Books of 2019 – Reading Year in Review

What 2019 was NOT: a good blogging year.

However, 2019 WAS: a good reading year.
2019 reading
Maybe those things are related? In other words, life is busy. But there’s (almost) always time for books!

Books of 2019

January Reading

1. Lethal White. Fiction by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). Series fiction. These are NOT cozy mysteries. They’re gruesome and dense and could use a bit more editing. But Rowling is a master at world-building and characters.

2. On Reading Well. Nonfiction by Karen Swallow Prior. “Books about books” = one of my favorite genres. And I always appreciate KSP’s insights. Several of her suggestions are already favorites, a few made my “must read” list, and there were a couple that I will not be reading, ever, for reasons. But I still appreciate her insight into these stories.

3. The Gate Keeper. Fiction by Charles Todd. Series mystery. I’ve kept up with the series but I don’t remember my verdict on this particular title. (And I’m too lazy to check if I reviewed it on Goodreads.)

4. The Long-Lost Home. Fiction by Maryrose Wood. Normally, I don’t record the children’s books I read (particularly if I read them aloud to the kids), but I didn’t read this one aloud. Also: I LOVE this series. The ending is a bit of a let down after all the build-up, but, that turned out to be a theme in 2019. (Looking at you, “Rise of Skywalker”…)

5. The Storm Tossed Family. Nonfiction by Russell Moore. Highly recommend.

6. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Nonfiction (?) by C.S. Lewis. A re-read of one of my top 3 favorite authors. (I think he’s top 3. It’s not something I’ve actually quantified.)

7. The Case of the Missing Servant. Fiction by Tarquin Hall. I fell in love with the Vish Puri series. These are mysteries set in India. Highly recommend to fans of mysteries.

8. The Lifegiving Home. Nonfiction by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. Here’s how I applied what I learned in this book: buy tea (LOTS OF TEA) and candles (ALL THE CANDLES).

9. My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie. Nonfiction by Todd Fisher. Always candid and often poignant. Recommended if you enjoy books about celebrities or a behind the scenes look at Hollywood. (There are sordid and sad things here that make this story not for every reader.)

10. The Dry. Fiction by Jane Harper. Great setting.

11. The Grace of Enough. Nonfiction by Haley Stewart. I’m not Catholic, but I have a soft spot for books by bloggers.

February Reading

12. The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing. Fiction by Tarquin Hall. Another great entry in the Vish Puri series.

13. The Self Driven Child. Nonfiction by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. Very good parenting book. Helps correct both neglect (leaving your child to raise themselves) and control (obsessively managing everything about your child’s life).

Here’s a sample from this book:

Your responsibility is to love and support your child. It isn’t your responsibility to protect him from pain. You can’t.

14. The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Fiction by Kate Morton. Morton has a way with words. But even so, I didn’t love this.

15. The Graves of Academe. Nonfiction by Richard Mitchell. Scathing, brilliant reading.

16. Gift from the Sea. Nonfiction by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. A re-read that fell flat for me this time around. (Probably because I’ve learned more about the Lindberghs since I read it last.)

17. In His Image. Nonfiction by Jen Wilkin. Highly recommend this one!

18. Glittering Vices. Nonfiction by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung. A fascinating, compelling look at what are sometimes called the “7 Deadly Sins.”

19. I Know You Know. Fiction by Gilly MacMillan. Supposed to be twisty, but didn’t really amaze me.

March Reading

20. Mere Motherhood. Nonfiction by Cindy Rollins. Not quite memoir, not quite how-to. Which means I never could figure out how to classify this book.

21. Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times. Nonfiction by Os Guinness. I love everything Guinness writes.

22. Long Journey Home. Nonfiction by Os Guinness. (see above statement)

23. The Battle for Bonhoeffer. Nonfiction by Stephen Haynes. Rebuke of Eric Metaxas, with varying levels of success (depending on the particular point).

24. How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England. Nonfiction by Ruth Goodman. Goodman writes thorough, enjoyable history books.

25. A Dangerous Collaboration. Fiction by Deanna Raybourn. I enjoy Raybourn’s writing style. It trends a little more “romance novel” than I would like at times and she definitely has a penchant for the melodramatic. But hey, sometimes that’s fun to read.

26. The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Nonfiction by Rosaria Butterfield. So very convicting. Anything written by Butterfield is worth your time.

April Reading

27. Knowing God. Nonfiction by J.I. Packer. This was a slow read (I’m sure I worked on it for the better part of a year). So full of great things to ponder. Highly recommend!

28. The Secret Token. Nonfiction by Andrew Lawler. Much more than just answering the question “What happened to Roanoke?” For example: how has this mystery affected how we talk about race in the USA?

29. The Pandemic Century. Nonfiction by Mark Honigsbaum. Don’t read this when you don’t feel well! But if you’re up for reading about some of the worst diseases in the world you’ll find this a fascinating read.

30. Openness Unhindered. Nonfiction by Rosaria Butterfield. After reading her most recent (see #26 above) I realized that I had missed one of her earlier books. And then I fixed that.

31. Lies Women Believe. Nonfiction by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Our church ladies did a 12 week study through this title.

32. The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken. Fiction by Tarquin Hall. Vish Puri is on the case!

33. The Ravenmaster. Nonfiction by Christopher Skaife. Fascinating stuff! (If you’re interested, Mr. Skaife also has a great Instagram account. Perfect for keeping up with the resident ravens.)

34. The Radium Girls. Nonfiction by Kate Moore. Also fascinating, but ultimately tragic.

May Reading

35. The Case of the Love Commandos. Fiction by Tarquin Hall. Currently the final entry in the series. (She said, hopefully. Because I really hope there are more to come.)

36. Prairie Fires. Nonfiction by Caroline Fraser. I think the way this author handles the Laura vs. Rose authorial question is the right solution. (There’s a lot more to this book, but that’s the thing I remember appreciating most.)

37. Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures. Nonfiction by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A Christian classic.

38. Unwanted. Nonfiction by Jay Stringer. Helpful entry into the Christian discussion around these issues.

39. Jayber Crow. Fiction by Wendell Berry. Highly praised by people I respect, but ultimately not my cup of tea.

June Reading

40. Diary of a Dead Man on Leave. Fiction by David Downing. Intriguing with a great sense of setting and place.

41. Crazy Rich Asians. Fiction by Kevin Kwan. I had to see what the fuss was about for myself. (Verdict: it’s over the top but highly diverting)

42. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Nonfiction by Steve Silberman. Long but fascinating read.

43. The Black Ascot. Fiction by Charles Todd. Another entry (21!) in the Ian Rutledge mystery series.

44. Our Tempestuous Day. Nonfiction by Carolly Erickson. Read in preparation for a Jane Austen class that did not end up happening this year. (Maybe next time. Research is never wasted.)

45. China Rich Girlfriend. Fiction by Kevin Kwan. 2nd in the “Crazy Rich Asians” series.

46. Triple Jeopardy. Fiction by Anne Perry. This series has lost its charm for me. (And yet, I will still pick them up at the library if my reading stack is getting low.)

July Reading

47. The Quintland Sisters. Fiction by Shelley Wood. A fictional treatment for the real-life celebrity babies, the Dionne Quintuplets. The closer it sticks to the real story, the better it is. The ending is out of nowhere.

48. Saving the Saved. Nonfiction by Bryan Loritts. A great read for anyone who grew up in church.

49. Rich People Problems. Fiction by Kevin Kwan. Third and final entry in the CRA series.

50. Alienated America. Nonfiction by Timothy Carney. Thoughtprovoking.

51. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Fiction by Matthew Sullivan. My library was pushing this one pretty hard this summer. Interesting set-up but I didn’t all the way love it.

52. Shiny Things: Mothering on Purpose in a World of Distractions. Nonfiction by Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley. I definitely recommend this one to all my fellow mamas.

53. The Strangler Vine. Fiction by M.J. Carter. This one thoroughly drew me in. Fascinating setting and characters.

54. The Dionne Years: A Thirties Melodrama. Nonfiction by Pierre Berton. One of the books that helped inspire #47 above.

55. Once Upon a River. Fiction by Diane Setterfield. Setterfield is a master of eerie but lyrical prose.

56. The Island of Sea Women. Fiction by Lisa See. A totally different time and place from anything I’ve read before. Unfortunately, it didn’t grab me the way it did other readers. Most likely because the main character never became a real person to me. (And I don’t think I could remember her name if you asked.)

57. More Than Just Making It. Nonfiction by Erin Odom. Another entry in the “blogger writes a book” category.

58. The Infidel Stain. Fiction by M.J. Carter. Second in the Blake and Avery series. Not quite as enthralling as the first, but still well written characters and setting.

59. Inspector Singh Investigates. Fiction by Shamini Flint. Set in Malaysia and Singapore. And yes, I was just trying to fill the Vish Puri size hole in my reading life.

August Reading

60. Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom. Nonfiction by Kerry McDonald. I’m still not an unschooler, but I find the (non-) method a lot more appealing than I did when I started homeschooling.

61. Smoke and Ashes. Fiction by Abir Mukherjee. This one was suggested to me since I enjoyed the M.J. Carter book. This is set in 1920s Calcutta. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as the Carter series but it’s solid writing.

62. The Missing Guests of Magic Grove Hotel. Fiction by David Casarett. Set in Thailand with a lovely, non-traditional detective. There’s a little dash of Alexander McCall Smith here.

63. A Mind for Numbers. Nonfiction by Barbara Oakley. I enjoyed this very much. Then I gave it to our oldest daughter to read before she started college. (She said it was very helpful and did a great job in her first semester of college applying a lot of what she learned from this book.)

64. The Bastard Brigade. Nonfiction by Sam Kean. How and why the Nazis didn’t develop an atomic weapon = great reading.

65. Nightingale Wood. Fiction by Stella Gibbons. Lovely writing by a sometimes forgotten author. A “Modern” – 1930’s – fairy tale. Fun fact: this book has the distinction of being the only book I finished while spending 10 days in England / Wales this summer.

September Reading

66. Confessions. Nonfiction by Augustine. One of those books I have wanted to read for a long time. This was a slow read for me this year, over the period of a few months. (And for what it’s worth, I found the footnotes and endnotes in this edition more distracting than helpful.)

67. The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets. Nonfiction by Sarah Miller. Yep, still reading about the world’s most famous five babies. This is more updated than the Berton book. (And for some reason, it’s classified as a YA book. But I’m not sure why.)

68. The Holman Christian Standard Bible.

How I read the Bible:

I read straight through, with the exception of Psalms and Proverbs.

I read at least one chapter of wherever I am (Old Testament or New Testament) and one Psalm or Proverb. Not every day, but most days. (Some days I manage three or four chapter, but any is better than none.)

I do not start in January or try to finish in December. And I tend to rotate versions. So, I finished this one in September. (And then started on the ESV again.)

69. Dream Hoarders. Nonfiction by Richard Reeves. A different perspective than I usually read. I wouldn’t say it persuaded me about the solutions but I do agree on some of the problems.

70. After the Flood. Fiction by Kassandra Montag. I had a strong negative reaction to this one.

October Reading

71. Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Nonfiction by Nigel Jones. Just trying to keep my trip alive in my memory! (Actually, I was trying to read up on some of the places we’d seen because we don’t linger while we’re actually in them.)

72. In My Place Condemned He Stood. Nonfiction by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever. A collection of essays on the atonement that my husband happened to have in his office when I was looking for more J.I. Packer books.

73. Something They Will Not Forget. Nonfiction by Joshua Gibbs. A CiRCE institute book on the importance of liturgy. Apparently not available at Amazon, hence no image or link.

74. Introvert Mom. Nonfiction by Jamie C. Martin. Another entry in the blogger / author category. This is one of those books that I’m kind of jealous I didn’t write first. Definitely recommend to my fellow Introvert Moms.

75. The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations. Nonfiction by Ron Rhodes. Reference book.

76. The Devil’s Feast. Fiction by M.J. Carter. Third entry in the Blake and Avery series.

November Reading

77. How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk. Nonfiction by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. A parenting book recommended by our pediatrician.

78. The Valley of Vision. Nonfiction edited by Arthur Bennett. A very slow read over most of the year. I loved this so much and copied a lot of favorites into my spiritual journal.

79. The Accidental Creative. Nonfiction by Todd Henry. Because who wouldn’t want to be brilliant at a moment’s notice?

80. Grace for the Afflicted. Nonfiction by Matthew Stanford. A Christian way of looking at mental illness beyond “Let’s pray about it.”

81. The Simple Path to Wealth. Nonfictio by J.L. Collins. I was looking for something non-Dave Ramsey. This is not what I wanted. (“save half your income” isn’t advice that a ministry family of 8 could simply apply)

82. A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism. Nonfiction by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. Part biography, part academic examination of translation bias.

83. Self Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. Nonfiction by Thomas Chatterton Williams. A helpful and thought provoking addition to the discussion of race in the United States.

84. What is a Girl Worth? Nonfiction by Rachael Denhollander. Infuriating, heartbreaking, inspiring. Every man and woman should read this book.

December Reading

85. Depression and Your Child. Nonfiction by Deborah Serani. Not the book any parent wants to be reading, but very helpful if you find yourself looking for resources.

86. The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. Nonfiction by Alan Jacobs. Think the Book of Common Prayer is irrelevant to your branch of Christianity? Well, have you ever heard the words, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God…” or “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust?” If you have, the prayer book has touched your life.

This is a fairly short book on how the influential prayer book came to be and the challenges it has faced over the centuries. (Incidentally, I really want to read more about Thomas Cranmer now.)

87. Grace for the Good Girl. Nonfiction by Emily Freeman. Another book I really wish I had been able to write. So much of this resonated with me. I’d love to participate on a group read of this with friends.

88. Beyond Authority and Submission. Nonfiction by Rachel Green Miller. What if Christians are asking the wrong questions? (Hint: we are.) This is a helpful book for those of us who can’t embrace either the Complementarian or Egalitarian position whole-heartedly.

89. The Call of the Wild and Free. Nonfiction by Ainsley Arment. This is a beautiful book about homeschooling. It’s designed more for someone considering it than for someone (like me) who has been in the homeschool trenches for a long time. But more than simply homeschooling, this is an apologetic for letting children be children.

2019 Reading Year in a Nutshell

Fiction: 30
Nonfiction: 59

And yes, I wish I had finished one more book to bring the total to a nice, round 90, but whatever. I’m pleased with the quality of the books on this list and that my nonfiction total is almost double the fiction total.

My husband tells me that this means I finished a book roughly every four days.

The photos in this post

In Bookworm Tourist news, I actually visited Hay on Wye this year. This place has more book shops than people (or at least it seemed that way). It was a bit of an adventure to get there but it was an amazing place to stay and soak in.

All photos in this post were taken by my husband on this trip.

So, I’d love to know: what did you read in 2019? Please feel free to share a link to your own list!

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