What's on my 2019 reading list
Hello fellow book lovers! And hello February..
I don’t know about you guys but I’m forever seeing books whilst browsing online or in a bookshop and then as soon I finish my current read and I want to start a new one I get a complete mind blank .
So one of the strategies I’ve been using for the past year so is keeping track of all the books I want to read in Goodreads and compiling a reading list every few months or so (you can read my other ones here!).
It’s one of the fail-safe ways that I can boost my reading and also reduces decision fatigue when I’ve got a million things on and just want to dive into a new book for a bit of escapism.
My to-read list is pretty long this year so I’ve narrowed to a few books (well twelve) and as you’ll see I’ve ended up with a bit of an eclectic mix. On the list is some modern fiction, a historical novel or two and a couple of murder mysteries, all finished off with a few non-fiction books at the end that I really can’t wait to get my hands on.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder.
I absolutely love books set in the deep south and I also enjoy a good murder mystery, so Where the Crawdads Sing has gone straight to the top of my list! It’s also a #1 New York Times bestseller and is rated 4.5/5 on Goodreads so I can’t wait to read it for myself.
The Nightingale: Bravery, Courage, Fear and Love in a Time of War by Kristin Hannah
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
I’m currently reading Kristin Hannah’s bestseller The Great Alone and it’s a page turner! She’s a wonderful writer so I just had to include another one of her novels on my list this year.
There There by Tommy Orange
Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and hoping to reconnect with her estranged family. That’s why she is there. Dene is there because he has been collecting stories to honour his uncle’s death, while Edwin is looking for his true father and Opal came to watch her boy Orvil dance.
All of them are connected by bonds they may not yet understand. All of them are here for the celebration that is the Big Oakland Powwow. But Tony Loneman is also there. And Tony has come to the Powow with darker intentions.
There There is the first novel by native american author Tommy Orange and tells the story of twelve Urban Indians living in Oakland, California. It’s a subject matter I’ve never read anything about or explored before so I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.
This isn’t the kind of novel I’d normally go for, but the blurb really has me hooked!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
A mesmerizing debut set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation
Less by Andrew Sean Green
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Less is the story of a 49-year-old writer, Arthur Less, who learns that his former boyfriend is about to get married. To avoid the wedding and heartbreak, he decides to embark on a trip around the world, accepting invitations to a series of half-baked lectures and literary events.
From almost falling in love in Paris, almost falling to death in Berlin, to booking himself as the (only) writer on a residency in India, and an encounter in a desert with the last person on earth he wishes to see, Less is a novel about missteps, misunderstanding and mistakes.
Less sounds like it has everything I like in novel; travel, humour and a strong protagonist so I’m excited to put this one on my reading list this year. I like a lighter read for when I’m travelling, and with a trip to the UK on the horizon I’m going to save this one for the plane.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary . . .
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.
I love books that transport you to another place and time so I hope Next Year in Havana takes me straight to 1950s Cuba. Historical Fiction is a genre that I really enjoy so I think I will love this one!
Circe by Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.
This is really not a book a would normally ever go for, but reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History recently has peaked my interest in all things Greek mythology; I’m excited to try a genre that’s completely new to me.
And a few non-fiction…
Women & Power by Mary Beard
Britain's best known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. With wry wit she shows how history has treated powerful women. With examples ranging from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Elizabeth Warren, Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, how we look at women who exercise power, our cultural assumptions about women's relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template.
With personal reflections on her own experiences of sexism online and the gendered violence she has endured as a woman in the public eye, Mary asks: if women aren't perceived to be fully within the structures of power, isn't it power that we need to redefine?
As a cultural studies grad I’m really interested in the intersection of history, culture and the place of women throughout within society so I think Women & Power will be fascinating. This one is a must-read for me!
Reading People by Anne Bogel
If the viral Buzzfeed-style personality quizzes are any indication, we are collectively obsessed with the idea of defining and knowing ourselves and our unique place in the world. But what we're finding is this: knowing which Harry Potter character you are is easy, but actually knowing yourself isn't as simple as just checking a few boxes on an online quiz.
For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part--collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m a teeny bit obsessed with personality testing. In her book Anne Bogel gives an overview of the different personality testing methods and how we can apply what we learn to our own lives, so I think I will really enjoy this one!
It’s definitely on the lighter side, so another one that I’m going to pack for my holidays.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?
Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.
This book popped up on my Instagram feed as it was January’s choice for Reese Witherspoon’s book club Hello Sunshine and I was instantly intrigued. The Library Book is truly a book for people who love all things literary!