I made a lofty resolution in 2018 to read 2 books a month and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I took the goal seriously and made it part of my routine (finishing 29 books!), which has since gotten me back into a nice steady groove of reading for pleasure again. Last year my goal was to continue my new habit, and I paced at a very consistent speed because I ended up reading exactly 29 books again! My 2018 reading list recap was one of my post popular posts of the year, and I am writing this one to recap all of my 2019 reads — both for you the reader and for me (I love to go back and use these lists to give other book-nerds some of my favorite recommendations!).A few things that really help me keep up with reading 1) I ask for recommendations whenever I can (my local bookstore, my sister, and bookstagram accounts are where I get the best ideas!), 2) I gave myself permission to abandon any book that I’m not “into” within the first 40 pages, 3) I take a lot of my books out of the library so I also don’t feel guilty about ditching a book I’m just not feeling, 4) I sometimes download audio books for long-ish car rides and will listen to part of a book, but then finish it with a hard copy, and 5) I started to watch way less TV (which truthfully isn’t that hard, it’s the phone screen-time that I need to majorly cut down on!). I hope these recommendations and reviews help you find a great read to kick off the New Year!
1. Transcription by Kate Atkinson. I love a good WWII female-driven storyline and this one was great, full of spies and secrets and suspense!
2. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. The premise of this book is a girl and a guy hit it off and instantly fall head over heels for each other, but the guy suddenly ghosts her and she thinks there has to be more to the story. Turns out there is more to the story, and that’s what we spend the book figuring out. It was a bit predictable, but I enjoyed it despite that.
3. When Life Gives You LuluLemons by Lauren Weisberger. Sometimes you just need what I call a good “junk food” read — you know it’s not good for you, but man do you crave it anyway. That’s how I feel about this book, total junk food chick-lit that was very enjoyable.
4. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I loved this book, lots of glamour and a backdrop of NYC at the end of the 1930s.
5. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory. This falls into my junk-food chick lit category, but I felt like it was a bit flat, not one of my favorites from this year.
6. The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnell. This was a fun action/thriller book — it reminded me quite a bit of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which feels appropriate since it’s also a trilogy being made into a movie coming out later this year!
7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This is an incredibly unpopular opinion, but I just didn’t get the hype about this book? It enjoyed it and thought it was well written, but I think I went in with SUPER high expectations since it was one of the most talked about books of the summer, and I just didn’t get the fanfare over it — it moved a bit slow for me.
8. Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. I’ll start by saying that Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project is one of my all time favorite books, and I loved her book Better Than Before about mastering habits. This book was a way to put some of her ideas from the previous books in practice, but it didn’t have the meat of her other work.
9. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Probably my favorite book of the year! If you loved the movie Almost Famous, this book is for you. It’s a super fast read because it’s written like a transcript of interviews with a rock band, it actually took me a few chapters to realize it wasn’t based on a real band! I loved it, and need to read more by this author!
10. All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth. This was a fun summer-read, a thriller surrounding an elite family and a prestigious prep school, and a good twist ending!
11. From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dori-Stein. I was on a White House book streak over the summer starting with this one! It was a cool behind-the-scenes look at the inner working of the White Staff, coupled with lots of real life drama and relationships that the author experienced during her time working there as a stenographer — it was a really enjoyable read!
12. Becoming by Michelle Obama. If you listen to one book as an audio book this year, make it this one! I listened to Michelle Obama’s book over the summer and absolutely loved it, hearing it from her own voice was particularly enjoyable! One of my top reads of the year.
13. Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman. This was a kooky little story, it sort of reminded me of the pacing and dialogue in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. A very light, quick read!
14. George and Barbara Bush: An American Love Story by Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Kelly Anne Chase. I read this after receiving a copy from one of the co-authors, Kelly Anne Chase, and was so pleasantly surprised by it. I think I was expecting it to be a bit more about politics, but it was truly about the relationship between George and Barbara Bush and how they fell in love and worked together as a team throughout their life. I’m glad I let go of my preconceived notions and gave it a chance!
15. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. This book was very interesting, it starts with four siblings who learn from a fortune teller the day that of them will die. You follow the four siblings throughout their life and see how they grapple with this information, and how it impacts their journeys. Definitely a book that left you thinking even after it was over!
16. My Life in France by Julia Child. This book felt like a big warm hug, I adored reading Julia Child’s stories of her life living aboard. At the end of the book I felt like we were old friends, and I learned so much about her fascinating life and accomplishments. If you love food and good storytelling, this book is a must!
17. Cape May by Chip Cheek. This book takes place in the 1950’s in a seaside vacation spot in NJ and gave off a bit of a Great Gatsby vibe, but the characters frustrated me a bit, and I felt like the story went in circles a few times.
18. How Could She by Lauren Mechling. This book was about the complicated friendships of three women living in NYC — it felt a bit like Sex & the City — but with a cast of characters that was a bit less sympathetic. It was an easy light read, but not one of my favorites this year.
19. The Mother In Law by Sally Hepsworth. I’m not usually much of a “thriller” person because they can sometimes stress me out when I’m reading right before bed, ha. But I liked how this story had the elements of a thriller/murder mystery, but unfolded through the telling of the story from two perspectives. It kept me engaged without giving me a heart attack!
20. Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman. Cambria is one of my instagram buddies and I was so excited to read her debut novel. I loved the unique storytelling perspective and complex cast of characters — it was a page turner!
21. Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. I’ve read quite a few WWII female-driven stories in the past year and a half, and this one was a very light take on a woman’s perspective during the war. The main character accidentally becomes an advice columnist and it’s a cute, heartwarming story set against the heavy back drop of WWII.
22. Summer of ‘69 by Elin Hilderbrand. This was my first Elin Hilderbrand book (I must be the only person on earth that hasn’t read one!) and I really enjoyed it — it was such a good summer read and I loved all of the references to spots on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard that were familiar to me. I’d definitely try more of her books!
23. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. A total, cozy, feel-good book with all of my favorite things: a coastal New England setting, a modern love story, and female protagonist you want to root for with the turn of every page. Loved this one!
24. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. You know when you finish a book and you’re so excited to find out that the author has other titles you can dive into? That’s how I felt with this book — I loved the main character, a strong female firefighter finding her way in a boy’s club (and I always love a book with a local setting!).
25. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This is the kind of book that you think about for days and weeks and maybe even months after you finish it. It was truly an epic story of life in Alaska, of family, and of community — one of my best reads of the year!
26. American Royals by Katherine McGee. This book needs to come with a disclaimer that it’s the first in a series (the sequel is yet to be released!). I gobbled this Gossip Girl-meets-the-Royal Family drama up and gasped when I got to the end as I realized I needed to wait for the next book to come out. I thoroughly enjoyed it, a light, fun read!
27. The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden. I read this in one sitting on an airplane ride to Cincinnati, so it was a quick read and a cute story — but not particularly memorable.
28. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. That Elizabeth Gilbert dished out another winner with this book. I loved the glamour and the drama and the vibrant setting of New York City in the 1940s. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking about what a great movie it would be!
29. Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. Certainly not the literary peak of my 2019 reading list, but a good guide to getting started on potty training for toddlers. The method pretty much worked for us, but took a little bit longer than the book promises.
And what I’m currently reading! We Met in December by Rosie Curtis — I’m loving it so far!