2019 was my first year tracking the books I read. Ever since I learned to read at just two and a half years old, I rarely stopped. There were a couple of years post college where I read less than normal, but I’ve since resumed my voracious appetite for written content. That includes blog posts now, but I still read a ton of books as well.
I had no sense of just how many books I usually read in a year, so I picked thirty as my goal without any idea if that was way too low or too high. I ended up reading fifty five books in 2019, so my initial thought of setting the goal at fifty two would have been more accurate. The number doesn’t matter so much as the fact that I’m enjoying having a list of what I read, and now I’m sharing that list and a few thoughts here.
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1. Work Optional by Tanja Hester
I received an advance copy of this book and wrote a review of it here – and held a giveaway for it as well. No matter whether financial independence and early retirement is on your radar or not, I loved this book for anyone because of the first half of the book that deals with the mindset piece and the why more than the hard finances.
2. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
The FIRE community has quite a bit in common with the senior vanlife community profiled in this book, the big difference being lack of funds that force the lifestyle versus making the lifestyle choice to be there. Fascinating and heartbreaking to realize how small the safety net can be in this country.
3. Inspired by Rachel Held Evans
Little did I know that Rachel Held Evans would pass away at the age of just thirty seven years old soon after I finished this book. She has been a big part of my faith journey, and I’ve devoured everything she’d ever written. It’s painful even now to realize we’ve lost such a powerful, loving, inclusive voice in the Christian community, and that void will be felt for a long time. I’ll be re-reading this – and her other books – at some point, but I’m not quite ready.
4. Evicted by Matthew Desmond
As I work for a company that creates and operates communities that are both affordable and sustainable, this book came up on my radar. Stable housing is such a huge issue for so many in this country, and this book was eye opening, even with my knowledge of the field. I didn’t agree with 100% of the commentary from the author, but this is a book that anyone remotely connected to real estate should read, as well as really anyone who wants to take a closer look at how it looks to stay housed while living in poverty.
5. Dreamland by Sam Quinones
At this point, I think most people in the United States have been impacted by the opioid crisis to one degree or another. This books is a detailed look at the history and current state of things today. A detailed read that will make you frustrated but informed with how things have developed in this country in regards to drugs and addiction.
6. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
After Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker is my favorite Christian author. I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t my favorite of hers. That goes to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (and that book was maybe an unconscious push to my eventual clothes buying ban). Even so, I sped through this book, and it was an uplifting addition to my reading list this year.
7. Critical Chain by Eliyahu M Goldratt
This book was “required reading” for my job. If you work in construction or a related field, you might find this interesting, but otherwise, this is probably one to skip. Intriguing, but very dense. A storyline, but much more textbook like.
8. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
This book inspired by December Plastic Free Challenge. This was a slow, dense read, but such a good one. If you’re looking for incentives to do better in regards to the planet, this one is a must read. This one will linger with you long after you’ve finished the book.
1 – 3. The Glittering Court trilogy by Richelle Mead
Richelle Mead is one of my favorite fiction authors, and this is her newest completed series. It is Dystopian YA, like many of her books, but it’s more the relationships between the characters that draws me it than the society sketched out in general. Young adult love stories for sure, but the premise is great and the characters are wonderful. Each book of the trilogy follows a different headstrong protagonist, though my favorite is the last of the three, Tamsin Wright.
4 – 6. Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan
I haven’t watched the movie based on this trilogy, but I might get around to it someday because I really enjoyed these books. The descriptions of wealth in these stories are wild, and these were fun, quick reads.
7. The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory
This book was a recommendation from my mom. It’s total chic lit but fun nonetheless. Sometimes you just need to read something that you know will conclude with a happy ending.
8. Soundless by Richelle Mead
Richelle Mead’s first standalone novel. Considering she normally writes 3-6 (or 12) books in a world, it was very different to read one that concluded at the end of the first book. This story takes place in a village where everyone has lost their hearing and one girl begins to get hers back. As someone with abrupt hearing loss, I was more intrigued by this story than I would have otherwise.
9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Read this book. Especially if you live in the United States. One of my goals moving forward is to read more diverse authors, and reading her other books will definitely be on my list. An intense, moving fiction that could entirely be real.
10 – 12. The Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare
This is a continuation of the world created with The Mortal Instruments series (see my re-reads). My favorite part of her books is that her stories include all sorts of LGBT perspectives without having them be THE point of the story. They are just part of the stories of the characters, both main and supporting.
13. The Red Scrolls Of Magic by Cassandra Clare
More Shadowhunter stories. She is a seriously prolific author, and her writing continues to get better with each book. Magnus and Alec might be my favorite love story in this world, and this book is all about them.
14. Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare
It’s probably clear by now that if I love an author (and a world creation), I devour all the books in the series and spinoffs. This is another one of those, following yet another character through time.
15 – 17. Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
I think I may have liked this trilogy better during the reading than after I finished. I’ll likely re-read this one once more, but I don’t know that it will be a regular for me. Interesting concept, but it doesn’t quite get there.
18 – 20. Books 2-4 of The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
I had no idea when I read The Giver way back in school that there were three other novels in the Quartet, and I finally rectified that this year. If you enjoyed The Giver, you’ll enjoy the rest of the story.
21. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
This is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. I had to read that book in small doses because it was so anxiety producing (especially since I read it for the first time after the 2016 election). The Testaments is less anxiety producing, perhaps because the main characters are in a different situation than the protagonist in The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood is masterful, as always. Considering it’s been more than thirty years since she began writing that first story, she had a lot to say here.
1 – 4. The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
This saga is one of those guilty pleasures that I come back to time and time again, especially when real life feels hard. I began my year re-reading the Outlander series, but abruptly switched away from them when Uriah got sick. That series is wonderful, but there is far too much pain and death, which is not what I needed at the beginning of 2019. Twilight might be *trash* and there is a lot problematic with the relationship between Bella and Edward, but I can’t help but love it anyway.
5 – 7. The Glittering Court trilogy by Richelle Mead
You’ll notice that this trilogy graced this list already, under my new Fiction reads. I read this series twice in a row because I just wasn’t ready to let the characters go yet. Will I go back and re-read this series again? Absolutely. I expect it will be added to my regular rotation of favorite re-reads.
8 – 13. The Georgia Kincaid series by Richelle Mead
Oh hey. Richelle Mead again (sense a theme here?). This series is about a succubus, Georgia Kincaid, and it’s one of her adult series, which have quite a bit of adult content, making them very different from her Young Adult series. This one is also set in Seattle, which makes it extra fun for me.
14 – 19. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
This is the series of six books that kicks off the Shadowhunter books. Honestly, they are my least favorite of all of the books written in that world. It’s easy to tell they are her first published novels, because the descriptions are far too lengthy. Regardless, the concept behind the stories is great, and they did suck me in enough to read on to the rest of the books.
20 – 22. The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare
I did say that Alec and Magnus might be my favorite love series within the Shadowhunters world, but this trilogy is definitely the most heartbreaking. Set in Victorian London, it has steampunk flair to it that’s pretty great.
23. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
More Magnus Bane, but not just his story with Alec in “present day.” He’s an immortal warlock, so these are his stories over the centuries (the book is a compilation of short stories). My favorites are still his time with Alec.
24. Tales From Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare
Okay, okay. She is a *very* prolific author at this point, but I can’t help it, and I have devoured all of the content she’s published about Shadowhunters. Definitely not my favorite content, but I read it again anyway.
25. The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy
I read this book the first time when we were living in South Carolina, as it is a memoir set on one of the Sea Islands near where we lived. There are definitely some big problematic pieces to this book – that were much more obvious to me reading it the second time around – but the prose is beautiful and the story is well done. What I would like, though, is to find a similar story written by a black author.
26. The Giver by Lois Lowry
This was my first re-read since this book was assigned in school. Reading it now, this story feels a bit grown up for the age it’s typically taught. Then again, that feels true of a lot of books we read in elementary and middle school that I’ve re-read more recently.
Have you ever tracked the books you’ve read over the course of a year?