2019 was a pretty great reading year for me. I found new favorite authors, picked up a few poetry collections, finished a series (and started more), and even revisited some old favorites. I mainly kept track of the books I read on Goodreads, although I also used a physical notebook as well. I’ll talk about the method I’m going to use in 2020 to track my reading, but first, a look at what I read in 2019.
At the beginning of the year I set my reading goal at 55 books. I completed 52 books in 2018, so I figured I would slightly increase 2019’s goal. I ended up reading 48 books – give or take a couple of books I did not finish (I wasn’t quite consistent with how I recorded those). I am quite happy with that number, especially since some of the books I did finish were quite large.
Out of the books I read, there were many stand outs and titles that I will recommend until the end of time. They are (listed in the order in which I read them):
The Little French Bistro by Nina George – Nina George is one of my favorite authors. I loved The Little Paris Bookshop and loved this book even more. Nina George knows just how to push every emotional button and create such dynamic characters that fill her stories with life – I laughed, cried, smiled, and frowned throughout The Little French Bistro. I have talked with and read reviews by others who have read TLPB and didn’t quite enjoy it, but loved TLFB, so if you are in a similar boat and are hesitant to pick it up, I would recommend going for it!
New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver – 2019 was the year I fell completely in love with Mary Oliver’s writing. I have now read her essay collection Upstream multiple times, and just finished her poetry collection Felicity in December. New and Selected Poems is a treasure trove; check out some of my favorite individual poems from that collection here.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – I know I’m not contributing anything new by expressing how powerful Toni Morrison’s words are, but I’m here expressing it anyway. To create a story that delves into truths, humanity, inhumanity, oppression of black women and girls, in 160 pages sounds like an impossibility, but Toni Morrison is on a level all her own.
Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiž – One of the best and well-written pieces of non-fiction out there. No, I haven’t read a lot of non-fiction, but that doesn’t matter. Read about my love for this book and more coherent thoughts in my book review.
Hallow (Celestial Creatures #2) by Olga Gibbs – This continuation of Olga Gibbs’ series maintained the impressive level of description, world-building, and realistic character development I learned to expect from the first book, Heavenward. You can read my further thoughts on both here.
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson – Such a monumental finish to the trilogy, especially after the mildly pleasant slog that was The Well of Ascension. I’m getting the urge to reread the first three Mistborn novels again (Era One), which means I should probably pick up the next books in the series (Era Two).
The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty – Second Book Syndrome? Never heard of her. This was such an exceptional follow-up to The City of Brass, and with as thrilling of an ending as this second installment has, it has been verging on excruciating to wait for The Empire of Gold. Six months to go!
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – I am in love with N.K. Jemisin’s writing. It is so immersive and satisfying, and her storytelling ability is exceptional. I have had some trouble getting the next book at one of my local libraries (it’s always on hold), so I am going to try to find it at a bookstore because I want this series on my bookshelf someday anyway.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – I have Book of Cinz to thank for introducing me to this book and Julia Alvarez’s writing. Based on a true story, this book taught me some history I knew nothing about, and gave me another great piece of literature to add to my shelves.
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto – This book is the perfect novel to read in one sitting. It’s beautifully paced, a bit mysterious, dark, and substantial despite its physical size.
Augustown by Kei Miller – Everything about this book was so exquisitely crafted. The characters, the plot, the way everything came together at the end; all told in Kei Miller’s beautiful writing style.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – If I had known this would bring about feelings I had while reading Coraline – but a bit more disturbing – I would have read it much sooner! Another shorter book that delivers.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta – I wrote more about this book in my October Wrap-Up than I have about most books in my wrap-ups, so I recommend visiting that post for more of my thoughts. In short: stunning, heartbreaking, optimistic, honest; this novel needs to be on every bookshelf and in the hands of every reader.
The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart – I’ve been recommending this book as an Agatha Christie-esque mystery with an underlying romantic plot that does not hinder the main action-packed plot in any way – a delightful combination in my opinion. When I wrote down my thoughts about this book in my October Wrap-Up and on Instagram, I learned that I have been sleeping on Mary Stewart and now have a list of her books that were recommended to me.
I see a broad range of genres in my list of favorites and across all the books I read in 2019, and I hope to continue that trend in this new year. Speaking of which…
What’s In Store for 2020
I have officially decided to return to my Monthly Reading Challenge format, which I turned away from in 2018 in order to switch things up in my reading habits and content here on the blog. After two years of mostly general/unspecific TBR lists, I’m returning to the specific monthly lists (structure and intention are my guides for 2020). Unless otherwise specified, I will be mainly reading books I own – and I’m aiming to keep those “otherwise specified” (library books, purchased books) to a minimum. I will write up an introductory post each month, talking about the books I will be reading, and then will write a discussion-type post for each book.
My goal is to read six to eight books each month, or 72 to 96 books by the end of the year. With my previous year totals this is quite a steep goal, but I’m all about setting steep reading goals – regardless of my reading history (if there’s one thing I’m consistent about doing, it’s this).
Furthermore, three of the books each month will be sort of similar. I have quite a backlog of unread Book of the Month Editions, as well as Penguin Classics and Barnes & Noble Classics. I would like to have most of them read before the end of the year, so each month I will choose one of each to read (by picking slips of paper, on which I’ve written the titles, out of a hat, or mug, or whatever). Some of my Penguin Classics and B&N Classics are huge – The Count of Monte Cristo and Villette are two examples – so if I happen to pick those I will likely make adjustments as to how many other books I attempt to read that month. The other three to five books will be others from my bookshelves, chosen based on my mood/whatever I feel like reading.
I’m almost through, I promise. 😉 Since I did not read The Lord of the Rings trilogy like I wanted to in 2019, I’m transferring that goal to 2020. I want to read at least half of each installment per month (dedicate two months to each book), which I think will help me feel less pressure to get them done. I also want to finish the other series I started in 2019 (The Broken Earth Trilogy, the Nyxia series, the Celestial Creatures series, the Daevabad trilogy) so those will be placed in wherever I see fit.
Anything more I will announce on a monthly basis, but I think I covered all of my reading goals. Oh, last thing.
I am not going to be using Goodreads as much (at all?) in 2020. I’ve always been more of a pencil/pen and paper person, and I’ve finally grown tired enough of Goodreads’ clunkiness to use a journal as my primary tracking “device” for what I read. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, too.
Phew. If you made it all the way to the end of this post – thank you! I hoped you enjoyed all of it, or at least reading about my favorite books of the year. 📚
Have you made any solid reading goals for 2020? Share them below, and feel free to leave any book recommendations for me and others – my TBR could always use new additions. 😉