Best Books of 2019

Hello, dear readers.

It’s been a while, but despite a whirlwind of a year I couldn’t let the holidays pass without writing my yearly best books post! Reading is different for me every year. Some years it’s deep digesting, some thoughtful contemplation, and some years it’s a solace and enjoyment. This year reading was a bit more light for me. When I looked at my Goodreads for this year I initially felt a little embarrassed that I’d read so many “fun” books. But I also realized that I was taking grad school and working, and my mind was fried. Reading had to be a joyful and easy place for me this year.

And that’s one of the things I love most about books. They can be anything — a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a visit to a familiar, home-like place. Without further ado, here are my top reads of this year!

  1. Running Home by Katie Arnold (memoir). I read this one while marathon training. It was a beautiful memoir about the conflagration of loss, spirituality, and running. Running is a deeply spiritual practice for me, and I resonated deeply with Arnold’s sentiments about sport and its’ power both mentally and physically. I listened to an interview with Arnold while I was doing my 18 miler in my training block, and it was incredibly motivating. Arnold is a stellar writer.
  2. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (YA fiction). I was obsessed with Dessen’s YA novels in high school, and her newest book did not disappoint. Now that I live in North Carolina I noticed nods to her home state and enjoyed them even more. Dessen portrays the complexity of adolescence beautifully.
  3. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (poetic verse/novel). This was a grad school assigned book, but I read it in one sitting. It’s written in verse, and tells the story of identical twin boys on a jr. high basketball team. It is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it.
  4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (novel.) This book dropped on my Kindle after I’d had it on hold at the library and completely forgot about it, and I devoured it. I read it because it was recommended for Fleetwood Mac fans (of which I am, to say the least). This book was so good. It’s the fast-paced tale of a rock band in the 70s and their rapid rise to fame. Fantastic.
  5. North by Scott Jurek. (memoir). I wrote about it in this post so I will link to it for a lack of redundancy.
  6. The Library Book by Susan Orlean (memoir/true crime.) Again, wrote about it in this post. But so so so good.
  7. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (YA fiction). This book was set in Alaska and tells the stories of several teenagers as they navigate adolescence and the wilderness of Alaska. Absolutely lovely, and I loved reading about Fairbanks.
  8. Placemaker by Christie Purifoy (Christian nonfiction/memoir.) This book was elegantly written and full of literary complexity. Purifoy’s PhD in English is quite obvious from her writing. This book was so very good and encouraging to me, as she talked about place and how that affects us in our spirituality.
  9. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (novel.) As with any overhyped novel I was nervous to read, but this one was just as good as everyone has said. I read it on a camping trip and couldn’t put it down.

And…my favorite book of this year was…The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (novel.) This book was set in Chicago and its’ suburbs, and the setting was almost like an additional character in this fantastically written story. Lombardo writes about the complexity of family relationships, change, and grief in a book that I literally could not put down. It’s a multigenerational novel about one family, and the narrators switch from each of the daughters and parents in the family and takes place in different decades. It was so enjoyable to read, especially since I was familiar with the setting. I can’t wait to read other books Lombardo will write.

What did you read that you loved this year? Please share!



4 thoughts on “Best Books of 2019

  1. Thank you so much for these, Sarah! I’ll definitely pick one up over the semester break!

    I spend most of my time rereading what I’ve assigned my students (familiar?!) but I would recommend — Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. I don’t love it like Anne Bogel, but I love the low-drama but rich storyline of friendship and wow, is Stegner good at creating characters. I’m convinced I need to pick up another of his. I’d be curious if you’ve read and have an opinion on Wallace Stegner. And second, Stephen King’s On Writing memoir. I haven’t read one of his novels but found his reflections and his own story very engaging. Intriguing but not disturbing. 😉


    1. Thank you so much Margaret! I am putting these on my list right now. I resonate with the “just rereading what I’m teaching” which is why so many of my books were YA novel this year. I hope you are doing well! Miss you!


  2. So glad you came to the realization that you needed the easy & fun reads this year! I will have to check out The Most Fun We Ever Had!
    Have you read The Snow Child (Alaska 1920s setting but not Fairbanks)?

    Liked by 1 person

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