2019 in Books

In which I discuss reading platforms, a year of re-reads, and some lucky finds.

Spotted in West Virginia

Fiction favorites:

  • Joanna Trollop’s modern adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. I really loved how carefully the modern characters corresponded to the original novel while still possessing depth and lovability all their own. I was wary to try it after hating the Curtis Sittenfeld Pride and Prejudice (Eligible, reviewed here) and Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma, but this one in The Austen Project series of re-writes really delivered. Highly recommended for all Janeites. (An excellent but slightly snobby review, since I didn’t write one, is here.)
  • Lent  by Jo Walton, was completely bizarre and fascinating and thoughtful. It’s about a Renaissance-era Florentine monk who burns with zeal right up until he finds himself burning in Hell. And what, exactly, is he going to do about it? I’ve got a review coming out in Dappled Things so be on the lookout!
  • The Nest — a couple times a year, maybe, I’ll pick up contemporary fiction about some dysfunctional family, but the genre almost always leaves me blue. Redemption is so rare in these kinds of stories! This one I only grabbed because it was on a shelf of books at our Edinburgh hotel, but I found the characters nuanced and sweet and the ending (just a little) hopeful.
  • On the re-read front: Middlemarch is still amazing! So is Little Women, which is always showing me something new, no matter what stage of life I’m inhabiting. (Read Haley Stewart’s lovely reflection on how LW shaped her family here.)

Nonfiction favorites:

  • The Library Book: I think I could read just about anything Orlean writes (I loved her book on orchids! Orchids!!), but a book focusing on what libraries mean? A dream! And such an unbelievably thoughtful gift from my father-in-law last year, which makes it even better.
  • The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s: I kind of want to re-read this as a real book now with a book club, mark it up, and discuss it to really get its wisdom lodged in my brain, but in the meantime I’m just recommending it left and right.

Notes and trends:

  • I didn’t write as much on books as I have in years past. (Links to what I have written can be found in the full list below.) That’s a shame because reflecting and writing on what I read helps it actually stay put in my sieve brain.
  • 19 of these were re-reads this year! Some was for book club, some was for introducing to the kiddos, and a few were just what I was in the mood for when choosing an audiobook. But that’s a lot of re-reads, even for me, and as the year wanes, I’m working through another, The Dark Is Rising after spooking Pippin with it.
  • Only 19 were real, paper, physical books — I still prefer an old-fashioned book, mostly for loaning and marking up purposes, but at this point in my life, listening during chores and, back when I was nursing, reading on my phone, both help me to enjoy more in a year.

How did your year of reading look in 2019?

The full list:

(* indicates re-read)

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone* (read aloud with kids)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets* (read aloud with kids)
  3. The Poisonwood Bible* (audiobook)
  4. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage* (audiobook)
  5. Anne of Green Gables* (audiobook with kids)
  6. Anne of Avonlea* (audiobook)
  7. Stuart Little* (read aloud with kids)
  8. Middlemarch* (audiobook)
  9. My Side of the Mountain* (read aloud with kids)
  10. Love Walked In* (audiobook)
  11. The Seven Storey Mountain* (ebook, mostly)
  12. The Great Divorce* (ebook)
  13. Orthodoxy* (ebook)
  14. Ballet Shoes* (audiobook with kids)
  15. The Penderwicks* (audiobook with kids)
  16. Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace* (audiobook)
  17. Little Women* (ebook, real book and audiobook)
  18. Picture of Dorian Grey* (ebook)
  19. Station Eleven* (audiobook)
  20. What Alice Forgot (audiobook)
  21. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir (real book)
  22. Marilla of Green Gables (audiobook)
  23. Building the Benedict Option (ebook)
  24. The Reed of God (real book)
  25. One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both (ebook)
  26. The Library Book (real book)
  27. Kingdom of Ash (real book)
  28. The Clockmaker’s Daughter (real book)
  29. Hard Times (can’t remember)
  30. The Long Loneliness (ebook)
  31. Felicity (real book)
  32. Hold the Dark (real book)
  33. Waiting for Tom Hanks (audiobook)
  34. Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty and Peace (real book)
  35. Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer’s Life (audiobook)
  36. The Wicked and the Just (ebook)
  37. A Severed Wasp (real book)
  38. The Nest (real book)
  39. Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light (audiobook)
  40. Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool (audiobook)
  41. Underground Airlines (real book)
  42. Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait (abridged edition) (real book)
  43. Lent (real book) (forthcoming review in Dappled Things!)
  44. Wit (real book)
  45. Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy (audiobook)
  46. A Confederacy of Dunces (real book)
  47. Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope (audiobook)
  48. The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s (audiobook)
  49. A Quiet Life in the Country (audiobook)

Previous Years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 (!!)

8 thoughts on “2019 in Books

  1. I reread Middlemarch this year, too! It’s been in my top 5 since high school (Dorothea is actually our top name option for baby girl #3). Also, thanks for the Heart of Perfection recommendation. I bought it and am looking forward to it arriving on Friday. Perfectionism is always a struggle, but December makes it especially acute.


  2. We are finishing up The Heart of Perfection in my book club– it’s AMAZING and you’re right that it’s a perfect book to discuss with women in a book club…I’m getting even more out of it than if I read it on my own and it sinks in deeper.


  3. Thanks for the list. These are my favorites. I’m adding Middlemarch to my list. I’m in the middle of Little Women, a first-time read for this 32 year old (gasp!). One of the best books I read all year was Peace Like a River. It’s one of those books that will stay with me forever. Definitely worth a read.


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