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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

Our 18 BEST READS of 2019

Who doesn't love a good list? December and January are prime months for zillions of "Best of 2019" lists. We're happy to join the party! AND, watch for our upcoming "Best of the Decade" list and reflections coming next week.

Here's our most memorable reads in 2019 list- not all of these are 2019 releases; we just read them in 2019. Like many of you, we don't have access to ARCs (advance reader copy) so we're often reading back list titles. But, a good book is a good book, whenever you find it. And, in case you're still wanting more, at the end of the post we've included links to what other websites/magazines have picked as the "Best of"......surely you'll find some great options that you may have missed through the year. Links lead to our full reviews.

So in no particular order, here's what we loved this year:

Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

A young girl grows to womanhood living on her own in the marshes of N Carolina; great nature 'character' as well as the development and growth of the girl; a story of great loneliness but also kindness, triumph and independence.

The Library Book, Susan Orlean

The true story of the giant fire that destroyed thousands of books at the main LA Public Library as well as the history of librarians, woven into an unforgettable narrative. We both found this book fascinating.

The Widows of Malabar Hill (#1), Sujata Massey

A story of the first female attorney in Bombay who helps her father protect the interests of three widows and getting involved in a murder case. An engaging heroine and excellent multicultural read.

Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield

One of my top books this year (Terrie). Mysticism, a mystery, love and loss, all combine in this fable-like novel told by an excellent storyteller.

The Lost Man, Jane Harper

This subtle mystery is more about familial relationships and is set so evocatively in the outback of Australia.

Storm Front (#1), Jim Butcher

My first, but certainly not my last, book by Butcher, this one is a delightful mix of a good mystery, peopled by a wizard detective, faeries and other magical creatures and sprinkled with a touch of humor.

The Space Between Us (#1), Thrity Umrigar

A complex story about the relationship between an employer and her long time servant and the action that destroys that relationship and others.

The Weight of Heaven, Thrity Umrigar

Heart-wrenching story of an American couple who loses their 7-year-old son suddenly, husband’s job moves them to India and gives them a chance to “start over” and recover; shattering section on the loss of their son; hardships and joy in India.

Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane

I absolutely loved this book (Terrie): Two families, neighbors, teenage love that is derailed by a tragedy, love regained. Mental illness, addiction, so many difficult themes are explored with empathy and beautiful writing.

The River, Peter Heller

Another top fave book for the year (Terrie)! High adventure as two college buddies setting off on a week-long canoe trip find themselves racing a raging forest fire as well as being chased by some questionable, scary men. An excellent exploration of the bonds of friendship.

Born A Crime, Trevor Noah

This memoir reveals details from Noah's childhood in South Africa and the harsh realities of apartheid and is one of my top reads of this year (Terrie).

A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

This entertaining tale has a Prince cursed by an enchantress and turn into a monster every autumn, killing people. Harper from Washington D.C. is transported to the magical kingdom with the hope she’ll fall in love with the Prince and break the curse.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King

He tells about his early life and what led him to writing and guidelines on how/what to write. He also talks about when he was hit by a van which almost killed him.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reclusive Hollywood movie icon tells her life story to a journalist she has hired to write her memoir, but she has an ulterior motive for hiring the woman and telling her story to her. This is another book that we both read and gets two thumbs up!

Dark Matter, Blake Crouch

Physics professor is knocked unconscious by an abductor, when he awakes he’s not in his world – his wife and son don’t exist, he’s now a celebrated genius; how does he get back to the life he knows?

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, Jaclyn Moriarty

Girl’s parents die and leave her instructions in their will which direct her to visit all her aunts to give them specific gifts; she must follow instructions exactly or her town will be destroyed (water sprites, dragons, magic potions). A humorous Young Adult book that I couldn't put down (Donna).

A Robot in the Garden, Deborah Install

Ben Chambers has no job, his wife leaves him, and he finds an old robot in his garden (in the age when most people have androids). He seeks to repair it and travels the world looking for the original maker. Robot endears himself to Ben and everyone he meets, wife and man reunite. Robot is charming and adorable which makes for a great read.

Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People, Amarillo Slim Preston

Autobiography of his life; very entertaining with lots of great stories of his betting on ANYTHING, as well as lots of famous name dropping.

Other Lists (see our Pinterest page for even more):

NPR's Favorite Books of 2019 - a mere 369 books broken out into 33 categories, everything from kid's books, to graphic novels, cookbooks, long or short books, and more. There are some fun filters to explore and certainly lots of books.

Book Riot also published a pretty extensive list that you can filter by 9 different categories.

The New York Times offers the top 5 fiction and top 5 nonfiction books of the year. A couple look pretty darn intriguing.

Amazon's top 20 - of course they have to weigh in, and they have a top 100 list by various categories

I'm sure you'll notice some similarities between all the lists. Does a book appearing on several 'best of' lists give you more impetus to read it, or to avoid it? What's your favorite list to check and make sure you didn't miss any "best" book? Tell us in the comments so we can check it out!

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


For your convenience, I use #hashtags in the reviews and when you click on one, you'll find more books with that theme. Hopefully you'll find it a helpful way to navigate the site and find books you'll enjoy. I've also recently added tags that will show up at the end of each review that serve the same purpose.

The review ratings are based on a 5 star  (1/2 stars sometimes) system with a 3 being an average read for me. I hope you find that helpful. Knowing, of course, that all opinions are just that - my opinion!  Let me know if you agree or disagree - I'd love to hear from you.

If you like what you see and want to keep up with me, subscribe below.  Happy Reading!

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