What I read in 2019

2 Jan 2020

In 2017, I had set myself the challenge of reading 25 books.

I reached that goal with two days to spare.

For 2018, I wanted to push myself a bit more. 30 books.

Once again, I made it just in time.

In 2019, I was scared when I publicly announced that I wanted to read 35 books in the year.

And yet, somehow, I managed to read 57 books. Yes, 57.

I’m shocked too.

But, in some ways it makes a lot of sense since in 2019 I founded The StoryGraph — a new website for readers —and got immersed into the books community on Instagram.

I thought I’d have less time to read, but instead it became even more important for me to make reading a priority.

So, what were my highlights this year?

Fiction

Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb

My number one fiction read of the year goes to this story about a prince’s illegitimate child who is adopted into the royal household and trained to be a court assassin.

The plot and the writing were amazing. The book was slow, but I was captivated. The world and the characters that Hobb creates were so rich and detailed, yet the reading of the book flowed so well.

I laughed, felt tense, was angered, frustrated, and sad from chapter to chapter.

I’m so excited that there are fifteen more books in this universe. I want to read them all in 2020 but also fear the day when I have no more new adventures in this world to read about.

Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer) and Fiona Staples (Artist)

Yes, plot twist — my second favourite fiction read of the year takes the form of a graphic novel!

The first volume of this epic series introduces us to Alana and Marko, two soldiers from opposing sides of a galactic war, who fall in love and run away together. It’s not long before there are a bunch of different parties racing to track them down.

I don’t usually read graphic novels but I’d been hearing great things about this one from friends over the years. And they were all true!

I loved the unique cast of characters, the worlds created, and the artwork.

I raced through it in an afternoon.

Non-Fiction

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

I don’t know if I would have read this one already if it hadn’t been given to me as a gift for Christmas in 2018.

I knew people had been raving about this one, but I was blown away by what a magical reading experience this was.

I related to so many things that Michelle spoke about and that touched and inspired me.

I’m also a sucker for behind-the-scenes details at places like the White House, and I love Barack, so reading about their love story was wonderful too.

Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker

I think this is a book everyone should read.

Yes, it’s slow and dense at times, but overall very readable. I spent the book in a state of fear mixed with fascination.

Walker touches on how our sleep has developed, different stages of sleep, the affects of caffeine and alcohol, sleep across a human’s lifetime, sleep’s link to Alzheimer, cancer, and other diseases, and a lot more.

I’ve been made aware that the book likely contains factual inaccuracies or overblown claims but I’m not yet convinced that Walker’s book will cause overall harm.

I think that the more people that read this book, the more of us that will try and eek out an extra 30–60 minutes in bed, leading to happier and healthier people that are a lot more productive and pleasant to be around.

Here are the other 53 books I read this year, grouped by similar ratings:

5 stars — amazing, brilliant, all-time fave

99 Bottles of OOP, Sandi Metz and Katrina Owen — this will only be interesting to you if happen to be a Ruby software developer. If you are: read this book! If not, there’s plenty of excellent recommendations below.

4.5 stars — little niggles prevented it from being a 5-star read

Beartown, Fredrik Backman — beautiful, dark, and deep.
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi — incredible scope for such a slim novel.
Confessions, Kanae Minatodisturbing and twisted.
‘Salem’s Lot, Stephen KingI started reading Stephen King’s work chronologically this year!
The Shining, Stephen King
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
A Ladder to the Sky, John Boynecompulsive reading!
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemisuch good fun. Looking forward to the sequel.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper LeeI started rereading books this year and began by revisiting old faves from my high school days.
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo IshiguroFinally read some Ishiguro. I was surprised by how much this moved me and made me laugh.
The Everything Store, Brad StoneYo, Amazon is scary.

4.25 stars

Carrie, Stephen King
The Crucible, Arthur Millera play!
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwoodreread this in preparation for The Testaments and wasn’t blown away as much as I thought I’d be.

4 stars — really enjoyed it

Tokyo Ueno Station, Yu Miri
The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling
The Flatshare, Beth O’LearyI dipped into Contemporary Romance for the first time and loved it. Will be trying out some more this year.
Saga, Vol 2, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Perfume, Patrick Süskind
One of Us Is Lying, Karen M. Mcmanus
Normal People, Sally Rooney
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfeghsurprised by how much I loved this one given the subject matter
My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reidthe format ended up really working for me and I got sucked in. I can’t believe the band isn’t real!
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
Before The Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Secrets of Sand Hill Road:Venture Capital and How to Get It, Scott Kupor
Founders at Work, Jessica Livingston

3.75 stars

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson
Queenie, Candice Carty-WilliamsI grew to really enjoy this but it took me a while to get into it.
Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
Catch-22, Joseph Hellera reread. I struggled with this a lot more than I thought I would. But there’s a lot of genius humour in it.

3.5 stars

This is Marketing, Seth Godin
The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick, Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fractionanother graphic novel!
Never Mind, Edward St. Aubyn
Bad News, Edward St. Aubyn

3 stars — a good, solid read, but not a fave/won’t be rushing to recommend it

The Wych Elm, Tana French
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liuso gutted I didn’t love this. I’ve heard so many good things. I might try again some time.
One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Maybe In Another Life, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Exit Strategy, Martha Wells
Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, Ryan Holiday
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
The Lessons of History, Will Durant and Ariel Duranttoo dense for me!
The Book Business: What Everyone Needs to Know, Mike Shatazkin and Robert Paris Riger

2.75

Rage, by Stephen King

Not rated

How to Vegan Keto, by Tay Sweat — don’t ask. Well, you can if you want. I’m always experimenting with how I eat!

Which of these have you read? What did you think? Have you picked up any new recommendations that you’re excited to try this year? Let me know!

Also, I hesitated over whether I should do this…but I’m doing it.

2020: 60 books.

Eek!

tags: books, reading

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