Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Best Books of 2019

Every year seems to slip by even more quickly than the last, with this one having disappeared in the blink of an eye. Somehow I am a college sophomore and will be turning twenty years old in 2020. Maybe it's just because I have been watching so much Peaky Blinders lately, but I am definitely hoping for a roaring '20s repeat. I have a lot of good things awaiting me in this new year and new decade, including some fantastic books. But for now, let's talk about the nine best books I read in 2019.

circe by madeline miller

Admittedly, I am a but of a classics nerd and fully expected to enjoy this book. But I never expected to fall in love with it so much. Circe is a beautifully written story inspired by the mythological sorceress Circe from Greek myths. Madeline Miller grants a side character her own perspective and power in this spellbinding tale of loss, life, and identity. This book sticks close to its origins but reinvents the classic tales to create something enchanting and reinvigorating. 

once upon a river by diane setterfield

I picked this book up on a whim at Barnes & Noble earlier this spring because it sounded whimsical and mysterious. I had never heard of this book or the author, but I was excited nonetheless. Once Upon a River is a magical, breathtaking tale that slowly builds into a mysterious, heartfelt ending. The storytelling skills I experienced were truly inspiring. I have since picked up Diane Setterfield's other book and I am so excited to read it. Some finds are just special.

crooked kingdom by leigh bardugo

It took my a short eternity to finally pick up the Six of Crows duology, but the second I did, I loved it. Crooked Kingdom is the concluding novel and I have zero complaints. I laughed, I cried (especially when it ended), and had such an incredible experience. This series has quickly become one of my all-time favorites and the character development is especially notable. If you haven't read this one yet, I promise it is well worth all of the hype.

good omens by neil gaiman and terry pratchett

Good Omens is by far the most hilarious, absurd book I read in 2019. I am a die-hard Neil Gaiman fan, but this was my first Terry Pratchett book and I didn't know what to expect. I should have known I would love the quirky British sense of humor and completely absurd but somehow entirely realistic premise. Armageddon was never so fun. These two authors' genius collided to create this witty and seamless masterpiece.

the winter of the witch by katherine arden

Before this book's release, I believe the last book I purchased the day it came out was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back when I was a child. I had the date of the release for this conclusion written in my planner and I was counting down the days until I could get my hands on it. I am tempted to say that this trilogy is my all-time favorite fantasy series ever, but that is quite a bold statement, isn't it? I want nothing more than the endlessly express my undying love for these books and the finale was the perfect ending to a practically flawless series. In a few words: marvelously executed, bewitching, and pure perfection.

the secret history by donna tartt

This book is a beloved classic that I saw all over the internet for years. For some reason I can't explain, I never looked into it. Once I did, I was uncertain. For the first one hundred pages or so, I didn't really like this one. Well that all changed rather drastically, as I ended up loving it by the (rather dramatic) ending. If you like dark academia, complex yet endearingly tragic characters, and mysterious activities set in rural Vermont, then this is just the book for you.

little fires everywhere by celeste ng

Never did I expect a contemporary novel to make its way onto my yearly favorites list. I am a fantasy lover without any doubt and I rarely even pick up contemporary fiction. Yet this one sold me. There is something about the characters that make them incredibly real. I sympathized with them, hated them, loved them, and rooted for them until the last page. The plot is relatively simple but filled with little nuances that made the story so driven. 

ninth house by leigh bardugo

There are some mixed feelings regarding Leigh Bardugo's latest release. Ninth House offers a stark contrast to her other books, which may be jarring for some readers. But magic, ghosts, and secret societies get me every time. I will admit that this novel contained flaws, as all novels do, but I think it marked a distinct change in Bardugo's writing and presented itself as a fantastic foray into the gritty world of adult books.

the lightning thief by rick riordan

The Lightning Thief was a reread for me this year. I don't typically pick up old books again, especially since my reading time is greatly limited. But I was drawn back to the fun, wholesome, yet epic world of Percy Jackson and his friends. I read this one for the first time in 2009, so it makes for a solid end to the decade. I loved it just as much as I did when I was younger and I don't think that is just nostalgia speaking. It's engaging, fast-paced, and pure fun. Rick Riordan created something special with this series.

What were your favorite books of 2019?


  1. So many of the books on this list are my favourites as well! Little Fires Everywhere was my favourite book of 2018, it was clever and I flew through it. Circe is also a book I can always go back to. Happy new year, Erin!

    1. Clever is just the right word to describe Little Fires Everywhere. It was such a solid book and it makes me want to read more of that genre. But fantasy will always be my favorite. I am planning on picking up Song of Achilles soon because I loved Circe so much. Happy new year!

  2. This list just proves you are a person of extremely good taste. So many good ones on here! If you liked The Secret History, I think you would also enjoy We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It was my favorite book of 2019; it's so eerie, well-written, and mysterious. Leigh Bardugo also made my list with King of Scars, and I had an unprecedented number of indie and independently-published books as well.

    - Eleanor

    1. Aww, thank you!!! I have been dying to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle since I read Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House. It sounds just up my alley. I just finished King of Scars and I did really like it! What are your thoughts about it?

  3. So many books that I want to read in 2020 are on this list! I've heard only good things about Ninth House, Little Fires Everywhere, and Circe. I also have a soft spot reserved for the Percy Jackson series and all things Rick Riordan, but it's been such a long time since I read one of his books. Maybe I'll take some time to reread The Lightning Thief over winter break. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! :)

    claire @ clairefy

    1. Obviously, I love all of those and think that you would, too. I think Percy Jackson is one of those series that is just so nostalgic. I hadn't read it in so long and it felt like talking to an old friend again. I had a great holiday season and I hope the same for you!

  4. PJO is just the best! I agree with Winter of the Witch; I don't think I can say that it's my all time favorite series, but it does come in the top 3! I love Little Fires Everywhere too, it's such an unexpected gem because it's just not the type of book I usually read. And yet, I was thoroughly engrossed within the story and felt for all characters!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

    1. Both PJO and the Winter of the Witch are so amazing. I loved reading them this year. The Winternight trilogy is definitely in my top three favorites, as well. And describing Little Fires Everywhere as an unexpected gem is so right. I didn't expect much out of it but it was such a solid and immersive read.

  5. I loved Ninth House! It's on my favorite reads of 2019 list. With all of the mixed reviews, I wondered where I would fall. The beginning made me worry with how slow it was, but once it picked up, I didn't want to put it down. I'm so excited for the next book in the series! 😍

    1. It was so gritty and dark. I love that Leigh Bardugo is branching out in her genres. It is quite different from her other books, so maybe that is why some fans disliked it, but I loved it. And while it was certainly slow, I didn't mind too much. Like you, I didn't want to put it down.

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