I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for Netflix. There is nothing like chilling out, eating some popcorn, and watching something on your television screen. But! In an effort to save some brain cells, I set a lofty goal for myself to read a whole bunch of books this year. I love reading, but I’ve been so out of the habit of it and sometimes it feels like too much… work? But in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, personal growth, and a hobby other than tv, I challenged myself to read 3 books a month in 2019. And guess what? I ALMOST DID IT!
(Small side bar to say that it is okay to set goals and not meet them! I read waaaay more books than last year! I had so much fun reading books and sharing my reviews with you guys! It made me want to read more books next year! Not reaching a goal doesn’t mean automatic failure; it means progress!)
In 2019, I read 31 books and so many of you followed along with me – suggesting books, commenting on my reviews, and reading books I recommended (the highest honour!). As promised, I have complied a list of my TOP BOOKS (eek!) but you can also read my reviews for all 31 books here. So without further ado, here are the winners!
BECOMING by MICHELLE OBAMA
If you didn’t know this was going to be on my list of top picks – have you even been paying attention? Michelle Obama is my imaginary best friend and her book rules.
BORN A CRIME by TREVOR NOAH
Still boggled that this is the true story of Trevor Noah’s childhood?! Also his writing talent is like *mind blown emoji*. Is there a part two where he fills the gap between his South African childhood and his current Hollywood career?
I’M STILL HERE: BLACK DIGNITY IN A WORLD MADE FOR WHITENESS by AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN
I read a couple books on white privilege and/or black experience and I think this one was my favourite. It just explains her (yes – Austin is a girl and I love it, bonus stars) perspective so clearly and helped me see important things in a different way. Double bonus points because she works within the Christian non-profit field so it was especially relevant (although please don’t feel like you need to be a Christian to read this!!).
FACTFULNESS: TEN REASONS WE’RE WRONG ABOUT THE WORLD AND WHY THINGS ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK by HANS ROSLING
A well-researched, well-articulated book about EVERYTHING (or just about). A full summary of the state of the world and how things are NOT ACTUALLY as bad as you might think (but that that is not an excuse for giving up on making things better). This book will leave you feeling intelligent, hopeful, and motivated.
BEST CHRISTIAN NON-FICTION
JESUS FEMINIST by SARAH BESSEY
The ONLY book on this list that I actually bought my own copy of so let that speak for itself. It reminds me of who I am and who I want to be. Not much else to say other than this book is NOT just for women and NOT just for Christians!
TOXIC CHARITY by ROBERT LUPTON
Another IMPORTANT BOOK for forcing you to think through the motivations behind your actions, your own privilege/power, and how helping can often be harmful. Honestly, if more churches/individuals took the time to go through this hard process of self-evaluation, I think that the impact of the church and perspective on the church would look radically different (for the better!). Still thinking through lots that this book gave me.
BEST GENERAL FICTION
CITY OF GIRLS by ELIZABETH GILBERT
I almost didn’t want to include this book on this list because I like the underdogs and this book is so clearly not an underdog. It’s written by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) who is just known for being an amazing writer. And you can tell the story is going to be full of life literally just from the COVER ART. Practically all my grievances with this book are that I couldn’t write anything as good. So okay fine, Elizabeth, you win. You write a good book and we all know it.
CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by TOMI ADEYEMI
Technically this is a YA novel and not “General Fiction” (side rant on how general fiction is kind of just a none-of-the-above category?) but I LOVED THIS. Read it in one day (I am a fast reader) and immediately googled to see if there was a sequel (there is – and it comes out in the New Year!).
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by DELIA OWENS
A Reese recommendation can’t lose. This book is pretty much everything I want in a good book. A good plot, a dash of mystery, an author who knows how to put together a good story and create beautiful visuals with their words. Solid solid solid.
SOMETHING IN THE WATER by CATHERINE STEADMAN
A fun read, mildly suspenseful, interesting and well developed characters, a classic twist – can’t complain! In retrospect, both these mystery novels (and the rest of the ones I read this year) are pretty mild as far as mysteries go, but this one had lots of excitement even if it wasn’t the MOST DRAMATIC and suspenseful mystery novel out there. I’ll up my game on mysteries next year okay guys?
BEST SUMMER READ
EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS by BALLI KAUR JASWAL
This was maybe one of my favourit-est books of all because it’s SO UNEXPECTED? Even just the title itself causes an eyebrow raise. But it’s got mystery (like real life murder mystery), romance (real, not sappy), a finding yourself kind of story line, and a good plot? PLUS old ladies writing erotic novels (that are somehow endearing and truthful instead of gross)? It’s literally the most unexpected trifecta?
AYESHA AT LAST by UZMA JALALUDDIN
The cutest, sweetest, loveable little love story that just makes your heart happy. Practically the definition of a summer read (easy, sweet, fun, happy).
THE WATER CURE by SOPHIE MACKINTOSH
Another one that I feel like was all over the Best Seller lists a few years back. It’s been on the back of my mind to read for a while. But then I read it and it was not worth my time (and not worth yours!). Basically low budget Margaret Atwood vibes plus a lot more emotional abuse. There is a limited amount of time in your life to read a book. Please make the most of it.
RECURSION by BLAKE CROUCH
Guys I just want my Sci-Fi to be cooler? Is that too much to ask? As the only Sci-Fi novel on the list, I was hoping for something epic and innovative and dramatic. I saw this title all over those “best new book” lists and got excited. It was innovative I guess, but had a lot of those wait-how-does-that-work type plot holes that you get when you dive into time travel PLUS alternate realities (or both/neither? because it invented like this “new concept” of time travel/alternate realities… that still feels like the same concept??). And then the ending was sad? Meh, very skippable.