I read a lot of amazing books in 2019. I didn’t hit my goal of 50, but I made it pretty darn close (42 books, done and dusted)! Here are my top 12 reads from the last year. Let’s get started…
1. The Martian by Andy Weir
I read this book super quickly for a book club back in January, and I ended up loving it so much more than I anticipated. The Martian is set on Mars and follows Mark Watney as he attempts to survive on Mars alone for over a year. After his mission was botched and the rest of his team left, Watney is left on Mars to fend for himself. His crewmates thought a freak accident had killed him, but he managed to survive. With only his wits and some extra supplies, Watney has to tackle obstacle after obstacle to ensure his own survival until someone can come to rescue him. This is a story of bravery, persistence, and the ability for the human race to come together in a time of need. Read my full book review of The Martian.
2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
This is the best personal finance book I have read, and I’ve read a lot. My brother loaned me this book, and I’m forever grateful he did because it’s the only thing that’s really helped me get my finances into shape. Sethi breaks down everything you need to know about personal finance into actionable steps. Most personal finance books are only focused on one aspect of personal wealth (saving more than you spend, developing a passive income, etc), but Sethi breaks down how to get out of debt, how to set up a credit card, how to invest, and more. I cannot recommend this book enough to someone just beginning on their personal finance journey.
3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
I was pleasantly surprised by Children of Blood and Bone. This book has been talked about all over Booktube, and I usually end up expecting too much from those types of books, but I absolutely loved this one. Adeyemi gave a voice to such a marginalized group of people, and I really enjoyed the way she portrayed magic in such a desolate world. Children of Blood and Bone takes place in a fictional land that used to be ripe with magic but was purged of it when the king became scared of the power the Magi held. Zélie must go on a dangerous quest with her brother and the princess of Orïsha to restore magic to the land. It’s pretty commonly accepted that Adeyemi has based Orïsha on traditional African tribes and there’s an underlying commentary on racism that translates well to our current political climate.
4. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
My first true crime book of 2019, and boy was it a good one! I’ve never been particularly interested in learning more about Charles Manson, but Helter Skelter changed me completely. I had no idea how twisted and terrifying Manson was and the impact he had on his followers. I love that this book was written from Bugliosi’s (the prosecutor during the 1970 trial) notes and his experience attempting to convict Manson and his followers of the horrific murders. Bugliosi is thorough without being boring and detailed without being sadistic. If you’re interested in true crime, there is not a better book I would recommend to learn about Charles Manson.
5. The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Go read this book. I have nothing but good things to say about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. The book takes place in modern-day New York as Monique writes about the life of 50s movie starlet Evelyn Hugo. Evelyn chronicles her life for Monique, so much of the story actually takes place in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. As Evelyn tells Monique about the trials and tribulations she faced as a woman trying to reach stardom, Monique gains a new sense of confidence in her own life because of the stories Evelyn is telling her. Jenkins Reid has a talent with words. She makes what should be a completely unapproachable story one of the most relatable things I have read in such a long time. Read my full book review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
6. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
I loved Ghosted. I thought I had it entirely figured out, and I was actually a little bored with it, and then everything changed, and it was nothing like I expected it to be. It’s about a woman, Sarah, who is going through a divorce and falls in love with a man, Eddie, in one week. They spend every day together, and she knows this is more than just a fling, but when Eddie doesn’t call her when she leaves town, Sarah knows something is wrong. Her friends think she’s crazy, but she knows better. Sarah goes to extreme lengths to find out what happened to Eddie, and even though she finds out the truth, she never would have expected it. Read my full book review of Ghosted.
7. Verity by Colleen Hoover
A Bad on Paper recommendation that gave me the complete creeps and still leaves me wondering what the truth actually is… Verity is about an author of a best-selling series who has lost two daughters to tragic accidents. She herself is comatose after a car accident, and therefore, her husband, Jeremy, has gone about hiring a ghost-writer to finish her book series. The lucky ghost-writer just so happens to be Lowen, the woman Jeremy gave his shirt off his back to after they both witnessed a man get run over by a truck in New York minutes before they were supposed to be meeting. Jeremy and Lowen immediately have chemistry, and that is only heightened when Lowen has to spend a few days at his house looking through Verity’s notes to continue her books. But strange things are happening in the house. Lowen swears Verity keeps staring at her, and can’t seem to figure out why the TV keeps turning itself off when she knows the nurse looking after Verity said she left it on. The book is eerie and creepy, and I recommend reading it during daylight hours. Read my full book review of Verity.
8. Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza
Charlotte Walsh is running for Senate in her home state of Pennsylvania after living in California for the last 10+ years of her life. She wants to make a difference, and she’s determined to win. She’s running against a male incumbent who’s less than impressive. This book is about both Charlotte’s race to win a seat in Washington as well as the choices she makes before and during the race that make her the person she is today. I’m still grappling with my feelings on the ending and thinking about if I would have made the same choices as Charlotte, but at the end of the day, Piazza’s book is about more than a woman winning or not winning an election — it’s about a woman fighting day in and day out for what she believes is right. Read my full book review of Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win review.
9. Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover’s break out memoir was simply fantastic. It was a non-fiction read that I couldn’t put down. Tara writes about her life growing up in a very strict Mormon household and how she broke away from her family to pursue an education. Education is life-changing. The themes of family loyalty, ignorance, and education are topics every reader can relate to. Read my full book review of Educated.
10. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People is a book about two people who keep getting entangled in each other’s lives. From high school to university, Connell and Marianne somehow always find their way back to each other. But they always find their way apart, too. This is a book in which nothing really happens, but everything happens. It’s about normal people who experience normal, yet completely unique, things. I loved the importance Rooney placed on communication and on every story having two sides.
11. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers takes place in 1985-1991 Chicago as well as 2015 Paris. The LGBTQ community of Chicago is experiencing a genocide. AIDS has taken hold of the community, and it is ripping apart families and friendships. Makkai follows Yale’s story in Chicago and Fiona’s story in Paris. Both stories feature the idea of lost love, lost family, and lost time in totally different ways. Fiona is a key character throughout the Chicago timeline as well as the Paris timeline, and as a reader, you can’t help but love and hate her at the same time. Even though you go into this story knowing there probably isn’t any hope, you still cling to it — hoping the best for the boys who you know too well are going to most likely end up as corpses. Makkai has a few tricks up her sleeve and crafts a beautiful story of love, loss, redemption, and friendship. This is a must-read.
12. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
I’d listened to the podcast, watched the documentary, and read the articles, but nothing told the story of Theranos better than Bad Blood. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and half-ish, Theranos was a blood-testing company started by Elizabeth Holmes. She made grand promises, swindled people into giving her millions of dollars, and never developed a single working product. From a multi-million dollar deal with Walgreens to facing time behind bars, the story of Theranos is one everyone should read.