listing my favourites. Whereas I try to find a balanced star-rating between quality of the book and my enjoyment of it (see more here about my star-ratings), I decide my favourites mostly based on my enjoyment of the novel and how much I thought about the story since I finished reading it. It’s a funky mix of different ratings and rankings and stars and lists and and and
Ah let’s just get started, I can’t wait to show these books to you!
#10 – Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson
Graphic novel, Greek mythology retelling
Published on Sept 8th 2015
I had never encountered Jill Thompson’s work before I randomly picked up this Wonder Woman retelling from my local library, and I have been seriously missing out! The author’s art is absolutely gorgeous, I’m in awe of the things she can do with watercolours. The scenes are vibrant and detailed on every single page and the characters’ facial features are always painted with full effort. In addition to the art, also the plot is immaculate. This retelling of Wonder Woman gives a very different origin story to her and I much preferred this one. The story shows Wonder Woman as faulty and someone who wants to do better in the future. She is passionate and stubborn. Also, the side-characters didn’t disappoint; they are complex and an essential part of the story.
#9 – Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Published on Sept 10th 2019
I was very intrigued by this book ever since I read a wonderful review of it by Meaghan @ The Words Gremlin! It wasn’t on my December 2019 TBR, but I randomly decided to listen to it anyway and I’m so happy that I did. It is a confusing and beautiful story about doors and parallel universes. The characters have depth and it is easy to get both irritated & fall in love with each of them. In a way this book follows two separate timelines: one of January, a girl adopted by a rich collector, and one of January reading a book called The Ten Thousand Doors. The latter parts read like an anthropological study of these magical doors, which I absolutely loved! Although this book had its confusing moments, the research like presentation of the doors along with the adventure plot was unique.
#8 – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Published on the 26th of August 2014
I received the Miniaturist as a gift from a friend and I started reading it on the same day while stuck on a train without another book. I never would have thought that it would take over my life like it did! The Miniaturist is a historical fiction novel about 17th century Amsterdam and it follows Nella, a young girl who has been sent away from her family to marry a man with a huge fortune. Nella is both infuriating with her naivety as well as a relatable and delightful protagonist (the perfect mix of things in my opinion haha), and I got fully immersed into her story. For a couple days I could do nothing but read the Miniaturist. It wasn’t perfect and I was upset about some triggers in the book. But for some reason I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since and I now have a bad habit of comparing every other historical fiction I read with the Miniaturist.
#7 – Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Published on the 9th of October 2018
Ben Platt’s voice in the Dear Evan Hansen Musical soundtrack stole my heart and because I can’t see the musical with the original cast, I picked up this novelization instead. And gosh it was a wild ride! Dear Evan Hansen is about Evan, an anxious high school senior who was asked by his therapist to write letters to himself. Instead of an optimistic note, he writes an honest letter about his thoughts and how broken he feels at times – only for that note to be picked up by Connor from the school printer. Things go way south when Connor dies unexpectedly and the note is found in his pocket – it is seen by others as Connor’s last letter with all his raw feelings, addressed to Evan Hansen. The characters in this book are everything. They are raw, hurt, and stuck in a web of lies which is about to suffocate them. Evan’s portrayal of anxiety really hit close to my own and I found the plot very realistic. The book gave me context to put the soundtrack in, and now I love it even more!
#6 – The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G Drews
Another YA contemporary book with soft boys and heartwrenching moments hits my top 10! This beauty is by the amazing C.G Drews @ The Paper Fury who is not only my blogging & bookstagram idol, also one of my all time favourite authors. The book follows Sam and Avery who break into houses when no one is home, not to steal stuff or break anything but just to live there. Sam and Avery are some of the most heartfelt characters I have ever met and I feel the need to protect them at any cost. They are both just so broken, alone and wronged when they deserve a warm bed with 12 soft toys and an endless supply of muffins and cake. I feel so invested in this that I find myself still choking up when I think about the plot, even though I read it in April 2019!
Psst I also made a panda gif thread of this book on Twitter, check it out here if you are the kind of person who can be persuaded by pandas to pick up a book (who isn’t that kind of a person really??)
#5 – Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Ah this list is making me realise that I love protagonists that are so realistic that they annoy me at times. Skyward’s Spensa is also like that – she is head-strong, passionate, tireless, stubborn and broken. I love the depth of her character but also everyone around her! The world is large, mysterious and coherent. It is both terrifying and fascinating. Skyward is just a party of beautiful characters and never-ending action that made me both sob and feel breathless. Ah its just all there, Skyward is amazing.
#4 – Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Published on the 13th of June 2017
I reread Hunger by Roxane Gay, and loved it every bit as much as I did on the first time. This magnificient memoir is raw and honest, and it made me cry multiple times. Roxane Gay is an astonishing author and her story is very impactful. This memoir makes me stop and look at myself as a humanbeing. Not as something too little or too much. Just human. Hunger isn’t only for people who struggle with their body image though, it gives you perspective no matter who you are.
#3 – The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
Published on the 19th of April 2018
AAAAAH this book. Every time I see that cover the feeling I had when reading it rushes over me once again, like a raging sea wave in the middle of the ocean. This book is loud and lonely, it is cold and immersive. While reading it, I felt like I was sitting below the ocean surface, everything else in my life like a faint, muffled sound at the shore. The Gloaming is about a family torn apart by grief, fear and love. Everyone is lovely and ah, so human. Everyone is angry. The Gloaming is about the things left unsaid, and things that must be screamed at the sea in the middle of the night. This book is pure perfection.
#2 – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Priory has one of the most wonderful fantasy worlds I have ever encountered. The world is massive with intriguing history, diverse people, ages old prejudices and complex politics. I loved the characters and the dynamics between them (Ead is my absolute favourite!), and I felt like I could imagine the surroundings when reading this book. It is a massive beast and I unintentionally grew biceps by trying to not drop it on myself, but I flew through it. And dragons! The dragons! It has dragons y’all!
#1 – To Be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers
Here she is, my favourite book of 2019! To Be Taught, if Fortunate definitely deserves the title and it has not only provided me a whole bunch of bookish enjoyment, it has also had a massive impact on my life. This scifi novella is a love letter to science, curiosity and knowledge. I’m currently working on my PhD and unsurprisingly, it is haaaaaard. It is easy to lose myself in the stress and anxiety of getting things done, and in the midst of everything, I forgot how much I love research. And then this novella stepped into my life. I devoured it and cried and cried and cried. It made me remember how much I love what I do. As usual for Becky Chambers titles, it is written beautifully. I loved reading about the characters’ passion for research and how tough it is to pursue your dreams when that means leaving your loved ones. This book is everything.
There you have it, my favourite books of 2019! Have you read any of these books or are any of them on your TBR? Do you agree with me or did you have different thoughts on some of them? I would love to know!
Keep your eyes peeled for my worst of 2019 coming up soon!
Thank you so much for reading!