Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

A Simple Guide to 20-ish BEST Reads of 2019

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Selection criteria for an annual “best of” list is kinda squishy, especially when it comes to books. We all have our fave authors, genres and styles, right? If a book made it onto my “best of” list, it had to include:

1. Rich, robust writing that’s a cut above.

2. A creative, clever plot that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go until The End. The story had to be powerful, poignant, or unusually memorable. Even better: all of the above.

3. Three dimensional characters that are lively, intriguing, and powerful. The type you don’t forget after you close the book.

4. Bonus points for a fresh approach on an old topic, a unique perspective, or inspiration as sound as sterling.

So here’s my totally unscientific, 100% subjective list of Best Reads of 2019. (Not every title on this list was published in 2019. It’s just the year I read it, okay?)

In no particular order, here are my top reads of 2019, by category:

MOST INSPIRING :

Bòrn Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds, Joy Adamson

My Pride and Joy: An Autobiography, George Adamson

The Winter Pony, Iain Lawrence

Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Ablom

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight

MOST CREATIVE & ORIGINAL:

One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde

Flame in the Mist, Renee Adieh

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of 4 Sisters, 2 Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy – Jeanne Birdsall

Out of my Mind, Sharon Draper

Maze Runner, James Dashner

The Prey, Andrew Fukuda

I Am Still Alive, Kate Alice Marshall

A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean. I’ve read this before, but I appreciated it more the second time through.

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION:

Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young

At the Mountain’s Edge, Genevieve Graham

Making Bombs for Hitler, Stolen Girl, and The War Below, Marsha Skrypuch

BEST NARRATIVE NONFICTION:

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, Various

Spencer’s Mountain, Earl Hamner (A novel, but with a strong narrative voice)

‘NEW’ AUTHORS OF NOTE (In no particular order. List not exhaustive)

Will Hobbs

James Dashner

Genevieve Graham

Lauren Tarsis

BEST NON-FICTION

The Case Against Socialism, Rand Paul

The Library Book, Susan Orlean

No Safe Spaces – Dennis Prager, et.al.

FAITHFUL FAVES:

Max Lucado, Scott O’Dell, Gary Paulsen and Sarah Sund. Also Ingrid Paulson and Richard Paul Evans. Karen Kingsbury. Debbie Macomber. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a book I didn’t like by C.W. Anderson, Walt Morey, or Maurice Sendak.

I’m working on a TBR list for 2020. What do you recommend? Holler in the Comments!

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