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:


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


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.


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


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


The Case Against Socialism, Rand Paul

The Library Book, Susan Orlean

No Safe Spaces – Dennis Prager,


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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