In 2019 I read 48 books. My goal for the year was 40 but at the start of 2019, I had no idea I would be co-editing an online book club for most of the year. This afforded me the opportunity to make reading more of a priority, necessitated learning to love audiobooks, and gave me the chance to get my hands on advanced reading copies of some of the year's best books. When reading becomes part of your job it does change your reading life. I find myself saving up "my books" for those times of the year when I'm not on deadline for a reading guide or monthly selection. While I love the books we read for book club (you'll see a few on my best of list) I also have tastes outside our typical genre and I find myself seeking those out for those in between times and considering them for our reading guides which typically have a wider reach of selections.
As I culled my list of 48 down to 12 (+ 2 honorable mentions) I thought about the books that stuck with me the longest--which ones was I still thinking about weeks or months later? I thought about the books I pressed into the hands of my friends and family--which ones have I recommended over and over again? And then I thought about my reading experience--which ones were enjoyable to read?
The answer to those questions are found in this list. I hope if you haven't read any of them or maybe if you've been meaning to this will give you a little push to check them out of your library or mosey into your local bookstore.
Becoming by Michelle Obama: This book came out in 2018 but I finished the audio book the first week of January 2019. The narration was fantastic and I loved hearing about Michelle's life before Barack and before the white house.
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain: I'm going to tell you what my friend Kristin told me about this book: Don't read anything about it, just get it and start reading. The writing on display in this book is masterful.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman: You guys, if you aren't following Emily what are you doing with your life? Her gentle guidance and wise advice are a gift.
Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl: Finished this book on the beach on my birthday and it is just as delightful as the day and place it was finished.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes: Ashley Brooke Book Club pick for August. Such a lovely and tender book. Chick lit with a soul and a story to tell.
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpot: The memoir for every woman. This book made me feel like I have stories to tell from the car pool line and the grocery store checkout. Celebrity and influence not required.
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore: A ROMP in the best way. Open door romance paired perfectly with historical fiction and feminism.
Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly: Beth Ann says so much with as few words as possible which I really think is the mark of brilliant writing.
Poppy Redfern & The Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen: If Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell were solving crimes during the Blitz. *Chef's kiss*
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett: My first Ann Patchett. Brilliant character development. I want to know everything about Maeve and Danny.
84 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff: I can't believe I went 32 years without knowing about Helene Hanff. This book chronicles her letters with Frank Doel and the staff at Marks & Co., a rare bookstore. They're funny and poignant and the relationships created by letters alone are inspiring.
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall: As brilliant as advertised. Maybe one of the best books I've ever read. The dialogue about faith and struggle and triumph is extraordinary.
Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman: Ashley Brooke Book Club pick for April. We got to interview Elinor and she is the most delightful human being.
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis: Ashley Brooke Book Club for December. A sweet, realistic romance set against a Noting Hill townhouse over the course of a year. The audiobook is perfection.