Top 10 2019 reads across genres

Before I dive in to sharing reviews for 2020, I wanted to recap some of my favorite 2019 reads. I started the year with a goal of reading 36 books, and ended up knocking out 50.

I wanted to reflect on all the genres I read and pick a few favorites from each, so these are 10 books that really rose to the top for me in each category, vs. my top 10 as a whole (and thus, they differ just a smidge from my top nine books of the year).

Young Adult fiction

1. The Rest of the Story, by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is one of my “always buy” authors, and this lake town story was a perfect summer read. It was everything I love about a Sarah Dessen book, with great characters, great backstory, and great dialogue. At the end, I was satisfied, but wishing for even more because I loved it so much!

2. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This fun fantasy is a book I could picture myself reading over and over again. The characters were well developed and so likeable, and the plot was fun, different, and well paced. It swept me in and I couldn’t put it down!

Poetry

3. Good Bones by Maggie Smith

I discovered Maggie Smith when I was at a poetry reading for Jericho Brown. As soon as she read excerpts from this book, I knew I had to buy it immediately (and get it signed, of course). When I finally picked it up, I read it cover to cover and couldn’t put it down. I’ll revisit it many times in life, especially once I have children. One of my all-time favorite poetry collections!

Mystery/ Thriller

4. The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager

I saw Riley Sager’s books all over bookstagram and realized I had this one sitting on my shelf from a past Book of the Month order. So, I picked it up immediately once I heard more about it, and I’m so glad I decided to fit it in finally as one of my 2019 reads! I stayed up until two a.m. finishing it because it’s so amazing I could barely put it down. It’s filled with twists and turns. It keeps you guessing in a good way, with good clues as the plot develops. I was always waiting for what was next and very surprised by the ending, yet it also fit/made sense, which I appreciated.

I read many thrillers and mysteries in 2019 (including some major progress working through Patricia Cornwall’s Scarpetta series) so it was hard to pick just one favorite. But this stood out above the rest.

Fiction

5. The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

This is another book that I cannot believe I let sit on my shelf for over a year. Easily my favorite of all my 2019 reads, this was another perfect (and witchy!) October read. It’s filled with life, love, family, and coming of age. It has the perfect dose of magic, a fantastic sense of place, and characters you really get to know and grow to love. 

6. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books, so I went in expecting to enjoy this. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not as heavy as Handmaid’s Tale, which was nice. I enjoyed getting more of Aunt Lydia’s backstory and I loved the direction the plot took her character. This book tied up all the loose ends and major questions I’ve had since reading The Handmaid’s Tale years ago, and left me very satisfied.

Romance

7. The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

Romance is a new genre for me this year. I’ve read YA romance, but for some reason have steered away from traditional romance. Yet after reading this, I added several more to my 2019 reads. My Iowa Bookstagram friends raved about this book. And they warned me about the steam factor, but phew, my Midwestern heart was definitely blushing a little as I read it!

There’s so much to love about this book. The characters were relatable and I was rooting for them every step of the way. The plot pacing is good and kept me interested throughout. This book convinced me that romance is a genre for me, after all!

8. The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory

My last 2019 read was also romance. The characters and their insecurities felt really real to me, and that’s part of what kept me hooked. The plot was a little predictable (as all romance is to me) but mostly this was a sweet, quick read. It left me wanting to read even more from Jasmine Guillory, and I can’t wait for library ebook holds to come in so I can do just that in 2020!

Middle Grade fiction

9. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate

I haven’t picked up middle grade fiction books in years. But boy, am I glad I decided to pick up several throughout my 2019 reads! This book had me crying in the bathtub while enjoying my favorite bath bomb on a Wednesday night, but I’m hear for it. It made me feel many emotions, was a great story, and I easily connected to the characters. It tackles food insecurity in a very approachable way for kids, but it’s great for grownups too.

10. Small Spaces, by Katherine Arden

Another book that I finished in one evening, Small Spaces is a fun and spooky middle grade read. I loved the eerie atmosphere, the strong-willed main character, the personality of the supporting characters, and the plot. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Dead Voices!

Overall, 2019 was a fabulous reading year, with many new discoveries about my reading preferences. Did you love any books on the list above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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