Once you learn to read, you will be forever free – Frederick Douglass.
At the beginning of the year, I started my reading challenge of finishing thirty books in 2019 pretty well. Within the first two months, I had read eight books, averaging one per week and then it slowly, but surely disintegrated into the mist of other worlds and being too busy to prioritise reading. I have read twenty-six books so far this year, just four shy of my goal. To be honest, I doubt that I’ll read four books in the space of the next two weeks and I don’t want to stress myself over it, so I’m not.
As always, I love reminiscing on what I’ve read over the year and picking out my favourites to reflect on, sharing what I think you should have on your bookshelf, if you’re the style of reader I am. I’ve read some beautiful, heart-wrenching, magical books this year and picking just five should have been difficult. Nevertheless, the following popped out as soon as I saw their titles and are books that you need to read in 2020 if you haven’t done so already in 2019.
THE YEAR AFTER YOU, NINA DE PASS
The fact that I sobbed uncontrollably due to this beautiful debut is a good enough reason for it to be in the top five books of 2019. Despite what everyone might think, I never used to cry at books, let alone sob. For some reason, words didn’t affect me as much as the movement on a screen. Nevertheless, Nina de Pass wrote something truly stunning and it has stayed with me since February. In fact, I really want to read Cara’s remarkable story again. It is about loss, love and ultimately, forgiving yourself. Read my full review here.
SKY IN THE DEEP, ADRIENNE YOUNG
Still my number one book of 2019. I devoured Adrienne Young’s debut in a matter of two train journeys. It had the intensity and violence that I find so rare in books. It wasn’t just bloodshed, but a telling of seeing loved ones ripped apart and finding the heart to forgive those who were protecting their own and doing something they believed in. I love complex characters and trying to break the boundaries of modern storytelling with a historical feel. The fact that this was a story about Vikings further made me fall in love with it; another book that I could read again and again. Read my full review here.
THE DEVOURING GRAY, CHRISTINE LYNN HERMAN
To say that I am excited for the sequel to Christine Lynn Herman’s debut is an understatement. There was a cliff hanger, so much tension (sexual and otherwise) and so much more that I need to read in order to feel fulfilled in my literary life. I expected to enjoy this book, but I never expected to love it as much as I did. It is gruesome, terrible, pulse-quickening and so much more with twists and turns that will keep you guessing every step of the way. For the full review, read it here.
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, HEATHER MORRIS
Another book that made me cry uncontrollably, whilst I was sat in the middle seat of a plane on the way home from holiday. This book is one that every single person should own whether they enjoy reading or not. It is a piece of history, one of a horrific nature that has shaped a moment in time which can never be altered, not even slightly. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story that is dark and gut-wrenching, but also one of hope, love and community. I urge everyone to read this book. Read my full review here.
THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE, STUART TURTON
This book was on my I need to read this wish list for ages and it wasn’t until a local book club chose it as Book of the Month that I grabbed it with both hands at my local Waterstones store. I’ll be honest, I read it with the sole intention of discussing it at the book club (which then didn’t happen), but the story was one of the most incredible, intelligent, unusual ones I have ever read. It was Cluedo, but a book version and far better. The descriptions were written to perfection and the multiple characters didn’t feel forced or difficult to read. After a year or so, I want to read this masterpiece again. Read my full review here.
So there you have it: my five favourite books of 2019.
What are yours?
Love, Faye xo