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