What I read in 2019

This year I challenged myself to read 30 books which I was very proud to have achieved until my friend told me she was on her 80th in November! I wanted to make more time for reading, for reflecting on what I read, and to record every book that I read.

So here’s my list of every book I read in 2019:

  1. Attrib, Eley Williams
  2. Becoming, Michelle Obama (audiobook)
  3. The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell (read for university)
  4. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (read for university – full review here)
  5. The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard (read for university – full review here)
  6. How Not to be a Boy, Robert Webb (audiobook)
  7. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter (read for university)
  8. Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor
  9. Crown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas (guilty pleasure, catching up on the series)
  10. Heir of Fire, Sarah J. Maaas (as above)
  11. God’s Own Country, Ross Raisin (read for university)
  12. How Much the Heart Can Hold, various
  13. Queen of Shadows, Sarah J. Maas (as above)
  14. Saltwater, Jessica Andrews (full review here)
  15. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  16. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan (full review here)
  17. The Muse, Jessie Burton
  18. Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
  19. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  20. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter
  21. Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy (full review here)
  22. The Collected Stories, Grace Paley
  23. Faces on the Tip of my Tongue, Emmanuelle Pagano (full review here)
  24. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  25. Autumn, Ali Smith (full review here)
  26. Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman
  27. Oryx & Crake, Margaret Atwood
  28. Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield (full review here)
  29. My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
  30. Mouthful of Birds, Samanta Schweblin

And for my own benefit, here is my shortlist under various imaginary categories:

The one that’s stayed with me: Saltwater by Jessica Andrews. I honestly loved this book and its beautiful lyrical writing style. Still thinking about it now! Full review here.

The one that most disappointed me: Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman. Loved the film but felt the book didn’t hold quite the same magic. What could compete with Timothée Chalamet?!

The one that’s a bit meh: The Muse by Jessie Burton. I can’t seem to get into her stuff for some reason. I enjoyed it but just felt a bit blank after finishing it, just like how I felt when I read The Miniaturist (full review here)

The one I should have read a long time ago: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – obvs. This year felt like the year of Atwood more than ever and I can’t believe I am so late to reading this ever-relevant and frightening look at gender politics and dystopia. I’ll be getting into The Testaments hopefully next year.

The one I read the slowest: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. At over a thousand pages long, this one took a while to get into and a while to get through. At least it meant I only needed to take one book on our Scotland trip!

The one I read the quickest: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – I think. It was a very quick and enjoyable read. I wasn’t completely blown away like everyone else but I did really like it.

The one that most inspired me: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I wrote an essay on The Erl-King from the collection and have been looking at ways of reworking folklore and fairy tales in my own work.

The one that creeped me out the most: It’s a toss up between Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve and Samanta Schweblin’s Mouthful of Birds, but ultimately Schweblin’s collection of weird and wonderful short stories really did frighten me – so much so that I could only read one a day. But I loved them!

And in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, next year I will:

  • Read at least 35 books
  • Read more widely and diversely
  • Read another long-neglected classic
  • Continue to read work by women
  • Read more short stories
  • Read out of my comfort zone

Happy reading (and writing) to you all in the next decade!

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