Anna Wootton

#YourHealthyReads: Top Books of 2019

Another year, another reading challenge in the bag!

While the 2018 reading challenge I did with my mom, aunt and sister focused on diversifying the books I was reading, challenging me to choose books from new genres, authors and subjects based on cues prompted by the challenge, I simplified my goal in 2019 to the number of books I wanted to read.

I felt like 2018’s challenge stretched my reading choices and opened me up to new books I wouldn’t have otherwise read, but my goal in 2019 was simply to return to reading as a hobby, as a source of pleasure, without the almost homework-type pressure I felt following a more specific challenge.

Thus, I set myself a goal to read 33 books in 2019.

I felt this was doable given that my book count for 2018 was 28 books, and 33 felt like a reasonable increase while also matching my age as of 1 January, 2019, so 33 books it was. And I’m proud to report I finished up with 38 books in the bag!

As such, I have set a goal for 40 books to read in 2020 and will continue with just setting a goal of a number of books rather than certain genres, or titles, or types. I love that 2019’s looser challenge meant that I redeveloped my voracious appetite for reading, as it has once again become a wind-down activity I look forward to enjoying each night before bed, and often on the weekends.

Here are the top 10 books I read in 2019 (with 1 being my favourite, down to 10). See my year in books here.

Stay tuned to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages where I share my thoughts on books I read throughout the year. Also, connect with me on Goodreads! I love to get inspiration for new books based on what my Goodreads friends are reading.

  1. Normal People by Sally Rooney
    Flawlessly written, there’s not much I want to say about this as I honestly just want you to pick it and up and get sucked into the world of Marianne and Connell. Rooney’s writing encapsulates the voices of her characters so flawlessly that they really do come to life in your mind, as living, breathing beings you feel you could reach out and touch.
  2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
    This autobiography is so well written and surprisingly honest; a wonderful walk through Mrs. Obama’s childhood, her studies, meeting Barack and her time as First Lady. It is clear how her personality and inner strength were forged through her early experiences, and how well that served her through her time in the White House.
  3. How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne
    I have loaned and recommended this book more than any other this year. A stunning depiction of an emotionally abusive relationship; something so difficult to capture unless the nuances are truly there. Not surprising, given Bourne’s involvement with teen crisis hotlines and her outreach to teens in difficult and abusive situations. Her first adult novel, this is definitely one to read if you have ever wondered just what it means to be a victim of emotional abuse, or if you want to a character on the page to relate to something you may be going through.
  4. I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller
    Essential reading for Friends fans! A nostalgic walk through the making of the show, with behind-the-scenes info and perspective that helps to explain why Friends is so popular 25 years later.
  5. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
    The latest in the Cormoran Strike detective series written under JK Rowling’s pseudonym, the book presented yet another hard-to-fathom whodunit and drew you further into the Robin/Cormoran dynamic. Looking forward to seeing this one on the small screen soon, as the latest installment in Strike.
  6. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
    A friend loaned me this fascinating non-fiction read on Berendt’s time in Savannah, Georgia. I actually wasn’t aware it was non-fiction at first, and then when I figured out it must be I could hardly believe it as the characters are so fantastical! I won’t even attempt to summarize it; I just recommend picking it up, for a rollercoaster ride through some of Savannah’s most colourful characters.
  7. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
    In a tone similar to that of Jojo Moyes, this novel capturing an American student’s year studying at Oxford ends up in a very different place to where it begins. A delightful surprise of a novel.
  8. This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps
    Philipps’ autobiography is deeply personal and, in some ways, tragic. Her unflinching honesty feels generous, as though she has trusted you personally with some of her innermost secrets, and she doesn’t hold back when it comes to spilling the tea on some of her filming experiences, either.
  9. I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott
    I’m not one for essay and short story collections usually (I like to really dig in and get to know a character) but Philpott built on her character (herself!) with each essay as revealed a little bit about herself in each essay she wrote. Each one either had me smiling, relating or learning something new, which is really all you can ask for from a collection!
  10. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
    I read some of the criticisms of this novel, which covers the toxic relationship between a guy and a girl over several years, and many of them complained about how it felt repetitive and frustrating because the girl just wouldn’t leave. Those are actually the points that made me like this book so much. It was a very realistic tale of a toxic relationship and just how hard they can be to break free from. It can be triggering to read if you have been through anything similar, but Lucy and Stephen and their rollercoaster ride are worth seeing through to the end.

Tell me, what were some of your favourite books in 2019?

Also, a shoutout to Ashley Spivey, whose book picks were often inspiration for my reads throughout the year! Follow her on Instagram if you want get reading suggestions, also!