I absolutely love reading. I consider my ability to read ridiculously fast my only real special skill in life. That and my ability to ignore the world around me when I read. Seriously, buildings could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice.
One of my highlights in 2018 was joining a book club. I love it. We get together pretty much every month in a wonderful independent coffee shop, eat cake and talk about books. What’s not to love?! Joining my book club really spurred me on to read more and in 2019 I set myself the goal of reading 100 books. I read a mix of eBooks on my Kindle (KindleUnlimited is fab and you can have 30 days free too!), eBooks on my iPad (I have an app called Libby which lets me borrow from my local library) and actual proper books.
I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’m reading and find recommendations for new things to read too. According to Goodreads, I read 26,361 pages last year. I read a total of 103 books, although I’m counting it as 102 because I abandoned one book halfway through. If you want to know everything I read then you can have a look over at Goodreads (there were a lot of crime fiction books of the more cosy variety!) but I wanted to share some of my favourite books of the year with you.
So, in no particular order, here are my top books of 2019.
I absolutely loved this book. It was so different from anything else I’ve read. I won’t give anything away but it’s about a fictional band, The Six, and a singer called Daisy Jones. Written in the style of a transcript from a documentary, it even includes song lyrics. By the end of it, I wished they were a real band and I could hear their songs!
Something you may not know about me is that whilst training to be a teacher, history was my specialist subject. My favourite part of that was learning about Ancient Greece and visiting various sites of interest around Greece such as the Parthenon. So when someone at book club told me about Circe, I knew I’d love it.
Circe is the daughter of the Titan Helios, banished for her ability to do witchcraft. Whilst in exile on Aiaia she receives an unexpected visit from Odysseus. I loved how many of the Greek myths I’m already familiar with are woven within this book and I definitely want to read more from this author.
Amazingly this classic had been languishing on my “might get around to reading this one day” list since I was about 18. Thankfully it was chosen by my book club and I finally have gotten around to it! It took me a couple of chapters to really get into this, but after that I was hooked. This is definitely a book that I’ll read again.
I do love a bit of “cosy crime”; one of my favourite TV shows is Diagnosis Murder, much to many people’s amusement. So it’s no surprise that books of a similar nature featured very heavily in my reading list this year. I really enjoyed all of the Inspector Chopra books, I mean what’s not to love about an baby elephant sidekick?!
This series of books also got me interested in learning a little more about Indian history too. Despite having studied a lot of history, I’ve never learned anything about India and the days of the British Empire.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next instalment of Inspector Chopra’s adventures this year.
I discovered this series of crime books on KindleUnlimited and they’re really good and very funny. Set in 1908, Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Flo, move to the country for a quiet life. They have a secret past which soon catches up with them and it turns out Flo is quite the martial arts expert. I won’t give anything away but all six of these are worth a read!
The great thing about KindleUnlimited is that I’m always finding something that I might not have considered reading before. After Inspector Chopra I wanted to read something similar and found these series of mysteries featuring Inspector de Silva. Set in colonial Ceylon during the 1930s, this was another series of books that made me realise that my knowledge of the days of the British Empire is fairly woeful.
Like so many other people I was absolutely blown away by Brené Brown’s Netflix special in 2019. I immediately had to buy Daring Greatly and wasn’t disappointed at all. How had I not come across her before this?!
In essence, this book about how to embrace your imperfections and vulnerability and to live more courageously and is the product of 12 years of research by Brown. It’s full of insights into applying a more wholehearted way of living into your relationships, work, home and parenting and is a total gamechanger.
I’m a huge fan of the Obamas and just had to read this memoir by Michelle. It was fascinating to read about her childhood (the parts about her Dad just broke my heart; my Dad also has MS) and how growing up in the South Side of Chicago shaped her. It was interesting to read about how she met Barack, the early days of their relationship, and how their lives changed when he made the decision to run for President. I loved reading about how her role evolved as First Lady, whilst being a wife and mom at the same time. All in all, I came away from this book even more in love with whole Obama family!
This has to be my book club’s favourite book of the year. I don’t think anyone who read it didn’t enjoy it! It was full of beautiful descriptions and the story moved with ease between different time periods and different female characters taking up the mantle of storytelling. Usually when a book goes back and forth like that I’m more interested in one time period than another, but not with this.
I don’t want to give much away on this one as I’m going to write a whole blog post about it, but I was sent a copy by the publisher. I initially thought that maybe I wouldn’t find this book that interesting as I’m not at the beginning of a shunning-fast-fashion journey. Actually I still found lots of useful advice in it and I really like the way it was written. It reminded me of Overdressed. There’s a danger with books like this to come across as preachy and I think Lauren Bravo avoided that so well. It’s knowledgeable but still humorous. As I said, there’ll be a proper discussion on this one later!
The Shape of Water is the first Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series (and actually, not the best one). I’ve been reading Montalbano books all year and I’m totally hooked. They definitely are not “cosy crime” as they can be fairly graphic but they are so well written.
I came across Montalbano a few years ago, on BBC Three, and tried to watch an episode. With hindsight, reading subtitles at gone 11 o’clock at night was guaranteed to send me off to sleep. At the time, I didn’t know that the series was based on novels and, for Christmas 2018, Andy bought me the first twelve books. I tore through them, bought a couple more and then had some for Christmas this year. I literally read five of them in a couple of days!
What did you read last year? Any recommendations for 2020?