Despite the fact that I started graduate school this year, and they’ve been giving me plenty of reading, I still managed to read a ton of books this year– I’m currently at 63, and the year’s not quite over yet!
While some of the books I read this year were a disappointment, overall the publishing industry is doing a good job of producing solid books – and getting them into my hands! As always, the year had some standout reads that I haven’t stopped talking about.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This was the first book I read in 2019, and it was a great choice to kick off the year. The deathbed memoir of a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, the book explores the question “what makes life worth living?” and is truly thought-provoking. Even more, the writing in this book is beautiful, and 100% worth reading.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
I knew this book had been talked about, but I still didn’t expect it to be THIS GOOD. Beartown is a strong contender for my favourite book of the year.
What happens when the small town high school hockey star rapes the coach’s daughter? The town chooses sides, relationships fall apart, and the reader cannot put the book down. This book wasn’t always an easy read, but it told this story so, so well.
Trans Like Me by C.N. Lester
Non-fiction books don’t often make my favourite books lists, but this one deserves its spot and then some. As a cis-gender person, it can be difficult to understand the life of a transgender person and the myriad of issues they face. This book did a great job of exploring those issues, leading to greater understanding and leaving me with a lot to think about. This book is so important, everyone should read it.
Seriously. Read it.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
There always seems to be one YA fiction book that worms its way onto my list every year, and On the Come Up certainly deserves its place this year.
On the Come Up is the story of sixteen-year-old Bri, who dreams of becoming a famous rapper – and is good enough that she may have a chance. But when her dreams come up against the reality that her family may soon be homeless, Bri faces the existential teenage question – does she stay true to herself, or does she become who everyone seems to want her to be?
Bri was such a likeable character, and I couldn’t help but be drawn in to her story and cheer her on.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Is this the history of a real band? Is it all just a made-up story? Does it even matter?
Daisy Jones is the other strong contender for my favourite book of the year. The novel was written as an oral history, a format I was unsure about, but ended up loving. Telling the fictional behind-the-scenes story of one of the most popular rock ‘n’ roll bands of the late sixties, this story just picked me up and swept me along. From the moment I started this book to the moment I finished, nothing else in my life got done.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
I’ve been waiting a long time for a psychological thriller that I liked as much as Gone Girl, and I think I’ve finally found it with Lying in Wait. Murder, secrets, weird family dynamics, unexpected twists, this book had it all!
The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
Me: It’s a Rapid Read. Do I really have time to read this before it’s due back?
Me 7 hours later: Well, I finished the book…
These books are just such entertaining delights to read. Quirky, funny, fast-paced and endlessly entertaining. I’m especially impressed that as the series continues, Graeme Simsion continues to deliver entertaining novels with worthwhile messages. In this most recent saga, the Hudson Project begins (Hudson is Don and Rosie’s son), Don opens a cocktail bar, and questions of identity are explored as a diagnosis of Asperger’s is put on the table.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Normally, I dislike books where the major plot points just take you through the protagonist’s life from childhood to adulthood. But there was something different about Where the Crawdads Sing. This book felt like spending a lazy afternoon with your best friend. Time just flowed, you were invested, you had a great time, even though nothing spectacular happened. I cared so much for these characters, and felt so many of their emotions. This book was so good!
Highway of Tears by Jessica McDiarmid
Indigenous women are going missing, are being murdered, and no one really seems to care. Highway of Tears details the stories of many of the missing and murdered from Northern B.C., and is a must-read. The book is described as “a penetrating and deeply moving account of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and a searing indictment of the society that failed them.” I don’t really have anything to add.