Favourite Books of 2019
This year I read 181 books (including poetry, YA, and any graphic novel that took over an hour to read). Extremely weirdly, this is the exact same number of books I read last year. The biggest change this year was that I expanded my genre reading (more mysteries, some sci-fi, and dipping my toe into the world of contemporary romance). Still not much non-fiction, though.
Ten favourites in the order in which I read them:
Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
Obviously not published in 2019, but I had never read it before. The original domestic thriller: often imitated, never surpassed.
Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Told as an oral history of a band (think Fleetwood Mac crossed with the Civil Wars for the dynamics), this book is an incredible feat. Completely absorbing and so real I kept wanting to listen to the songs.
The Heavens, by Sandra Newman
Weird and great. A young woman keeps having dreams of her past life in Shakespearean England - but as she starts to gain agency in her dream life, she keeps waking up to find her "real" life subtly altered. Is she a time traveler? Is she simply crazy? The final line has stayed with me like no other book this year.
Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro
This was my introduction to Dani Shapiro and I've been making my way through her other books ever since. Shapiro takes a now-garden-variety DNA test, only to find out that her father isn't her biological father, which sends her into a tailspin of identity and religious crisis (as her father was devoutly Jewish). Then she starts looking for her biological father. Fascinating and compassionate.
Red, White, and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston YA, about a beautiful parallel universe in which a Wendy Davis-style woman is president, and her teenage son really hates the prince of England. Or...does he. (He does not.) A delightful world to be immersed in, and a fun sparkling read. A bit dirtier than most YA, so be warned this should skew towards older teens.
Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey
A detective noir murder mystery set in a magical boarding school. Ticks every box!
Five Wives, by Joan Thomas
A novel about the wives of the five men killed in Operation Auca, an ill-fated missionary trip to an uncontacted tribe in Ecuador (true story, real men, fictionalized living family members). With 2019 omniscience, this was obviously a terrible idea right from the beginning, but she treats the story with compassion. It won the Governor General's this year, but Joan Thomas is still somehow underrated.
Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo This is about the sexual and emotional lives of three real women. Gripping, visceral, beautifully written.
The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
The story of two siblings who get ousted from their family home by their evil stepmother and never quite get over it, with consequences that reverberate throughout their lives.
In the Woods, by Tana French
Literary Irish crime fiction! I basically did nothing else but read this for two days, which is a reading experience that's hard to replicate in adulthood. I look forward to vanishing from society once more when the sequel shows up on my holds shelf.
Kid Gloves, by Lucy Knisley (graphic memoir)
Hard to Love, by Briallen Hopper (essays)
Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quattro (novel)
Mouthful of Birds, by Samanta Schweblin (delightfully weird short stories)
Good Talk, by Mira Jacob (graphic memoir)
American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins (novel for which the hype is real)