Here We Go Again
Warming a (Knitting) Mom's Heart

A Look Back . . . at the Words I Read in 2019

Goodreads sure makes it easy to review your reading for the year!

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So.

In 2019, I read 80 books. Just under 26,600 pages.  Slightly more than 2018.  Which is all meaningless information, actually.  But interesting all the same. Most of the books I read in 2019 came from my local library.  I read fewer audiobooks this year than usual (and I have no explanation for that) (although I'm afraid that it might be that I watched more TV).  A few of the books I read in 2019 were . . . pretty mediocre.  But most were quite decent and very worth reading.  (My average rating was 3.9.)  I wrote a review for every book I read.

After all those books and all those pages, here are the books that really stand out for me this year -- a list of my Most Memorable Reads of 2019 (not all these books were 5-star reads for me, but they were memorable all the same):

First, the book that changed my thinking more than any other book this year.  White Fragility is not an easy read -- but it is an important one.  It's good to shake up the way you look at the world sometimes, y'know?!  I think about this book every day.  Highly recommended.

White fragility

Then, there's the book that changed my digital habits in a life-shifting way: Digital Minimalism.  Sure, I still Google useless facts too often, and I scroll through Instagram a bit more often than I really want to, but generally . . . I'm much more aware of how and when I use technology, and I feel far less tethered to my phone.  

Digital minimalism

I started the year with Milkman . . . and I'm still in awe of it.  The story was powerful, and the storytelling structure was unique.  I loved the fresh voice and perspective of the novel's narrator.  While it's probably not a book for everyone, if you like something a bit different and you're in the mood for something to chew on, give this one a try.

Milkman

I always have a hard time choosing just one favorite book of the year, but if pressed . . . I'd probably tell you it was The Topeka School.  Again, probably not a book for everyone.  It's brilliant -- but challenging.  And so worth the effort. 

Topeka school

Then there's The Heart's Invisible Furies.  Epic, funny, poignant, and so full of heart it just . . . bursts!  (I talked Tom into reading this one after me, so I had a chance to listen to/talk through the best parts all over again as he read.)  If you like sprawling epics that will rip your heart out while making you laugh, this one is for you!

Heart's invisible furies

Oh, Lanny!  You stole my heart.  This quick, little read was such a magical treat!  

Lanny

I read Red at the Bone right at the end of the year - almost my last book of 2019.  There is so much packed into this short book -- great characters, compelling story, unique storytelling style. This is one you won't want to miss!  

Red at the bone

And then there's Just Mercy -- the first book we read together, which will always make it special to me!  Y'know, it's pretty . . . risky . . . to try something new.  Like a bloggy book group.  So it was heartening that so many of you responded positively to this new (and evolving) idea, and that you . . . read with us!  Our first book was an interesting look at the criminal justice system - and particularly at death row inmates - in the US.  Not an easy read, but an important one.

Just mercy

==

What to look for from me (reading-wise) in 2020? 

I don't have any solid reading goals or plans in mind, and certainly not related to the number of books I plan to read.  I don't think I need to read "more" and I don't think I need to read "harder," so I'll keep to my usual strategy:  paying attention to the major book prizes (the Women's Prize, the Man-Booker, and the National Book Award are my favorites), checking out the recommendations from the New York Times and the New Yorker and other readers I trust, and then . . . well . . . just be open to general inspiration.  

As far as very loose plans, well . . .  this year, I'd like to read something by Virginia Woolf.  (I never have.  I think it's time.)  It's probably time for me to re-read some Jane Austen. (I go on a Jane Austen binge every decade or so. . . ).  I'm interested in a few memoirs right now, and I have a short stack of books on art and creativity that I'd like to tackle this year. 

How about you?  Do you have any reading plans this year?

==

Read With Us

I invite you to Read With Us!  We're just starting in on Fever by Mary Beth Keane (available for Kindle - $1.99 now).  Be sure to read Carole's promotional/introductory post about the book today.  We'll be discussing Fever throughout the month of February, so you still have plenty of time to join us!

Fever

==

My other highly recommended (5 star) reads this year:

Olive, Again (Elizabeth Strout)
The World That We Knew (Alice Hoffman)
The Dutch House (Ann Patchett)
Grief is the Thing With Feathers (Max Porter)
Disappearing Earth (Julia Phillips)
The Murmur of Bees (Sofía Segovia)
The Nickel Boys (Colson Whitehead)
Women Talking (Miriam Toewes)
The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)
Inland (Téa Obreht)
Spring (Ali Smith)
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
Improvements (Jean Silber)

(For my reviews on Goodreads, or to follow along with what I'm reading, see my blog sidebar.)

 

 

Comments

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Carole

Great approach to summarizing your year of reading! I'd put The Dutch House and The World that we Knew at the top of my 2019 list. And, of course, Just Mercy because of our coordinated effort!

Patty

I get lots of inspiration from your reading Kym! I've recommended The Hearts Invisible Furies to so many folks! I've read a few you've got mentioned here but am certainly going to look into a few more. Love, love, love our community! xo

Sarah

I've noticed that my reading has really increased over the past year, and I think it's in large part due to the discovery of you and other bloggers I've started reading. I've gotten so many good book recommendations and read so many great books thanks to all of you! Many of the books you listed I've either already read or have on my list to read this year.

I don't really have any reading goals this year (I did set a number for my Goodreads challenge, but I'm not too focused on it), but I do want to make sure that I'm reading books that I enjoy. I've already started Fever and am really enjoying it.

Bonny

I really like the idea of memorable books rather than "best" or 5-stars. So my reading plans for this year are to go with the flow and read what strikes my fancy but will include The Topeka School and White Fragility (and Fever!)

Sylvie

Thanks for the link to Fever! Looking forward to reading it and joining the book club.
And a big Thank You for opening the door to Goodreads--it's like the Ravelry Rabbit Hole of books!

Vera

I always enjoy your reading summary (and your reviews) Kym. So many of your top choices for 2019 are on my TBR list. I do believe my reading slump is ending:)

Margene

We feed off each other, often reading the same books at the same time and I trust your recommendations as I know we have the same taste. I love having a friend who likes what I like. You write such great reviews and often say what I'm thinking. (I'm not very good at putting my thoughts about a book into a review, but you say what I want to say--only better.) The award short (and long) lists are such great places to find excellent books. I have Topeka School in hand (from the library) and I'm listening to The Murmur of Bees. You had a great year! Thank you for sharing what you read.

Honore´

Really appreciate your sharing 2019 reads...several are on my list; I’m especially happy that I can get the next “bloggy read” on Kindle...not my preferred medium ...cause my two local library systems don’t have the book.
Here’s to reading in 2020!
Cheers~

Karel

Excellent; thank you! I've bookmarked this post because several of these I'd like to read. One our local "Social Awareness Book Group" (join us, Kym!) just read: **Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger** by Rebecca Traister. This book stirred something in each of us and I highly recommend it. Now, I do believe I'll purchase **Fever** and read with you.

Kat

Books... what would life be without them??? Thank you for introducing me to Max Porter - and did you see that Louise Erdrich has a new book coming out soon? I am #2 in line at the library!

AND!! I just finished Conversations with RBG - oh my, sooo good! (and my first 5-star book of the year!)

Mary

You had an awesome year of reading better - as my loose definition entails anyway. I love that you're thinking about revisiting Jane Austen this year (Emma by chance? and oh my goodness, I'm thinking maybe you've never watched Clueless?) I've committed to reading along with four very different groups this year and I'm counting on the diverse selections and smart conversations to enrich my reading. Also, I'm trying to read more women and more BIPOC.

Jane

What a great reading year you have completed. I just finished listening to Red at the Bone and loved it. It seemed like a good reminder to be kind as we never know what burdens or scars someone else carries.

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