Year in Review
The goal: 52
Total Count: 60
According to Goodreads, I read nearly 23,000 words across sixty books. Here's a quick rundown of all of them. I have included links to reviews of both my favorite and least favorite books of year. Also, because it's Christmas time, if you scroll to the bottom and sign up for our monthly newsletter, you get a free copy of Fall: An Ermahgerd Merstery.
And, because I'm a Virgo, I have divided my 2019 reads into categories and ranked them accordingly.
Turn the Page Reads: In the order we read them. I can't rank my book club reads. They're all wonderful for different reasons.
1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
2. Last Night in Montreal, Emily St. John Mandel
3. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green
4. My Life as a Goddess, Guy Branum
5. Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris
6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
7. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
8. Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty
9. My Name is Trouble, James Taylor & Marco Sparks
10. We Are Water, Wally Lamb
11. Dark Lover, J.R. Ward
My book club is aces. We all chose winners. If you choose to read only one of them, I recommend My Name is Trouble.
My Top Three for the Year:
1. The Clockmaker's Daughter, Kate Morton
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Yes, Taylor Jenkins Reid gets two of my top three spots. Readers, she's just that good. Also, I'm starting a fan club called Reiders. Because why not? She has a cool storytelling style. But the best book I read this year goes to Kate Morton's The Clockmaker's Daughter. It has pickpockets, lost jewels, a tortured artist, dingy London streets, con artists, a haunting, and an old house that connects it all.
Top Honorable Mentions:
1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
2. The Word is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
3. The Sentence is Death, Anthony Horowitz
4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton
5. If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin
6. Saga, Brian K. Vaughn
7. The Nix, Nathan Hill
My honorable mentions are an eclectic group. A graphic novel, three murder mysteries, a classic, and two family stories spanning decades. I'm glad to have read all of them and would highly recommend.
Books I Enjoyed Enough to Recommend to People I Like:
1. A Nearly Normal Family, M.T. Edvardsson
2. Meddling Kids, Edgar Cantero
3. Vox, Christina Dalcher
4. Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell
5. Fashion Victim, Amina Akhtar
The standout here is Fashion Victim. It's a murder mystery that's heavy on the murder (and fashion) but light on the mystery. We know who the killer is, we're just along for the insane ride.
Books That Made Me Say 'Meh':
1. Witch is When it All Began, Adele Abbott
2. Carpe Demon, Julie Kenner
3. Force of Habit, James Scott Bell
4. And Then There Were Nuns, James Scott Bell
5. Mad Librarian, Michael Guillebeau
6. Sleeping Together, Kitty Cook
7. The Chain, Adrian McKinty
8. An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
9. A Kept Woman, Karin Slaughter
10. Remember When, Nora Roberts & J.D. Robb - the audacity still cracks me up. Props to her.
11. Murder with Peacocks, Donna Andrews
12. Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
13. The Firm, John Grisham
14. Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison
I found Wise Man's Fear particularly disappointing because it is massive, yet doesn't move the frame story forward much at all. I guess I'll read the third one when it finally comes out, but I think you could read book one, which was stellar, and go right to book three without missing a beat.
Debuts I Read: Ranked Favorite to Least Favorite
1. Folklore: A Field Guide, Charlaine LeRoux
2. Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
3. Miracle Creek, Angie Kim
4. Severance, Ling Ma
5. The Incendiaries, R.O. Kwon
Full Disclosure: I illustrated and published Folklore and one of my besties wrote it, so I am biased. I also think it is very, very good. I wanted to love Severance and The Incendiaries but the lack of dialogue punctuation is a real deal breaker for me.
Summer of Stevie Reads:
Look, I love Stephen King and this year I went pretty hard. Here they are, ranked favorite to least favorite:
3. Needful Things
4. The Shining
While my favorite SK book is On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, both Cujo and Misery are up there with Apt Pupil in my top five SK books of all time.
Nonfiction: Ranked Favorite to Least Favorite
1. Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow
2. Becoming, Michelle Obama
3. The Lady From the Black Lagoon, Mallory O'Meara
4. Theft by Finding, David Sedaris
5. The Flame, Leonard Cohen
I don't typically read a lot of nonfiction. This year I read six. One of them, My Life as a Goddess, is way up there ^ in the book club section. If it were down here it would be second only to Ronan Farrow. And I'm sure Guy would be totally okay with that.
James Scott Bell Writing Guides: In No Particular Order
1. How to Make a Living as a Writer
2. Plot and Structure
Finally, Books I Would Rather Gouge My Eyes Out Than Have to Read Again:
1. Milkman, Anna Burns
2. Normal People, Sally Rooney
3. How to Set a Fire and Why, Jesse Ball
I hated all three reads equally. Milkman only gets top billing because at least the other two authors bothered to give their characters names. I mean, I didn't care what happened to any of them, named or unnamed, but the lack of names made Milkman the most tedious.
So, that's it. My reading goal for 2020 is, once again, 52. I like the idea of reading a book a week. It's a fun goal. And obtainable thanks to audiobooks. If you aren't a member of your local library, you should be. Then you can access Libby, which has literally thousands of audio and ebook titles.
While you're here, sign up for our newsletter and to get a free copy of Fall: An Emahgerd Merstery!
Have a great New Year and I'll see you all in 2020.