This was a weird reading year for me. For most of the year, books fell off my priority list as I got caught up in work, relationships, travel, and video games, and so from January through October I read a grand whopping total of 3 books. 3!!! I must’ve started at least a dozen others, but those 3 were the only ones I managed to finish in their entirety.
And then mid-November rolled around and I realized – damn, I haven’t read in a while and really miss it, and this is the least reading I’ve done in years! Suddenly the bug came rushing back and before you know it, here we are a month later and I’ve read 11 books in the past four weeks. Motivation is such an amazing force. I feel a little abashed calling myself a reader and book blogger when I’ve read just 14 books this year, but everyone has their down years so here’s one of mine.
I thought about it some more though and also realized that a big part of why I wasn’t reading anymore was that I was being really selective with what I did read, which was basically only literature and classics. And while I love the classics, I was getting really burned out on them, so this past month has been me loosening up with my book choices and learning that “fun”, easy reads aren’t any less valuable – in fact, it’s probably what I need the most after years of working my way through lists of the classics. I’m not sure when I became such a book snob but I’m definitely out to correct it, and I’m glad I became aware of it and can start enjoying more types of books out there.
Anyway, the best 5 books I read this year!
By far my favorite book of 2019. I wrote a full review here, but I loved the wonderfully fleshed-out characters, the sense of patience and steadfastness throughout the whole book, and how it taught me so much about Korean-Japanese relations during and after World War II. Simply stellar writing.
It was inevitable. I went in thinking no way could it live up to all the hype I’d heard…and yet it did. I absolutely love anything mythology-related so it was already going to be a losing battle, but Circe really grew on me as a character. She started out really spineless and weak, but by the end she’d immensely grown into herself. She radiated independence and power, albeit in a world-weary manner, but hell, I was proud of her at the end like I was her own mother. (Not that her actual mother was ever good for anything)
I can’t get enough of Garcia Marquez’s writing – there’s just something so ethereal and poetic about it that makes me want to stay in his worlds forever and never have to be shaken awake. One Hundred Years of Solitude has long been one of my favorite books, but it’s been a while since I read it and I can’t remember all the details and how it made me feel while reading it, so now Love might actually supplant it since it’s fresher in my memory. Whenever I think or write about these books, I get the oddest sensation of being tongue-tied – it’s just how mixed-up and dreamy the writing makes me feel, like I’m back in middle school standing bashfully in front of my crush.
I wrote an enraptured review here about how much I loved the plot – many fantasy authors aren’t very good at world-building, and the result is either cheesy or unbelievable or too complex or what have you, but Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is based enough in reality that the world instantly sucked me in. And the pages just flew by! I loved the six-person crew pulling off this massive heist, and the characters were all endearing in their own ways. I enjoyed this a lot.
I saved this pick for last because I didn’t love it the way I loved the other four – because how do you love a book filled with abuse, trauma, violence, gore and mutilation, to name a few? But the shock value is just too great to ignore, and Westover does a fantastic job of recounting these incidents from her childhood to the best of her ability. I’ve no doubt several/many of her memories may be inaccurate because she’s gone through enough emotional, mental, and physical trauma to fuck over several people, let alone a single 32-year-old, but you can’t but admire this woman for making it as far in life as she has.
If anyone else has read these books, I’d love to know what you think! I’m looking forward to plenty more reading in 2020 🙂