For those interested, here’s my complete reading list for 2019. My goal was at least 52 books; I ended up reading 105. 🤓
A big change I made, on January 1, 2019, was to my personal rating system. I’m only rating books I love (4 stars) and adore (5 stars). These are the books I see myself re-reading at least once (4 stars) and probably even buying (5 stars) at some point. So, in selecting my Top 5, I only looked at my 4- and 5-star reads of 2019.
In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
So far in the Wayward Children series, Lundy is the character I most identify with. She’s serious — about books and about being who she wants to be, not who society says she should be. And as soon as I finished this book, I knew it’d be #1 on my Top 5 for the year.
You should read this if you like: portal fantasy; the Goblin Market; the Wayward Children series; bookworms with big dreams; rules, logic and order; life-altering consequences for breaking the rules or trying to cheat the system.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Published: 2/7/2017 (in Canada)
One of THE best contemporary coming-of-age mixed with myths novels I’ve read to date. I read it the last 2 days of 2019 and it was a perfect way to wrap up my year in reading. I laughed; I cried; I raged; I laughed some more… Following her Acknowledgments, the author bio was hilarious! I plan to read book two in the trilogy – Trickster Drift – as soon as I can get my hands on a copy of the hardcover. C’mon, US publishers, catch up already! And, for all you lucky Canadians, it’s being adapted for the screen.
You should read this if you like: experiencing conflicting emotions; stories about Indigenous peoples BY an Indigenous author set in modern times; coming-of-age stories in which a teen wrestles with iffy parents, tumultuous relationships, a dangerous “job”; real-life issues like drug use, bullying, self-harm, sexuality and identity; mythic fiction, especially Trickster tales.
Confessions by Kanae Minato
Published: 8/19/2014 in the US (Originally published 8/5/2008 in Japan)
Blew my freaking mind! I literally could not put it down. If you thought Amy Dunne was vindictive, meet Yuko Moriguchi whose vegenance rivals even Edmond Dantès. I’ve read MANY thrillers, but none affected me the way this one did. It’s NOT about a rich white couple who cheat on each other or lie to each other (or some other rich people problem) and then try to get even. Nope. Confessions is a gut-punch of a revenge story.
You should read this if you like: women in translation; the Japanese subgenre iyamisu; hardcore revenge thrillers; stories told from several different points of view; exploring the culpability of children who commit crimes; the ways in which children manifest their own trauma – e.g., bullied becomes the bully; pondering if certain kids are just born “evil.”
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
When I finished this debut novel, all I could think was, “Wow. I didn’t know there could be THIS much heart in a courtroom thriller!” Yes, I cried.
You should read this if you like: courtroom thrillers; stories from an immigrant Korean family’s perspective; exploring the difficulties of parenting children with special needs; examining the ways in which society judges mothers; testing the limits of family loyalties against moral responsibility; first-person POV from several characters.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
A heartwarming story with a great message — empowerment with a captial E — especially for those who may not get to see themselves in YA lit on the regular. While Acevedo shines a light on teen pregnancy, the story’s more about Emoni striving for her dream job/career, figuring out what (if anything) she’s looking for in a romantic partner, and realizing she doesn’t have to sacrifice everything on the alter of motherhood; she can be a woman, student, friend, chef AND a good mom.
You should read this if you like: hints of magical realism in contemporary YA; positive rep of teen moms; teen dads who step up and parent their child; healthy teen friendships; teens who work within their limitations and think outside the box to achieve their dreams and goals; grandmas who support their family, but also live their own life; cooking and food; teen chefs.
While the following didn’t make it into my Top 5 of 2019, they definitely deserve mentioning. Listed in alphabetical order. Each image is linked to its publisher’s page.
I’d love to hear about the best books you read in 2019, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comment box. They can be from any genre, published in any year; the only stipulation is that you read the book sometime during 2019.
Post history notes: Drafted 12/31/2019; First published on my blog 1/20/2020; Last updated 1/22/2020