Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Reading Year in Review (Top Ten)

Well, it's New Year's Eve. I've just survived an intense week of hosting family, celebrating three birthdays along with Christmas, and organizing a baptism ceremony and after party for my oldest son. It was a busy week that involved long hours in the kitchen (so many people to cook for), lots of movie watching, and late nights playing games and chatting. It was so much fun. Too much fun, because now I'm suffering from a raging head cold. My company flew home yesterday, and this morning we drove up to my sister-in-law's house to celebrate New Years. I've retreated to the basement bedroom to try to sleep off said head cold and avoid spreading my germs around, but apparently I'm too congested to sleep, so I guess I'll do something semi-productive, or at least restfully fun, which is to reflect on my reading year here.

Guys, it was a banner year for reading for me. My goal was to read 75 books. The final count on Goodreads says I read a 116 books, but it seems to be counting A Christmas Carol twice for some reason, so I think it's actually 115. And that is not counting any of the read alouds I did with my son, nor any of the (many) books I've been reading for my exam prep at school. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I read a load of books, more than I've read in any year before, and I can't really explain the pace. I guess I just figured out how to fit audio books into more parts of my life, and all I can say is, thank heavens for audio books! I love them with all my heart.

Last year I made all sorts of fun charts breaking down my reading stats (how many books I read in each genre, how many were re-reads, how many were audio books vs. paper books, etc.), but I don't really have the brain power for that right now (remember that raging head cold thing?) so for now we'll just stick with my Top Ten list. Although I will say, glancing over all the books I've read, most of them were audio books (obviously), I did more re-reading this year than I've ever done in the past (and I don't regret that at all, although for my list I kept it to strictly new-to-me reads), and I read a ton of fiction/fantasy, but for some reason my Top Ten list seems to be leaning heavily towards the nonfiction. ???

Another note on this Top Ten list that I feel like I have to make every year. This is just the list that struck me today. If I had written this list yesterday, or if I were to write it tomorrow, it could contain an entirely different set of books. I read a lot of goods one this, and I could've and maybe should've included so many others on this list. But here's how the list looks right now:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson - This was a December read, so I don't have a review of it up yet, but let's just say I really want to write a longer review of this, because it was a powerful book that gave me quite a bit to think about. I really, really recommend it.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - What a classic! I loved this book, and can't believe it took me this long to read! I will definitely be re-reading this one.

The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurden - If you loved Read Aloud Family, chances are you'll love this one. I just can't get enough of books about reading aloud.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller - I loved this memoir so much that I changed around my lesson plans to include this book in my course this semester. It's not perfect, but had so many quotes and ideas I just loved so much.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry - Everything I love about a slow character driven novel. It made me cry, made me want to write my own life story, and made me want to read everything Berry has ever written (if only my library had more of his audio books!)

Becoming by Michelle Obama - So good. Just really so good. I related to so many parts of her life story, and found her to be very inspirational.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery - Apparently when I like fiction, I can only like fiction by classic safe authors. This is probably not Montgomery's best, but I loved it so much, and was so grateful to discover this gem. I think about Valancy often, and just love her so much. Highly recommend.

Circe by Madeline Miller - Oh look, a new fiction book! I didn't love everything about this book, but I loved so much of it. I loved the poetry of it, the way Greek mythology was woven into this narrative, the themes... it was just so good and beautifully written.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak - This one was a debated entry on this list, and maybe on a different day it wouldn't have made it. But in the end, I really do have a thing for interesting and meaty historical fiction Russian fairy-tale retellings, and I didn't want this one to end.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - Another debated entry (and look at that, I guess fiction is equal to nonfiction on this list), but this is a book I still think about all the time, so here it is. I hope no one I love ever gets Alzheimers or dementia, but if they do, I'll be coming back to this one.

Alright, there it is. Some of the best I read this year (a true best-of list would've included all the Austen books I re-read, but that hardly seems fair). Here's hoping all of you had an excellent reading year as well (what's on your top ten list?). May you all have a Happy New Year, with no head colds for you!


  1. I highly approve of your list. The Blue Castle is comfort book of long standing. I read Little Princess at the right age, and then reread it aloud to my boys. Just Mercy, Spinning Silver, Becoming and Circe were all great books. Hmm, maybe I should read those other five...

    1. It does sound like we have rather similar tastes... I bet you'd enjoy the others!