2019 Year in Review: Books

One of my goals in 2019 was to read two books a month. After challenging myself in 2018 to read one book a month, and then far surpassing that goal, I decided to double it for 2019. I’m proud to say I successfully read 25 books last year. But I am more proud to share some of the amazing things I had the opportunity to read.

If I could sum up my year in books, it would be the year of the female novelist and the strong female lead.

This wasn’t necessarily intentional. I got a lot of my reading inspiration this year from a few bloggers I follow who introduced me to some great books and authors. And I realized I found myself gravitating toward powerful stories of strong women overcoming adversity and struggle.

When I looked back on the list of books I read, it really stuck out to me that so many of the stories I fell in love with this year centered around a similar theme of a woman overcoming inner struggles & challenges to truly realize their worth. I learned so many impactful lessons from these books, so I figured I’d share them for others that may be searching for some inspiration!

My full list of books is included below. And I’ve pulled out a few of my favorites to provide more in-depth reviews.

Books read:

  • A Burial at Sea (Charles Finch)
  • A Death in the Small Hours (Charles Finch)
  • Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs (Nathalie Molina Nino)
  • Becoming (Michelle Obama)
  • An American Marriage (Tayari Jones)
  • Educated: A Memoir (Tara Westover)
  • The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)
  • The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah)
  • The Island of Sea Women (Lisa See)
  • Normal People (Sallie Rooney)
  • Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams)
  • Conversations with Friends (Sallie Rooney)
  • The Idea of You (Robinne Lee)
  • Verity (Colleen Hoover)
  • Ask Again, Yes (Mary Beth Keane)
  • Summer of ’69 (Elin Hilderbrand)
  • Things You Save in a Fire (Katherine Center)
  • Red, White & Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston)
  • Three Women (Lisa Taddeo)
  • Dominicana (Angie Cruz)
  • All The Ugly and Wonderful Things (Bryn Greenwood)
  • The Proposal (Jasmine Guillory)
  • Bringing Down the Duke (Evie Dunmore)
  • American Royals (Katherine McGee)
  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown (Talia Hibbert)

Becoming, Michelle Obama

If you haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for? This was one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. We all know Michelle is an icon, but reading her full story gave me even more appreciation for all she has overcome. It flows wonderfully, and you often forget you are even reading a memoir to begin with. As if I didn’t already love her enough.

Educated, Tara Westover

This book was a true adventure. It is also a memoir that reads more like a novel. It chronicles Tara’s own experience growing up in a survivalist Mormon family. It goes deep into the physical & mental toll her childhood had on her, and how she was able to break out of that toxic family structure to realize her potential. It truly was an eye-opening look into a culture that exists in our country but one that is not often discussed.

Normal People, Sally Rooney

This novel really hit on some very emotional points for me. It follows the story of the complex friendship and relationship between two teenagers. As their story progresses, you learn about their individual traumas and insecurities that have made them who they are. It beautifully captures their internal struggles that I really related to in so many ways. It’s one of those “coming of age” novels that will resonate with me for years to come.

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee

This book. I don’t even know what to say. It’s spicy, romantic, and totally unrealistic but at the same time allows you to live out a dream you never imagined coming true. It follows the story of a mid-40s mother and her romantic relationship with a 20 year old teen pop idol. When I first heard of this book, it sounded so superficial. But it truly dives deep into the complexities of love and the sacrifices one must make both for love and for family. I literally read this from cover to cover TWICE in the span of two days. It was such a beautiful escape from reality, which is often what I look for in a novel.

Things You Save in a Fire, Katherine Center

I have a hard time putting into words the true impact of this novel. It centers on the journey of a young female firefighter, as she finds courage and confidence within herself to realize who she is and what she deserves in life. With dramatic twists & turns, it is a feel-good novel with a lot of depth and layers to keep you turning page after page.

Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston

This book!!! It is simply wonderful. Another one of those feel good, escape from reality kind of books. Imagine a world in which Trump didn’t win the election, but instead a woman did. And imagine the son of our female president having a secretive and spicy relationship with the Prince of Wales. Yes this is a love story, but it’s also a story of courage and acceptance and figuring out who we really are.

Dominicana, Angie Cruz

This novel follows the journey of a young girl from the Dominican who is forced into a marriage and to move to America. From adolescence to adulthood, it is a tumultuous but inspiring story of overcoming your circumstances and finding the power within yourself to build the life you’ve always dreamed of.

While those were just a few of my favorite reads from this year, I would really recommend any of the books from my list. It’s been a wonderful adventure rekindling my love for reading and I can’t wait to see what other amazing stories I get to encounter this year.

I do not have a goal for number of books I’d like to read this year. Instead, I want to focus on increasing the diversity of the books & authors I read. I want to read stories that offer new perspectives, and that share experiences very different than my own. I want to read books specifically by people of color and authors of marginalized backgrounds.

I want to learn more from my reading this year… about the struggles of those most ignored, about the adversity faced by people who have been discriminated against because of the color of their skin or the country of their ancestry. I plan to be very intentional about the books, and authors, I choose.

I’ll share more as the year progresses! Thanks for “reading” along with me. I’d love to hear any feedback you have if you have read any of these books, and also any recommendations you have for things I should read this year!

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