My 2019 in Books

For the past two years on my blog I’ve done a sort of round up of my reading for the year (read 2017’s post here, and 2018’s here), they were both posts I enjoyed writing so I thought why not do it again. In 2019 I read 40 books which is 20 books less than last year! This doesn’t make me feel bad though, every book I read was something I chose. 2019 has been the first year since I started writing these blogs that doesn’t have a single ‘read for my uni course’ book and that feels like a welcome change – this year I have reclaimed my relationship with reading as my own. There’s many books that didn’t make the ‘what I read list’ because I got a hundred pages in then put it down, deciding the book wasn’t for me at the time; that’s a truly valuable thing I’ve learnt while reading this year, not every book needs to be finished. A book must engage me truly or it simply isn’t worth my time.

When I was typing up the list below I saw 40 books that I on the whole enjoyed immensely, many of them have distinctive memories connected to them and it felt joyful to relive those memories simply be typing a few words on a screen. I remember The Travelling Cat Chronicles bringing me to tears in bed, reading The Goldfinch with lunch the week after quitting a job that was making me unhappy, unsure of what was coming next but finding great relief in the escapism of a novel, a Mormon on the bus asking me about The Man with the Compound Eyes and me being desperate for him to pick up the fact I wanted to read it, not talk about it, Mythos getting soaked in my bag on the walk from a friends house to the train station after a long overdue reunion party in Lancaster, reading The Kite Runner in the park in Madrid and feeling peaceful, consuming In the Miso Soup before passing it on to a friend and seeing them love it just as I did. What I’m trying to say in this list of memories in that books are much more than words on a page, reading is an experience, a moment in time, an emotional connection with a world outside of yourself. In leaving academic reading behind completely this year I truly saw that emotional world open up to me more fully and I hope I can continue to explore that going into 2020.

I thought I’d finish this post with a top five (in no particular order) of my favourite reads of the year.

  • Blindness – a man goes suddenly blind, then the doctor that treats him goes blind while researching a cure – within weeks the whole world is struck by an epidemic of contagious blindness, anarchy and cruelty ensue. A moving and brutal study of humanity in crisis.
  • In the Miso Soup – a character study of an American tourist in Tokyo and his young night-life guide who suspects this tourist may be hiding something. Gory and shocking but also philosophical and poetic. Reminded me simultaneously of American Psycho and traditional haikus.
  • Still Alice – a truly moving story of a University professor developing early on set Alzheimer’s. I read this 350+ page book in a single weekend which I think is all the review it needs.
  • The Goldfinch – in the wreckage of a bomb attack on a art gallery a young boy steals a painting, this moment defines the course of his life. It’s a beautifully written book that reminded me of classic novels in it’s prose style, combined with thoroughly modern characters and plot it makes for an immersive read.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin – a book I’ve wanted to read for a while after watching the film. It outshone the brilliant film adaptation by miles and I’d recommend reading it before watching. A mother writes letters to her estranged husband after their son committed a school shooting. It deals with the complex issues of guilt and maternal instinct (or lack therefore) in an incredibly skilful and thought provoking way.

Here’s what I read this year (books in italics are ones I re-read):

  1. Maurice – E.M. Forster
  2. The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  3. The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa
  4. Assassination Classroom (Vol. 1) – Yūsei Matsui
  5. Assassination Classroom (Vol. 2) – Yūsei Matsui
  6. Assassination Classroom (Vol. 3) – Yūsei Matsui
  7. Mythos – Stephen Fry
  8. The Call of the Weird – Louis Theroux
  9. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  10. The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
  11. The Haunted Boy – Carson McCullers
  12. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  13. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  14. Annihilation – Jeff VanDermeer
  15. Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  16. Strangers – Taichi Yamada
  17. The Machine Stops – E.M. Forster
  18. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  19. I Am a Cat (Vol. 1) – Natsume Sōseki
  20. Lullaby – Leïla Slimani
  21. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  22. The Man with the Compound Eyes – Wu Ming-yi
  23. Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman
  24. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  25. The Signal Man – Charles Dickens
  26. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  27. American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
  28. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  29. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman;
  30. People Who Eat Darkness – Richard Lloyd Parry
  31. Other Minds – Peter Godfrey-Smith
  32. The Outsider – Stephen King
  33. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  34. Everyday – David Levithan
  35. In the Miso Soup – Ryū Murakami
  36. Blindness – José Saramago
  37. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson
  38. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shiver
  39. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  40. Revival – Stephen King

One thought on “My 2019 in Books

  1. It’s so encouraging to me that you’ve been discarding books you haven’t enjoyed rather than pushing through – I feel like I read a lot of blogs about wanting to DNF more, and few about following through on that aim. I also enjoyed your description of reading memories – thanks for sharing, they made me think of some of my own favourite memories attached to books.


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