My 2019 Reading

I figured I’d share my reading list from last year. I think I’ll start posting this annually. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the books I read last year. One of my goals was to read from a more diverse group of authors. I read 19 books total. Eight were written by women (six different authors) and two were by people of color. I still have work to do to introduce more diversity into my reading, but this was an improvement for me over 2018. Here are the books:

  • Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Hunger by Knut Hamsun
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård
  • Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
  • We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Stoner by John Williams
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (#5) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (#6) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (#7) by J.K. Rowling
  • The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington
  • An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg
  • Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg

Some of my favorites were:

The Lathe of Heaven: This is a thought-provoking, philosophical science fiction where the main character’s dreams alter reality. The book takes a look at our desire to control destiny, with two characters representing two contrasting philosophies: one trying to take advantage of the other character’s dreams in order to mold the future, and the other believing that the power to shape reality shouldn’t be meddled with. The characters are opposites in a lot of ways, and I found the interplay between them to be fascinating. I can’t wait to read more stories by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath’s only novel. It documents the main character’s descent into mental illness, apparently in a way that mirrors Plath’s own struggles with depression and bipolar disorder. Plath’s writing is witty, funny, vulnerable, and smart. This made me wish she had written more than just this novel. I’ll probably pick up some of her poetry soon.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: I found this book fascinating and perspective-widening. It follows Janie Crawford as she moves between three different marriages and the different ways of living that come with each. It explores gender roles, societal expectations, and also provides an interesting perspective of what it was like to be black in the South in the early 20th century.

Harry Potter: I wasn’t allowed to read these as a child because I grew up in a very conservative family in a time period where magic was considered evil 👹. Finally catching up, haha. I’m still not sure if I’m a Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. I’ll never forgive Slytherins for not defending Hogwarts when Voldemort attacked and might judge you if you tell me you’re a Slytherin.

The Shadow of What was Lost: This and the sequel, An Echo of Things to Come, were some fun fantasy novels that came recommended by a coworker, and I’m glad I read them. The story follows teenagers who are learning to use magic in order to fight off a growing danger at the border of their land. The writing reminds me a bit of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, with maybe a slightly older target audience. These were fun reads and were hard to put down. I even found myself not caring too much about the blatantly ripped off storylines, like a northern border wall with invaders starting to break through (sound familiar?) or the hooded, mysterious magic-tracking bloodhound people that are basically the Nazgûl. The third book came out last month, and I’ll probably read it this year.

The Neverending Story: Young adult books are my guilty pleasure. I had never read this one and loved the story. My brother bought me the hardcover with red and green lettering, so of course I felt a little like I myself was Bastian Balthazar Bux reading the real Neverending Story.

The Emigrants: I love history and historical fictions, and this book series has a bit of a personal connection for me. It tells the story of a family emigrating from Sweden to America in the mid 19th century. My family history includes four sets of ancestors who emigrated from Sweden and Norway in the mid to late 19th century, and I enjoyed gaining a sense of understanding of what they were leaving when they chose to move their families to a new country. What prompted me to pick up this book up was discovering Swedish language letters to my great-great grandfather when my family was going through my grandmother’s things. I found someone to translate them, and she recommended I read this. Next up will be to watch the movie!

Tenth of December: This was a collection of short stories that I decided to read after a friend of mine shared one of the stories, Sticks. I was amazed at how much emotion was captured in a two paragraph story. The rest of the stories in the book (which were all longer) didn’t disappoint, either. They are mostly social commentary and told from the perspective of a character in the story – colloquialisms and grammar errors and all. The story I found most thought-provoking was The Semplica Girl Diaries, which was set in a middle-class suburb in an alternate reality where displaying live, captive slave women on people’s lawns is a sign of status. It provoked thoughts about our own status symbols and the true cost of the things we where and present. In some ways, is our current society the same?

I enjoyed almost all of the books I read last year, but that’s all I have the time to review right now. I mostly reviewed books from the second half of the year because I had a baby in April and don’t even remember anything before that. Feel free to connect with me on Goodreads if you’d like to keep in touch about books or share recommendations. Thanks for reading!