BRL Best Books of 2019

Here they are – my favorite books of 2019 (note: I read a lot of backlist titles so they’re not all published this year.) Overall I seemed to have less 5-star reads this year than last year, but plenty of 4-star reads. Let’s get to it (in no particular order:)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2008.) Strout has emerged as one of my favorite writers. I’d been meaning to read this for years and I’m so glad I did. Gut-wrenchingly beautiful writing.

The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner (2019.) I haven’t written a lot about this but this has been a year of positive changes for me in terms of my body image, weight, health, all that stuff. This is the book that got the ball rolling for me, and it’s funny, smart, relatable, engaging. I love the author’s Instagram feed as well. She’s a hoot. If you’re interested in Health at Every Size or have issues with food and exercise I highly recommend this book.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (2019.) Smart, atmospheric modern-day Gothic mystery. Loved it!

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (1951.) Brilliant, suspenseful, masterful novel with a heck of an ending. Who exactly was the manipulator in this novel? I’d read this again in a heartbeat.

March:Book Three by John Lewis (2016.) The last in a graphic memoir set that just blew me away. I feel like I learned more about the Civil Rights movement in 1960’s America from this three-volume set than I did in all my history classes. The artwork provides a visceral wallop that drives home how violent and dangerous the struggle for rights was. This set also made me realize what a hero Representative John Lewis is.

The Nickel Boys by a Colson Whitehead (2019.) I thought Whitehead’s last book, The Underground Railroad, was a masterpiece, but he did it again with his next book! In spare prose he focuses on two teenaged black boys in Florida in the 1960’s. They become friends at a reform school for “delinquent ” youth, mostly black kids who were petty criminals or just unwanted kids. He could have wallowed in the horror these boys faced but he didn’t, and I’m grateful. He didn’t waste one word in depicting the injustice and harsh circumstances these young men faced, but instead shined a light onto what was a real situation for hundreds of boys in a real life school like this in Florida. Very moving without being manipulative.

The Lager Queen by J. Ryan Stradal (2019.) This book just went straight to my heart. I don’t even like beer.

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain (2019.) I’m grateful that I read this because it’s given my family our Tech-Free Sunday time, where we put down our devices and just hang out with one another. We look forward to this time, even my video-game-obsessed 8 year-old. A very good, very short book about the benefits of unplugging one day a week.

In the Woods by Tana French (2008.) So atmospheric! So intricate and haunting. I got lost in this book. I don’t know why it took me so long to try French.

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (2019.) A very brave memoir from a very open and brave man. So good!

A18h+5O2G3LHonorable Mention: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (2019.) Historical romance that’s super-smart and well-written. Didn’t tempt me to roll my eyes even once. Great characters and plot, and just enough steaminess to be fun but not annoying. Can’t wait to read her next one.

I like my range of styles here – two self-help books, a contemporary fiction, two mysteries, a graphic memoir and a regular memoir, two literary fiction titles, a classic, and a romance! No one can accuse me of a narrow reading life. I hope your 2019 reading lives were big and wide and full of five-star reads.

24 thoughts on “BRL Best Books of 2019

  1. Loved The Stranger Diaries! And My Cousin Rachel, though Rebecca is still the best. I really must read a Colson Whitehead soon – they sound so good. Looks like you’ve had a great reading year, and I’m glad you feel you’ve made some positive changes in your lifestyle too – I’m impressed! Hope next year continues the trends of both good books and good life! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Fiction Fan. Ha ha, I still can’t decide which I like better, Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel. Yes, you should read Colson Whitehead. His range is so wide. I haven’t read his zombie book yet, because I am scared of zombies! (And apocalyptic stories make me nervous too.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like several of us bloggers are reading the same book at different times, and I wish so hard in my heart that I could get us all on the same page! Like, start a book blogger book club that allows us to read the same book in the same month, or something. Books I’ve seen floating around lately are My Cousin Rachel, Little Women, and Circe, for instance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this round-up!!! 24/6 is wonderful isn’t it? It’s just that little nudge we all need. And good on ya for reading across the genres. I have The Nickel Boys on my shelf but I haven’t gotten to it yet, clearly I need to!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you reading in preparation for watching the series? Or just cuz? (These are all great picks. I hope you find many more like them in 2020!)


  4. This is what I get for reading your posts in order of most-recently published to least-recently published. I ask a question in the comments only to have it answered in the next post I read! XD Well done, Laila — good job reading my mind. 😉

    The only book on this list I’ve read is March. An absolutely gripping graphic memoir! I own all three now, purely so I can let others borrow my books. I want everyone to read them.

    My Cousin Rachel is on my TBR, but I’ve also added Bringing Down the Duke and The Lager Queen now. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

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