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Books Read in 2019

My Favorite Books Read in 2019

My personal list of books read in 2019.

Every book read in 2019. I challenged myself to read 30 books this year...and ended up reading 41! Go me. Here are the ones Iiked, the ones I loved, and the ones I had to force myself to finish.

I don’t know why but I have always felt the need to document my life. Whether through writing or photos, I have always been compelled to record things. Keeping a list of books I’ve read throughout the year has been a goal of mine for, well, a decade or two. This year, with the help of Instagram, I managed to do it! I simply took a picture or screenshot of each book I finished (I read a lot on my Kindle) and put it in my Instagram stories. Now, I am assembling my list and sharing it with you.

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Fiction Books I Read in 2019

As a child and teen, I loved nothing more than to get lost in a good fiction book. In my adult years, however, I have been drawn toward non-fiction, memoirs being my all-time favorite genre. In fact, over the last decade, I read very little fiction other than by my favorite authors, Stephen King and Michael Crichton. That changed last year when I began reading books with a friend who was a fan of fiction. I read the first few books reluctantly, but I am happy to say my love of fiction has returned. And as I reflect on this list of books, I think it has been good for me as a person to delve into fiction again.

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

2 out of 5 stars. I’m glad to have read this, but it wasn’t easy to get through.

I read this book because I have a love/hate relationship with the movie Soylent Green. If you aren’t familiar with this, it is a dystopian movie starring Charleton Heston. Produced in 1973 it displays the very worst of Hollywood’s sci-fi writing, acting, and costumes. It takes place in 2022 when the world is overpopulated there is a massive food shortage. The entire plot of the movie surrounds the “secret” of soylent green….the world’s “only” food source (other than soylent red, soylent yellow, and, oh yeah, actual food for rich people). The final scene reveals the secret of soylent green…it’s made out of people.

The plot of the book surrounds the main character, Det. Andy Rusch, solving a murder. Not only is soylent not the central issue, but soylent green ISN’T MADE OUT OF PEOPLE at all. The worst book-to-movie adaption I’ve ever seen.

Gone with the Wind was one of 42 books read in 2019. It has been banned over the years for being racist.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

4 out of 5 stars. This book is long so inevitably there were some dry spots…

I first read this in high school in preparation for watching the movie when it aired on TV. You know, back in the day when you had to wait for something to be aired, and they actually be present to watch it? I finished this 1,072-page book exactly half an hour before the movie aired on TV. The movie focuses mostly on the relationships between Scarlett and Ashley, Scarlett and Melanie, and of course, Scarlett and Rhett. The book delves much deeper into Scarlett herself and her character arc as she goes from spoiled southern belle to survivor.

In the book, she’s pretty unlikeable, even as she grows and evolves over time…and Rhett? He’s a scoundrel from beginning to end and doesn’t change much.

I was surprised to find myself most disturbed this time by the condescending way the author, Mitchell, portrays happy slaves. I’m sorry, people of the south, no matter how “nice” you are to your slaves and no matter how “happy” they are, a slave is still a slave.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

3 out of 5 stars

The book description reads: “Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Pickett’s son Davis.”


But really, this is a story about Aza’s own anxiety as she deals with OCD. This was a quick, easy read, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Fault in Our Stars…mainly because I feel any mystery about teens catching a “fugitive billionaire” is going to be cheesy…

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. A great read, but sadly, historical fiction.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: by Patti Callahan

4 out of 5 stars

Okay, I confess…I listened to this as an audiobook…which I why I didn’t realize until 9/10ths of the way through the book that this was historical fiction. And then I nearly cried. Still worth the read…just know it is historical fiction so you aren’t heartbroken like I was.

PS: being raised in Pentecostal (Assembly of God) churches my entire childhood, I was quite amused by all of the references to C.S. Lewis, revered Christian thinker, philosopher, and theologian, smoking cigars and drinking hard liquor. Somehow that was never mentioned in Sunday School…

Needful Things by Stephen King spoke to my minimalist heart.

Needful Things by Stephen King

4 out of 5 stars

This book was like a song to my minimalist heart. It had me rethinking everything I own and how much value I put in it. I am 100% this wasn’t King’s intention when he wrote the book but isn’t that the real beauty of reading? Taking away what is meaningful to us?

Animal Farm is a banned book due to it being "pro Communism"

Animal Farm by George Orwell

4 out 5 stars

A fun, thought-provoking, easy to read classic.

Children of the Corn a brilliant short story by Stephen King.

Children of the Corn by Stephen King

5 out of 5 stars

This was originally a short story in a collection of books. I don’t remember ever reading it before. At only 100 pages long its an easy read and so, so good!

Pandemic by A.G. Riddle

Pandemic by A.G Riddle

3 out of 5 stars

There were points in this book where I was bored and had to work through to finish…and I kept mixing up a couple of the characters. The timeline jumps around a bit which works sometimes, but it just plain confusing others. While I didn’t love this book while reading it, the final chapter left me actually considering reading the next book in the series.

The Maritan by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

3 out of 5 stars

This book was interesting and well-written. I am only giving it three out of five stars because I have watched the movie starring Matt Damon and so there was very little suspense left. Here is a book I really wish I would have read before seeing the movie.

A vampire book for people who don't like vampire books.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

4 out of 5 stars

This is a vampire but, but not your regular vampire book.

“The population of the entire world has been obliterated by a pandemic of vampire bacteria. Yet somehow, Robert Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of what happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him nightly.”

This book is really more about survival and human nature and resiliency than vampires and definitely worth reading.
 

Zoo by James Patterson: Great idea. Terrible execution.

Zoo by James Patterson

2 out of 5 stars

Great idea. Terrible execution. I felt like this book was written for sixth graders. Very disappointing.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King was one of my favorite books read in 2019.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

5 out of 5 stars

You probably already know this is one of my favorite Stephen King books…I also enjoyed the 2019 movie adaptation. If you haven’t already seen it, go check out my Pet Sematary inspired photoshoot.

Book of Secrets by M. L. Little was one of my 42 books read in 2019.

The Book of Secrets by L. M. Little

4 out of 5 stars

I read this book while I was in New Zealand awaiting the arrival of Abel. It is a great little book and a quick read by a first-time author.

“After Gabriel Draven smuggles home the Stone of the Seven Realms, his fear of facing consequences launches him and his oddball family on a rollicking run for their lives across the world they only thought they knew. As his journey takes him out of his realm and into another, Gabriel discovers that the deepest mystery lies at the heart of his own family, and he must do whatever it takes to find his way back home.”

Non-Fiction Books Read in 2019

Searching for Sunday was one if the books read in 2019

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

4 out of 5 stars

I reviewed this book here.

Know My Name was one of 40 books read in 2019

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

2 out of 5 stars

This book is about Brock Turner’s victim. I didn’t like this book. I’m not going to delve into the reasons why because it’s complicated. Kudos to Miller for telling her story, though.

Once More We Saw Stars...a must read about loss and grief.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene

5 out of 5 stars

“As the book opens: two-year-old Greta Greene is sitting with her grandmother on a park bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A brick crumbles from a windowsill overhead, striking her unconscious, and she is immediately rushed to the hospital. But although it begins with this event and with the anguish Jayson and his wife, Stacy, confront in the wake of their daughter’s trauma and the hours leading up to her death, Once More We Saw Stars quickly becomes a narrative that is as much about hope and healing as it is about grief and loss.”

Wowzer...this is an eye opener. Who knew that early surgeons were once graver robbers?

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery by Wendy Moore

4 out of 5 stars

Wow, this was a crazy read…my eyes are opened and it is safe to say I will never again take surgery for granted. Who knew that early surgeons were once graver robbers? Where exactly is the line between wanting to cut into someone to save them (a surgeon) or wanting to cut into someone out of curiosity (a murderer)?

Of Grief, Garlic, and Gratitude

Of Grief, Garlic, and Gratitude: Returning to Hope and Joy from a Shattered Life by Kris Francour

4 out of 5 stars

I felt honored and humbled to read this book and get a peek into Sam’s life.

“Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude follows the first thirty months after Sam Francoeur’s death from an accidental opiate (prescription) overdose. His mother, Kris Francoeur, shares her journey from the first crushing days to her eventually being able to find light, joy, and hope again through the practices of conscious and deliberate gratitude, unconditional acceptance of others, and making strong connections to the natural world.”

No One Cares About Crazy People: My Family and the Heartbreak of Mental Illness in America by Ron Powers

3 out of 5 stars

What can I say? From my experience, people really don’t care about crazy people…this book had a lot more statistics and studies than I was ready for, I was hoping it was a memoir. Because of that, it was dry at points.

High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Secret Life by Tiffany Jenkins

2 out of 5

This book gets a “meh” from me. When I got this at the library I didn’t realize with was from a YouTuber, Juggling the Jenkins. I really just didn’t care for her voice in the book, but others would probably like it.

The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future by Skip Prichard

4 out of 5 stars

This is a book I would have loved ten years ago when I was more full of optimism than I am now. For those of you who still have it, it’s a quick read full of wisdom.

Bus from Bangkok: An Astonishing True Story by Dorothy Rose

3 out of 5 stars

The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

4 out of 5 stars…as long as you like True Crime

I’ll admit this book gave me a few nightmares. Probably because I always read right before bed.

Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career — and How You Can, Too  by Rachel Hofstetter

5 out of 5 stars

A collection of stories about small business successes. A quick, fun, and inspiring read.

Not Exactly Love by Betty Hafner

1 out of 5 stars

I just found this book boring.

The Devil’s Defender: My Odessey Through American Criminal Justice from Ted Bundy to the Kandahar Massacre by John Henry Browne

1 out of 5 stars

Full of name dropping and tales of his wild youth.

The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer by Robert D. Keppel PH. D

4 out of 5 stars

An interesting look into the mind of serial killers and how law enforcement finds them. A good read if you enjoy true crime.

Why I didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow and How Your Kids Can Too by Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach 

2 out of 5 stars

It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort

4 out of 5 stars

A book by the creator of my all-time favorite Podcast, Terrible Thanks for Asking.

From the back of the book: “Terrible, thanks for asking. That’s how it feels to be a widowed mother at age thirty-one. But before Nora McInerny started the Hot Young Widows Club, she bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a funny and charismatic art director and comic-book nerd. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed, had a baby boy while he was on chemo, and packed a lifetime of marriage into three short years. All too soon, Aaron died in Nora’s arms.”

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff

5 out of 5

This was my second reading of this well written and heartbreaking book about drug addiction and family.

The Real Lolita: A Lost Girl, an Unthinkable Crime, and a Scandalous Masterpiece by Sarah Weinman

2 out of 5

Disturbing. Well-written, but I would never recommend that someone read it.

No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny

My favorite non-fiction book of 2019. You can read my full review here.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

4 out of 5 stars

Educated by Tara Westover

2 out of 5 stars

I expected to love this book but ended up not enjoying it at all. I had to force myself to finish it.

Maid by Stephanie Land is interesting and inspiring.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

5 out of 5

This book is an amazing story of love, hard work, and resilience.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

4 out of 5 stars

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders

You know I am going to love any book about minimalism.

Daughter of Gloriavale: My Life in a Religious Cult by Lilia Tarawa

5 out of 5 stars

I’m always down for a well-written book about cults…especially if they take place in New Zealand.

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

5 out of 5 stars if you like True Crime

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein

4 out of 5 stars

A must-read for anyone who grew up in the purity culture or is involved in church today.

Happy Just to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett

I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering by Janelle Hanchett

3 out of 5 stars

You by Caroline Kepnes was my favorite fiction read of 2019.This book is brilliant and believable.

You by Caroline Kepnes

5 out of 5 stars

This book is written in the first person by Joe Goldberg, a quiet and handsome bookstore employee. Joe sees Beck walk into his store one day and is captivated by her and begins stalking her. The true brilliance and beauty in this book are that we are inside Joe’s mind the entire time. We hear his thoughts. We listen to him narrate his version of events. He is an unreliable narrator and Kepnes pulls it off perfectly. This book is brilliant and believable.

This was my favorite fiction read in 2019. Be forewarned, there is quite a bit of sex in it. Not necessarily graphic, but frequent and unrealistic portrayals.

What did you read in 2019? What were your stand out favorites? Are you setting a reading goal for 2020? If you are on GoodReads, feel free to request me as a friend.

4 Comments

    • Renee

      Funny story…I did receive it. The day it arrived a friend came over and saw it sitting on my table. She picked it up, read the back, flipped through the book and asked to borrow it. She was so excited, that I immediately said yes! So…I’ll get her take and read it when she returns it 🙂

  1. Melissa

    Thank you so much for including my little debut on your blog! And thank you for 4(!) stars even though you read the typo ARC version!

  2. Renee

    You are totally welcome! I am sorry it took so long to post about it. I read it back in June when I was in New Zealand for Abel’s birth.

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