This year’s best books is one that comes with perhaps more scrutiny than in the past – this year is also the end of a decade, so there are a lot of best of the decades lists to read (and compile) so it saw me taking a closer look at what I read this year. I came at this list with a more stringent pen you might say.
Now that I’ve just finished another 5-star read, I will be including it here so that I can show a Top 10 for 2019! When I reviewed the books I read this year to include on this list, I did so with the eye being super choosy with only the best of the best of the best in mind. I read a lot of really great books this year kids – I really did! But this list below…these are the ones that I feel most passionate about, the really big wow ones for me. 4 (and a half?) of the books were actually already mentioned in my Best Books from the First Half of 2019 post! So sorry if some of this comes as a repeat.
2019, like last year’s list, is all about the big, chunky book. Like last year, it was the big chunky ones that come out on top. This year was filled with even more epic and chunky sagas and I loved them immensely. I think with the exception of just a few, many books on this list are over 500 pages.
We’ll start with the books that were not published in 2019 and make up half of this “best of” list. What a convenient list! I didn’t read as many books this year as I have in the past, but that’s because so many were over 500 pages. Most of my reading is made up of those big books and while some don’t appear here, I read some that were well over 700 pages, (The Gilded Hour) and some close to 600 pages – Every Man Dies Alone was 592 pages and I read my first Stephen King in decades and that one was 561 pages (The Outsider). The Distant Hours by Kate Morton was 562 pages.
I read slower this year, taking my time, and sinking my teeth into big fat meaty books. And I loved it.
Best Books Not Published in 2019
The first two books I read this year were absolute knock-outs and I found it very hard to find ones to immediately follow that would leave me with the book hangovers these two gave me: The Signature of All Things and The Lacuna.
I found my year starting with reading three books in a row that were pretty close to duds, so I put the call out begging for recommendations. At the exact same time, (honestly!), Hoarder Elizabeth and my bookish bestie Jennifer recommended The Signature of All Things. I wish I could show you their simultaneous text messages suggesting it! Holy crackers was this one great and exactly the kind of book I was craving! It’s so good!! Thank you ladies!
The Lacuna I thought completely wonderful. I continue to recommend to everyone I see to read it. I thought it had just about everything inside from a fantastic coming-of-age story to moments with Frida Kahlo and all of this American history and politics. So, so great. I thought Kingsolver’s narration terrific for this one and I loved how the story was told. Really, I loved it all and this is another one that could use a re-read because there is so much inside to read again. I will probably discover new things I might have missed the first time!
East of Eden – this one sat languishing on my shelf for so long. It appeared in all of my 20 Books of Summer reading challenges, and yet I still never read it. I even bought this gorgeous Penguin Classics edition from the Penguin Bookstore in Toronto. I had heard so many wonderful things about it, and then I also saw the recommendation for the audiobook, so I purchased that on my Audible account. Wow, the narration by Richard Poe is fantastic! An excellent recommendation for the audio for sure. But then I think I had a quick loan audio from the library, so I had to switch to the paperback version. I didn’t know then which one was better – BOTH versions were so amazing. Steinbeck’s storytelling gift is astonishing! To be able to see the words instead of just hearing them was an incredible experience. I highly, highly recommend experiencing both versions!
The Shell Seekers and Lethal White (a 656 page whopper) (Proving that, along with the 740+ page The Gilded Hour, women really do write big books! And thank goodness for that!)
The Shell Seekers was such a perfect summer read. Epic, sweeping, fantastic family saga. Loved it. Which reminds me that I need to pull Winter Solstice from the shelf so I can experience more Rosamunde Pilcher greatness. Lethal White was my favourite of the Cormoran Strike series for sure! I was engaged the entire time and it’s length did not put me off once. I cannot wait for the next in the series! (I so love my giant fatty mystery series! Come on Elizabeth George – I’m waiting for your next instalment now!)
Best Books Published in 2019
The first book to appear on my best of list from those published in 2019 is the shortest of the books on this list – coming in at a mere 326 pages. 🙂 When All Is Said by Anne Griffin. I voted for this one over and over again on the Goodreads Choice Awards, and is the one I recommended to everyone – I even made my (reluctant reader) mother buy it immediately. Have you read it yet?
Greenwood and This Tender Land: These two proved once again that chunky, fat sagas that are sweeping, multi-generational and epic bring me absolute joy. I LOVED these two books.
Here’s the one I’ve prattled on and on about this year, it was such a favourite and it was horribly robbed of literary prize nominations. What were the judges reading this year that they missed this absolutely wonderful book??? The Difference is one I’m definitely going to have to re-read. I loved it so, so much. There was just something about it – certainly every time the dolphins or the whales made their appearances – where it just felt like I was in the presence of love. It sounds absurd, I know, but I so loved reading the adventurous tale in The Difference.
Finally, number 10 is the one I closed out my year with and it’s another 5-star book: A Better Man by Louise Penny. What a fantastic book to end this year on!
I definitely had a wonderful reading year filled with epic, adventurous and multi-generational sagas and it’s so what I love most when reading. All of these books delivered big and happy reading experiences.
Per Goodreads, I read 33,704 pages across 95 books. The longest book being the behemoth The Gilded Hour! 🙂 and the most popular book I read was East of Eden.
I hope you had a wonderful reading year too and can you believe how many books are coming out in 2020 that also sound so amazing? I haven’t even touched the many, many I planned that were published in 2019! I saw this fantastic tweet where it asked if publishers could please not publish anything in 2020 so that we can catch up to all the other books waiting for us? Exactly right?! 😉