It was such fun to look back on what I’ve read this past year and pick my favorites! Below you’ll find mostly adult fiction titles, including some standout graphic novels, as well as a stellar young adult novel (Wilder Girls!). 2019 was also the year I dabbled in reading outside my comfort zone of generally weird and spooky, venturing into the land of romantic fiction and true crime. Much to my surprise, I was so utterly charmed by a romance novel that it ended up on this list (I’m looking at you Chloe Brown). I hope that if you haven’t read one of these titles you will be inspired to stop by and check it out this winter. Maybe you will also find yourself pleasantly surprised by broadening your reading horizons *wink*. Wishing you a joyful holiday season and happy reading!
If you check out some of my previous Top Ten lists -you might notice I like to go for bonus titles.. heh! This year I split my list into ten fiction and a bonus nine nonfiction… double heh! I’ll also mention, this year I was part of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction Committee -and the entire list is worth a look! You’ll also notice some of the titles on that list are also on mine, so maybe that counts as a double Top Ten suggestion?
This list is *not* in order of preference but does follow the Librarian Tradition of Alphabetical Order:
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
No one in this story is perfect, and that’s what makes it such a fun book to read!
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Time travel is a key feature, but it’s really about family and finding a place you belong.
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
A magical, emotional, thoroughly engaging story!
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
You don’t have to love Jane Austen to love this book.
The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
A mystery set in a boarding school with plenty of surprises.
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
Like The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin -for adults.
Normal People by Salley Rooney
Teens growing into young adults -set in Ireland.
Save Me From Dangerous Men by Eli Saslow
Gritty and graphic, and all kinds of grrl power.
The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
If you’re a word nerd -this one’s for you!
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Ah -all the feels.
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson
We should all rethink how we think about aging.
Catch and Kill by Rowan Farrow
Fascinating and well-researched look at decades of misconduct by men in power.
Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones
Theodore Geissel was more than the creator of children’s books, and this book will tell you that story.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
While telling the story of one woman’s disappearance (and likely murder), readers will also get a clear background on The Troubles in Ireland.
Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
A beautifully written look at the natural world and how it’s changed, and continues to change.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Not just a book about libraries, but also a great “true crime” mystery!
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Ladies, be ready to be annoyed and then -let’s change the world!
An Elegant Defense by Matt Ritchel
Do you know how your immune system works (or doesn’t work)? You will after you read this!
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
How do we not talk more about some of the topics in this book?!
I hope you find something you enjoy -and- that you have a happy, wonderful Holiday Season!
It was fun to look back and see what I was reading all year long–some of them feel like I finished them so long ago, and some I remember every detail like I read them yesterday. It was another year of suspense and mystery for me, with a little fantasy thrown in. Not usually my favorite genre, but I may be changing my mind a little. In no particular order, please enjoy ten of my favorites that I read this year!
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter This is about to be a Netflix original, and you will be riveted by it.
The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor Another book about a homecoming gone wrong by the author of The Chalk Man.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper An amazing tale of love, death and survival in the Australian outback. One of my favorite authors who also wrote The Dry.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell No one’s secrets are really secret. Someone is always watching.
The Witch Elm by Tana French A stand alone from the wonderful author of the Dublin Murder Squad series.
I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan A twenty-year-old murder and a podcast questioning whether the man convicted actually did it–what could go wrong?
I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh As usual, this author has you suspecting everyone until the bitter end.
A Better Man by Louise Penny You probably won’t find a list of mine without Inspector Gamache on it, and I hope it remains that way for years to come.
Crimson Lake by Candace Fox A suspense-filled novel set in Australia which is the beginning of a series– some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever met.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi The first of a fantasy trilogy that is a must read for adults and teens. I’m on the holds list for the second book which just came out!
Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
I loved reading the Wizard of Oz series when I was a kid. The MGM musical is one of my favorite movies. So, this historical fiction novel that traces the life of Maud Gage, later Maud Baum, touches on many themes that I enjoy. We get behind the scenes looks at how the creation of the first book and the classic technicolor movie might have happened. Maud’s mother Matilda Joslyn Gage, the most prolific suffragette writer, has a big influence on Maud and Frank. From the perspective of 2019 when there is a record number of women serving in the U.S. Congress (at 24%) it is fascinating to see the strength of women who fought for early women’s rights. This book really brings the history to life. I enjoyed that the story was told from Maud’s point of view, and I recommend that you check out this book too!
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
With a lot of examples professor Pinker proceeds to lay out his case that the world and the human condition are in fact getting better. Or at least with the problem solving tools of the Enlightenment we humans are capable of improving the world’s problems.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This award winning graphic memoir about a father and daughter’s relationship is captivating. The fusion of visual and verbal language is some of the best out there.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
A book about Haig’s personal journey with depression. A book that makes sense to those dealing with depression. Short poems, lists, and essays have a refreshing informality.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Dana is a black woman living in the 1970s who is mysteriously pulled back in time to the early 1800s. The book is a bit more fast paced than the Outlander series with back and forth time travelling.
Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
This is not only a book of essays and archival history about the musician Lead Belly, but a BONUS set of 5 CDs. He was a singer of folk tunes, blues, and an early influencer of rock & roll.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
A teen frequently gets in trouble at school because his classmates make fun of the neighborhood where he lives, his ill-fitting clothes, the fact that his mother cuts his hair, everything associated with being poor. Can he adapt to the rules at track practice with Coach and find a place among the other young runners?
Hell’s Heart (Star Trek: Prey #1) by John Jackson Miller
The Jackal’s Trick (Star Trek: Prey #2) by John Jackson Miller
The Hall of Heroes (Star Trek: Prey #3) by John Jackson Miller
While waiting for new Star Trek TV content I read this trio of paperbacks. Beloved characters from the existing series and a handful of new well-drawn characters embark on a new adventure involving the Unsung and peril in the Klingon-Federation alliance.
The Public written and directed by Emilio Estevez
Thanks for taking a look at my top reads of 2018. I’ve included titles that moved me in some way. Below you will find memoirs, fiction, children’s books, and pop-up books. These books range considerably. Some of the titles display magnificent examples of paper engineering, while others humanize very real social justice issues. Thanks to my profession and personal responsibilities I have the opportunity to explore a wide array of books. I hope you find something from this list that sparks you.
My reading gravitates to mysteries and suspense and this year to the British Isles, particularly Ireland.
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan. Debut novel that draws you into the dark heart of Ireland.
Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear. Debut procedural featuring Cat Kinsella as a young London policewoman whose investigation takes her to her own family secrets back in Ireland.
The Witch Elm by Tana French. The talented French is back with a non-series title about a happy-go-lucky young man whose fortune takes a terrible turn.
The Child by Fiona Barton. The skeleton of a baby found on a building site sends reporter Kate Waters scurrying over London to unravel the mystery of the child.
These novels are all set in the U.S. and while not strictly mysteries, each one has twists and turns and some mysterious goings-on.
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker. Three years earlier the Tanner sisters disappeared. Now one is back, but where is Emma, the other sister?
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl become entangled in the lives of the Richardson Family. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown. Billy Flanagan disappeared on a hiking trip a year ago and is presumed dead. But now her daughter is having waking dreams that her mother is still alive.
A year is not complete without a couple of scifi/fantasy titles.
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. In a dangerous future world, where people lose their shadows and their memories, a group of survivors search for answers. Those who loved Station Eleven and The Passage will love this as well.
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers. “From the ground we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope.” This is the code of the Exodans, the decendants of those last humans who left Earth and reside in The Fleet, stationary ships in space. Third in the Wayfarer series.
And last, but not least, a picture book for cat lovers.
Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah O’Hara. Two look-alike cats mistakenly switch places in this in this sweet and delightful book for all ages.